SciFri Friday: Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica Previews

J.J. Abrams has confirmed that the script for his upcoming Star Trek movie has been completed and is now undergoing editing. He promises to please everybody:

”On the one hand, for people who love Star Trek, the fix that they will get will be really satisfying,” he says. ”For people who’ve never seen it or know it vaguely, I think they will enjoy it equally, because the movie does not require you to know anything about Star Trek. I would actually prefer [that] people don’t know the series, because I feel like they will come to it with an open mind.”

Abrams has tried to deflect questions about the rumors that the story will deal with a young Kirk and Spock but William Shatner has leaked more information:

William Shatner revealed to SCI FI Wire that the upcoming 11th Star Trek movie will indeed, as rumored, deal with the early years of Capt. James T. Kirk and Spock—and that he will definitely appear in the movie if director J.J. Abrams can find a place to use him. Shatner, who originated the role of Kirk in the original Trek series and several subsequent films, said in an interview that he was invited to meet with Abrams (Mission: Impossible III), who is also co-writing the movie.

“I met with J.J., and they told me they would like me to be part of their film, but they have to write the role,” Shatner said in an interview.

As for the many rumors concerning the sequel’s story, Shatner said that Abrams will explore Kirk and Spock during their Starfleet Academy years. “Yes, we know the story is based on young Kirk,” Shatner said. Up until now, everyone connected with the film has maintained strict silence about the storyline, though rumors have run rampant that they concern Kirk and Spock’s first missions.

As for Shatner’s place in that storyline? “They need to figure out how to put the dead captain in with the young captain,” he said. “It’s a very complex, technical problem of how to write the character in, and I’m not sure how they will solve it.” It sounds as if Shatner may play an older version of Kirk.

There are additional leaks reporting that other characters include Scotty and Christopher Pike, who was Captain of the Enterprise before James Kirk. Reportedly the storyline is not linear, allowing appearances by Kirk as both a young man and by the older Shatner.

Another Star Trek related leak is that there are Klingons in the White House. These are Klingons of the worst type–faux Klingons. See this being revealed on the floor of Congress here. In other Star Trek news, The History Channel will have a show entitled Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier next month, narrated by Leonard Nimoy. As I reported earlier in the week, Stephen Hawking, who once appeared in space on Star Trek: The Next Generation, is now planning to take an actual trip into space.

The Chicago Tribune has another interview with Ron Moore which has some information on Battlestar Galactica after it returns. It’s already been revealed that a major character will die, and much of the information suggests it may be Kara Thrace. An episode to air March 4 will include profound changes in Starbuck, and reportedly Katee Sackhoff is leaving the show. Moore is ambiguous in answering the questions and leaves open the possibility that Starbuck might survive in some form:

As you know, there’s a ton of speculation that a character dies in the second half of the season. [Moore also alluded to an upcoming character death in a December interview.] And right now a lot of the speculation centers on Kara Thrace. Can you address that?

Ron Moore: “Kara is one of the characters some fairly profound events happen to in the second half of the season. There are also other characters that are pretty fundamentally… have fairly earthshaking events happen toward the end [of the season]. But certainly [what happens to] Kara will be one of the most surprising things that’s happened in the history of the show so far. Kara’s one of the key players and I think it’ll really take people by surprise.”

People are speculating that her character dies. Do you not want to characterize it that way?

RM: “I don’t know that I want to say that directly. I think people will have to watch that episode and judge for themselves what happens. I can say that Galactica will suffer a shocking loss in that episode and Kara is a key member of the crew. Certainly if she were not there suddenly, that would shift the parameters of what the show is and what the show is about and who the key players are.”

Tricia Helfer Playboy CoverThe direct to DVD Battlestar Galactica movie planned for this summer is also discussed. It reportedly will bridge seasons three and four but, contrary to other rumors, will only deal with BSG and not the upcoming Caprica prequel. While the Chicago Tribune has this interview with Ron Moore, Playboy has Tricia Helfer as its cover girl this month.

I noted the death of author Robert Anton Wilson yesterday. 10 Zen Monkeys has reposted a selection of rarely seen columns by Wilson.

The International Herald Tribune has an article on new plans to attempt to make a movie version of Atlas Shrugged. It will certainly be a challenge to trim this down to a two hour movie and still be true to the book. An Ayn Rand character is capable of giving a lecture for almost two hours on her philosophical views, often after making love. Obviously none of these can be included without turning this into a mini-series (a long mini-series).Those involved with the present project might have an easier time than those who tried in the past due to no longer having to deal with Ayn Rand. Hopefully they will do a better job than was done with The Fountainhead.

Jack is back this Sunday and finally gets out of that Chinese prison, only to be asked to sacrifice his life to fight another terrorist plot. Of course we know he will survive, as Kieifer Sutherland’s contract extends beyond this season. USA Today has an interesting article on the writing of 24. It comes as little surprise that they make up a lot of the story as they go along. Unfortunately sometimes it shows, but it always remains fun even if it is often necessary to ignore huge holes in the plots.

John Kerry on Ed Schultz

John Kerry discussed Iraq on the Ed Schultz show today. Podcast is available here.

CNN Announces Presidential Debates

I previously noted scheduled debates this spring between the contenders for each party’s nomination to be broadcast on MSNBC and Fox. CNN is also getting into the act with debates even earlier, on April 4 and 5 in New Hampshire.

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Quote of the Day

“My Fox guys, I love every single one of them.”

Condoleezza Rice

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Hillary Clinton Weakening as Frontrunner

Hillary Clinton’s position as front runner is being challenged in early caucus and primary states:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s popularity in Democratic presidential-preference polls has fallen in the nation’s first caucus and primary states in the face of increasing support for her chief rivals for the 2008 nomination.

Pollsters said her weaknesses in Iowa and New Hampshire were the result of the growing popularity of two major opponents — former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama — and their populist economic messages, as well as a deepening antipathy toward her among Democratic-leaning independents who dislike her support for the war in Iraq and who question her electability.

She is in a position similar to John Kerry who started out as front runner for the 2004 nomination but was written off when Howard Dean caught on during 2003. A pollster quoted gets the analogy only partially right, with such an attack being thrown in on Kerry not being surprising in the right-wing Washington Times.

“I think Hillary strikes these voters the same way Senator John Kerry did in 2004. They would really like to vote for someone they really like this time. Hillary doesn’t fit that characterization right now,” said pollster Del Ali of Research 2000, who conducted polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

The difference is that, after seeing Kerry up close in Iowa and New Hampshire, the voters decided that John Kerry was the one that they really liked. Kerry returned, after trailing even Al Sharpton in the polls, to easily win the nomination. It remains to be seen how voters will feel about Hillary Clinton as the campaign goes on.

Captain’s Quarters takes liberties with the math, but is essentially right about Edwards, who had a single undistinguished term in the Senate:

The most remarkable point about those polls are that the top two candidates barely have a single term of national office combined. Obama has only served two years of his first Senate term, and Edwards only served four years before essentially withdrawing from his duties to campaign for President in 2003 and 2004.

When primary voters tired of the Dean hype in 2004 and looked for someone who would make a good President, they had John Kerry to turn to. Hopefully Democrats will have a similar choice in 2008 allowing them to get over the hype over the two inexperienced candidates without having to return to Hillary. If Gore doesn’t change his mind and remains out of the race, this is why there remains a chance for John Kerry to have yet a second comeback when voters turn from following hype to looking for a President.

Keith Olbermann on The Surge

Tonight’s Special Comment by Keith Olbermann was on The President Who Cried Wolf:

Only this president, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even messianic certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran.

Only this president could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say, “Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me” — only to follow that by proposing to repeat the identical mistake … in Iran.

Only this president could extol the “thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group,” and then take its most far-sighted recommendation — “engage Syria and Iran” — and transform it into “threaten Syria and Iran” — when al-Qaida would like nothing better than for us to threaten Syria, and when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us.

This is diplomacy by skimming; it is internationalism by drawing pictures of Superman in the margins of the text books; it is a presidency of Cliff Notes.

And to Iran and Syria — and, yes, also to the insurgents in Iraq — we must look like a country run by the equivalent of the drunken pest who gets battered to the floor of the saloon by one punch, then staggers to his feet, and shouts at the other guy’s friends, “Ok, which one of you is next?”

Mr. Bush, the question is no longer “what are you thinking?,” but rather “are you thinking at all?” (more…)