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A Look At Development Hell At Viacom/UPN

El Cosmico here, with word from an insider at Viacom, who has been kind enough to send along some insights, her opinions, as to the goings on. Rather strongly felt, it seems, and a bit on the tabloid side if you ask me, but I think some of you may have an interest in this stuff. I'm sure you'll let me know how you feel about it. Take it away, Viacom Girl.

Over at UPN, there’s a pilot script being written based on the comic book character “Thor” which the suits there bought because Thor looks sorta like a wrestler.  I kid you not.  Then there’s a possible series based on Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone” because clearly audiences miss “The Sentinel” so much.  (Don’t remember “The Sentinel”?  You’re not alone.  Some of us joke UPN ought to have a contest where the viewer who can name what other shows we air besides “Voyager” and“Smackdown” wins some sort of grand prize... like a TV without our network on it.)

I’m sure many people are wondering what’s the status of the new “Star Trek” series.  Those people are the crew working on “Voyager” who right now wonder what their next gig will be. Here’s the deal. You’re hearing that because of potential show business strikes starting in May the next “Star Trek” show is on hold. That’s not the reason.  The truth is it’s because the starship UPN is so shaky. There are cups of cottage cheese that have shelf lives longer than the dumb place.  For Paramount not to give its own network the next “Star Trek” show would be perceived as a fatal blow to UPN, but the studio doesn’t want to risk continuing the franchise on a network which might only last two or three years tops. They want every “Star Trek” show to run at least seven years not just for syndication but also so whatever Vulcan character on the ship has a shot at getting laid at least once.

There’s supposedly a script for the next “Star Trek” show that’s been written but no one at UPN has read it.  They always guard this stuff like top government secrets but the simple truth is NOBODY CARES ABOUT STAR TREK ANYMORE!!!  Thanks to producer Rick Berman and his tired bunch of writers -- millions of former Trekkers have finally gotten a life.  Either that or they watch “Farscape” instead. Paramount itself started a rumor that both NBC and Fox were interested in the next “Trek” and they exaggerated the meaning of the word“ interest” to make it all seem more important than it really was.  (Incidentally, the guy who was potentially "interested" in the new “Trek” show at NBC was already fired.  Since he was the dude who put “Titans” on I think that says how totally out of it he was to still be into Trek.)

Wonder what some of the suits here think of Rick Berman?  Surprisingly they agree with a lot of AICN readers.  They seem jealous of all the money he’s made and often talk about how much weight he’s put on over the years, especially in the bank account. If Gene Roddenberry meant “Star Trek” to be his “Wagon Train To The Stars” then to Berman it’s been “Gravy Train To Financial Security.”  Sadly, he ain’t planning to let this gravy train go anytime soon and those dilithium crystals are almost dry now.

Speaking of “Trek”, a really good writer was Tracy Torme who wrote some really cool episodes of “Next Gen” before graduating from the Starfleet Writing School unlike all the others who’ve been repeating their courses and failing ever since.  He sold an animated series here awhile back called “Doomsday” which you probably read about from Howard Stern productions. Thanks to the suits at UPN, everything got messed up and they’re starting officially from scratch with a brand new writer.

The top guns at UPN think they know comedy and still believe “The Secret Diary Of Desmond Pha-feiffer” and “Shasta McNasty” were good shows despite the fact you could have bombed Iraq with those cassettes.

“Doomsday” is about post-apocalyptic America in the future; which will happen sooner rather than later with George W. Bush in office.  It needs to be smart and satirical to work but if the suits knew how to do a show like that then the place wouldn’t be the bottom of the barrel like it is. Then again, it's actually lower than that.

What’s worse is they think Howard Stern’s audience is mostly morons.  They’re also very condescending when talking behind the King Of All Media’s back.  Publicly they called him and kissed his ass saying how great they thought his cable show “Son Of The Beach” was but privately they both thought it was TERRIBLE! (They have a tendency to do that a lot. They bad mouth their own shows if you can believe it, which was the case for something called "The Beat". Even the producers heard about it and confronted 'em for bad mouthing THEIR OWN SHOW!)

Let me tell you something – I’m a Stern fan and listen to him every morning.  I think “Son Of The Beach” is great and I also think Stern’s a genius who would do a better job running UPN than these dudes here ever will. He knows more about comedy and also probably “Star Trek” , and they’re gonna keep “Doomsday” in development because the suits are real afraid the mighty Howard will start dumping on them and let loose his wrath on his radio show.  I wish he would, because it’s time he found a new “Pig Vomit” to yell about.

I look forward to whatever Stern’s next show is after “Beach” and hope it’s on a better place than UPN -- which means just about ANYWHERE ELSE! And in case you guys are wondering – no, I’m not a lesbian.


Ah, well, thank you VG, of course, it would be okay if you were. Anyway, that's fun, eh? Have a good day. Especially you folks over at Viacom and UPN.

-El Cosmico

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 16, 2001, 3:30 a.m. CST

    did he quit radio?

    by pogo on my own

    i remember hearing that his show wasnt coming back after Christmas due to contract negotiations. We dont get the show in Austin anymore....what happened?

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 11:20 a.m. CST

    What happened to "The Paramount Network"???

    by The Garbage Man

    Wasn't UPN supposed to change its name to The Paramount Network on January 1st?

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 12:58 p.m. CST

    interesting comments

    by Ronsi

    Interesting that V.G. could praise Howard Stern but consider it "Doomsday" with Bush in office. "Doomsday" would be someone of Howard's caliber (and I use that word very lightly) in the Prez's office.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 1:32 p.m. CST

    VG needs to unclench...

    by Key_Card

    Desmond Phifer good? Laughable. I think VG is just pissed off that UPN passed on her idead to update My Little Pony for the new millenium and has an axe to grind. I think Ronsi is about right with the Doomsday comment. I honestly don't understand why everyone hates Rick Berman for the state of Star Trek. Anyone that thinks Roddenberry had a large amount of input after the original series is smoking something. There was a reason Roddenberry was referred to as "The Great Blotter of The Galaxy" instead of The Great Bird. He would routinely steal other people's ideas and pass them off as his own. I think Rick Berman has done no better and no worse than anyother person in that postion would have.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 4:40 p.m. CST

    not a lesbian rocks

    by superkight

    This girl should have her own column. Good job el Coz' on finding someone who works at UPN and can communicate cogently.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 5:07 p.m. CST

    UPN and MTV?

    by Joss is Jesus

    What's up with these two? They should get a room. MTV now runs WWF which used to be on UPN. Now UPN has a new series MIKE&Somebody (sorry, I don't remember) and the new UPN show is being run on MTV. Maybe I've just seen too many Lone Gunman episodes of XFiles, but I think I see a conspiracy of sorts. Of course UPN is probably so desperate that they may just be selling off everything they can to get money. I'm not in showbiz so I wouldn't know. Just wanted to throw it out there.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 5:09 p.m. CST

    Oh yeah....

    by Joss is Jesus

    Die Berman! If you had any balls you would read the shit-talking that goes on about you. And you would at least PRETEND to ask if these people have valid complaints. Poor Gene, I wonder if Majel hates Rick the Dick as much as we all do. Probably.

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 8:05 p.m. CST

    Majel's pimping

    by Darth Ewok

    Oh, Please! Majel barret is too busy pimping Gene's name onto anything she can to be upset about how Berman is handling the Trek franchise. Does anyone really believe that Earth: Final Conflict or Starship Andromeda have anything to do with Gene? I'm sure that every few years she just happens to come across some mapkin scribbling of her late husband and produce it into a new show. That man gets more shows on the air now that he's dead then he ever did when he was alive!

  • Jan. 16, 2001, 9:25 p.m. CST

    she's right

    by kojiro

    No life...just Farscape.

  • Jan. 18, 2001, 12:12 p.m. CST

    hey UncleFucker,

    by Joss is Jesus

    got some hostility to work out, buddy? let me guess , mad at the world because no one recognizes how smart you are? don't worry sweetie, you's'um BERY BERY SMART!! vertra...vertae...vritac...verita... hmm, I guess I CAN'T say it.

  • Jan. 18, 2001, 2:12 p.m. CST

    The end at last?

    by PencilSharp

    Well, well, well... Looks like somebody got just a little pissy about the office, huh? Now if VG would just let us know who has to be bribed to give us five minutes alone with Berman and a few choice firearms. Really, ST needs to take another ten-year break. Paramount has milked that cow dry, ground it up for BBQ, and ground ST's bones to make its bread (to the tune of How Many Billions?!) A hiatus will give fans and writers a nice long breather, in addition to giving Dicky Rick a chance to die. 10-Q!

  • Jan. 19, 2001, 5:42 a.m. CST

    I know how this woman feels...

    by Saucy Jack

    I work for a small, midwestern radio network that is currently dying. We're oh-so-slowly sinking into oblivion because of the arrogance, stubborness and total lack of creativity from upper management. If our stations are to survive, the company needs a major overhaul--yet all the bosses are willing to do is rearrange the deck furniture on the Titanic. Sounds like the exact same thing is happening at UPN. I don't get UPN where I live, and it sounds like I don't miss much, but it saddens me that Star Trek will possibly be going down with the network. It saddens me even more that all the life has been drained from Trek in general. Rick Berman will go down as the man who finally broke The Federation.

  • Jan. 19, 2001, 2:22 p.m. CST


    by I_AM_ELVIS

    The King listens to Mancow!!!

  • Jan. 21, 2001, 9:20 a.m. CST

    Keep personal opinions to yourself

    by akirakid

    For those of us who do watch UPN and actually lament the loss of "The Sentinel" (mostly because of the amazingly hot body of Richard Burghi, who was never shirtless enough), I wish you would keep your opinions to yourself and just stick to the facts. "Star Trek" is not dead. It's viewers have just developed more mature tastes and are demanding better scripts and more interesting characters and plots. This is why "Voyager" took off a with the addition of Seven of Nine. I personally take offense at the kind of slander this "insider" is slinging and generalizing about a group that supports this network. To perpetuate the "geek" image of the sci-fi fan who lives in their parents basement and memorized useless trivia is an insult to all fans and we should not stand for it. Shows like "7 Days" try to replace "The Sentinel" but, once again, you fail to exploit the beefcake factor. I actually watched (and liked) "Legacy". So, I don't think that we should be listening to a so-called "insider" who doesn't like their own network or shows that it produces to even speak civilly about them.

  • Jan. 23, 2001, 9:12 a.m. CST

    UPN used to have some good shows....

    by Geekgrrl

    Good shows that used to be on UPN:(I could be wrong, but I believe that all of these shows were UPN) Pointman Nowhere Man Brisco County Junior Good shows currently on UPN: Voyager. Yes, I like the show. No, I don't like every episode and every plotline, but I do like the show. I think that DS9 was better, but I still schedule my Wednesday night ritual. Good shows on UPN next year: You see my point? Better get some real shows, quick.

  • Jan. 23, 2001, 9:28 a.m. CST

    It's our "Gravy Train to Financial Security"! I like it!

    by Bari Umenema

    Yes indeedy, when I grow up I want to take a ride on Prick Berman's gravy train to a cushy retirement villa in the south of france. Man that Prick Berman, what a guy...

  • Jan. 23, 2001, noon CST

    sorry this is off topic...(sort of)

    by Joss is Jesus

    Mr.Fucka, You do realize it was YOU and not I that commenced with the personal attack, right? If you believe that you are INCAPABLE of hostility and that it's not POSSIBLE that you were, in fact hostile, then you need to read some more books, friend. So you "deal" with people in crisis, wow! what kind of qualification is that? I may deal with doctors all day but it doesn't make me one of them, or qualified to dispense medical advice. And yes, I'm afraid it DOES appear that you are concerned about your intelligence. I'm sure you're really smart so I won't bother to give examples. It's all there in your posts. (try reading them with an open mind and judge for yourself). Also, I don't know if you are aware of it or not but this site is not exactly, nor is it So if you are looking for anywhere near that kind of scientific credibility on ANYTHING on this site than you are in for a futile search. So why don't you remember where you are and enjoy this forum for what it is, an INFORMAL place where people can express themselves about the goings on in entertainment. You would get a lot more people to listen to you if you simply state things in a POSITIVE, HELPFUL manner. I.e. "Gee Nate, didn't you know that MTV owns Viacom?" instead of the "You jackass" response that you gave. Because you start something when you do that to people, people who might otherwise DESIRE your opinions. But what you did will simply shut people off to you. Thank you and this is my last post on this matter. Harry, I'm sorry for taking up space for such a ridiculous "discussion". Peace.