Bryan Fuller talked with Entertainment Weekly about his disappointing exit from Star Trek: Discovery, including his original plans for the series and what led to his split with CBS. As it turns out, the excitement of Fuller’s involvement and the return of Star Trek to television devolved into behind-the-scenes squabbles over budgets, casting, and other creative decisions. If anything is at fault for Fuller’s Star Trek departure, ambition from both sides would be top of the list. But it’s ambition that paid off when looking back.
According to the interview, the show was initially brought in as an anthology style show that has become popular thanks to American Horror Story. Fuller gives credit to Ryan Murphy’s FX series when discussing what he wanted to achieve with Discovery:
“The original pitch was to do for science-fiction what American Horror Story had done for horror,” Fuller says. “It would platform a universe of Star Trek shows.”
CBS countered with the plan of creating a single serialized series and then seeing how it performed.
You’d have to think that an anthology series based in different Star Trek shows would be quite difficult to take off, especially if that series were to take place within different eras of the series and “beyond” the time periods we’ve seen in the films and television series. Budget was already a question between Fuller and CBS, with a changing premise each season probably straining that even more if it were to have happened.
Even with CBS’ plan of creating the serialized series, the production was already going over the budgeted “$6 million per episode” and Fuller disagreed with the directors that CBS wanted to helm the series — with the showrunner even reaching out to Edgar Wright at one point to take things in a different direction. But the one aspect that Fuller fought for and eventually won, despite his exit, was having a “woman of color” lead the show:
“I couldn’t stop thinking about how many black people were inspired by seeing Nichelle Nichols on the bridge of a ship [as Lt. Uhura in The Original Series],” Fuller says. “I couldn’t stop thinking about how many Asian people were inspired by seeing George Takei [as Sulu] and feeling that gave them hope for their place in the future. I wanted to be part of that representation for a new era.”
Sonequa Martin-Green was his choice for the role after an amazing audition, but this choice also ended up being a bump in the road due to her role on The Walking Dead. AMC wouldn’t allow her to star in the series until her character was killed off, so Discovery was delayed for a second time and moved further away from its original February 2017 premiere date. Fuller was then asked to step down in October, with the show losing some of his ideas for a more complex story and his choice for the uniforms. But his main goal was achieved at least, with fuller telling EW that he was “happy to see a black woman and an Asian woman in command of a Starship.” He also put a close to any rumors that he’s bitter about the exit:
“I got to dream big,” Fuller says. “I was sad for a week and then I salute the ship and compartmentalize my experience.”
If anything, Fuller is even busier now. American Gods will return for a second season and Showtime hopes to keep it around for quite a while. He’s also working on his own anthology series, bringing back the classic Amazing Stories for an updated run.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)