After the jump is an internal Paramount casting memo for 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' that was sent to the studio's television head in the spring of 1987, a few months before the series was set to debut. The memo lists actors who were being considered for each of the show's major roles with some notes as to how the auditions were going so far.
Looking at the memo, the "what might have been" possibilities are tantalizing... and at the same time, shows how easy it can be to ruin a show with misguided casting.
But back in his native England, Sir Patrick is just as well known for his Shakespearean work, both on-stage and on the screen. Some of that work will be on display on April 28, when he reprises the role of Claudius (he first played the role on TV 30 years ago) in PBS's production of 'Hamlet' on 'Great Performances.' As Nick mentioned yesterday, the production, with David Tennant in the title role, mixes the classic dialogue with modern dress and settings to give the play a more contemporary feel.
Stewart will also perform in the title role of 'Macbeth' for a similarly-staged production airing on PBS later this year. I sat down with Sir Patrick in January, when he presented at the TCAs; we spoke about the two productions, what his classic training brought to his 'Star Trek' role, his guest turn on 'Extras' and how his first ever IT guy was none other than Wil Wheaton.
That said, the version of 'Hamlet' airing April 28 on PBS's 'Great Performances' (and appearing on DVD May 4) is not the good Doctor as Danish prince. There are flashes of that, especially in Hamlet's early scenes with Polonius (a masterful Oliver Ford Davies) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. That's where Tennant plays with a pitch-perfect blend of humor and cunning, spinning just short of out of control. And there is a beautiful sense of irony when Hamlet looks into the camera and says that time is out of join and it's his job to fix it.
Now 69 years old, Stewart is known around the world for his lead roles in major sci-fi franchises like Star Trek and X-Men. But he was well-known to U.K. theatergoers for years as a 16-year member of the Royal Shakespeare Company where he specialized in playing kings and soldiers with his baritone pipes.
But while Doctor Who has to move on without Tennant, another classic will be coming stateside with Tennant in the lead. PBS will be airing the television adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet with David Tennant as part of its Great Performances series in 2010. Tennant performed as Hamlet live with the Company to great success in 2008.
If that's not enough to get you excited, how about the fact that the cast includes yet another pop culture icon. None other than one of the greatest Starfleet captains in the history of Star Trek: Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, as King Claudius.
For those like me, the BBC is reassembling the cast and filming that production of Hamlet for broadcast in late 2009, with American and Japanese broadcasts to occur in 2010 (I wonder which channel would show it in the States? BBC America? PBS?). To sweeten the deal for us nerds, former Star Trek: The Next Generation captain Patrick Stewart plays Claudius.
Perhaps they'll even let Tennant improvise the role a bit. I would love it if he could throw a little script that Neil Gaiman wrote for him upon hearing of his participation in the role.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed some parts of the episode. The "shut up Wil" line by Patrick Stewart had me in stitches, as well as the sudden death of Denise Crosby (obviously, the writers are ST:TNG fans). Hell, Patrick Stewart is a recurring guest on Seth McFarlane's other series American Dad.
It just seemed to me that after the brilliant Star Wars parody from last year, they would do something more with such a line-up of talent than simply "Stewie gets to hang out and go bowling with the cast." It was even relegated to the "B" plot, with the "A" plot being Meg's sudden faith in God as a result of watching Kirk Cameron on TV.
I was hoping for something more akin to an episode of The Next Generation done Family Guy-style. Or would that have been redundant of the Star Wars episode? What do you think? Was the episode decent or could it have used improvement?
The entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation lend their voices to the episode, which features Stewie going to a Trekkie (er, sorry, Trekker I guess they like to be called) convention and not being able to ask the group a question. So he does a very Stewie-like thing and kidnaps the entire cast.
Okay, let me preface this first: this tidbit of information comes directly from The Sun. Not the piece of crap North American tabloid but the piece of crap United Kingdom tabloid. This was the same paper that reported Doctor Who was ending after the fourth series, which ended up being refuted by millions of other reputable sources. So, take this information I write below with a grain of salt.
The Sun is reporting that Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, has agreed to guest star in the next Doctor Who series (season, to us in the Colonies) as a Time Lord. The agreement came after Stewart performed with Who star David Tennant in a summer production of Hamlet. According to the report, Stewart would team up with the Doctor in a two-part episode involving the Daleks (who just. Won't. Die.). He would play the role of a renegade Time Lord seen during the early days of the first Doctor Who series called the Meddling Monk.
At this point, the project seems headed to the big screen. That would be a plus insofar as the set design and lush look. However, one of the benefits of the 1976 version was the length. It was 13 episodes, a hour each (sans commercials). That meant the complexities of Graves' novel -- and there were dozens of them -- not to mention the enormous cast of characters, could be played out.
OK, this isn't exactly "Who Shot JR," but it does have people guessing.
NBC Nightly News will have a new announcer starting tonight (longtime announcer Howard Reig retired in 2005), and they're trying to make it a surprise. The only clues from the network is that it's a name we all know, and this person had "an extensive, award-winning theatrical career for nearly forty years." Some of the guesses from fans include James Earl Jones, Patrick Stewart, James Lipton, Morgan Freeman, and ... Tom Brokaw? Yes, he was great in A Streetcar Named Desire.
It's becoming clear that if you plan on buying every season of a TV show, at least the more popular ones, you might want to wait a couple of years (if you can wait, that is). They're coming out with more and more "complete sets" and if you buy the sets individually you're probably paying more (and missing out on some extras, though that's not always the case).
Here's another one. CBS/Paramount will release a complete set for Star Trek: The Next Generation on October 2, to celebrate the show's 20th anniversary.
Are you a Captain Kirk fan or a Captain Picard fan? On one hand you have toupees and overacting and awesome songs, and on the other hand you have a calm, tea-drinking guy who pulls at his shirt all the time. I lean more toward Picard, but I often find that punching an alien instead of talking to him and sleeping with various female life forms gets the job done too.
In honor of Star Trek: The Next Generation's 20th anniversary,* Marty Beckerman makes a case for Jean-Luc Picard as President of the U.S. in this Huffington Post piece. More specifically, he compares the leadership qualities of the Enterprise captain with the leadership qualities of our current President.
It's a great piece, even if you're not a
Trekkie geek virgin Star Trek aficionado.
* God I'm old.
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