Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Malleus, Sep 14, 2010.
So what happened?
1) very cool Dennis *bowsdown*
2) 90% of the screen actors guild is unemployed every day. If it were star trek itself that kept them from being employed it would be affecting Patrick Stewart far more than any other actor in TNG. Since he is the one still working a lot I would have to say it's got more to do with age than anything else. And the fact that 90% of the sag is unemployed on any give day.
3) Brandon Frasier does about a movie a year. None of them are very big lately, but I'm sure he still gets paid.
At last month's convention, Frakes mentioned he's glad he doesn't have to support his family as a 'middle-aged actor.' Typecasting might be a factor here, but I think the lack of roles for actors his age was generally the larger problem. Hollywood is all about the young, new hotness.
Why would acting jobs dry up?
There is demand in TV, radio, theatre, teaching/coaching, voice acting, etc. Acting is an art form. It's like saying that musician gigs are drying up, or openings for singers and painters.
I think, in all honesty, Trek to some degree blacklists actors who feature in it. So, in a sense, it's a double-edged sword. Trek can propel, and it also can typecast. In Sir Patrick Stewart's case, he was the star of TNG (at least, even though it was an ensemble cast, his was the chief character) and due to TNG's high ratings it propelled him into superstar status.
Including some of us viewers, who find shows like that insulting to the intelligence.
To be a contrarian about "reality TV," the truth is that when the three networks tried to fill up prime time seven nights a week with scripted dramas and comedy, ninety-some percent of it (to paraphrase Sturgeon) was unambitious nonsense. That's the most neutrally I can put it - one can easily sling aroung terms like "vapid," "lowest common denominator," and crap, but let's just say "unambitious." "Insulting to the intelligence" was a phrase that was commonly used about American network television decades before the term "reality TV" was coined.
For every fairly high quality show on which networks lavished money and promotion financial realities dictated that they greenlight a lot of inexpensive, usually disposable stuff. The domination of prime time at various points by three camera sitcoms was (is) driven to some degree by this - in the first several years they can be relatively inexpensive to produce and there's always the chance of the studio and network hitting it really big with a little-known group of actors and writers. If not, well you're not going broke nearly as quickly as you might.
Reality TV fills a lot of time for very little money. Show me some evidence that there's less scripted TV per week now that ranges from good to excellent than there was fifteen years ago and I'll be impressed.
Cool. Did you get an opportunity to write on DS9 or Voyager?
Reading is good.
Sadly, "the boob tube" didn't mean what I had hoped.
Who's Brandon Frasier?
I went to see an actor called Brendan Fraser in London theatreland a few years ago, playing Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He was really rather good. Then he went on to do those awful Mummy films which must have sunk without a trace.
I never tried to pitch DS9. I pitched Voyager a couple of times, to no avail. They were always really encouraging, though - it was a bit of a thrill to be told "you should be in here pitching every week" by one of my favorite TNG/Voyager writers - and one thing that happened was really fun: I pitched a story and was told "we're doing that one already and I'm telling you that with the understanding that you won't breathe a word of it" because it was seen as a game-changing kind of event.
Don't the cast get royalties from all the re runs of the series? And dvd sales? None of them look like they are starving.
In fact a few look the opposite
Nothing game-changing ever happened on Voyager! The game was constantly the same!
I assume that's who they meant. I saw a trailer for a new "family film" he's starring in, where he gets to act with CGI animals, as well as take pratfalls with them, etc.
Indeed - a few are approaching the point where they could mingle unnoticed in the audience at a Trek convention.
True, but maybe they actually want to keep doing that job they love, you know? The job they studied and practiced and get a lot of satisfaction from? Why is it so difficult to understand that even when an actor is receiving considerable money from royalties that they might still want to - GASP - act in film and on stage once in awhile?
Being an actor is a brutal job. There's so very few who get into that position of "I've made it--I'm in demand and THEY seek me out, instead of the reverse." And then there's all the supporting people that made it all happen--writers, set designers, producers, stage hands, etc, who don't get the kind of glory that the actors do.
There's also the issue of being typecast. You get a role on a sci-fi series, get recognized for it, but then find yourself having difficulty doing anything else but sci-fi. Or... the role you had was very limiting and so you're not viewed as a "versatile" actor, simply because you weren't given the chance to show all your wares.
Unfortunately, the landscape of entertainment is changing yet again... there's so much junk out there. Costly productions just can't compete. And when you start cutting costs, you don't invest in the talent you need to make the production really successful--you go for the short term goal of keeping it less expensive. Then quality suffers, ratings get bogged down...
You do see some actors break out of the typecast mold... I've spotted a number of Star Trek regular actors who have gotten supporting roles in other series. A greater number do just sporadic character roles... that's probably much easier to score than a regular gig on another show.
As for Frakes, well, I wouldn't call him a very talented actor. That's probably why the acting jobs noticeably "dried up" for him. He seems to have more talent as a director. Good for him, finding his niche.
Dennis, congrats on your work. I understand you were more on the early draft side, but these were among the much better stories in the TNG series.
Back when TNG had a script writers manual available for anybody to give it a go, I got one and wrote up a script. It was a "part II" to the "A Matter of Time" episode, about the 22nd century guy masquerading as observer Professor Berlingoff Rasmussen from the 26th century. But unfortunately by the time it was read, the series was being prepared for the wrap up. I was thanked for the submission, given an apology for being "too late for consideration". I was bummed... Anyway, did you go the same route, just a bit earlier in the series run?
Ha! I, also, submitted a script to Voyager, which was the sequel to the episode where Harry Kim dies and is replaced by Harry Kim from a slightly different timeline (Parallels), which posited that the 'original' Harry Kim who was flushed out into space was revived by the Vidiians as an experimental research subject*. I submitted it during the 4th season and was declined and thanked for my time (no 'sequels' were accepted from out-of-house writers, which may have influenced your script also, Gary7), but was surprised to note that certain elements of it were incorporated into the 5th season opener (Night) had a scene that was extremely similar to one of the scenes from my spec. Probably a coincidence, but it's nice to think I played a small part in the Voyager tapestry.
*I did post the script here on the BBS after it was rejected, but that was a long time ago, prior to the big BBS reboot of a few years ago, and it's not longer here. Might be able to dig it out of my archives...
I hope you don't mind me asking you this (I like the eps you wrote for) but can you elaborate as comfortably as you want to as to how you got the opportunity to write for TNG?
What was it like to actually write an episode? Did you have someone like Michael Piller giving you notes as you wrote, or were you allowed to basically hammer out a draft straight through (or along with another writer)?
Did you meet/see or interact with Roddenberry?
Did you mingle or hang out with some of the other "regular" writers, such as Ron Moore?
Separate names with a comma.