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Rick Berman

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Richard Keith Berman (born 25 December 1945; age 70) is a veteran writer and producer of American television. He was the executive producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1991-1994) and co-creator of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Enterprise. He also produced and co-wrote four Star Trek films.

Throughout his long tenure at Star Trek, Berman had his name on several occasions referenced:

In addition, Berman was honored by SkyBox International with an individual card entry, no. 37, in their 1993 specialty Star Trek: The Next Generation - Behind the Scenes trading card set.

BiographyEdit

note: all below featured uncited blockquotes are from the extensive interview for Star Trek Magazine issue 129 of November 2006, conducted with Berman two months prior to his departure from Paramount Pictures.

Early life and careerEdit

Born in New York, New York on December 25, 1945, Rick Berman earned a bachelor's degree in speech from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967.

In 1970, Berman worked as production assistant on John Lennon and Yoko Ono's experimental short film, Fly, which was one of his earliest jobs in filmmaking. [1]

A prolific documentary filmmaker in the 1970s, Berman traveled extensively throughout the world, visiting over ninety countries. As an independent producer in the 1980s, Berman produced several informational series for HBO and PBS, including The Big Blue Marble for which he won an Emmy Award in 1982. Coming to Paramount Pictures in 1984, Berman served as director of current programming and executive director of dramatic programming during which time he supervised television series including MacGyver, Family Ties, and Cheers – appearing in the final episode of the latter as a bar patron.

Star TrekEdit

In November 1986, recently promoted to vice president of long form and special projects for Paramount Network Television, Berman was called to a meeting with Gene Roddenberry, early in the development of his television spin-off of Star Trek. Berman recalled the meeting in his foreword for Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission:

"When I arrived at the meeting, Gene's office was filled with a number of high-ranking studio executives. Gene didn't want to do whatever they were proposing. Gene pounded the desk and the executives pounded back. Gene raised his voice and the executives raised theirs even louder. In the midst of all this pounding and shouting, I sat with my mouth shut. It wasn't that I had chosen this as a tactic, it was simply that I had no idea what they were talking about. But I clearly remember that on at least two occasions during that meeting, Gene's eyes locked on to mine for an instant and I responded with a slightly mischievous smile. Later, Gene Roddenberry would tell me how that smile was filled with subtext... I actually believe it was nothing more than a slightly mischievous smile."

Upon their second meeting, the two men discussed their travels – Roddenberry with the army and Berman as a documentary filmmaker – Berman described the meeting as a bonding experience, "love at second sight". Within days, Berman was offered a position as a producer on the fledgling Star Trek sequel, a move which would require him to resign his post as an executive and return to production. However, Berman was not acquainted with Star Trek, or with science-fiction in general for that matter, only vaguely recalling one or two episodes he had seen as a kid, and needed a crash course, being "personally mentored by Gene Roddenberry on the "rules of Star Trek" and vowed never to break them", as author Sue Short would have it. ([X]wbm; Star Trek and American Television, p. 40) Berman described his new working relationship with Roddenberry as a blending of the Star Trek creator's fantastical imagination with his more "Earthbound" sensibility.

David Gerrold recalled the events differently, pointing out that Roddenberry disliked Berman, who was hired as a "watchdog" by the studio who still blamed Roddenberry for the perceived failure of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. "Gene didn't like Rick, at all. But Rick was installed on the show by the studio as a way to keep a control on the show... to keep the budgets in line, make sure that the scripts were done. Ultimately, Berman ended up in control rather than Maizlish [remark: Roddenberry's attorney] because Berman played the politics of the studio more effectively." [2] The later, 2014 documentary William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge, amply demonstrated that Roddenberry actually fought tooth and nail to the bitter end to retain creative control over, what would become, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Officially credited as "Supervising Producer" (somewhat affirming Gerrold's assessment), Berman worked closely with fellow supervising producer Bob Justman, casting the new crew of the USS Enterprise-D and campaigning heavily to secure Patrick Stewart in the lead role in The Next Generation. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission) Actually, accepting his new position, formally constituted a demotion, as Berman moved down from the executive ranks (usually enjoying tenure) to production ranks (usually contracted on a per production basis as Justman was, though in this case Berman was an exception).

The Next Generation and Deep Space NineEdit

Piller and Berman, DS9 set

Berman and Michael Piller on the set of Deep Space Nine

Ronald Reagans set visit

Berman with Ronald Reagan in 1991.

With the departure of Bob Justman following TNG's first year and Roddenberry's declining involvement in the day-to-day production of the series, Berman quickly ascended to the role of executive producer, a title he held alone following Roddenberry's death in 1991.

Overseeing all aspects of the production of The Next Generation, Berman described his position as monitoring both the aspects of the series that changed and those that remained the same, in order to retain a balance. "My job also includes monitoring the 'degree of bend'... letting the shows and the films evolve, but keeping Gene's vision true to course. I'm not quite fluent yet, but I'm getting there."

Berman would later recall, "I learned Gene's vision directly from Gene. It wasn't my vision of the future, but it was at the foundation of Star Trek. It was like learning a foreign language. I studied it." (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 3) Keeping a small bust of Roddenberry on his desk, Berman often referred to what Roddenberry would have done had he survived to continue running TNG. When any one of the writers would propose an idea that Berman felt was explicitly contrary to that edict, Berman would "blindfold" the bust. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)

With the success of TNG and mounting production costs, Paramount, in the guise of newly appointed studio head Brandon Tartikoff (former head of NBC and for whom Berman had actually provided the hit series Cheers), soon approached Berman and his associates to ready yet another spin-off, one to run concurrently with TNG before supplanting it on the airwaves. In Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission (pp. 154-157), Berman had recounted that he had a series of meetings with Tartikoff, starting in the summer of 1991. As a former television network executive, Tartikoff was acutely aware that even the most successful series had a limited, economical life-span for a variety of reasons, ranging from psychological cast fatigue, through naturally increasing production costs – if only for the annually inflation adjusted production staff wages as ordained by the Hollywood Unions, and not in the least for star cast salaries habitually inflating exponentially with each sequel – , to increased competition with itself for scarce syndication time-slots the longer a series runs. Together with Berman, Tartikoff decided upon an optimum Star Trek series run of seven seasons, meaning that The Next Generation had at that time only three seasons left to go. Though enamored with the Original Crew movies (he had overseen the production tail-end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), Tartikoff was well aware that they too had run their course, if only for the age of the cast, but figured this was the perfect time to pass the baton to "the next generation", thereby starting a new Star Trek movie franchise. He instructed Berman to start looking into that, and have a movie ready at the end of The Next Generation television series (by which time the new Star Trek series had to be up and running for two seasons), preferably one in which, one way or another, featured the transition of the Original Crew to The Next Generation Crew. Given his marching orders, Berman was sent on his way to his most daunting year in his entire career, 1994. For all intents and purposes, it was Tartikoff who had come up with the leap-frogging seven-season format of the modern Star Trek television franchise, and the start of The Next Generation movie franchise. What was to become Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would be Rick Berman's first "created by" credit.

Despite criticism that the second Star Trek spin-off, co-created by Berman and Michael Piller, was darker and grittier than previous Trek outings, Berman consistently and steadfastly disagreed. In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, Berman recalls:

"I was asked to create and develop a series that would serve as a companion piece to The Next Generation for about a year and a half, and then TNG would go off the air and this new show would continue. So I asked Michael Piller to get involved, and we put our heads together. I really never had the opportunity to discuss any ideas with Gene. This was very close to the end of Gene's life, and he was quite ill at the time. But he knew that we were working on something, and I definitely had his blessing to develop it."

Nevertheless, in a January 1993 Los Angeles Times interview, Berman also admitted that Roddenberry had never known what the new series exactly entailed, "He was not well at the time. He was quite ill, and I never got a chance to tell him what the ideas were, what they were about. But I definitely discussed things with him enough to know that he trusted me and had given me his blessings," hastening to add that, "Our Starfleet officers are still Starfleet officers in the true Roddenberry spirit. There is no conflict between them," but by, "(...)twisting the location of the show a little bit to this strange uncomfortable place, by adding a back story where we have alien characters who are not at all that crazy about having our people there, it allows us numerous new vehicles of conflict that make the stories a lot more compelling." [3]

The movies and VoyagerEdit

Following the end of the seven season run of The Next Generation, Rick Berman's duties as executive producer segued into the responsibility of overseeing the continuation of that series on the big screen. With the process of creating a TNG movie beginning as early as 1992, the situation was nevertheless rushed according to Berman in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion:

"The television studio people knew me and how I worked, and trusted me after seven years. But the feature film people didn't, and I had to develop that rapport with them... originally they wanted us to have it out in March. Then they said Christmas, and then Thanksgiving. It just kept creeping up on us."

One of the few producers to successfully transition from television to feature films, Berman's eventual Star Trek Generations was a financial success, securing his place in the world of Star Trek-features, cemented with the run-away success of the subsequent one, Star Trek: First Contact.

Despite the general prosperity of Deep Space Nine, Paramount pressured Berman for yet another television series. So close to the end of TNG and running alongside DS9, Berman admitted in a 2006 interview that he felt many aspects of what came to be Star Trek: Voyager, unfortunately, didn't work.

"I think a lot of things did work. It was the first attempt to do a Star Trek show on a starship that was not the Enterprise. It was a show that was pushed on the public a little too quickly, which was difficult. It was very difficult to have a female lead who could have the authority of a Starfleet captain and simultaneously have the nurturing feminine qualities that we were all after. It was a difficult thing to do. I think that may have been part of the motivation for bringing in Jeri Ryan... It was something we tried to do, something I think we did successfully, but not as successfully as we'd hoped. I think there may have been a problem with the whole idea of throwing the ship to the other side of the galaxy, because I think Star Trek, at its soul, is a show about heading outward into new places and discovering new things, and this was a show about heading back and trying to find our way home. We hoped that the amount of adventure and exploration would be the same on our journey back home, but I think something was lost on their way home."

Yet again citing studio pressure for a quickened turn-out pace, Berman said:

"I again asked them for a little breathing room, that maybe it wasn't a good idea to slap a new show on the air in what was going to be the third season of Deep Space Nine. Maybe we needed to separate them a little bit. It was very clear to me they wanted another show... In a very polite and abstract way I was told that if I refused to do it, they respected that, but that they'd find someone else who would..."

Actually, the studio had overriding, commercial reasons for pushing ahead with Voyager, since it had slated the production to serve as the flagship for the studio's own recently established UPN television network. While Voyager would fail to achieve the same audience numbers that Star Trek: The Next Generation and even Deep Space Nine once did, Paramount and UPN still considered it a profitable and desirable commodity. With the end of Voyager's seventh season, Berman was once again approached to create a new series - one to air in the fall of 2001, mere months after the final broadcast of Voyager.

As "Rick Berman Productions", Berman contributed in a creative consultancy and producer role to the 1998 Klingon Encounter-ride of the Star Trek: The Experience-attraction; six years later, he reprised that role for the additional Borg Invasion 4D-ride.

Enterprise and NemesisEdit

Rick Berman and Bill Gates

Berman tours the Enterprise sets with Bill Gates

Partnering with TNG veteran Brannon Braga, Berman co-created and executive produced Enterprise, arguably the most controversial of his endeavors. Credited for polarizing the apparently dwindling Star Trek fan base, Enterprise was, at Berman's insistence, drastically different from previous outings.

Debuting with a relatively large audience, Enterprise quickly lost viewer-ship and inspired criticism of both the series and its creators, with fans – and as it turned out after-the-fact by production staffers as well – criticizing alleged violations in established continuity. With the additional failure of Star Trek Nemesis, at the box office in 2002 – hard on the heels of the near equal dismal performance of Star Trek: Insurrection – , outspoken critics clamored for the removal of Berman.

"Contrary to the people on the Internet who seem to think I never cared very much about the Star Trek franchise, I did and I do. I felt that if someone was going to keep it true to Gene Roddenberry's vision it would probably be better me than for me to bow out."

Berman's somewhat placating remark, made long after-the-fact, belied however the ferocity with which the outspoken critics pursued their goals. Partisan elements of The Star Trek Fan Association (STFA) united in the "Save Star Trek Campaign", a major initiative calling for sweeping changes within the Star Trek franchise leadership and creative direction with the goal of "restoring" the franchise to Gene Roddenberry’s creative precedents. [X]wbm Part of the initiative was the organization of their December 2002 online petition to Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone and Paramount Pictures CEO Sherry Lansing, in which they demanded the removal of the "current leadership of the franchise from their positions, including Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and their entire staff", and instead install a "Board of Star Trek Trustees in their place: a group of 5 individuals who can properly run the franchise in accordance with the ideals and vision of its creator, Gene Roddenberry". [X]wbm Seemingly unfazed at the time, Berman reacted with a dismissive commentary, "There are people who probably think that the quality would improve greatly, if I were to be hit by a truck." (Star Trek and American Television, p. 40)

As it turned out however, Berman had not been too keen on embarking on Enterprise himself for practical reasons, as his former partner Braga divulged in 2014, "Star Trek was wearing out its welcome. Rick Berman didn't want to make a show so soon but Paramount did. I think it was too soon for another show. It was a quality show, but the ratings weren't really what they should be. And I don't think the network – the new regime [at UPN] – I don’t think they treated the show with the tender loving care that it needed to thrive." [4] What Berman had feared was, what Star Trek author and historian Larry Nemecek had called, "franchise fatigue", but Nemececk has concurrently added that he suspected a case of "producer fatigue" as well, unsurprisingly perhaps, as Berman had already helmed the franchise for nearly fifteen years by this time. According to Nemececk, the addition of Braga as Berman's equal was an implicit acknowledgement of the latter. (ENT Season 4 Blu-ray-special feature, "Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise)

Berman himself divulged that, in the case of Enterprise, the relationship between UPN and Star Trek, which had been a warm one during the production of Voyager, had by then soured considerably and had taken a turn for the worst, "Our relationship with the network was distant. And it wasn't embracing and warm and...a sense of working together that had existed in all the years before." (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray-special feature, "In a Time of War") Several of his former subordinates, both cast and production staff, have subsequently corroborated Berman's assessment, coming forward with instances of network meddlement which was detrimental to Enterprise, and which had disturbing similarities with what had befallen between The Original Series and NBC back in the 1960s, especially in regard to ratings and air time scheduling. Exemplary of this was, according to Braga, their decree, if the series was to be renewed for a fourth season – the network actually already of a mind not to do so – , to get rid off Scott Bakula as Jonathan Archer, which Berman fought tooth and nail, successfully as it turned out. (ENT Season 4 Blu-ray-special feature, "Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise")

Nevertheless, while already indicating cancellation with the approach of the end of the third season of Enterprise, so too did Paramount and UPN indicate the apparent end of Rick Berman's tenure as the overseer of Star Trek productions. Whether or not influenced by the petition and though remaining credited, franchise management indeed virtually relegated both Berman and Braga to the role of figurehead at the end of the third season (admitted as such by Braga in 2007 [5]), and their places were de facto filled for, what turned out to be, the last season by Manny Coto and his second man Mike Sussman, under whose tenure much of the perceived continuity violation was redressed, aided by writers such as Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who, like them, had an equally thorough understanding of Star Trek lore. That the series was renewed for a last season, was in no small part due to the fact that strong backing was received from an unexpected corner; Scott Bakula has unequivocally cited Garry Hart, the former UPN head and Star Trek supporter, who had just been promoted to another position within the conglomerate, as the driving force behind the renewal, thereby thwarting the cancellation intents of his successor(s) at UPN. (ENT Season 4 Blu-ray-special feature, "Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise")

While the season as a whole was generally well received – though it did not save the series –, both Berman and Braga yet again took firmly hold of the reins when it came to producing the last episode, "These Are the Voyages...", also turning out to be the very last of the whole television franchise for the time being. Intended to be "a valentine to all the Star Trek shows", as Braga had coined it [6], the well-meant intention was again met with intense criticism, creating yet another violent backlash from production staffers and fans alike, causing Berman to concede years later, "I would have never done it if I had known how people were going to react." [7]

With the end of Enterprise, word came from Berman and Paramount that an eleventh feature was in the works in 2005, with Berman partnering with screenwriter Erik Jendresen on what was tentatively titled Star Trek: The Beginning. Another prospective collaborator who had been named, was former Paramount Television President Kerry McCluggage, cited by many Star Trek actors and producers as a strong supporter of the franchise during his tenure at the studio, but who had left three years earlier to become a movie producer in his own right. [8] However, by April 2006, new leadership at Paramount under Brad Grey suggested that Berman's involvement in Star Trek had ended and the producer had moved on to other projects. Speaking with Star Trek Magazine, Berman described his departure:

"Without sounding clichéd I'm not going to say never, but I assume that I have produced my last Star Trek, especially with the interest that Paramount has gotten from J.J. Abrams to do another movie, which, if successful, could lead to other television shows... I have nothing to be ashamed about. We created 624 hours of television and four feature films and I think we did a hell of a job. I'm amazed that we managed to get 18 years of the kind of work that everyone involved managed to contribute, and it's certainly more than anyone could have asked for."

Working relationship with Star Trek's creative staff Edit

The role of an executive producer in a motion picture production is by all objective yardsticks not an enviable one, especially not for an ongoing production. As the highest responsible production manager, which Berman became after first Robert Justman and subsequently Gene Roddenberry left, the executive producer is the intermediate between the highest echelon of studio executives, to whom he is answerable, and his own production staff. Berman continuously operated in a tension field where the interests of both parties did, all too frequently, not correspond. The studio's primary concerns were the commercial aspects of the production, which can be summed up as "the most humanly possible bang for the least humanly possible buck", whereas his production team's primary interest were the creative aspects of the productions. It was Berman's job to reconcile these conflicting interests in an everlasting balancing act, meaning that it was also part of his job to frequently say "no" to his creative staff's proposals for budgetary reasons, or as Berman had once put it himself, "The Buck Stops Here". (ENT Season 4 Blu-ray-special feature, "Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise) On the other hand, it was also Berman who had to fend off creative meddling from the side of uninitiated studio executives, especially when it interfered with, and/or went contrary to the creative integrity of the productions, such as was the aforementioned case with Scott Bakula. Essentially, being an executive producer entails being both an chief executive officer as well as being a studio politician. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, pp. 1-7, 150, 152)

It was maintaining the creative integrity of the productions, which was as equally an important part of the executive producer's responsibility and his team of subordinate producers. To this end, when conceiving a production, a framework in which the occurrences of a production takes place, is established at the conception of the production by the producers. Details of this framework were then at a later stage hammered out in a list of do's and don'ts, which in the case of the Star Trek television productions were formalized in their respective internal Writer'/Directors' Guide production documents, dubbed "Writer's Bible"s, after the one already utilized for Star Trek: The Original Series. In Berman's spin-off television series cases – save for The Next Generation, which had already been done by Roddenberry and Justman – , these documents were even more paramount, as the Original Series already had established a framework, known by heart by television audiences worldwide. Contrary to what the title of the documents suggested, not only prospective writes and directors had to adhere to the rules, but every subsequent production aspect as well, and it was Berman who, in his role of the primary responsible overseer, had the final say whether or not designs of items like sets, props, visual effects, costumes and the like, met with his interpretation of the framework. "He's God," then novice Star Trek director Jonathan Frakes – incidentally, having been given his first opportunity as such by Berman in 1990 – only half-jokingly stated in 1992, "Rick Berman is definitively in control of this show. He would have it no other way" (Cinefantastique, Vol 23 #2/3, p. 36), something Berman himself conceded in a 2002 interview, "[I]n terms of Paramount's perception, I sort of became the Star Trek guy. I'm the only person who has been involved in all of it." (Star Trek and American Television, p. 38)

But then, it was also the executive producer's prerogative to deviate from the rulebook as he saw fit, as has been the case with the Original Series cross-over episodes. While the Star Trek: The Next Generation Writer'/Directors' Guide specifically stated that "We are not buying stories about the original STAR TREK characters: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty and Sulu. Or their descendants; As much as we love our original cast (they are our children, after all), we want our audience's attention centered now on our new characters." (3rd ed. August 1989, p. 34), Berman later relented. An appreciative Ronald D. Moore noted on the occasion of the by him written episode "Relics", "One of the great things about "Relics" is that it wasn't a Scotty show. It was a concept about an engineer or a captain being caught in a transporter beam that we came upon. I thought we were going to have problems with Mr. Berman who generally doesn't like to do that gag but oddly enough he was in a good mood that day. Rick has opened up his mind in a lot of ways. When I came onboard you could not mention the old STAR TREK in an episode. You couldn't make a reference to a character without making major problems. When we brought Sarek onto the show it was like, "My god, we had to march across the street and pay homage." But now because we are firmly established I think everybody feels a lot more comfortable that we have proven ourselves. We don't own anything to the old STAR TREK, except like the guys who went to the moon, the Mercury guys had to go up there first. And we respect them for that, but we're not depending on them anymore, so we don't have to bend over backwards not to mention them." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, issue 3/4, p. 22) A more light-hearted example of Berman's prerogative was provided by Production Illustrator Doug Drexler on the occasion of endowing the Chaffee-type shuttlepod with the name Chaffee, "What I really remember is us getting scolded by someone in the office for naming the shuttle Chaffee. Who do you think you are naming a shuttlecraft after your girlfriend! Now it was time for me to be impressed. Rick Berman jumped in and set the record straight. "Don't be ridiculous! Chaffee is one of the Apollo 1 astronauts that died on the pad. Approved!"" [X]wbm

While restrictions due to Berman's "The Buck Stops Here" assessments were generally understood and accepted by his subordinates, it was the creative integrity that frequently caused some professional discord between Berman and his producers and the creative staff. This was especially true for Star Trek as there was a fairly large percentage of Original Series fans working in the ranks of the creative departments of the spin-off productions – though they had to keep it under wraps due to the "not hiring fans as production staff" studio policy, exactly for these reasons – , whose views on Star Trek not always necessarily corresponded with that of the producers. In his autobiography, Visual Effects Coordinator Ronald B. Moore has confessed that he, before he managed to professionally distance himself from his fan-views, found working on the new The Next Generation show a frustrating experience at first, early in the first season. (Flying Starships, p. 104) Author Stephen Edward Poe has described in his book A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager how at the development stages of Voyager Berman drove one of his, otherwise unnamed, creative staffers to the brink of a nervous breakdown by rejecting time and again the designs for the Caretaker's array. Aside from this, Poe also described how production staffers became frequently pressed for time as Berman was consistently late on signing off on executive decisions. Actually, the latter hardly came as a surprise as that year, 1994, was the one period in time during his entire tenure on the franchise, where Berman had the most on his plate, spreading himself thin by simultaneously overseeing the productions of, aside from Voyager's first season, that of The Next Generation's last, Deep Space Nine's second season and the movie Generations as well, with the documentary Journey's End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation to boot. Sandra Piller, widow of Michael Piller, also hinted at creative tensions, when she commented on the non-publication of her late husband's book Fade In: From Idea to Final Draft on the making of Insurrection, describing it as "brutally honest", "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!"" [9]

Critique Edit

As Sandra Piller already indicated, it was neither common practice nor considered decency to wash the studio's dirty linen in public, but that changed somewhat with Enterprise, as touched upon earlier. Though commonly made after-the-fact, several creative staffers have made later comments on several internet blogs that pointed at elevated tension levels between producers and creative staffers for this production. Doug Drexler remarked, regarding his NX class design, that he liked "(...) the NX-01, even though it was a frustrating experience. I'm a "canon" kind of guy. I would have liked to have seen the Daedalus style ship. You know...the sphere instead of saucer. The producers wanted it to be a saucer because they wanted it "recognizable". [X]wbm, to which Scenic Artist Geoffrey Mandel added, "Having been around then, I also know that [the NX-class designers] Doug Drexler and John Eaves did exactly what the producers asked them to." [X]wbm The usually very diplomatic Drexler could not refrain himself later from making the acerbic "You'll make a fine producer!" riposte to one fan's overly criticism of his refit-NX redesign, speaking volumes in that respect, the brevity of the statement notwithstanding. [X]wbm

One of the even more outspoken critics afterwards, was yet another Original Series fan production staffer, Foundation Imaging's Robert Bonchune, who stated on the decision not to use the Klingon D4-class model in "Unexpected", "We all loved it over at Foundation and our friend Koji built it for free. Amazingly, even though it was a freebee for the episode, certain people in production still found a way to nit pick certain things and refused to ultimately use it until windows were added in certain places. We refused, on principle, as Koji had not slept for days building that on his own and they knew it... so instead of using it, because of, I think 5 windows that you would never see, we ended up using the K'tinga, which was UTTERLY out of place and out of continuity in the Enterprise era. Ahhh producers..." [10], and on the decision to have the Bird-of-Prey graphic from the Romulan Bird-of-Prey removed in Enterprise's episode "Minefield", "Oh and as for the BOP drawing underneath, it was rejected for no other reason than, once again, contempt for the Trek, the fans and the Original Series by ...uh... "management"... you know who they are ;) [11]," providing a later, acerbic parting shot, "Ahhh Producers.....you showed those fans who's boss didn't ya?" [12] Bonchune's assessment seemed to have been validated, when Berman did the exact opposite later on for the second season episode "Judgment"; for that episode writer David A. Goodman had very much wanted to use the Klingon D7-class, but it was Berman who decreed an earlier model of craft was called for, the D5-class, as the D7-class had been depicted in the later-set Original Series. (ENT Season 2 Blu-ray-special feature, ""Judgment"-text commentary"/podcast)

While these critics maintained decorum by not naming names, there has been one who actually did break that unwritten rule, as early as 2001. Production Illustrator Andrew Probert, who left the franchise after the first season of The Next Generation, has specifically cited Berman as the reason for doing so, "When Rick Berman took over the show, half way through the first season, every time we showed him a design concept, his constant response was, "no, we can't do that, because it reminds me of something that I've seen somewhere", or "it looks like a shaver", or "it looks like something I've seen in a furniture store". The only thing of note that Rick Berman did before Star Trek was a show called "The Big Blue Marble", a kid's show. For some reason, Paramount led him into this. I don't know. I've heard conflicted stories that Gene thought he was a great producer and wanted to bring him in. Whatever it is, Rick Berman did not, in that time, and, as far as I can see from what is being produced, does not understand science fiction. I've seen a lot of great concepts, by Doug Drexler and a few of the other illustrators that they have been working on, passed over in favor of much more controlled concepts. My experience with Rick Berman is, you know, he does not understand what he's doing, he does not understand science fiction." [X]wbm

Probert's assessment chimed in with the harsh criticism Writer/Journalist Mark A. Altman had already offered in 1999, "The dirty little secret is Berman and the people running Star Trek right now hate The Original Series and hate being compared to it. They are not people who have any affection for the old show. When Harve Bennett and Nick Meyer took over the franchise for Star Trek II, they went back and looked at every episode of The Original Series and learned everything they could about what worked and what didn't. When these guys [Berman and writer Brannon Braga] took over, they hated the original and resented being in the shadow and avoided watching it. They'd be happy if people forgot the original, and that's unfortunate." Unsurprisingly, Altman's relationship with Berman, which had started out amicably, was destroyed afterwards. As to his gripe, Altman found a confederate in Original Series Performer Leonard Nimoy, in particular where the as unceremonious perceived demise of James T. Kirk in Generations was concerned, "I'm making a movie for Rick Berman, you see. [remark: Nimoy was the first to be offered the director's chore] Well, the script was lousy. I said so: "This needs major, major work." They said, "Well, we don't have time for the kind of changes you're talking about." So I said goodbye. And then to end it with a fight scene between Kirk and Malcolm McDowell! What's the point?" Unable to deal with criticism, Berman ended any relationship with Nimoy as well; "Which is a shame, since Rick Berman and I used to be friends," Nimoy sighed. [X]wbm

Altman, Nimoy and Probert did not remain alone for too long in their criticism of Berman; Screenwriter David Weddle stated in an interview given to the Chicago Tribune of 1 April 2005 that "the moribund aesthetics of Rick Berman" had "slowly strangled the franchise" [13], to which Novelist Andy Mangels has added in April 2006 that "(...)he did his best to ruin the franchise on his way out". [X]wbm Performer Garrett Wang claimed in 2010 that Berman had visited the set of Voyager only twice in seven years, calling him "an idiot" and that "if there is a hell in this existence that we have that people can go to, he's first on the list." [14] Previously, Wang had also become the first Star Trek actor to be denied a chance to direct the show (citing Berman to have stated that he was "not running a directing school here", a bit incongruously as he had given numerous prior Star Trek performers the opportunity, such as the aforementioned Jonathan Frakes), perceived by him as punishment for criticizing Berman. [15]

Having coined him "a raging homophobe", the earlier quoted David Gerrold has unequivocally accused Berman of sabotaging the development of the unrealized Next Generation first season episode "Blood and Fire", an allegory on AIDS, featuring gay characters [16] As to the alleged homophobia of Berman, Mangels, Star Trek's only openly gay writer, has later observed, "I have never met Rick Berman, and he has never expressed any specific attitudes directly to me. That said, not one single actor, staff member, or Paramount employee has ever once defended him from charges of homophobia, and many have accused him of it. Berman was ultimately responsible for killing almost every pitch for gay characters, and in interviews, was mealy-mouthed and waffling about the need for GLBT representation. At the very least, he was gutless and didn't care about GLBT representation. From the information and evidence I've seen, heard, and read, I believe that Berman is the reason we never saw gays on Star Trek." [X]wbm Mangels' "waffling"-statement referred, among others, to a December 2002 interview Berman had given to USAToday.com, commenting on the matter, "That was really the wishful thinking of some people who were constantly at us. But we don't see heterosexual couples holding hands on the show, so it would be somewhat dishonest of us to see two gay men or lesbians holding hands."

While Berman's alleged stance mirrored, in all honesty, the prevalent attitude towards gay issues in American society at the time, both Gerrold and Mangels seemed to have overlooked the kiss between Jadzia Dax and Lenara Kahn in Deep Space Nine's fourth season episode "Rejoined", as well the Pa'nar Syndrome T'Pol suffered from, as established in the Enterprise season two episode "Stigma", easily recognizable as an AIDS allegory, and which Berman explicitly had intended as such; "In true Star Trek form, we're hoping the young people who watch will have some degree of enlightenment about a situation they're not all that aware of," he stated on the very same "waffling" occassion.

Defense Edit

Yet, Berman has not been entirely without supporters of his own, as Next Generation Performer Brent Spiner had stated this of Berman in December 2008, "It think it’s really short-sighted of people to give Rick grief. I just say to any of them, "You go produce a television show and produce hundreds of hours of television shows", which these people have watched more than once.(...) Rick more than anybody else protected Gene Roddenberry’s vision. There were times we wanted to do things in an episode, and Rick would be, "No, no, no. Gene wouldn't want that and that's not what Star Trek is about"." [17] Though critical of Berman to an extent himself, even Leonard Nimoy concurred with Spiner in at least this respect that, "[w]ithout Berman to keep the show alive, there'd be no Berman to blame for the show's death". But it was Next Generation Executive Story Editor Writer Tracy Tormé, stressing the producer's responsibilities for which Berman was hired in the first place, who in particular had more eloquently tried to put his role in perspective, "Rick is not a wide-eyed visionary. He is more of a professional producer. He always approached the show from a practical level. When I first met him, he was a straight-ahead producer who was Paramount's guy, and he adapted. He became more of a Star Trek guy. But he wasn't dying to be on Star Trek. This was just his next job, and fans resent it because he wasn't a dyed-in-the-wool fan. It's fair criticism, but you have to keep in mind where he is coming from. And in his defense, the amount of work he's put into the show is unbelievable." [X]wbm

Somewhat summarizing Spiner's and Tormé's statements, Larry Nemecek, made this observation on Berman in 2014,

"The thing that made him the perfect person for Gene to pass the baton off to, for Gene to trust with the franchise running, the very thing that made him the best person to take it on from Gene, may have been his Achilles' heel in the end. Because the guy that had to, you know, keep the wolves at the door, you know, keep the door closed against anybody who would come in and water down or alter Star Trek and keep it true to Gene's vision, he held so tight to what Gene would've wanted, that maybe after 15, 18, 19, 20 years, that was the very same quality that didn't let him ease up on the reins enough to maybe let some of these well-thought-out people, that he otherwise trusted, to take it in ways that -- You know, maybe it could've evolved a little sooner, a little faster. I wish he could have found a way to realize that it wasn't, you know, 1991 anymore. And that he didn't have to hold quite so tight to the reins at the end." (ENT Season 4 Blu-ray-special feature, "Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise)
It was for the same occasion, the 2013-2014 Star Trek: Enterprise Blu-ray set releases, that Berman himself, went into detail on his role on not only Enterprise, but on the entire franchise as well, frankly explaining the conditions under which he had to perform his duties in several bonus features specifically produced by Roger Lay, Jr. for the releases.

Having spoken at length in 2002 to them for their reference book Star Trek and American Television, its authors concluded that the "controversy" surrounding Berman was not unlike that which befell Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry as well after-the-fact. But, contrary to Roddenberry – who had succeeded in creating a "producer brand" as such for himself in Star Trek-lore and in popular awareness in general (aka "The Roddenberry Myth") – , Berman "(...)refused to cultivate his own brand during his eighteen-year association with Star Trek," and, in line with Tormé's observations, that he, "(...)would have been happy with anonymity, if it resulted in higher ratings", making it highly doubtful that "(...)Rick Berman will be memorialized in a New York Times editorial(...)", as Roddenberry had been (p. 40)

The future Edit

While Berman has been vague about future non-Star Trek projects, he retained his office on the Paramount lot until December 2006. Before that time, he continued to develop television series.

"There are a number of shows that we're developing that have slight elements of the supernatural or science fiction, but none of them have spaceships!"

In an interview with Star Trek Magazine conducted not long before his departure, Berman indicated that he had begun writing a memoir about his twenty-two years with Paramount, and his time at Star Trek.

"I have started writing a book because I realized that since 1986, when Gene Roddenberry asked me to get involved and work with him on this thing, the number of stories that I have accumulated is amazing." [18]

Writing credits Edit

Episodes Edit

Feature films Edit

Producing credits Edit

Star Trek interviews Edit

  • TNG Season 1 DVD special feature "The Beginning"
  • TNG Season 1 DVD special feature "Selected Crew Analysis" ("Character Notes")
  • TNG Season 1 DVD special feature "The Making of a Legend" ("Make-Up")
  • TNG Season 1 DVD special feature "Memorable Missions"
  • TNG Season 2 DVD special feature "Mission Overview: Year Two" ("Whoopi Goldberg", "Ten Forward", "Gene Roddenberry"), interviewed on 20 September 1988 and 5 September 2001
  • TNG Season 2 DVD special feature "Selected Crew Analysis Year Two", interviewed on 18 March 1994
  • TNG Season 2 DVD special feature "Departmental Briefing Year Two: Memorable Missions" ("The Measure Of A Man"), interviewed on 18 March 1994
  • TNG Season 3 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Three", interviewed on 18 March 1994
  • TNG Season 5 DVD special feature "A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry" ("Gene Roddenberry Building Dedicated to Star Trek's Creator", "Gene's Final Voyage"), interviewed on 7 June 2002
  • TNG Season 6 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Six" ("January 1993 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Debuts"), interviewed on 7 June 2002
  • TNG Season 6 DVD special feature "Departmental Briefing Year Six" ("Special Crew Profile: Lt. Cmdr. Data"), interviewed on 5 September 2001
  • TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "Mission Overview Year Seven" ("An Ending And A Beginning", "The Final Episode"), interviewed on 18 March 1994 and 7 June 2002
  • TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "Starfleet Moments & Memories Year Seven" ("A Unique Legacy", "A Unique Family"), interviewed on 7 June 2002
  • TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "The Making of "All Good Things..." Year Seven" ("Writing The Final Episode"), interviewed on 7 June 2002
  • TNG Season 7 DVD special feature "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine DVD Preview"
  • DS9 Season 1 DVD special feature "Deep Space Nine: A Bold Beginning", interviewed on 7 June 2002
  • DS9 Season 1 DVD special feature "Deep Space Nine Scrapbook Year One", interviewed from 9 April 1999
  • To Boldly Go
  • TNG Season 1 Blu-ray special feature Energized! Taking The Next Generation to the Next Level (2012)
  • ENT Season 1 Blu-ray special feature, In Conversation: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga, interviewed on 12 December 2012

Star Trek awards Edit

For his work on Star Trek Rick Berman received the following award nominations in the various writing categories

Emmy Award Edit

Berman received the following Emmy Award nomination in the category Outstanding Drama Series

Hugo Awards Edit

Berman received the following Hugo Award nominations in the category Best Dramatic Presentation

External links Edit

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