J.J. Abrams and his cohorts from Bad Robot Productions were in New York this week to ostensibly promote their new Fox series Fringe, but we couldn't resist trying to squeeze a few dilithium crystals of scoop from them about their Star Trek film when we met them at the premiere party for the show.
TWoP: What was it like to be on the set when William Shatner showed up for his top-secret surprise cameo?
Roberto Orci, co-screenwriter: [Laughs.] Good one! The guy couldn't remember his lines. It was annoying.
Bryan Burk, executive producer: I'd like to say William Shatner is in the film, but he is not. We love him more than anything, but you'll see once you see the movie that storywise it wouldn't have made sense.
TWoP: Damn it! Oh well, we had to ask... With certain recent iterations of Trek, both on TV and the big screen, it was painfully apparent that some of the writers/producers didn't exactly have -- how shall we say -- a deep appreciation for the characters and history of the franchise. Did you grow up watching the various shows? Were you fans?
Alex Kurtzman, co-screenwriter: Absolutely huge.
Orci: We had no idea we were doing homework all that time.
TWoP: Which era or captain of Star Trek is your favorite?
Orci: I'm gonna say Next Generation myself.
Kurtzman: I think ultimately Kirk, but Picard is a really close second.
TWoP: How's the movie coming along? When are we going to see a full trailer?
Burk: Before the end of the year. We're going to be locking [the film] pretty soon -- I'd say within the next month. It feels like it's all coming together. We've had a handful of screenings, mostly for people who are either long-time Star Trek fans or who don't know the Star Trek universe at all. Our initial goal was to make a film that really appealed to everybody, and it feels like it's working.
TWoP: Bob and Alex, while we have you, what can you tell us about the Transformers sequel [Orci and Kurtzman wrote the first film and are co-writing the second]?
Kurtzman: I think there's an expectation with a sequel like this that there will be more mythology about the Transformers -- which there will be. We just scratched the surface in the first one.
Orci: The first one was a mystery that revealed them. Now you know they're here from the beginning so you really get into the Transformers right away
More Megatron and Starscream; less Witwicky? Sold!
And if the Abrams/Bad Robot take on Trek ends up warranting a sequel, the team may want to look no further than the cast of Fringe for possible additions to the crew: Lance Reddick (The Wire), who plays a Dept. of Homeland Security agent with shady motives on the new show, revealed to us that even he's a Trekkie:
"I'm a huge Star Trek fan," Reddick said. "The first time I met J.J. was on the set of Star Trek. I freaked. He gave us a tour and let me sit in Captain Kirk's seat, because I always wanted to be Captain Kirk. It was great."