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Michael B. Piller (30 May 1948 – 1 November 2005; age 57) was a writer and Executive Producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and co-creator of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. He is probably best known for co-writing "The Best of Both Worlds" and the pilots of both Deep Space Nine and Voyager ("Emissary" and "Caretaker", respectively). A 24th century chemical element, pillerium, was named for him.
Piller, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, began his career as a news producer for CBS News in New York. He later produced news programs in North Carolina and Chicago, eventually winning two Emmy awards for news journalism. In the late 1970s, he moved to Los Angeles and became a censor in the CBS television docudrama unit. His creative writing career began in the early 1980s, when he wrote numerous teleplays for hit shows, including Simon and Simon and the innovative Miami Vice. He also produced (or co-produced) many of the episodes he wrote.
Following a long illness, Piller died of head and neck cancer in his home in Los Angeles in 2005. He is survived by his wife Sandra, and his children Brent and Shawn.
Star Trek Edit
In 1989, Piller's long-time friend Maurice Hurley called upon him to script a few episodes for Star Trek: The Next Generation. His stories were widely acclaimed, and Piller eventually became an Executive Producer of the series. His tenure is noted for its character development, rather than for exploiting sci-fi gadgetry of the future. Piller originally had a one year contract and was ready to leave The Next Generation with the ending of Season 3. Gene Roddenberry himself asked him to come back for another year, noting that the fourth season was the one where the audience would fall in love with the series. (TNG Season 3 DVD-special feature, "Mission Overview Year Three - Ending Season Three")
In 1992, Piller (along with Rick Berman) began the creation of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and he contributed to the series' writing, casting, and budgetary direction, all the while continuing his duties as executive producer of TNG. Piller was an avid baseball card collector, reportedly with a collection numbering in the hundred-thousands (hence Benjamin Sisko's affinity for the game). After two seasons with DS9, Piller left the show to help create Star Trek: Voyager, which launched in 1995 as the "flagship vessel" of the newly-created UPN (United Paramount Network). He left the staff of Voyager in 1996 after seven continuous years with the Star Trek franchise, but remained a "creative consultant" for Voyager. He subsequently returned to write and co-produce Star Trek: Insurrection in 1998.
Later works Edit
During his Star Trek years, Piller only made one major venture outside the franchise. The result was the unusual sci-fi western series Legend, which he created with Bill Dial and which starred John de Lancie. This series had a very brief run on UPN in 1995.
In 2002, Piller co-developed (with his son, Shawn) the television series based upon the Stephen King novel The Dead Zone. That series featured DS9's Nicole de Boer and TNG guest star David Ogden Stiers.
Piller wrote a screenplay called Oversight, which he described as a Washington-based thriller that is not a big action movie but rather a "small personal character story." The screenplay has yet to be produced.
In early 2005, he created and produced a new television series, the family drama Wildfire, which starred DS9's Nana Visitor.
Writing credits Edit
- TNG Season 3
- TNG Season 4
- TNG Season 5
- TNG Season 6
- DS9 Season 1
- "Emissary" (teleplay, story with Rick Berman)
- "A Man Alone" (teleplay, story with Gerald Sanford)
- "Captive Pursuit" (teleplay with Jill Sherman Donner)
- "The Passenger" (teleplay with Morgan Gendel and Robert Hewitt Wolfe)
- "Move Along Home" (story)
- "If Wishes Were Horses" (teleplay with Nell McCue Crawford and William L. Crawford)
- "The Forsaken" (teleplay with Don Carlos Dunaway)
- DS9 Season 2
- "The Siege"
- "Melora" (teleplay with Evan Carlos Somers and James Crocker)
- "Rivals" (story with Jim Trombetta)
- "Whispers" (teleplay with Paul Robert Coyle)
- "Playing God" (teleplay with Jim Trombetta)
- "The Maquis, Part I" (story with Rick Berman, Jeri Taylor, and James Crocker)
- "The Maquis, Part II" (story with Rick Berman, Jeri Taylor, and Ira Steven Behr)
- "Crossover" (teleplay with Peter Allan Fields)
- VOY Season 1
- VOY Season 2
- VOY Season 3
- Star Trek: Insurrection (screenplay, story with Rick Berman)
Producing credits Edit
- Star Trek: The Next Generation ("The Bonding" - "The Best of Both Worlds") - Co-Executive Producer
- Star Trek: The Next Generation ("The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" - "All Good Things...") - Executive Producer
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ("Emissary" - "Through the Looking Glass") - Executive Producer
- Star Trek: Voyager ("Caretaker" - "Basics, Part II") - Executive Producer
- Star Trek: Insurrection - Co-Producer
Star Trek interviews Edit
Piller was interviewed on 1 October 1992 about the creation of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This interview was later used as part of the DS9 Season 1 DVD special feature "Deep Space Nine: A Bold Beginning".
Piller has also been interviewed in an online chat. Piller stated that his favorite TNG episodes were "The Inner Light", "The Measure Of A Man" and "The Offspring", "because they had remarkable emotional impacts. And they genuinely explored the Human condition, which this franchise does better than any other when it does it well."
- TNG Season 3 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Three" ("Introduction", "Ending Season Three"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 3 DVD special feature "Selected Crew Analysis - Year Three" ("Crew Profile: Worf"), interviewed on 21 August 1991
- TNG Season 3 DVD special feature "Departmental Briefing Year Three" ("Production", "A New Writing Staff", "Technical Consultation"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 3 DVD special feature "Memorable Missions" ("The Most Toys", "Deja Q"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 4 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Four", interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 4 DVD special feature "Chronicles from the Final Frontier", interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 4 DVD special feature "Inside the Star Trek Archives" ("First Contact"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 5 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Five" ("A Visit from Spock", "Darmok", "The Inner Light", "I Borg"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 5 DVD special feature "Departmental Briefing Year Five" ("The First Duty"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 5 DVD special feature "Intergalactic Guest Stars" ("Crew Profile: Ensign Ro Laren"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 6 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Six" ("Resolving the Cliffhanger", "January 1993 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Debuts", "Chain of Command"), interviewed on 1 October 1992 and 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Seven" ("An Ending And A Beginning"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "Starfleet Moments & Memories Year Seven" ("A Unique Legacy"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "The Making of "All Good Things..." Year Seven" ("Writing The Final Episode"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
- TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "Special Profiles Year Seven" ("Q"), interviewed on 22 January 2002
Star Trek awards Edit
For his work on Star Trek Michael Piller received the following award and nominations in the various writing and producer categories.
Emmy Award Edit
Piller received the following Emmy Award nomination in the category Outstanding Drama Series
- 1994 for Star Trek: The Next Generation, shared with Rick Berman, Ron D. Moore, Jeri Taylor, David Livingston, Peter Lauritson, Merri D. Howard, Wendy Neuss, and Brannon Braga
Hugo Award Edit
Piller received the following Hugo Award nomination in the category Best Dramatic Presentation
Gene Roddenberry Award Edit
Piller received the following honorary Gene Roddenberry Award as Executive Producer/Writer from the FantastiCon Science-Fiction Convention, which was presented to him by original Battlestar Galactica actress Anne Lockhart wbm:
Piller wrote a book about the writing of Star Trek: Insurrection entitled Fade In: From Idea to Final Draft. The manuscript was completed, but he died before it could be published. Officially, both Paramount and the Piller family have exercised legal options to keep the book private, though Piller's widow, Sandra, who described the work as "brutally honest", later, in 2013, gave somewhat more nuanced reasons for its non-publication: "Well, when he first got the go-ahead from the studio to write the book, and he got it signed-off with all the actors and everyone... when he finally turned it in, he was shocked! They said, "We can't let the public know what we do here, what goes on behind the scenes!""  Nevertheless, due to a miscommunication, the full text was briefly published by TrekCore in 2010. It has never been fully suppressed since. Sandra Piller furthermore revealed that she was looking into the possibility to have the work yet published.