Kurtzman’s new 5 years + mission
In a Sunday New York Times profile, it was first reported that CBS Studios had renegotiated their deal with Alex Kurtzman. The new $ 160 million deal extended his stay by five and a half years, putting him in charge of the Star Trek universe until at least 2026. The deal was later confirmed by Variety, Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter.
“From the first meeting I had with Alex, it was so obvious to me that he was our future,” CBS Entertainment Group president George Cheeks told The Times. “The guy can grow for broadcast. It can develop for premium streaming, wide streaming. He understands the business… When you make those investments, you should know that this talent can actually complete multiple projects at the same time on multiple platforms.
Growing Paramount + to compete in streaming wars against giants like Amazon, Netflix and Disney is a particular challenge for ViacomCBS at this time, and this deal is seen as part of their plan to expand the service. Kurtzman tells The Times he welcomes the challenge and sees more opportunities in streaming:
I believe that the border between cinema and television has disappeared now, and this is a great opportunity for me. For me and for showrunners like me, we can tell stories in new ways. We’re not limited by the narrow definition of how you tell a story: something has to be told in 10 hours, or something has to be told in two hours.
“I just started” … including a comedy by Worf?
When Kurtzman signed his contract with CBS in 2018, Star Trek: Discovery had only aired its first season, and other Star Trek shows were in early development stages. Since then, his production company Secret Hideout has launched Star Trek : Picard with the return of Sir Patrick Stewart and Star Trek: Lower Bridges, the franchise’s first adult animated comedy. According to the Times report, Discovery and Picard are among the most viewed original series on Paramount +.
More seasons of Discovery, Picard, and Inferior The decks are currently in production, as well as the new live-action series. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds about Captain Pike’s USS Enterprise and the animated series for children Star Trek : Prodige, coming this fall. Prodigy in particular was cited as an important show for ViacomCBS, with CBS Studios president David Stapf telling The Times: “It obviously creates fans in a much younger generation, which helps with consumer products. But it’s also a smart way to envision building an entire universe. We’ve already seen proof of this with the recent announcement of Playmates Toys returning to Star Trek with a new broad license.
Three shows were specifically cited as “in preparation”, two of which we have already heard about. The first is the Section 31 series with Michelle Yeoh, which was first announced in 2019. Since then, a writers’ room has been set up; earlier this year, Kurtzman cited the global pandemic to keep it from going into production, saying he was still “very optimistic” about the project. The other show mentioned in the NYT article was a Starfleet Academy show aimed at a younger audience. This project was first mentioned in 2018, which would come from Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, producers of shows such as CO, Gossip Girl, and Marvel Runaways. However, there have been no real development reports over the past three years.
There was also a “stranger” idea mentioned in the Times article. Kurtzman pointed out an argument from writer / producer Graham Wagner who wrote the Short hikes episode “The Trouble with Edward” and is best known for his work on Office, Portlandia, and Silicon Valley. Wagner’s pitch “centers on the character of Worf”, and Kurtzman calls the concept “incredibly funny, poignant and touching.” Michael Dorn has been actively researching a new Worf-centric series for years, but his concept is quite different.
Regarding the future of the franchise, Kurtzman said, “I think we’re just getting started. There is so much more to be had.
Push the limits
During his tenure at Trek, Kurtzman moved the franchise into new areas, but he tells The Times he has even more ambitious ideas:
If it were up to me, I would be pushing the boundaries a lot further than I think most people would like. I think we could do it. Marvel has actually proven that you can. But you have to build a certain foundation to get there and we’re still building our foundation.
And it appears he has a willing partner with CBS’s David Stapf, who told The Times:
Anything goes, as long as it can fit into the inspirational, optimistic and optimistic “Star Trek” philosophy and the general idea that humanity is good. So comedy, adult animation, kids animation – you name the genre, and there is probably a “Star Trek” version.
Learn more about the Star Trek universe at TrekMovie.com.