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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SIR PATRICK STEWART and ALEX KURTZMAN go ALL-IN on a PICARD V.I.P. set tour sweepstakes!

How’d you like for SIR PATRICK STEWART to personally escort you and a friend through the set for STAR TREK: PICARD and introduce you to all of the cast members? And hey, as long as you’re there, why not throw in a walk-on appearance in one of the season two episodes?

Sound crazy? Unbelievable? Impossible??? Nope, this is 100% for real, folks…and by entering, you will also be helping to feed people in dire need of food during this global pandemic crisis.

Back in April, a small group of entrepreneurs from Fanatics.com launched a new initiative called the ALL IN Challenge. Leveraging their connections in the sports world (Fanatics is a licensed merchandise manufacturer for professional and college sports leagues throughout the world), the ALL IN Challenge Foundation invited famous athletes (and later music and entertainment industry celebrities) to donate their most prized possessions and be challenged to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will be both available for online auction and as giveaways.

All of the money raised (100%) will be going directly to the following charities: Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, and America’s Food Fund, which is directly benefiting Feeding America and World Central Kitchen. More than ever before, families are struggling to provide food as tens of millions are out of work, kids are out of school, many are at risk of losing their income, and the most vulnerable elderly population is self-isolating. The ALL IN Challenge Foundation (AICF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and therefore, any money you give them to win a chance to visit the set of Picard will be completely tax deductible. (Visit this web page for more details.)

ALL IN Challenge Foundation has already raised nearly $60 million from over a million donations. More than 500 celebrities and organizations have offered prizes so far—from Jennifer Lopez to the Philadelphia Eagles to Starbucks (free Starbucks for life, anyone?). And the latest offering from ALL IN is for a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a fan to visit the set of Star Trek: Picard, meet Patrick Stewart, and even have a walk-on role in a season two episode. Here is the official description:

We will roll out the red carpet with an exclusive VIP set visit and tour of the stages for you and a guest. The star treatment will continue as you, the winner, go into hair, makeup and wardrobe before being part of the show with a walk-on role. You and your guest will also have the chance to meet Sir Patrick Stewart as one of his most iconic characters, Jean-Luc Picard.

Naturally, timing depends on the pandemic and safety concerns. And the winner is responsible for his or her travel and lodging. But aside from that, it’s just a simple sweepstakes with $10 buying ten chances to win, and $100 buying 200 chances. You can enter as many times as you like up through July 22, 2020…

Click here to enter and read the full rules and details

PICARD TREK…what is CBS thinking???? (editorial, part 2)

Yesterday, I began discussing the explosive news that hit Trek fandom like a warp core breach over this past weekend: SIR PATRICK STEWART will be returning to play Jean-Luc Picard in a brand new Star Trek television project.  It’s not known yet if this will be an ongoing series, a mini-series, or just a made-for-TV movie or pilot.  No scripts have been written, and indeed, there are no real details yet detailing whether this will be Captain Picard, Admiral Picard, Ambassador Picard, or just some bald guy who used to fight the Borg now running a small winery in eastern France.

But one thing is for sure: CBS is now committed to the project because it’s been officially announced to both Trekkies and the world at large.  Nearly all major entertainment media magazines were carrying the news on their websites within 24 hours.  It’d be tough for CBS to back out now.

But is this a good thing?

After all, in an interview on StarTrek.com back in 2010, Sir Patrick himself said of Next Gen: “I remain very proud of the work that we did, very proud of the series and the movies, but I do not wish to return to it.”  In a convention appearance around that same time where I saw him, Stewart explained that he felt he’d thoroughly examined every aspect of Picard creatively as a actor and was okay moving on.

Is CBS just desperately going back to a well that’s already been mostly tapped…rather than working to create something fresh and new?  Are they relying on Patrick Stewart as “stunt casting” to help draw in more viewers?

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PICARD TREK…what is CBS thinking???? (editorial, part 1)

The Star Trek world was rocked this past weekend when news arrived from Las Vegas that not only will there be a second new live-action Star Trek series going into pre-production (rather than just being proposed), but it will feature none other than Sir Patrick Stewart himself reprising his role of Jean-Luc Picard! I’ve seen the word “nerdgasm” bantered about over the past 48 hours, and I must admit to being more than a bit excited myself over the news.

I was also intrigued (although not necessarily surprised) to find that some fans had more…shall we say…pessimistic reactions. One friend of mine wrote me, “To be honest, this terrifies me and is the worst thing they could have done. They will build up unrealistic hype over it and finally break the backs of the majority of the deep fandom with disappointment.” Interestingly, he didn’t say this because he thought Star Trek: Discovery was/is terrible. In fact, he added, “I was hopeful with Discovery and it turned out somewhere between ok and good…”

Conversely, it seems that a lot of Discovery detractors are using this news to cross their fingers and predict/hope/pray that “this time, they’ll get it right.” And many Discovery supporters are thinking, “Hey, it’ll be another great new Trek series AND it’ll have Picard…win-win!”

I probably fall more into the former group, but in my mind, there’s a much more interesting question to ask: What is CBS thinking???

I do not mean this in a “What in the world are these clueless idiots possibly thinking?” kind of way. Instead, I’m really, truly curious what is going through their minds right now. And I’d like to share some conjectures with you…realizing that this is purely speculation on my my part. But I think it’ll be a fun little thought experiment…

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