(written from a Production point of view)
James M. Cawley II (born 23 June 1967; age 48) is best known as the senior executive producer and star of the fan-made internet series Star Trek: Phase II, formerly Star Trek: New Voyages, in which he plays Captain James T. Kirk. For the canon Star Trek franchise, however, he appeared as a Starfleet officer on the bridge of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek, directed by J.J. Abrams. He can be seen standing next to Spock and holding a clipboard when Spock returns to the bridge for the first time after relinquishing command of the Enterprise.  Cawley's New Voyages co-star, Jeffery Quinn, also appeared in the movie as a Vulcan.
An Elvis Presley tribute artist from Ticonderoga, New York, Cawley is a huge Trekkie who has been collecting props and costumes from the original Star Trek series since 1997. His attention to detail earned him an internship under costume designer William Ware Theiss on Star Trek: The Next Generation.   Theiss provided Cawley with many TOS original source materials, including costume patterns and blueprints for the set of the original starship Enterprise in the early 1990s. He used these blueprints to construct near-flawless recreations of the original series sets in an abandoned car dealership in Port Henry, New York, spending more than US$100,000 of his own money. Fans who are part of the production help with the costs to continue to maintain and update the sets.
The new sets were soon put to good use. Cawley and other Star Trek fans came together to begin filming Star Trek: New Voyages, a non-profit internet series taking place during the fourth year of the USS Enterprise's five-year mission under Captain Kirk. The pilot, "Come What May", was filmed in 2003 and released in January 2004. Pieces of the sets, and some of the costumes, have been borrowed by Paramount for their Enterprise series.
Cawley produces New Voyages under The Retro Films / The Cawley Entertainment Company, funding the project using money he earns from his successful career as one of the country's top Elvis impersonators.   CBS Studios, which currently owns the rights to Star Trek, allows the show's production (and that of other fan-created material) so long as the series does not make a profit.
The popularity and quality of New Voyages have led alumni from official Star Trek productions to contribute their talents to the series. TOS actors Walter Koenig, George Takei, Grace Lee Whitney, and William Windom have appeared on the series, reprising their roles as Pavel Chekov, Hikaru Sulu, Janice Rand, and Commodore Matt Decker respectively. TNG performer Denise Crosby also guest-stars as the grandmother of Natasha Yar. Majel Barrett-Roddenberry also reprised her role as the voice as the Enterprise computer in one episode. In addition, TOS writers D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold have each written an episode of the series. Fontana and Gerrold are also consulting producers on the series, as is Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry, Jr., son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. A host of Star Trek production staffers too, have lent their talents to Cawley's production, including among others Doug Drexler, Dan Curry, Mike Okuda, Andrew Probert, Steve Horch, and Gregory Jein, to name but a few.
As a testament to the project's success, its third episode, "World Enough and Time" (guest-starring Takei and Whitney, written by Michael Reaves and directed by Marc Scott Zicree), earned the series the TV Guide's 2007 Best Sci-Fi Webisodes Award. 
In addition to his work on New Voyages, Cawley appeared as Captain Mackenzie Calhoun in the "Vigil" episode of the Star Trek: Hidden Frontier fan series. He also played Peter Kirk opposite Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, and Alan Ruck in the long-awaited internet mini-series Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, directed by Tim Russ. Star Trek: Of Gods and Men used Cawley's sets and costumes to film their shipboard scenes.
Cawley was given a background part in the new Star Trek movie following a chance encounter with director J.J. Abrams on the Paramount lot. Abrams invited a group of people, including Cawley, to visit the set of the bridge of the movie's Enterprise, which Cawley describes as "spectacular" and "absolutely stunning." Cawley had the chance to be a background extra in the film as an officer working aboard the Enterprise, which began filming 23 January 2008, a chance that later created controversy in the fan community when it was discovered that Cawley convinced J.J. Abrams to let him have a role in the film by giving Abrams an actual Star Trek captain's uniform worn by William Shatner. (citation needed • edit) It was later revealed by the CBS/Paramount legal department that the uniform was not an actual captain's uniform worn by William Shatner, as originally claimed by Cawley. It was a uniform given to Cawley by another Star Trek fan film production. Although he was initially skeptical of the new film, he now supports it after talking with Abrams and after seeing the sets, the costumes, and the performers in action. 
Cawley continues to produce episodes for the now-renamed Star Trek: Phase II and is currently in pre-production on both a continuation of the 1960s TV series The Wild Wild West, and an internet version of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which has been licensed by the Dille Family Trust and will star both Bobby Quinn Rice and Gil Gerard, the original Buck Rogers from the 1979-1982 television series.
Cawley was also interviewed for the "Collecting Star Trek's Movie Relics" featurette on the 2009 DVD/Blu-Ray Disc release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Cawley's interview was shot on the bridge of the Enterprise used on New Voyages/Phase II, and focused on the costumes he owns that were originally created for the ill-fated Star Trek: Phase II canon TV series.