Who were considered the showrunners for each Trek series?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Dream, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    TOS: Gene Roddenberry
    TNG: Gene Roddenberry (first two seasons), Rick Berman and Michael Pillar (third to seventh season)

    I'm a little confused about which people were running what for VOY and ENT. Also what was going on with the TOS and TNG movies in terms of who was in charge of them?
     
  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    I believe Fred Freiberger was basically running the show during Season 3 of TOS.
     
  3. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    So Feiberger should be blamed for the lack of quality of TOS's season three?
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    First off, the title "showrunner" wasn't in use in the '60s, so it's anachronistic to apply it to TOS. A showrunner is the writer-producer who's in charge of the writers' room, and they didn't have writers' rooms yet; they basically just had the producer and the story editor, with a large contribution by freelancers. But Roddenberry was the head writer in seasons 1-2, and essentially did the job of what we'd now call a showrunner, in that he rewrote every script to keep their voice and continuity consistent. Freiberger took over that role in season 3.

    In the animated series, D.C. Fontana was the story editor, which for animation was basically the equivalent of a showrunner.

    As for TNG, Berman was never really the showrunner, since that means the head writer. Berman mostly handled the logistical side of the production, the stuff other than writing. Of course he had final approval over the writers' decisions, but he did little actual writing himself. Michael Piller (note the spelling) was the showrunner from seasons 3-5, with Jeri Taylor running the room in seasons 6-7 when Piller moved over to DS9. Piller initially ran DS9, but Ira Steven Behr took over as showrunner by the end of season 3 and stayed in that post until the finale.

    Michael Piller ran Voyager on and off for its first couple of seasons -- he left to produce the Richard Dean Anderson Western Legend, then returned for a while after its cancellation -- but he was in more of a supervisory capacity, with Jeri Taylor running the writers' room on a day-to-day basis. Once Piller left for good, Taylor ran the show from seasons 3-4. Brannon Braga was showrunner in seasons 5-6, with Kenneth Biller taking over in season 7 when Braga needed to focus on developing Enterprise.

    On ENT, Berman and Braga were the showrunners; it was the first and only Trek series where Berman contributed regularly to the writing process and worked as Braga's writing partner. But in season 4, Manny Coto took over as the ground-level showrunner (much like Taylor's position in early VGR), heading the writers' room while answering to Berman & Braga.


    Movies are generally less a writers' medium and more a directors' medium. In TV, it's the writer-producers who are there the whole time, while directors just come in for a week at a time. But in feature films, the dominant creative voice is usually the director, in partnership with the producer, who isn't necessarily a writer, but usually was in the Trek films. (Oddly, in movies the executive producer rank is below the producer rank, the reverse of television.)

    TMP was produced by Roddenberry. Harve Bennett was the producer in charge of the writing on movies II-V, though he only had executive producer rank on TWOK with Robert Sallin as the producer. Ralph Winter produced TUC. Rick Berman produced all four TNG movies. And the films' directors are pretty well-known.


    He has been the scapegoat for the past 40-odd years, but that's really a little unfair. Just about all the writing staff from seasons 1-2 had moved on, and Roddenberry had pretty much abrogated his responsibilities to the show, not bothering to contribute substantially to the writing in season 3. So Freiberger and his story editor Arthur H. Singer had to take over the show from scratch without any guidance from their predecessors, any help in getting a handle on what the show was and how to approach it. That's not a great situation to be dropped into.
     
  5. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Wow. Thanks for the very indepth answer, Christopher!

    I still think getting Piller for TNG was the best thing for that show.

    I can't believe VOY has so many showrunners! Now it's starting to make more sense why Janeway was written so inconsistently throughout the years. No sense of planning.

    It is a shame Gene Roddenberry pretty much left TOS in season three. The first two seasons of TOS was some of the best that Trek has done. A weaker season three really hurt the series.
     
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Admiral

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    Well, it was sort of a chicken-and-the-egg situation. Star Trek was already at death's door by Season Three, which is probably why everybody, including Roddenberry, already had one foot out the door. They could see the handwriting on the wall (i.e. imminent cancellation) and were busy updating their resumes . . . .
     
  7. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Also, let's not forget Maurice Hurley, who was essentially the showrunner during season two of TNG. Roddenberry was still actively involved in the show at that point, but had cut back his day-to-day involvement, and Piller had not yet come on board. Berman and Hurley were the two people running the day-to-day operations during that season, with Hurley being the one focused on the creative/writing side.

    In fact, despite popular perception, Hurley was Berman's equal during those early years, whereas Piller always reported to Berman. You'll note that both Hurley and Berman share the same title in the opening credits and, in fact, if you pay attention you'll note that each episode alternates who's credit is displayed first and who's is second, so as to give them truly equal billing.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Yeah, I thought that Hurley might have been the showrunner in the second season, but I wasn't sure. Thanks for clearing that up.
     
  9. xortex

    xortex Commodore

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    Hurley wanted to heat things up but GR wanted 2001 until Boring Man's (Berman) Trek started and subtlety became the cornerstone lynchpin of playing it safe so it'll last longer Trek. Hence him telling Picardo to buy the expensive kitchen tiles and laughing about it. Yet they ate the cheap chicken. Go figure.
     
  10. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    Freiberger may have not known what the show was, but according to David Gerrald, he had definite ideas about what the show was not, and those ideas often conflicted with what had already been done on the show.

    Greg and/or Christopher, would Maizlish qualify as a showrunner for early TNG, seeing as how he was pretty much running things for Gene and even doing semi-authorized rewrites on scripts.
     
  11. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Nobody has mentioned Gene Coon for TOS, who certainly seemed to be in on a lot of important decision making. I was once on a panel about Star Trek comics with Chris Claremont ("Debt of Honor" graphic novel) and he created great controversy when he told our audience that Star Trek probably lost the wrong Gene when Gene Coon left the show.
     
  12. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    ^In retrospect, I can see how he'd say that. GR was a better leech than a creator. Most of what made Trek stand out came from other peoples' ideas.
     
  13. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Coon was the line producer of the show from "Miri" to "Bread and Circuses." Roddenberry was the line producer before that. After Coon left, John Meredyth Lucas line produced the rest of season two (except for "Assignment: Earth," a backdoor pilot which Roddenberry line produced). Fred Freiberger assumed the role of line producer for the duration of the third season

    It would be a mistake to forget Coon (and Lucas) by retroactively labeling Roddenberry the program's "showrunner." That's a contemporary term that doesn't describe the way the creative staff worked.
     
  14. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Was there really a 'revolving door' of writers during the first two seasons of TNG? What was that about? Didn't they realize the episodes would suffer for this?

    Did Piller put an end to this starting with season three?

    Also what was Roger D. Moore's role during TNG, DS9, and VOY?
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Gene Roddenberry was increasingly ill and drug-dependent by that point in his life, and he surrounded himself with a circle of supporters, including his attorney Leonard Maizlish, who reportedly shut out the other co-creators and producers, rewrote every script themselves without regard for the others' wishes (in fact it was unethical for Maizlish, who wasn't a Writers' Guild member, to rewrite the scripts), and generally created an unwelcoming environment for them. So one by one, the other original producers decided they couldn't continue to work under those conditions and walked away.

    As Roddenberry's health declined further, his involvement in the show became more peripheral and so things were able to stabilize.


    That's Ronald D. Moore. He began as a freelance writer who sold the spec script "The Bonding" to TNG in its third season, and was soon hired as a story editor, the lowest tier within the writing staff. He worked his way up through the ranks from there: executive story editor in season 4, co-producer in seasons 5-6, and producer in season 7. He then became a supervising producer on DS9 starting with its third season, and by the final two seasons had reached the rank of co-executive producer. After DS9 ended, he briefly made a lateral move to co-executive producer of VGR, but quickly found the working conditions on that staff to be intolerable and left after writing only one episode, "Survival Instinct," and contributing the story to the next, "Barge of the Dead."

    You can see how much the hierarchy and taxonomy of producers has expanded since the '60s, when a show typically just had one story editor, one producer, and one executive producer.
     
  16. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not to mention muddying up the term "producer," which seems to have been chosen for the writing staff because it was the most important sounding title that wasn't restricted by a union contract of some sort.

    Still, I think it's an unfortunate blurring of the lines that people who are down on the sets managing day-to-day operations and people who are in the writing room generating the stories both have the same title. While there are some producers who do genuinely "do it all," this is rather rare. I wish there were a better title that could be given to the writers as the moved up the ranks that carried the sense of the import of their role while not confusing them with other areas of responsibility. What David Livingston or Peter Lauritson did is certainly very different from what Ronald D. Moore or Robert Hewitt Wolfe did.