Re: TrekUnited Proposed Season 5 Co-Production Dea
For anyone Interested here is the transcript from tonights chat:
Al_Vinci: My name is Al Vinci; I am a Canadian producer residing in the United Kingdom. I am currently in Toronto, Canada. I first appeared onscreen as a child in a Sophia Loren movie. I operated three family live theatres. I have published 17 national monthly magazines. I was part of a production/creative team for an ethnic syndicated Canadian television series for over 11 years.
Al_Vinci: I first produced a U.S. nationally syndicated television series in 1983, two more since then, and have had various screenplays optioned. Two years ago I worked with a major news network to develop a news/entertainment channel in the Third World. I'm currently in development on two motion pictures that I have scripted.
Al_Vinci: A few days after the cancellation of ST:E, I approached Tim Brazeal and Andrew Beardall. We found that we shared common goals and aspirations for the future of the show and I decided to immediately begin work under the Trek United aegis, responsible directly to Tim Brazeal.
Al_Vinci: The only goal was to secure a deal with Paramount to produce a fifth Season, hopefully followed by a 6 & 7.
Al_Vinci: I formulated a production plan with the collaboration of one of Canada's most respected film/TV financing experts that we felt would have the best shot of succeeding. The plan called for a joint venture co-production with Paramount. I solicited the collaboration of one of Canada’s top production companies with more than a dozen major motion picture releases many featuring Academy-Award winning stars.
Al_Vinci: A financing package was put together which would add approximately US$15 million from international sponsorships secured according to a novel business model to the US$3 million in the Trek United fund. It was clear that since this would be an investment and not a donation the approximately $150,000 of fan donations would not be required and returned. It was envisioned that two major global brands would team up to “Present” ST:E.
Al_Vinci: There were also approaches made to Sky and other international broadcasters to secure their participation. This sum of US$18 million would add up to approximately half of the current ST:E full season production budget, thereby making a 50/50 joint venture financially possible.
Al_Vinci: Here are excerpts from the original pitch: >>>
Al_Vinci: The production itself can readily be re-launched. The sets are currently in fold and hold status in LA and thus can easily be transported. The cast is still under contract. The move to Canada could shave approx. 20% off the already reduced Season 4 budget of US$1.5million per episode and gain significant tax credits through Telefilm Canada. It is imperative that the following aspect be explicitly clear.
Al_Vinci: It is imperative that the following aspect be explicitly clear. Our group has no rights to anything related to Paramount property. The entire concept is to pitch to the people we have been in constructive discourse with at Paramount so far, a comprehensive and coherent professional joint venture with a 50/50 split which would leave Paramount essentially with Domestic, Merchandising and DVD while we take International rights.
Al_Vinci: From our side we could bring to the table an experienced and savvy Canadian production company, a commitment to move the production to the lower-budget Canadian sites, and half the US$36 million season budget in cash. We have reason to believe that Paramount would be quite interested in a deal structured in such a manner.
Al_Vinci: International broadcasters our group has spoken to, including Sky, La7, etc. want a Season 5, 6 and 7. The business side of it is solid enough. As long as everyone is on the same page, then everyone can profit by a successful run with dramatically increased ratings and major international sponsorship based on a unique business model.
Al_Vinci: This prospect would only be for the continuation of ST:E. Future TV series, motion pictures and any other media would not fall within the purview of this co production. Paramount would continue to maintain full rights to the entire franchise. >>>
Al_Vinci: In early March I conducted personal visits to a large number of Canadian soundstages, including a one million square feet facility used to house the Spruce Goose for Scorsese's The Aviator.
Al_Vinci: For the record, I was not knowingly the source of the March rumour that the sets would be moved to Vancouver. I have no knowledge where that came from.
Al_Vinci: At about the same time, I arranged for the Canadian producer who was just then flying back from Asia to go directly to Los Angeles in order to set up a meeting with one of the top three executives at Paramount Studios. Due to the fact that this particular Paramount executive was leaving town for several days, the face to face meeting was scheduled but did not occur as planned at the last minute.
Al_Vinci: I then took over direct negotiations and had a detailed conversation with this executive outlining our complete joint venture co production pitch. His general demeanour was positive, he asked incisive questions, asked for further information and at the end replied, AND I QUOTE:
Al_Vinci: “This is an interesting proposal. Let me talk it over with the other guys here and I'll get back to you.”
Al_Vinci: Why am I not revealing the names of some of these people involved? Simple. In any negotiation, confidentiality is foremost. Especially when you have a situation which is as vividly followed by such a large number of people, the last thing I would ever do for the sake of my professional ethics is to expose the executives I am dealing with to a barrage of love/hate mail.
Al_Vinci: These people are professional executives doing their job. Although they are well aware that emotions are running very high over this issue, they also do not want their Personal Assistants stampeded by non-stop phone calls. They must be given the freedom to perform their duties with respect. ST:E is not their only responsibility.
Al_Vinci: They have a studio to run, and the Canadian producer has other projects that he must concentrate on. I have given my word to these people involved that I would not ever identify them to the public until a production is realized and there is nothing short of a subpoena which is going to make me break that promise.
Al_Vinci: It was my insistence that Tim Brazeal and the crew at Trek United not reveal aspects of the negotiations which could jeopardize them. We have seen staggering amount of accusations flying around, some with basis, and many others without. The place for that is in the online forums, not in the faces of the people active in sensitive discussions on a major deal such as this.
Al_Vinci: I’m sure some people would have done it differently. Well, it’s a free country and they’re free to do whatever they like. If they think they can pitch Paramount more successfully then they should go for it. As a lifetime Trek fan I would be very happy to see any way of keeping Trek on the air succeed.
Al_Vinci: However, this is the way I am proceeding according to the best of my abilities, and I continue to stand by every single aspect of it.
Al_Vinci: I continue to have the maximum respect for Tim Brazeal, Andrew Beardall and everyone at Trek United for their altruistic volunteerism and enthusiasm. They have shown me nothing but professionalism and support from day one.
Al_Vinci: <<<End of statement>>> Let the questions begin!
Cougar: Are you associated in anyway with CHUM?
Al_Vinci: I was working as an independent producer with CITY TV years before they merged with CHUM. But I have not been associated with CHUM/CITY for many years.
Shlomi_of_Vulcan: Tim, were you pleased with the articles today?
Tim_Brazeal: Yes, I was.. Not to stop the bashers.. Because I don’t think they will.. But for anyone who was sitting on the fence and wondering what the hell was going on.. This gives them the chance at hearing the truth from a third party source.. Or sources in this case..
smiler: Question...Just how viable do you think Enterprise is?
Al_Vinci: ST:E is a viable show if placed within the context of a properly promoted show on a network or syndication situation where it is shown to be the tent-peg of that night's schedule. It is my personal opinion that UPN has done a horrible job.
TU4evah: What are some of your previous film/TV credits Al?
Al_Vinci: The ethnic series was Album. The first series was World of Motorcycles. The second was Dolphin Connection. I get around!
scifib5st: Tim, the fact the reporter covered the money questions, and went out of his way to get that up was the best part of my day.. You did great! We will wait for the rest.
Tim_Brazeal: No, the reporter(s) that did this I am really glad that they wanted to report on fact and were actually interested in the truth of what we are trying to do here.. We want the show back.. End of story.. No hidden agenda.. Not taking funds.. We are fans that know what we want..
Michael_Hinman: Have you received a response from Paramount in regards to the pitch?
Al_Vinci: I last got off the phone with Paramount less than an hour ago.
scifib5st: Would the actors get paid in US dollars or Canadian dollars?
Al_Vinci: I'd love to pay them in Canuck Loonies, but usually contracts are drawn up in US$
Michael_Hinman: Also, why is Trek United stating that there are talks going on between TU and Paramount, as reported by Trek Today, when Trek Today only reported that a Canadian producer made a pitch?
Al_Vinci: TU was talking to various levels of Paramount a while before my contact and was indispensable in arranging the connection. Whenever I pitched anything to Paramount it was always clear that I was working for Trek United and was in collaboration with the Canadian producers.
Medical_Officer: Al, has anyone on the production side considered bringing Manny Coto on board permanently in charge for ST:E?
Al_Vinci: That would be an honour and a privilege. I am a great fan of Mr. Coto's work. However, that decision would not be mine. The chief Paramount executive who I have negotiated with stated AND I QUOTE "We remain committed to Rick Berman as the producer of Star Trek."
Trekmatt: can you tell us what Paramount’s response was?
Al_Vinci: As I said, I got off the phone less than an hour ago with them. The situation is fluid.
Michael_R-_Mennenga: TIM... don't forget to mention the interview we did.
Tim_Brazeal: Will do.. PLUG for Slice of Sci fi.. Michael and Evo did two interviews this weekend.. One with me and another with Chase Masterson.. Please go to www.sliceofscifi.com and download it.. PLEASE VOTE.. They are number ONE right now..
poko: Do you personally enjoy Enterprise or any other sci-fi?
Al_Vinci: I remember sitting in my family's house when I was a child watching TOS on NBC. Trek has been a lifelong appreciation for me.
sarjenka: For Al: The "I'll get back to you" line on the job interview usually means the interviewer has no plans to call you back. Not trying to sound negative but don't you think Paramount uses the same tactic here?
Al_Vinci: I can state for certain that it was not the last contact. I am working with several levels at Paramount.
NCC1701J: Trek Today reported that Manny Coto has signed onto 24 for next year. Could he still write for ST:E?
Al_Vinci: If Manny has a laptop he could write from the 24 set. He is a brilliant and talented man.
Michael_Hinman: Can you name us the "chief Paramount executive"?
Al_Vinci: Please refer to my statement. I will be happy to do so under subpoena. I have my professional ethics and word to maintain. What I can tell you is that there will be more confirmations from undeniable sources in the coming days.
fsulawjm: Could Paramount realistically get Mr. Coto back, given that he's under contract with FOX now for 24?
Al_Vinci: I have no idea what Mr. Coto's contractual obligations are. I'm a great fan of his work but have never spoken to him personally.
zerovalen: Why would Paramount Release the Letter sent to Tim Brazeal in the mid of March now as a 'that the latest news'-bulleting on startrek.com if not to tell the fans that it's over. It’s a little bit hard to believe for me that paramount itself would publish old stuff.
Al_Vinci: In the middle of March our overall pitch was still in development. It had not reached the levels it did in the last few weeks. There is a LOT of work to be done when you are pitching a major studio. You just can't pick up the phone and BS your way through it. I had to work closely with TU to get all the T's crossed and the It’s dotted so that our pitch was professional, verifiable and as effective as we could make it in conjunction with the most notable production par
mighty_quinn77: Has TU attached any conditions to their involvement?
Al_Vinci: TU has supported all these efforts fully and openly. Everything I do I check through Tim and Andrew. I hope that was the question you asked.
Michael_R-_Mennenga: Here is a great Fan letter that sums up everything we are doing: Hi, I’m Jack Tiebor from Buffalo New York. First I just want to say thanks for all the effort into trying to save Star Trek Enterprise... I am 15 years old and have been so much inspired by star trek, especially Enterprise. Ever since I was old enough to even talk, I wanted to go out to the stars. I live on a hill out in the country where I get just a spectacular view of
Medical_Officer: As you've stated not to flood the assistants. What would you suggest to motivate Paramount?
Al_Vinci: We must strike a balance between expressing our fervent desires and respecting their work environment. They work just like we all do and don't want to be overwhelmed. I suggest that communication be written and emails would seem to be the most respectful way to communicate with them.
NCC1701J: Do you think Paramount actually believes their quaint little line "the best thing for Star Trek is a few years' break"? Do you think that this massive response will change their mind?
Al_Vinci: I have ample reason to believe that there will only be a short hiatus in TV Trek. I cannot comment further at this time..
jjcj: Are you optimistic about the talks you've had with Paramount thus far?
Al_Vinci: Paramount is a huge corporation. Like any huge corporation, it moves in mysterious ways which are impossible to prejudge. I can say that the top executive has been positive and involved in the discussions.
ChristopherPike: Does moving the production of ST:E present any difficulties in keeping the current cast together?
Al_Vinci: Trek has historically (since TNG) been shot in a chaotic manner, with pages arriving on the set while shooting! By reorganizing the shooting schedule we could theoretically minimize the amount of time each cast member should spend outside of the USA. However, it is not a definite at all that the show will move to Canada. We have considered stateside options.
Space_Nomad: Do you think there will be anymore large sources of money added into the mix other than the ones you've mentioned? 18mil already rocks
Al_Vinci: Ask Tim and Andrew. They are the guys with their hands on the $ pulse.
mighty_quinn77: I apologize. I meant, are there any conditions of TU's involvement with Paramount - e.g., the directions of the show, writing staff, etc.
Al_Vinci: TU has directed me from DAY ONE to do whatever is necessary to the best of my ability to get a Season 5. Everything is open to negotiation. Naturally we would like as much input as feasible.
JBraz56: Hi Al ! How about sending them flowers ?
Al_Vinci: We may find that you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar!
Medical_Officer: Tim/Al that approach makes absolute sense. You just can't go picking random stuff and hope that some of it flies. Bottom line. Do you think Paramount will be swayed by the economics (the historical cash cow) or are fixed on fulfilling Berman's vision of Trek?
Al_Vinci: Paramount is committed to continuing Trek under Rick Berman's control. That is not negotiable.
Captain_Seavey: With you taking over, would there be any threat of a curtailed season and/or reduced budget?
Al_Vinci: Reduced budget could be a consideration. Note we would never be taking over. We are pitching joint partnership cooperation with the studio
pookha: how much do you think that UPN being under Moonves and so many parts of the company that see a profit from trek (i.e. license) being under freston lead to the cancellation or do you want to be discrete and not comment on this
Al_Vinci: I cannot comment on Moonves or Freston's motives or actions.
zerovalen: I understand that completely, but now, I read for a week or so, you are in talks with the studio for a renewal and the studio agreed to listen -so why publish this letter then? That somehow doesn’t make sense to m
Al_Vinci: The beginning of the negotiations date back to mid March when Paramount agreed to meet with the Canadian producer. The last week you are referencing is just the latest form of the pitch.
TU4evah: Doesn't the final say rest with Les Moonves? Are you on that high a level?
Al_Vinci: There are several executives involved in making programming decisions for Paramount. I can assure you that "the guys" (in my statement) involve those levels.
smiler: As a trek fan do you have a favourite Enterprise episode?
Al_Vinci: Everything that has Manny Coto as a credit.
Shlomi_of_Vulcan: AL: What personal words of encouragement could you give to Tim, Jane and all of us here at TU & SE for the road ahead?
Al_Vinci: Folks, you have made history here. The ramifications of what you folks banding together have done will reverberate for many years. We may, just may, have a hand in being more than a footnote in television history. I cannot believe how professional, hard working and altruistic you are. My hat is off to all of you. Fervent and heartfelt congratulations to all!
scifib5st: Al, how can we help you. Do we call, write, e-mail... we want to help bring the show back, how do we help you.
Al_Vinci: Email with respect and dignity. No name calling. Paramount is NOT our enemy. We have common goals.
Chris: Folks, I'm afraid we'll have to wrap here
Swampy: I know it's a good way off yet, but if this pitch is successful and production is moved to Canada, how will this affect the current cast, with the rumours of Scott Bakula likely to be unhappy about a move to Canada because of family considerations, how would these kinds of problems be addressed?
Al_Vinci: We would address them. They haven't surfaced yet
Chris: Thanks for turning up guys! And a big thanks to Al for his continuing work. He'll be back here on Sunday at 7PM