TrekWeb.Com Interview with Michael Piller
- ADMIRAL ON DECK!
- I'd like to welcome you all to TrekWeb.COM's second
- I would like to thank Mr. Michael Piller for joining
us tonight! Do you have any comments before we begin with questions
- 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
- Ok then, shall we begin with questions?
- Here we go...
- From 3rd of 5
- 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?
- 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.
- From Todd van der Heyden
- 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
- Yes. It will be one of the most romantic movies in
the Star Trek series.
- From T'Kharis
- 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.
- 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.
- From LT. Mishbe
- 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?
- 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.
- From ToddPT
- What is the one thing that you always wanted to do
with "Star Trek" but never got to?
- Good question!
- 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.
- From Captain Crunch
- 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
- 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
- From Data
- 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
- Well, I'll take Khan again!
- 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.
- From mickeyd
- 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?
- I miss the cameradie of working on staff, but I don't
want to look back, I want to look forward.
- From Berserker
- 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"
- 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.
- From Smorgas of Borg
- 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.)
- 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
- From Martijn van Turnhout
- What I want to ask you is: what are your favorite
episodes of ST:TNG and why?
- My favorite: Frame of Mind!
- "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
- From Bucky
- 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.)?
- 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
- From 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?
- I hope so.
- From Justin S.
- 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
- 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.
- ha ha
- From Emmisary
- Can you discuss the original draft of All Good
- 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
- From Sisko
- What inspired you to create another half human half
Klingon (Torres) after the death of K'heleyr?
- Characters with inner conflicts often are the most
interesting. We thought a woman who was uncomfortable with her Klingon nature
would be the source of good character material.
- From Lambertd
- 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?
- Only in passing. But the effects of the war will play
an important part.
- Fascinating... :-)
- 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
- 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.
- It's why I love Trek
- 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?
- 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.
- excellent point, and well put!
- From Flyboy:
- 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?
- Kivas Fajo:
- Worf is in it *I think*. Will we hear a mention of
- In the current draft, yes.
- from Madzak:
- If Jonathan Frakes directs, will that affect Riker's
role? Will the commander have a prominent role anyway?
- Riker will have a romance, will Captain a ship, and
perform a major manuever against a superior force that's attacking him, what do
- I'd call that fairly prominent!
- are you serious?!
- So would I!
- That is awesome! :-)
- From Allen:
- What is life in Hollywood like?
- 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.
- From Gregor Kreyce
- Will There be a Seventh Season in Star Trek: Deep Space
- I think the chances are good.
- From Emmisary:
- How do you respond, personally, to the criticism
that the new Trek shows, your children, have lost that appeal?
- 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.
- Interesting insight into Voyager's history... and
BRAVO for such great responses!
- That's to hear actually - that we're not talking to a
- From TazoMan:
- Will the movie have cameos like Lt Barclay?
- Khan could use a cameo...
- I can't comment on cameos yet.
- Can't comment... :-)
- Here we go folk... you'll like this one..!
- From HombuDojo:
- Why did TNG go seven, and only seven (a good run by
- Because the studio wanted to make feature
- From Stoat
- 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?
- 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
- I know everyone's been dying to have that question
- Ray Walston as Boothby... excellent!
- That's a relief to hear... these rumors that float
around sound *so* negative, when problems are often part of the creative
process to begin with...
- Let me calm down from all that info! whew!
- okie, here we go..
- From TomVeil:
- Will Q be making an appearance in Star Trek
- ah, we can lay those rumors to rest!
- From Emisary:
- Will we see "Legend" again one day?
- 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.
- good to hear it!
- I think "Legend" was one of UPN's better shows...
- From CaptRoss:
- Crystal ball time. Where do you see Trek in 20
years, presuming the entertainment industry isn't radically changed?
- 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.
- I would love to see a Star Trek channel! It would be
nothing but quality TV :)
- 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!
- Thank you for having me.
- Also, thank you to Webmaster Inc., who sponsored
this TrekWeb.COM Live Event!
- Thanks Mr Piller for coming! It's great to interact
with a great writer, especially when he's involved in a movie i'm very much