<SteveKrutzler> ADMIRAL ON DECK! <SteveKrutzler> I'd like to welcome you all to TrekWeb.COM's second live chat! <SteveKrutzler> I would like to thank Mr. Michael Piller for joining us tonight! Do you have any comments before we begin with questions Michael? <MichaelPiller> I've just come from watching the new Woody Allen movie, and anybody interested in writing should go see it. It's one of his best. <Steve_Perry> Deconstructing Harry? <MichaelPiller> Yes. <SteveKrutzler> Ok then, shall we begin with questions? <MichaelPiller> Sure. <SteveKrutzler> Here we go... <SteveKrutzler> From 3rd of 5: <SteveKrutzler> Michael - you said ST9 would be in the vein of "Hearts of Darkness". Are we to assume that there will be a long perilous journey undertaken to stop the actions of a renegade, one who was greatly respected by his comrades? <MichaelPiller> My original idea was to do something I called 'Heart of Lightness' and surprisingly the end result is going to be very close to fitting that description. I really can't say more specifically anything else about the plot. <SteveKrutzler> From Todd van der Heyden: <SteveKrutzler> Given that Star Trek IX will be "lighter" and more "humorous" than the previous two films will there be more emphasis on character relationships, and any worthwhile interaction between Picard/Crusher (romantic or otherwise)? Especially with Picard's lamentation of his being the only Picard left? <MichaelPiller> Yes. It will be one of the most romantic movies in the Star Trek series. <SteveKrutzler> From T'Kharis: <SteveKrutzler> Will the female roles in ST9 be better, they seem to be getting ignored to concentrate on Picard and Data. The great strength of the TNG series was the depth of ALL the characters involved. <MichaelPiller> One of my goals for this film was to show how important the family of the Enterprise crew is to one another and in a sense, this movie is about the ties of these characters, depicted in a way they haven't been since the series ended. That said, Picard and Data will play major parts in the plot, of course. <SteveKrutzler> From LT. Mishbe <SteveKrutzler> Hi, well my question is that do you agree that working on Star Trek, can be a look into the future. Do you believe that by watching Star Trek, people can, learn better ways to handle conflict? <MichaelPiller> I believe that by showing heroes like Picard, using logic and communication skills to solve problems instead of violence, that we are providing unique role models for young people today. <SteveKrutzler> From ToddPT <SteveKrutzler> What is the one thing that you always wanted to do with "Star Trek" but never got to? <Steve_Perry> Good question! <MichaelPiller> I wanted the child of Chakotay and Seska to die in part 2 of the second season cliffhanger as a counterpoint to the birth of Ensign Wilder's baby on the planet, but it was deemed to be thematically too violent and so the baby lived but turned out to be not Chakotay's after all, which undermined the effectiveness of the story I was trying to tell. I was a lame duck and leaving, so I couldn't fight very hard. That's the only thing I ever remember not getting that I wanted in my entire Star Trek career. <SteveKrutzler> From Captain Crunch <SteveKrutzler> Trek is passed over for science fiction awards (Best of Both Worlds for instance did not win the Hugo). We never hear science fiction publications praising Trek. Why do you think Trek is passed over? And on a similar note, do you feel that Trek's future lies with the traditional science fiction audience, or a more broad based appeal as the X-Files has recently achieved? <MichaelPiller> I think when a television show becomes a phenomenon that it's harder to get respect, however, I think Star Trek has received it's share of recognition for quality over the years. I think the future lies with the broader audience, strictly because it's such a rich marketing franchise for the studio. <SteveKrutzler> From Data: <SteveKrutzler> Is the enemy in Star Trek IX going to be a new enemy or an old favorite? Also, can you give a current [working] title? (other than "Stardust" ?) <Steve_Perry> Well, I'll take Khan again! <MichaelPiller> We still don't know what to call it, but one of the villains are called the Son'a. In the first story they were the Romulans, but noone here felt a great deal of enthusiasm for that decision. <SteveKrutzler> From mickeyd <SteveKrutzler> Now that you are writing and producing ST9, do you find that you miss the daily grind of doing a ST series enough to come back and take a seat again as exec producer or head writer at ST:Voyager? <MichaelPiller> I miss the cameradie of working on staff, but I don't want to look back, I want to look forward. <SteveKrutzler> From Berserker: <SteveKrutzler> When I see Deep Space Nine, I see a show very different from TNG and TOS. Was it always the idea to create an "un-Trek" Trek, a show with more long term dramatics than self-contained "message" episodes? <MichaelPiller> The idea was to expand the Trek universe. And so it was always going to be different from the other shows, but I have to give credit to Ira Behr for giving the show the dramatic thrust it has now, which I think is wonderful. <SteveKrutzler> From Smorgas of Borg: <SteveKrutzler> First of all thank you for coming here. I am particularly thankful because I think you were one of the primary people who made sure TNG survived past its stormy early days. What was the most challenging TNG episode you were involved with? Not just in terms of writing, but in terms of it being produced and coming off looking right? (I think "A Matter of Perpective" and "The Inner Light" are two good examples of shows that could have gone bad but didn't, for example.) <MichaelPiller> The most challenging episode for me was part 2 of "Best of Both Worlds" because I had no idea how to defeat the Borg until the characters told me how to do it. There's nothing as scary for a writer as not knowing where you're going, but in a way that's what makes us explorers too. <SteveKrutzler> From Martijn van Turnhout: <SteveKrutzler> What I want to ask you is: what are your favorite episodes of ST:TNG and why? <Steve_Perry> My favorite: Frame of Mind! <MichaelPiller> "Inner Light," "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. <SteveKrutzler> From Bucky: <SteveKrutzler> Why do you think that "The Best of Both Worlds", an episode that you wrote, has become a favorite Trek episode (and, IMHO, and one of the best TNG episodes ever.)? <MichaelPiller> I think it's because we saw a side of Picard and a side of Riker that we had not seen before, plus of course, the depiction of "an undefeatable" enemy like the Borg. Plus it had a scope because it was a two hour story. <SteveKrutzler> From SteveKrutzler: <SteveKrutzler> One aspect of the original movies that made them so unique was the personification of the Starship Enterprise. The scenes in ST2 where Sulu mentions the privilege of serving on the "Enterprise" and where Kirk makes his inspection of the "tall ship" developed a bond between the Enterprise, her crew, and the audience. The latest films have approached the ship less like a vessel with a personality all its own, and more like just a tool to get from point A to point B. Will ST9 bring back the awe of our favorite Starship and its majesty? <MichaelPiller> I hope so. <SteveKrutzler> From Justin S.: <SteveKrutzler> Is the story idea for Star Trek IX an idea you've had for some time, or is it something that Rick Berman came up with for you to help? <MichaelPiller> Rick's first idea for the movie was to adapt a classic tale, like "Prisoner of Zenda", and I watched that movie and came away concerned that it really would be a story about a man posing as Picard, and I felt that audiences who had waited for two years to see their hero might be angry. The premise I brought back to him came to me as I was rubbing in my Rogaine one morning. <Steve_Perry> ha ha <SteveKrutzler> From Emmisary: Can you discuss the original draft of All Good Things? <MichaelPiller> Well, the first draft of All Good Things was very similar for an hour, but the second hour wandered around without a clear story direction. I wanted Ron and Brannon to get more ambitious and suggested the idea of Picard working with different versions of himself in the different time periods to solve the crisis. There may have been a 4th timeline, but I don't recall. <SteveKrutzler> From Sisko: What inspired you to create another half human half Klingon (Torres) after the death of K'heleyr? <MichaelPiller> Characters with inner conflicts often are the most nteresting. We thought a woman who was uncomfortable with her Klingon nature would be the source of good character material. <SteveKrutzler> From Lambertd <SteveKrutzler> DS9 has been terrific this season. But I think it would be great fun if some reference were made about the Enterprise-E in the Dominion War. And will reference to the war be made in Star Trek 9? <MichaelPiller> Only in passing. But the effects of the war will play an important part. <SteveKrutzler> Fascinating... :-) <SteveKrutzler> From Jetar: Do you see a difference in today's sci-fi shows from yesterday's? Some like X Files and Stargate seem "darker" than Trek. Your thoughts? <MichaelPiller> I agree and there are some who believe that we have to follow that trend. My feeling is that this franchise has the unique power to make people feel good. And that is one of its greatest secrets of success. I think you make people feel good by showing smart, effective heroes facing moral dilemnas and growing as they triumph. <Steve_Perry> It's why I love Trek <SteveKrutzler> From Steve: I've always heard that your motto has been "Remember the characters" or something to that effect. Do you feel that when you write that sometimes contrains you, cutting off options for the people you're writing about? <MichaelPiller> I don't know how to answer that question, because I don't know how a writer ignores characters. I feel that too often in movies and television shows these days, that we see thrills and SFX take the place of stories about characters. As a viewer I find it impossible to care about "stuff." As a producer, the first question I always ask a writer is "What is this story about?' And if it's about space battles then I'm not going to be interested. I feel as a writer a terrible obligation to reach out every time I sit down no matter what kind of script I'm writing and try to inspire in my audience the same feelings that I had watching movies and good TV shows growing up. I find it impossible to settle for superficial thrills, even though there are many people willing to pay me money to write those kind of scripts. But what am I adding to this life by doing that? I'm a writer, and I have a responsibility to say something about the world we live in. If other writers find that "constraining" I feel sorry for them. <SteveKrutzler> excellent point, and well put! <Steve_Perry> <applause> <SteveKrutzler> From Flyboy: <SteveKrutzler> Riker has been first officer for about twelve years now. I think its about time for him to get his own ship. Is there any chance of that happening in ST9? <MichaelPiller> Yes. <Steve_Perry> whoa... <SteveKrutzler> Kivas Fajo: Worf is in it *I think*. Will we hear a mention of Dax? <MichaelPiller> In the current draft, yes. <Steve_Perry> cool <SteveKrutzler> from Madzak: If Jonathan Frakes directs, will that affect Riker's role? Will the commander have a prominent role anyway? <MichaelPiller> Riker will have a romance, will Captain a ship, and perform a major manuever against a superior force that's attacking him, what do you think? <Steve_Perry> I'd call that fairly prominent! <SteveKrutzler> are you serious?! <SteveKrutzler> So would I! <Arman> That is awesome! :-) <SteveKrutzler> indeed! <SteveKrutzler> From Allen: What is life in Hollywood like? <MichaelPiller> Ask my son, he'll tell you. He says "Swingers" was just what his life is like. I go home at night to be with my family. <SteveKrutzler> From Gregor Kreyce <SteveKrutzler> Will There be a Seventh Season in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? <MichaelPiller> I think the chances are good. <SteveKrutzler> From Emmisary: How do you respond, personally, to the criticism that the new Trek shows, your children, have lost that appeal? <MichaelPiller> I think the appeal of Star Trek has faded in terms of ratings as television has filled up with more Star Trek shows and reruns and new science fiction shows. I think a better gauge is the creative quality of the series. I couldn't be happier with what Ira and the staff have done with DS9. As for Voyager, a deliberate decision was made when I left the show to do a different kind of series. The studio's research told them that audiences were not happy with the direction that I had charted for the series in its second season. This is my only true regret about my Star Trek experience, because I felt creatively that we had turned a corner in year 2, but apparently I was the only one who thought so. I say 'apparently' because I don't entirely trust research. And I have a feeling that if Gene had been alive he would have told me the same thing he told me when he asked me to stay at the end of year 3 of TNG, and that was that this series needed one more year to really catch on. I think if we had stayed the course that we would have had a similar breakthrough in Voyager in year 3. But I really cannot complain because even my best friends were not happy with the show. As for the current quality of the series, I think they did a very nice job at the beginning of this season introducing Seven. I have differences of opinion about other creative directions, which I share with the writers and Rick on a regular basis. I would encourage all viewers to clearly express their feelings about the creative directions of both shows because your voices are listened to by this franchise and this studio. <SteveKrutzler> Interesting insight into Voyager's history... and BRAVO for such great responses! <Steve_Perry> That's to hear actually - that we're not talking to a brick wall! <SteveKrutzler> From TazoMan: Will the movie have cameos like Lt Barclay? <Steve_Perry> Khan could use a cameo... <MichaelPiller> I can't comment on cameos yet. <SteveKrutzler> hehe <SteveKrutzler> Can't comment... :-) <SteveKrutzler> Here we go folk... you'll like this one..! <SteveKrutzler> From HombuDojo: Why did TNG go seven, and only seven (a good run by the way)? <MichaelPiller> Because the studio wanted to make feature films. <SteveKrutzler> From Stoat <SteveKrutzler> We have seen many rumors that your first script for ST9 was disappointing, and not approved by Patrick Stewart - how do you feel about this? Do you agree? or did you think that you had produced a good piece of preliminary work? <MichaelPiller> The rumors are not incorrect, except Patrick's objections were to the first story, not the first script. We did have some conflict at that point, and I can say without hesitation that a better movie was the result of that conflict. Rick and I had taken the story into a much more serious vein and Patrick objected because we had talked with him about some of our earlier, lighter ideas and he missed them. So we went back to them and did exactly the wrong thing by trying to tell both stories in one script. And Patrick never saw that script, but Rick and I both agreed it didn't work and went back and started over. And everyone has had a positive reaction to this draft. I've heard reactions such as "uplifting," "warm," "made me cry," "made me laugh," "exciting." Many of the people at the studio have compared it in tone to Star Trek IV. Rick and I have had such a good time, and the journey has been so interesting that we're thinking about writing a book about the writing of Star Trek IX that would include all the versions of the story and that dreadful first script. In that script, we got to meet Picard at the Academy, one of his best friends (who played a huge part in the movie), Boothby, and the planet of 10-year-olds. I can tell you this, because none of them remain. <Steve_Perry> cool! <SteveKrutzler> wow! <SteveKrutzler> I know everyone's been dying to have that question asked! :-) <Steve_Perry> Ray Walston as Boothby... excellent! <Steve_Perry> That's a relief to hear... these rumors that float around ound *so* negative, when problems are often part of the creative process to begin with... <SteveKrutzler> Let me calm down from all that info! whew! <SteveKrutzler> okie, here we go.. <SteveKrutzler> From TomVeil: <SteveKrutzler> Will Q be making an appearance in Star Trek 9? <MichaelPiller> No. <SteveKrutzler> ah, we can lay those rumors to rest! <SteveKrutzler> From Emisary: Will we see "Legend" again one day? <MichaelPiller> We have been in discussions this week about a "Legend" movie. Richard Dean Anderson wants to do it and he has a deal with CBS and with SHOWTIME for a movie. <SteveKrutzler> good to hear it! <SteveKrutzler> I think "Legend" was one of UPN's better shows... :-) <SteveKrutzler> From CaptRoss: Crystal ball time. Where do you see Trek in 20 years, presuming the entertainment industry isn't radically changed? <MichaelPiller> The entertainment industry is going to radically change. It would not surprise me to see a Star Trek channel in 20 years. But I personally hope that the powers who make the decisions about the future of the franchise will recognize that it has been the creative quality and ambition of these series that has made Star Trek so successful. <Arman> I would love to see a Star Trek channel! It would be nothing but quality TV :) <SteveKrutzler> I would like to give my warmest thanks to Mr. Michael Piller for taking time out of his *busy* schedule to chat with the fans! You've given us such a mouthful of information to swallow, and we all hope that you've had a good time and will join us again sometime! <MichaelPiller> Thank you for having me.
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