If STAR TREK supposedly “sucks,” then why did ALEX KURTZMAN just get a $160 MILLION mega-deal??? (editorial)

Over the past few days, there has been a combination of irate indignation, embarrassed disbelief, and smug “I toldja so!”s going around Star Trek fandom faster than COVID at a super-spreader event! And all of this is because ViacomCBS just inked a five-and-a-half year, $160 million development deal with ALEX KURTZMAN and his SECRET HIDEOUT production company.

Make no mistake, this is a HUGE agreement…even for Hollywood. It’s comparable to other recent 9-figure mega-deals like the ones Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy just inked with Netflix and Jordan Peele closed with Amazon Studios. Kurtzman is now sitting quite pretty and comfortably as not only an unquestioned powerhouse in the entertainment industry (and at CBS specifically) but also as the unquestioned and unchallenged “Trek Tsar” (get it?) for at least the next half-decade.

Some fans were not amused.

After confident (and often arrogant) prognostications that Mr. Kurtzman was not only on the way out at CBS but had already been fired—multiple times!!!—over his “humiliating failures” with the Star Trek franchise, news of this mega-deal shocked most of these previously self-assured fans. It has sent many of them into an overly dramatic show of resigned indignation, like this fellow…

Some folks just couldn’t accept that VCBS actually loves Alex Kurtzman—even AFTER the deal was announced. Amusingly, I was chatting with one of these people the day before the announcement, and we had this exchange (I am not sharing this individual’s name). My comments are in blue…

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Turns out I didn’t have to wait a year. The following day, the big news hit the Internet, and after a little back and forth, my Facebook friend eventually typed the following message, which I must say provided me with a momentary feeling of smug satisfaction…

I say “momentary” because my friend just couldn’t let go of his certainty that Kurtzman was toxic, and that this deal couldn’t possibly be grounded in reality. To try to get me to see the light, my friend actually provided a link to this site where disgruntled, fired employees can post anonymous complaints about the companies that just laid them off. Apparently, these bitter folks are none too fond of the way that Mr. Kurtzman and his lackeys are running things. That led to this final exchange, as I finally gave up trying to reason with him…

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For this fan, the equation was simple: Star Trek is losing money for VCBS, VCBS wants to make money, so the person in charge of Star Trek should be fired.

He so doesn’t get it.

But I’m hoping that you will. Now, leaving aside any name-dropping of “I know so-and-so who used to be the number two guy at L.A.’s biggest talent agency” or “I know the former general counsel of such-and-such TV network,” let’s just assume I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night and have as much credibility as the next guy. In other words, believe me or don’t…makes no difference to the powers-that-be.

And speaking of whom, let me start off by saying that the ants and the elephant have very different perspectives…and in this metaphor, we fans are the ants and VCBS is most definitely the elephant. So it doesn’t really matter how many “open letters” some fans angrily write (the suits don’t read any) or how loudly a small number boycott CBS All Access—now Paramount+. And in fact, it doesn’t matter much if the Star Trek franchise is completely floundering right now (which it kinda is and kinda isn’t). That’s because this is a chess game, and corporations like VCBS need to develop their most powerful pieces in order to stay competitive.

For those of you who don’t play chess, each player’s most powerful pieces—the queen, rooks, and bishops—start out essentially trapped. The pawn line blocks them from moving at all when the game begins. So a player must move pawns (and sometimes other pieces) out of the way in order to open up a path for the “power pieces” to move out into the center of the board and become a factor in a competitive game.

In today’s world, the chess board is the emerging Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) market that includes such giants as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple+, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and a long list of others. In less than a few years, streaming services have completely and forever changed the way that most people in industrialized countries watch television. Everyone wants to have a foothold in the SVOD arena, even if it’s a small one. But the game is only just getting started!

Netflix and Amazon Prime already had a huge head start getting in front of the pack. “Latecomers” like Disney+ and HBO tried to play catch-up by using a combination of existing content (thousands of kids movies and/or Warner Bros films and HBO series like Game of Thrones and Veep and countless others) and new releases from existing popular franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, and Pixar. That’s helped Disney+ and HBO Max jump on board the “must have” list for literally tens of millions of TV viewers/subscribers.

So imagine now that you’re ViacomCBS. What power pieces do you have on the chess board? Well, you’ve got the National Football League, NCAA “March Madness” basketball, and a few other sports licenses…and those are actually doing quite well. You’ve also got the major awards shows like the Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, and American Music Awards (not the Oscars, though). Plus you’ve got all of the CBS-produced network TV shows from the last few decades, from The Twilight Zone and Perry Mason to The Big Bang Theory and CSI. And now, thanks to “reunification,” you now have the rich history of the Paramount Pictures motion picture library.

Big whoop.

Nothing in that list (other than the NFL) is a true “power piece” on the chess board of SVOD. Nothing makes Paramount+ a “must have” like Disney+ or Netflix. Realistically, VCBS has only one property that can be considered a “power piece”—Star Trek.

Now granted, Star Trek isn’t nearly as popular as Star Wars (sorry, fellow Trekkers, it’s just not). But look at NBC’s new Peacock streaming service. They would KILL to have a tentpole property like Star Trek to call their own. (Sorry, guys, you canceled it back in 1969, remember?) Instead, NBCUniversal has Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers. Good luck with that.

So VCBS has to play the hand they’ve been dealt (oops, wrong game metaphor) and develop their “power piece” Star Trek. And that is just what they’re doing! The studio is pouring money into creating new content: Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds (plus a few others like Section 31 and a possible Worf comedy/drama).

“What if they all suck? What if they don’t make any money? What if they destroy the franchise? Isn’t that going to piss off the shareholders and get someone like Alex Kurtzman fired?” you ask.

Stop thinking like an ant, and start thinking like an elephant.

New Star Trek series don’t have to leap out of the starting gate with massive viewership numbers. CBS never even cared about that. I mean, they certainly wouldn’t have complained if the new Trek series was a runaway hit, but that was never the expectation. And indeed, the first season of Discovery got VERY underwhelming numbers of views compared to network TV. Even though CBS never shared their data, streaming requests for Discovery episodes in season one averaged only in the hundreds of thousands (and LOW hundreds of thousands) out of 2.5-to-4 million subscribers. And no, don’t ask me how I know that. During that same autumn of 2017, views of NFL games numbered in the millions. Discovery was barely a blip. CBS didn’t care.

Even now, VCBS (like other streaming services with potentially embarrassing subscriber numbers) is being suspiciously non-specific in their reporting. VCBS inexplicably “groups” subscribers for its Showtime streaming service together with Paramount+ subscribers and never releases actual totals for how many people are viewing which shows. This allows VCBS to report glowing numbers like they did in May when they announced that global subscribers for the two services combined grew from 30 million to 36 million (a number that topped Wall Street analysts’ prediction of a growth of “only” 4.8 million).

VCBS also counts people who cancel their subscription as “still subscribed.” Huh? Yep, they consider folks like me (who canceled my subscription back in January) as “paused.” Here’s how their former CEO explained it. So for the last 8 months, CBS has counted me as a subscriber. Now, they’re not wrong about me eventually coming back. I’ll reactivate my subscription when Star Trek: Lower Decks launches its second season in two weeks. But when it comes to reporting numbers, VCBS knows the news is not as good as they make it sound.

It doesn’t matter. They are moving their queen (the Star Trek property) into position. They need to build up a solid library of diverse Star Trek content to both attract subscribers and establish some baseline expectations. Even if a viewer doesn’t like one of the series, maybe he or she (or they!) will like one of the others. Discovery is nearly all action and overly dramatic. Picard is more slow-moving and cerebral. Lower Decks is a whacky adult-targeted comedic animation that, ironically, is one of the best Star Trek series ever (in my opinion). Prodigy will target the kids. And Strange New Worlds will return to classic TOS episodic-style stories without the emotional weight of Discovery and Picard.

It’s very much like what Disney+ is doing with their Marvel series, where WandaVision was as different from Falcon and Winter Soldier as they both were from Loki…but all were grounded solidly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and maybe a few other universes, too). Same for Star Trek. As Alex Kurtzman himself said to the New York Times when they compared what CBS is doing with Star Trek to what Disney is doing with Marvel: “…you have to build a certain foundation in order to get there and we’re still building our foundation.” Kurtzman gets it. And so does VCBS.

Star Trek doesn’t need to “succeed”…at least not right now. The fans can love it or hate it. The property can lose tons of money over the next few years because it’s a loss-leader. The most important priority right now for the studio is to build infrastructure for producing the franchise…on two different coasts, in fact, so they don’t have to cannibalize their own people when two or more series are in production simultaneously. They’re assembling resources. They need to know who is out there—from writers to directors to producers to make-up and VFX people to grips and gaffers. And they want these people to get familiar with what Star Trek is (no, not what the fans think it is, what the studio thinks it is…remember, we’re the ants and they’re the elephant) and how Star Trek is produced.

And that’s where Alex Kurtzman comes in.

If you read that full New York Times article, one quote from it explains completely why this mega-deal just happened. George Cheeks, the president and chief executive of CBS, said this about Kurtzman in an interview. “The guy can develop for broadcast. He can develop for premium streaming, broad streaming. He understands the business. He’s got tremendous empathy. He’s creatively nimble. When you make these investments, you need to know that this talent can actually deliver multiple projects at the same time across multiple platforms.”

Notice that I bolded “He understands the business.” That’s the key here. Trekkers like to think that any hard-core fan could and would do an infinitely better job than Alex Kurtzman in making decent Star Trek. Wrong… wrong… wrong… wrong… a thousand times wrong. Making Star Trek for television or film isn’t just about writing solid stories and decent scripts that don’t violate canon and make the fans scream with delight. Sure, that’s all nice for us ants, but the elephant needs the studio space rented, the sets built, the actors cast, the equipment in place, the costumes designed, the make-up applied, the music composed, plus a million other little things…and for everything to be kept within an acceptable production budget. They need someone they can trust and rely on to get all of that done, someone who himself has reliable people he can trust to get those tasks done.

Alex Kurtzman with writing partner Jenny Lumet

Kurtzman’s writing partner since 2015, JENNY LUMET, also provided this informative quote about Kurtzman to the Times: “He has an almost supernatural ability to keep separate train tracks in his head, this show, this show and this show, and he can jump from one to the other. He is one of the few people who can keep all the trains running.”

That is actually quite rare in Hollywood, and certainly a foundational requirement for Star Trek right now as it fits into the large VCBS business model that I’ve just described. Remember that CBS got burned back in 2016 when BRYAN FULLER was booted as Discovery showrunner early in production of the show’s first season. Part of the reason Fuller was let go is that he was delaying Discovery in order to finish up work on the latest season of American Gods, another series he was producing. Fuller was not able to juggle multiple projects at the same time. Kurtzman, by contrast, has simultaneously had production going on Discovery season two, Picard season one, and Lower Decks season one…and is now overseeing -post production on Prodigy and Strange New Worlds while Picard seasons two and three are shooting and Discovery just entered post-production on season four.

And that, my friends, is why Alex Kurtzman just got this mega-deal. He’s proven himself to be a very capable production superstar. There are not many people like Alex Kurtzman in Hollywood, and VCBS knows this. VCBS wants—needs, actually—to keep Kurtzman around because not only has he proven that he can successfully deliver multiple Star Trek series simultaneously, but also that he wants to. He’s not burning out or getting bored or distracted. He doesn’t have one foot out the door (and now there’s a five-and-a-half-year contract extension making sure he doesn’t even reach for the door knob!).

Sorry to share the following reality with the the VCBS detractors out there, but it doesn’t matter what you, the ant, thinks of the shows. The elephant is VERY happy right now.

That said, I personally think this is a GOOD thing for Star Trek fandom in general and fan films in particular. And if you want to learn why, join me for an awesome online Fan Film “Power Panel” this Saturday, August 7, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time as part of Treklanta™ on the Holodeck (click here for more information). I’ll have a group of fan filmmakers including JOSHUA IRWIN, VANCE MAJOR, MARK NACCARATO, FRANK PARKER, JR., GREG TEFT, AARON VANDERKLEY, and GLEN L. WOLFE, and we are going to discuss whether VCBS’s current rhapsody over Star Trek will make them less tolerant of fan films…or more.

I know what I think. What does the panel think? And what do YOU think? Seeya on Saturday night to find out! Here’s the Google Meet link to the live panel (you’ll need to have a Google/Gmail account to particulate; it’s free to get one if you click here):


26 thoughts on “If STAR TREK supposedly “sucks,” then why did ALEX KURTZMAN just get a $160 MILLION mega-deal??? (editorial)”

  1. Underlord dummkopf and his imaginary sources have been on this rant for what seems like forever. Did I initially like where discovery started? Not much, did it stop me from enjoying the show for what it was, NO.

    Now look at all the trek we’re getting, how is this not better than a trek drought?

    1. It does seem obvious, yes.

      Those who would rather have “no Star Trek” than “bad Star Trek” are actually very selfish people. They have 650 hours of pre-CBS Trek to watch and enjoy for however long they’d like. Having “no Trek” wouldn’t change that fact…only take Star Trek away from other fans who might be enjoying the new shows. Personally, I’m still not sold on Discovery, but I enjoyed Picard, LOVE Lower Decks, and am very much looking forward to Strange New Worlds. Why should I give up those shows just because a few disgruntled fans don’t like them?

  2. I think you’ve chained together two separate propositions, only one of which is well supported.
    The first- VCBS loves Kurtzmann. Agree with you there- they think his production company is doing great things for them, and want to expand the deal (important to note that the deal also includes him keeping and promoting a number of other showrunners and producing a lot more content. Clearly, whether older trekkies think the product is being ruined is largely irrelevant in terms of the weight of numbers)
    The second proposition, though, that Star Trek is VCBSs’ queen, is much more questionable. Respectfully, you seem to be treating Star Trek as if it has unique status for CBS, rather than being one of a number of products, and being just that- a product.

    Whilst you are correct that VOD services mean that parties are desperate for content, you’re forgetting that CBS has an enormous content library already outside of Paramount- it has the CBS library, and reversionary rights to dozens of Warner Bros produced shows. CBS’ problem has been one of timing. Over the past 10 years, it granted rights to most of its hit shows, particularly international rights, to other players like Netflix. Examples include the Big Bang Theory, Madame Secretary, How I Met Your Mother and NCIS. Those rights deals have been hugely profitable, and made most sense when VCBS didn’t yet have a domestic streaming competitor. To give you a sense of just how big, the newer BBT deal with HBO Max- done in 2019- is for about half a BILLION dollars. Put simply, content is king- particularly content series that capture subscribers. CBS had, and has, stacks of it.

    Now, however, when CBS has fully committed to its own VOD platforms, it has a timing problem. Its shows remain licenced, in many cases, to others. It can’t get those licences back fast enough. It wants to build a subscriber base quickly. As such, it needs some new content, for sure, and Star Trek is new content.

    BUT, CBS’ strategy ISN’T focused primarily on new scripted shows. Their goal over the next 4 years- as the company themselves have said- is focused on differentiation through live tv, sports content and SUPPLEMENTED by unique scripted offerings. https://www.broadbandtvnews.com/2021/02/25/viacomcbs-unveils-streaming-strategy/

    So, Jonathan, you ask the logical question- why was STD the launch title for all access? Why the great deal for Kurtzmann?
    Well, firstly, STD was a great deal for CBS because Netflix paid the entire production budget, in exchange for international rights. they were playing with house money. And Kurtzmann certainly generated a profitable product.
    But it’s important to actually look at the deal terms. Secret Hideout is now responsible for 5 star trek titles, as well as developing a stack of other projects for CBS- conservatively, 10 series a year, plus spin-off products and podcasts. As the deal is for 6 years, we’re talking about $2.5 million per series per year- hardly insane by recent standards.

    In summary- content is king, and kurtzmann produces content. Star Trek may have a borg queen, but it’s hardly unique. it’s just volumetric grist for the mill.

    1. Man, I should have used Borg Queen and not just queen in my chess metaphor! How could I miss that???

      Anyway, Nadav, the problem with most of CBS’ existing content is that it’s already been out there…in some cases for decades. They tried to reboot “The Twilight Zone” with limited success, and “The Good Fight” was a mild successor to/spin-off from “The Good Wife.” But the fact is that, with the exception of the NFL, Paramount+ is hurting for other exclusive “must see” content. There’s no reason that Paramount+ should be added to most people’s monthly subscriptions…unless they’re a football fan. And VCBS doesn’t own the NFL, they only license it (and not for much longer unless the contract is renewed).

      Star Trek is a storied and legendary franchise. When CBS All Access first launched “Discovery” in 2016 (really 2017), the world was different. Streaming services were just getting off the ground, and no one knew yet if Netflix’s crazy business model of dumping hundreds of millions and billions into creating its own stable of Netflix-owned series was genius or folly. As such, producing “Discovery” with half Netflix licensing money (the rest came from CBS Studios) seemed reasonable…even logical. “The Good Fight” certainly couldn’t carry All Access by itself. But it was when it came time to green light season 2 of “Discovery” that everything changed for CBS. They mentally and emotionally committed to a development plan for All Access. 2-4 million subscribers out of the starting gate–while not Netflix numbers–was still enough to justify the experiment and turn it into a plan of action for the future.

      But that plan would need to be built around and over a foundation of Star Trek. It was their Star Wars and Marvel, and look at how quickly Disney+ leapfrogged into the big leagues. Now, certainly, Star Trek is not the only horse in the VCBS/Paramount+ stable, but it is the prize stallion. Notice that you don’t see any other property getting orders for five series being produced simultaneously.

      Borg Queen. 🙂

      1. Jonathan,
        you’re making a logical, sensible point about new content being special and valuable.
        Paradoxically, though, we’re seeing the OPPOSITE. Outside of current affairs- sport in particular, or what we call ‘events television’- the biggest premiums are being paid for old, established, shows with content libraries. The best examples of this are shows like the office, BBT, NCIS and- particularly Law and Order- which have established, earlier, viewer bases. They are worth more because millennials, and their parents, pay to watch again and again, and it’s become preferred rather than buying a box set. Dick Wolf, for his 6 series, got a US-only deal worth half a billion (Law and Order and Chicago series). It’s not so uncommon.
        What IS significant about Star Trek, though, is that the existence of new content increases the premium that can be charged for the old content. That changes the economics substantially.

        Again, though, the existence of star trek, or not, isn’t what’s key for CBS. They love it because it’s pre-sold internationally, and hence is profit from day one. but what really matters is building a live subscriber base, to leverage over the next 3 years when they will then get reversionary rights to one of the largest content libraries out there.

        Putting all that aside, the MOST valuable property for CBS, though, is the back-library of one Judge Judith Sheindlein.

        1. I’ll agree with you on the value of a catalogue library containing decades of cinematic and television content. But to me, that’s not the (Borg) Queen on the chess board. Maybe it’s a rook or a bishop. But Star Trek represents both an existing catalog of 650 hours of TV and movie content PLUS a nearly infinite potential to expand outward into fresh, new series. I mean, who’d have ever thought “Lower Decks” would work as well as it’s working? And even though “Discovery” has struggled a bit, season 2 brought on Anson Mount as Pike and is now allowing the franchise to revisit the TOS formula of episodic television. “Section 31,” if it happens, can be spy stuff and exploration of the darker parts of the Federation. Don’t like that? Well, Prodigy looks to be much lighter fare targeted toward children. Heck, there might even be Worf comedy/drama series in the works! Q is coming to Picard. The Guardian of Forever is now named Carl. Riker and Troi are in “Lower Decks” on the U.S.S. Titan. Who knows what’s coming next?

          While Judge Judy might be a queen of the courtroom, and she might be launching a new series, the woman is 78. So while the backlog of episodes might be quite valuable, the power of a chess piece isn’t measured simply by where it has already been on the board but also where it can still go.

          Star Trek is the queen. 🙂

          1. You come close Jonathan but you’ve missed it. The reason judge Judy is so valuable is because like a comedy it has high replay value, as unscripted television it doesn’t involve trailing fees to writers, and unlike star trek CBS can give itself exclusive rights. The back catalogue is so valuable that judge Judy has been cancelled. No need to pay her when you’ve got that much in the can already.
            Trek is a property to CBS, but don’t elevate it beyond its station…

          2. As usual, my friend, I can’t agree. 🙂

            Judge Judy might be evergreen, but it doesn’t draw subscriptions solely by itself. Sure, it might be a reason for a few subscribers to keep themselves subbed to Paramount+, but it’s not going to be the “must see TV” reason that someone decides to get the service. In the same way, neither is The Twilight Zone or even The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon. In Hollywood speak, those are considered “nice-to-haves” and not “must-haves.”

            Star Trek is a must-have for a good number of people…maybe only in the high six-figures or low seven-figures, but with subscriptions currently only in the low eight-figures, that’s still significant. Now, most Trekkies aren’t probably watching Judge Judy (I don’t), but a few might. Most NFL fans are probably not bothering to watch Perry Mason or NCIS, but a few possibly do.

            So Star Trek and the NFL are the whales drawing the whale-watchers. That’s where their value comes in. As I said in the blog, Star Trek (and the NFL, as it happens) is a loss-leader. VCBS is okay with a net loss on both properties as subscriber and ad revenue is not yet covering the cost of production (or the license fees to the NFL). But it’s an investment into the future in order that Paramount+ be perceived as a major player in the SVOD marketplace…both by the industry in general but more importantly by the general public. Touting “We have Judge Judy reruns!” isn’t going to attract nearly as many viewers as “We have Star Trek!” and “We have every NFL game every weekend right through the playoffs!”

  3. Well, I’ll confess, after watching season 3 of Disco, I’m actually interested in what’s next. I did watch the last several episodes of season 2, for obvious reasons. However, I’m definitely geeked about Strange New Worlds. I even watched some of Picard, near the end, it’s ok, but, I don’t have the excitement for it yet. Kinda like Enterprise, which, I came to like later on. As for the animation series’, eh? Never cared much for any animated programs. So, where I jump in after STD & STSNW, start airing, I’ve not decided yet. Probably when any 2 are simultaneously airing, including Picard. I will say, Disco saved themselves by catapulting into the future. And, I’m not too disappointed they made the troubled one captain, I guess she can’t disobey her own orders, but, no doubt, she will still clash with higher authority almost weekly.

    As for Kurtzman, like you said, he’s getting the job done, under heavy circumstances. That I can respect.

    1. David, you totally have to give “Lower Decks” a chance! It’s brilliant!!! And its a gift to us long-time fans who will literally trip over all of the clever easter eggs dropped throughout each episode. “Lower Decks” is a treasure!

  4. Ok Jonathan, I suppose I will give it a look. I’ve read lots of reviews, most were nice to the show, but, didn’t peak my interest so far. I’ll let you know when I do. Thanks.

  5. Agreed on the business side. Kurtzman seems to be capable and they like him. Fine.

    The content side however is not so clear for me. Discovery was a total mess in season 1, got better in season 2 (mostly because of Pike, but it had other moments, too), got interesting in season 3 (though I don’t quite like the burn storyline and the aftermath of that), and yes, like some other poster I’m interested in what season 4 has to offer, although I still actively dislike Michael Burnham, and probably always will.

    Picard was ok, but Patrick Stewart has really gotten old, which keeps distracting me, and the other bunch are great actors, but totally different to everything else (TNG etc.) – I think “moetly crew” put it best. But yeah, definitely looking forward to season 2, let alone for Q’s return 😉

    You’re right about Lower Decks – now *that’s* old-school (TNG) Star Trek to me, mixed with great humor. And I’m saying that as someone who normally doesn’t like animated stuff, but that show is great, just great! Well, could be, because Mike McMahan is a big fan and knows his Star Trek, but I guess that’s not what people want to hear…

    Prodigy I’m uncertain about. I’ll watch it, of course, but right now there’s nothing really interesting about it for me. Yes, Janeway is back, but only as a hologram, so we’ll see how that goes.

    Which leads to Strange New Worlds – now *that’s* the show I’m most looking forward to (can’t wait actually), because it has Pike, the Enterprise, promises to be (more) episodic in nature, and have some of the old-school TOS vibe. As long as they don’t mess with canon big time or upgrade the look and tech too much or in an unbelievable fashion (like the Discovery turbo shafts), I guess I’m going to love that show!

    Is Kurtzman to blame for all of my gripes with current Trek? Most likely not. Would it get better if they fired him? Most likely also not. So let him stick around 😉

    1. The point of the editorial is that, at least for now, VCBS isn’t as concerned with story quality. I mean, they don’t want it to suck, but the bar they’ll accept is very generous. The shows “look” good, and the suits don’t have time to become Trekkies themselves. So as far as they can tell, it’s Star Trek…CBS style. Will some fans dislike it? Of course. Fans always have strong feelings. But if the producers set their goal as “We’ve got to please all of the fans!” then Star Trek will never get made. Therefore, the goal has to be, “We have to produce decent quality sci-fi entertainment.” And that’s what Kurtzman is doing…hence, the 9-figure contract extension.

      1. Agreed! But something in the middle of both would be preferrable, maybe SNW will be just that. Here’s to hope! 😉

        1. We’ll see. I suspect that, like the other live-action CBS Star Trek series, I’ll find there’s things I like about it (Anson Mount) and things I don’t (the sets). As for the writing, that’s also likely to be hit-and-miss. Even TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT didn’t hit home runs with each episode during their first few seasons.

  6. One point I don’t think you emphasized enough is that “Star Trek” is a marketing name. Your list of how different all the ST shows are caused me to realize that “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” will get more initial viewers than “Strange New Worlds” (no ST connection) would get. So the naming makes good business sense.

    Your quote “He understands the business” is classic C-Suite speak for “he understands us” which of course is the elephant’s perspective. That one short sentence explains the decision. In the chess metaphor, he might be the Borg queen, a chess queen or a knight that is sacrificed to produce a ‘mate’ (high stock prices and profits). I’ll let history judge that.

    1. The lesson was learned of the power of the “Star Trek” brand in the show’s title when “Enterprise” was re-christened “Star Trek: Enterprise.” 🙂

  7. Honestly man I didn’t read it all but I got the gist. I still don’t like Kurtzman. I think he shit all over Star Trek with the first two seasons of STD. I think he realized that and has been making major course corrections. But there’s still no excuse for how bad and far from Star Trek those seasons were.

    That being said I did enjoy seasons 3 of STD as well as Picard and Lower Decks. Prodigy looks really good.

    No matter what else he does Kurtzman still screwed the pooch at the beginning when he had more than people rightly telling him not do what he did.

    1. There’s a phenomenon in psychology called the Halo Effect. It basically says that if you make a good first impression, people are likely to assume the best about you, even if there’s no hard evidence or experiences yet to justify that conclusion. And if you mess up later on, well, they’ll most likely give you the benefit of the doubt unless you really REALLY screw the pooch.

      At the other end of the spectrum is the “Horn Effect,” which is essentially the opposite. It says there’s almost no way to come back from a bad first impression. Folks “lock in” the worst assumptions if you initially disappointment them. I noticed this when I first met the parents of a girlfriend I dated back in college. I was REALLY nervous and pretty much made a fool of myself during my initial visit to their home (talked too much, said all the wrong things, etc.). This girl and I dated for nearly four years, and no matter how hard I tried after that, her parents never came around. Her mom almost did, but it took everything I had just to get that far.

      Anyway, Kurtzman obviously suffers from the Horn Effect with many fans. He botched the reboots, and then he botched the early seasons of Discovery. It does’t really matter at this point how amazing and incredible the newer Star Trek series turn out; many fans will never get over how he initially let them down and nothing will ever be good enough for them. He’s damned for eternity in their minds.

  8. If you look at how the stock plummeted right after this deal, it looks like they overestimated how valued Kurtzman was. Money talks so I wonder if this will make them reconsider this deal. They scrambled and were able to bring back up their stocks by inking a deal worth twice as much with the creators of South Park!

    1. Might want to check with your financial advisor, Jason. VCBS has been trading horizontally in a steady range from 38 to 46 from late March through now.

      The only “plummet” happened on March 26 when CBS announced $3 billion in new stock issues ($2 billion of Class B common stock and $1 billion in Series A Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock). This had nothing to do with Kurtzman but more to do with a huge raise of cash capital by the company intended to be put into Paramount+. Investors generally don’t like the dilution of shares by that significant an amount. So the stock price took a 50% hit in 24 hours…


      Amusingly, though, if you were to track the share price from the start of the year, VCBS began 2021 pretty much where it is now. If anything, it’s up a small bit. What happened was a ridiculous and unjustified doubling of the share price from mid-January through mid-March. So the “plummet” on March 26 was more of smart investors who bought on the rumor all selling on the news and a very heathy price correction.

      Neither Viacom, CBS, not Paramount has never been a “high flyer” like Apple (or Zoom or Target during the pandemic). It’s a solid, stable stock that yields decent dividends to folks wanting low market risk. The Kurtzman deal had almost no effect on the share price. If you don’t believe me, just take a look the one-year chart of VIAC:


  9. Honestly I couldn’t give two shits what people say.

    I love Star Trek, period. I like seeing what they have to offer, if I don’t like the episode, then I don’t like it. Does it mean the whole franchise is going down the crapper? No, Just means I didn’t like it.

    There are a lot of people who have their panties in a wad because it is not the Brandon Braga, Michael Piller, Manny Coto era of Trek, or even the Gene Roddenberry Era. Yes the first season of Disco was utter garbage when you compare it to Season 2 and 3. Just like the first 2 seasons of TNG, DS9 and Voyager were garbage compared to the rest of the shows run.
    And if they have a issue with Kurtzman they will never have a good opinion of Disco, Picard, Strange New World and whatever other shows come out. That type of Toxic fervor is what causes issues with the fandom.

    As far as I am concerned, those types need to go away. They are out to do harm to the franchise that I hold near and dear to my heart, because it isn’t like it was back in the day during the TNG-ENT era or the TOS era. I have no problem with someone saying I don’t like this episode, and have valid points. True fans not only like the shows, but they will call BS on bad episodes. And I am fine with that. But this Toxic fandom that has popped up needs to go away. All they are doing is destroying the show that I love.

    1. Trek fans, and people in general, have actually always been like this. People like to be right–whether it’s about religion, politics, or sci-fi. And in order for them to be right, someone or something else needs to be wrong.

      The difference between today and 1987–when TNG wasn’t “real Star Trek” because it didn’t feature Kirk and Spock–or 1993–when DS9 wasn’t “real” Star Trek because you couldn’t boldly go anywhere when you were stuck on a space station (and anyway, everybody knew that DS9 just copied Babylon 5, which was a much better show)–the difference between then and now is the existence of social media and the ability of fans to immediately share their opinions loudly and proudly (and all-too-often obnoxiously) with dozens or hundreds or thousands (or more) of people rather than being forced to write articles in silly newsletters and fanzines that you had to pay to photocopy and mail out to people. I know! I wrote some of those op-eds saying just that. 🙂

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