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Oh!! That’s What Shatner’s 2003 STAR TREK TV Pitch Was About??

I am – Hercules!!

Did you know William Shatner pitched Viacom owner Sumner Redstone a Star Trek TV series intended to replace UPN’s struggling “Star Trek: Enterprise” in 2003?

Shatner’s pitch got on my (and many others') radar via UGO’s April interview with Jonathan Frakes, who said he and two other famous names separately pitched shows:

“I had a Star Trek that I developed for TV,” Frakes told UGO, “and we were told in no uncertain terms that they said no to a Bryan Singer television Star Trek, they said no to a William Shatner television Star Trek.”

Well, it turns out Frakes never pitched his (still mysterious) series idea, and Singer never got around to pitching anything either (though Robert Meyer Burnett -- writer-director of the little-seen Trek-themed movie comedy “Free Enterprise” –  did apparently prepare 25 pages of premise for Singer to pitch.)

Which leaves Shatner’s pitch.

I speculated in April that Shatner’s idea might be based on his series of novels about a Borg-resurrected James Kirk cavorting about the galaxy in Jean-Luc Picard’s era, but it turns out I was wrong.

Shatner’s 2003 series idea, according to a Wednesday story over at Blastr, would have dealt with Kirk and Spock’s days at Starfleet Academy.

(As the Blastr story points out, producer Ralph Winter – who worked on “Star Trek III,” “Star Trek IV” and “Star Trek V” – pitched in 1990 a movie that would deal with Kirk and Spock’s days at Starfleet Academy; Paramount eventually went forward with Nicholas Meyer’s “Undiscovered Country” concept instead.) 

But here’s the kicker. Shatner’s once-mysterious 2003 pitch – more or less – may have been available for more than three years now, fleshed out as Shatner's 2007 novel “Star Trek: Academy - Collision Course.”

It hit shelves a year and a half before Abrams' look at Kirk and Spock's academy days hit screens.

Simon & Shuster’s blurb:

If you think you know how it all began, think again...

Young Jim Kirk wants nothing to do with Starfleet, and never wants to leave Earth. In the summer of 2249, he's a headstrong seventeen-year-old barely scraping by in San Francisco, haunted by horrific memories from his past.

In the same city, a nineteen-year-old alien named Spock is determined to rise above the emotional turmoil of his mixed-species heritage. He's determined to show his parents he has what it takes to be Vulcan -- even if it means exposing a mysterious conspiracy at the heart of the Vulcan Embassy, stretching to the farthest reaches of the Federation's borders. There, a chilling new threat has arisen to test the Federation's deepest held belief that war is a thing of the past and that a secure future can be forged through peaceful means alone. But it is in San Francisco, home to Starfleet Academy, where that threat will be met by two troubled teenage boys driven to solve the mystery that links them both.

In time, the universe will come to know these young rebels as Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock...two of the Federation's greatest heroes. Yet before they were heroes, they were simply conflicted teenagers, filled with raw ambition and talent, not yet seasoned by wisdom and experience, searching for their own unique directions in life -- a destiny they'll discover on one fateful night in San Francisco, when two lives collide, and two legends are born.

Star Trek: Academy -- Collision Course sets the stage for an exciting new era of Star Trek adventure, and for the first time reveals Kirk and Spock as they were, and how they began their journey to become the Kirk and Spock we know today.

As that last paragraph may hint, “Collision Course” (published in hardback on Oct. 16, 2007) was once thought to be the first in a series of Shatner-penned Starfleet Academy books. But Shatner’s interest (and that of the publisher) in continuing the series may or may not have been diminished by the April 21, 2006, news that Abrams was mounting a new movie about Kirk and Spock’s days at Starfleet Academy. 

I note that the publisher last November launched a new line of “Starfleet Academy” novels, all apparently set in the alternate universe established by Abrams’ movie.

Find all of Blastr’s story on aborted “Star Trek” projects here.


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Readers Talkback
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  • June 10, 2011, 9:54 p.m. CST

    would have made a good series

    by wattos new hat

    probably could still do it

  • June 10, 2011, 10:21 p.m. CST

    Have Bennett not Ralph Winter

    by Geekgasm

    The 1990-era Starfleet Academy movie idea was Harve Bennett's - the producer of Trek II, III, IV and V - and when Paramount passed on it in favor of the Nimoy-produced Trek VI, Bennett left the franchise completely. Ralph Winter was an associate producer on II, II, IV, V and, I believe, promoted to producer on VI. I believe Winter was also a producer on the early X-Men movies.

  • June 10, 2011, 10:28 p.m. CST


    by harrys_site_sucks


  • June 10, 2011, 10:32 p.m. CST


    by Jaka

    Idiots rule.

  • June 10, 2011, 10:46 p.m. CST

    And by "Have" I meant "Harve"

    by Geekgasm

    Duh! I think Nimoy was credited as executive producer on VI but he was really the godfather of that movie. Of course all this took place in the shadow of Star Trek V's stinking failure at the box office. Elements of the old cast felt betrayed by Bennett's idea to make an academy era movie with a new young cast and they lobbied against it mightily. Bennett swears to this day that his idea was never to replace the original cast - that he intended to create a new track that would allow the studio to make a Star Trek movie every year, one with the new cast and one with the old cast. But the old cast didn't buy that. They took to the convention circuit and bad-mouthed Bennett's idea as a cross between Top Gun and Police Academy in space. The fans protested, the studio got spooked, the passed on Bennett's idea and wanted him to instead produce an original cast movie in time for the 25th anniversary in 1991. Bennett refused, believing the old cast had stabbed him in the back and that he had to save face and stick to his guns, so he left the lot. I think Frank Mancuso was the head of the studio at the time, but whoever it was approached Nimoy about directing or producing Star Trek VI. Nimoy got in touch with Nick Meyer on holiday and Nimoy pitched Meyer his idea - the Berlin Wall comes down in space. The studio liked the idea, Meyer mostly wrote the screenplay with his writing partner, he directed, Nimoy shepherded on the creative end, Ralph Winter produced the dollars and cents end, and that's how Star Trek VI happened (although the studio briefly put the movie in turnaround over budgeting as they were only willing to spend so much money after Trek V flopped so painfully).

  • Those fools have some incredible deals on Blu-Rays, and they all seem to work just fine on my Playstation 3. Only took about a week for it to ship from over there to me in MT.

  • a sweet movie. I actually liked Abrams' Trek, but that sounds more interesting/...intelligent.

  • June 10, 2011, 11:17 p.m. CST

    Collision Course Wasn't bad...

    by Jeff Leszczynski had it's moments. Let's just say that by the end of the book, you know exactly what was going to happen, and it was a no brainer. cue: ST music. space... I liked the JJ take on rebooting ST. Matter of fact, i think i'm going go through the BluRay on right now...night!

  • June 10, 2011, 11:34 p.m. CST


    by ObiBen all teary eyed when they saw baby Kirky and baby Spocky thrust forth from their mamma's womb. Here's my pitch: Let's get inventive. Let's show people what real sci-fi is all about. Let's unravel the mysteries of life, the universe and everything, in full IMAX Three-Dee. Let's see the saga of Kirk and Spock when they where only wee sperm cells swimming madly againts all odds and enemies (Klingon and Romulan sperm cells, aboard their mini sperm cell class battlecruisers) to fertilize their mammma's egg. Then, let's do a re-imaginaprequelaboot about Spock and Kirk as they where merely a gleam in their mamma's and pappa's eyes during a nice dinner at the Olive Garden. To boldly go...

  • June 10, 2011, 11:51 p.m. CST

    Frakes' pitch?

    by monolithik

    You mean "Rikers In Space"? The half-hour sitcom that he's joked about a few times that would follow the zany misadventures of Riker, Troi, their kids, Data the nanny and their dog Worf? Not joking. I think that's seriously all he's got. No mystery here.

  • June 11, 2011, midnight CST


    by Hercules

    He used the word "developed." If somebody runs into Frakes (I'm looking at you, TMZ), kindly ask him what he meant.

  • June 11, 2011, 1:27 a.m. CST

    I'm sick to death of Kirk and Spock and the Enterprise

    by SmokingRobot

    Can't we get a new ship? New characters? REALLY NEW, not just changed names? The Abrams movies really aren't creating much new for the franchise. A movie or two, maybe three. So what? There's 20+ hours in a tv season. Real opportunity for character development. Don't you want to see a Trek show with a main actor as good as Timothy Olyphant is in JUSTIFIED? Fucking A right you do.

  • June 11, 2011, 1:28 a.m. CST

    Star Trek: Timequake

    by Margot Tenenbaum

    Captain Kirk leads an Enterprise crew of whatever various former Trek cast members they can hire on a trek through a deteriorating (due to the events of Abrams' Trek film) 24th century timeline. The central mystery of the series is how Captain Kirk is still alive. That's my pitch, Paramount.

  • June 11, 2011, 1:43 a.m. CST


    by Queefer Sutherland

    The last thing we need is Star Trek 90210. Fuck that shit.

  • June 11, 2011, 2:22 a.m. CST

    So the Star Trek reboot was a ripoff from a Shatner book.

    by btc909

    JJ is the rebooted M. Knight.

  • June 11, 2011, 2:41 a.m. CST

    That "Free Enterprise" movie was awful

    by KarlKolchak

    It was like a porno flick without the hardcore bonin'

  • June 11, 2011, 5:25 a.m. CST

    Shat the author

    by kar120c

    Shatner does come up with (bad) story ideas, like finding God in Star Trek V, but I think he writes nary a word of his novels. At least this has the other names on it instead of being ghostwritten.

  • June 11, 2011, 7:14 a.m. CST

    haha I'm with queefer om this

    by Gezoes

    Why was Star Wars, Star Trek the OS such a success? The actors were fine, but unknown, they WERE their characters. Stop making starvessels.

  • June 11, 2011, 7:56 a.m. CST

    Well, the kids have to learn about TekWar sooner or later

    by photoboy

    I've just downloaded The Shat's academy novel via Kindle, the Reeves-Stevens are usually pretty reliable when it comes to quality Trek stories. I don't think it's possible to have plot holes bigger than Abrams effort that's for sure...

  • June 11, 2011, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Rumors about a Starfleet-Academy Series are oooooolllllllld.

    by AshMcQ

    I know this, and I'm NOT a Trekkie. It was rumored before Enterprise, as far as I remember.

  • June 11, 2011, 11:06 a.m. CST

    cotton_mcknight, I'm wth you!

    by unfaithfullyyours

    I've always thought this. And even though, I know it would be too expensive, I've always also thought it would work well in a short run anthology series so you can bounce around, between times, characters, new characters, old characters, wherever the stories take you. Do a short run, 7 - 13 episodes, have 'em self-contained, standalone eps, maybe a 2 parter here or there. And you could certainly revisit people and places that are interesting, but - It's just so rich ... You can sort of do anything, if you're not locked into one ship and one place. I dunno ...

  • If they're smart they launch it the fall of the same year as the next Nu Trek film. A REAL Network show on in Prime time with a real budget would be a true step towards bringing Trek back to TV where it belongs.

  • June 11, 2011, 12:57 p.m. CST

    Er, Godfather 2 was a prequel AND a sequel. Temple of Doom was also a prequel..

    by SierraTangoFoxtrotUniform

    I am sure there are other examples. Kids nowadays think everything began right after they were born. LOL.

  • June 11, 2011, 1:20 p.m. CST

    Indeed Sick of Kirk and Spock

    by Stuart-Renton

    Yep. I'm sick of the whole Trek universe (as it stands); let's have something new. All the fantastic potential for something wonderful and we got... Enterprise. UGH. Let's see something new and fantastic!


  • June 11, 2011, 3:32 p.m. CST

    Does Anyone else think that Bardem's head is Massive?

    by Ray Ray

  • June 11, 2011, 5:11 p.m. CST

    Forget Kirk and Spock

    by MapMan

    ST: TNG showed that you can make a successful ST series without having to revisit Kirk and Spock. They did it correctly - set the series ahead hundreds of years and go from there. This last movie took the safe route and used a lame, tired time-travel plot to go back to the original characters. Does Paramount really have no faith in Roddenberry's vision of the future? Is it too risky to create new characters? Yes, I didn't like Abrams' movie.

  • June 11, 2011, 7:53 p.m. CST

    Kirk & Spock RULE!!!

    by DavidBanner

    Next Generation,etc was sterile. Kirk & Spock = Action,Adventure,Drama and REAL STAR TREK.

  • June 11, 2011, 8:19 p.m. CST

    Patton Oswald's rant about darth vader as a kid would apply here

    by Rex Carsalot

  • June 11, 2011, 8:53 p.m. CST

    So Jar Jar ripped off the Shat?

    by Wookie_Weed

    No surprise there.

  • June 12, 2011, 3 a.m. CST

    What the hell?

    by Shermdawg

    Did Herc get canned/quit? Coaxial is empty on the main page, and this article apparently no longer exists.

  • June 12, 2011, 1:44 p.m. CST

    Picard / TNG -Make a mini-series for HBO!

    by Jake Pantlin

    This is something I would like to see. Three movies done for HBO or another channel of that caliber would be a good way to end that series. It could easily be done today on a BSG budget. They could also tie it in to the last movie (like how they did in the comics.)

  • June 12, 2011, 3:54 p.m. CST

    Why is Madonna on that book cover with Kirk and McCoy?

    by RobertoInfiniteTHEMoonLander

  • June 13, 2011, 10:19 a.m. CST

    star trek: stargate

    by Ye Not Guilty

    Mashup trek and stargate. Cherry pick characters from both series. Make it so.

  • June 14, 2011, 7:53 a.m. CST

    Just carry on from where DS9/Voyager left off

    by Jonathan Hicks

    Although you can largely ignore Voyager, 'cause it was shite. Small crappy cobbled-together ship post-Dominion war, small crew given the ship to travel about the ex-warzone, finding surviving colonies/outposts and rooting out enemy holdouts and those profiting from the war. Cue shootouts, space battles, bitching about how war is hell and dramas in a post-war sector. Chuck in some random shit like comic relief engineers and a dicey medic with a dark secret and you've got a TV show. Hell, even throw Wesley Crusher in there - 'I work for Star Fleet' - 'You joined?' - 'Not exactly. There's been a huge fuck-off war and they're desperate for engineers' - 'Pisser'. I'll take cash. I don't trust studio cheques.

  • June 14, 2011, 5:33 p.m. CST

    cotton-mcknight, the idea for this predates EP1

    by Geomancer21

    There was a small TV Guide article before Deep Space nine was made talking about two ideas they had for a spin-off series, one was a show set on a space station on the edge of the federation, the other was a prequel series.

  • June 14, 2011, 5:35 p.m. CST

    majorsharpe, They had that, it was Star Trek: Titan

    by Geomancer21

    I remember hearing persistent rumors about them wanting to develop it into a series.

  • June 16, 2011, 7:44 a.m. CST


    by Jonathan Hicks

    Really? Shitter. Just read the synopsis of the novels and, yeah, they may have gotten some mileage out of that but the familiar characters would have made it all a bit, you know... familiar. I want some new characters you learn about and not established ones you'll end up second-guessing or that'll follow a predictable path. And no Vulcan lubing and some actual decent stories would also be a bonus.