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Star Trek Discovery Loses its Showrunner

Bryan Fuller is stepping down as showrunner for CBS’ new series Star Trek Discovery. The big network alleges that Fuller’s plate is too full to devote the time necessary to the Trek series.

The award winning writer-producer of Hannibal and Pushing Daisies has overseen Discovery since February. Now Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts (partners with Fuller on Daisies, Revenge and The CW’s Reign) will serve as showrunners. Fuller will aboard as an executive producer.

Does Bryan Fuller Have too Many Irons in the Fire?

Sources say that there is strain between Fuller and CBS.  He has just entered the final weeks of shooting and post-production of American Gods, an upcoming drama from Starz. On top of that, he is also beginning preliminary production on a reboot of Amazing Stories for NBC.

Bryan Fuller

Fuller seems to just have fingers in too many pies for CBS’ taste.  Execs agreed that it was time to bring in someone that can get the show ready for its 5/17 premiere.  Discovery, originally planned for a January 2017 premiere, was pushed back to May due to Fuller’s other professional commitments. This threw a monkey wrench into CBS’ plans to have Discovery as the Flagship show of CBS All-Access. All-Access is the Network’s pay streaming service.

Network Happy but has Waning Patience

CBS execs were pleased with the material overseen by Fuller, but became concerned that he was too busy due to other projects. CBS, having pushed back the premiere once already was unwilling to do so again. As a result, reigns to the show were handed over to Berg and Harberts.

Fuller has already written the first two scripts, and has mapped out the general story arc for the new series. CBS has much to lose on the new Trek outing. The budget is rumored to be nearing $6-7 million per episode.

Star Trek Discovery: Full Steam Ahead

A statement released by CBS Television Studios they lay out their reasoning for the change of command:

We are extremely happy with the creative direction of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ and the strong foundation that Bryan Fuller has helped us create for the series. Due to Bryan’s other projects, he is no longer able to oversee the day-to-day of ‘Star Trek,’ but he remains an executive producer, and will continue to map out the story arc for the entire season…Bryan is a brilliant creative talent and passionate ‘Star Trek’ fan, who has helped us chart an exciting course for the series. We are all committed to seeing this vision through and look forward to premiering ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ this coming May 2017.

When it was announced that Bryan Fuller would be showrunner for Discovery, reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Fuller has extensive background in the universe of Star Trek. He was a writer on both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. In addition to Fuller, Nicholas Meyer, who served as either writer or director of Star Treks II, IV & IV, is serving as writer and Producer on the show. Also on board as producers are Alex Kurtzman and Rod Roddenberry, son of Trek’s creator. Writing for the series are Trek authors Kirsten Beyer, David Mack and Mike Johnson. Long story short, even without Fuller at the reigns, Star Trek is in very good hands.

What is Discovery About?

Discovery is set 10 years before Star Trek The Original Series and takes place in the “Prime Universe.” This means it is not connected to the JJ Abrams Trek films of recent years. Speaking on the universe and timeline of the new series, Fuller said:

That gives us an opportunity to bridge the gap between Enterprise and the original series. Really, when we developed the story it could take place in either Prime or Kelvin so the timeline was relatively inconsequential. But there was the cleanliness of keeping our series independent of the films. That way we don’t have to track anything [happening in the movie universe] and they don’t have to track what we’re doing. And you can have two distinct universes — one where Sulu is straight and one where Sulu is gay.

The series is set to have a female lead who is a Lieutenant Commander, not a captain.   The show will also feature new aliens and a gay male character, a first for Star Trek.

Bryan Fuller may not be showrunner, but it’s clear that his hand will still be in Star Trek’s cookie jar.  He will still be on board to flesh out the story and mythos for Discovery as it unfolds.

Star Trek Discovery will premiere on CBS All-Access in May 2017. 


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About the author

Tim Piland

Timothy Piland is a classically trained tenor and opera singer. He was born and raised in the Springfield, Mo. Area.

He has performed Roles for Springfield Little Theater, Vandivort Theater, Springfield Regional Opera and Mobile Opera. He has also worked for the Puccini Festival, and the Kansas City Lyric Opera.

In his performing career he has performed roles in: Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Man of La Mancha, Die Fledermouse, La Fanciulla del West, Gianni Schicchi and many other shows.

In 2007, he toured the United Kingdom with the Church of the Incarnation out of Dallas, Texas. This included a week long engagement at Westminster Abbey, as well as a 9 day engagement at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In 2009 he originated the role of the Priest in "Frankenstein, Monster" by Le Wlhelm at the Gilloiz Theater.

He appeared onstage as Rupert Giles for, "A Class Act productions," in their ongoing presentation of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: A Reader’s Theatre Parody, from March 2010-July 2013.

In November 2011, he made his directoral debut, directing "Star Trek Live Onstage: The Trouble with Tribbles," also for "A Class Act." He went on to direct 14 of the next 17 episodes of that live stage show.

Each Christmas you can also catch him at the historic Pythian Castle where he performs in a, "Night of the Dueling Santas," a Christmas dinner show of his own writing. He has been the Ghost Tour Guide for the castle since 2010.

He has been featured on The Discovery Channel, SYFY Channel, The History Channel, NPR.

He is the founder of Harvest Moon Productions and oversees events ranging from concerts to straight plays. He is currently writing a book called "Ghostly Tales From Pythian Castle," which hopefully will see production at some point in 2014.

In 2013 he was cast as Dr. Howard Lagrasse in the 5 episode silent Horror web series SHADOW BOUND, for Arcane Productions. Most recently he was cast in a role in the feature film EVERYTHING, for Parallax Studio.

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