TCA: More Aliens, Female Lead, Maybe Some Sex in 'Star Trek' Reboot

Complete Coverage: TCA Summer 2016

UPDATED: Beverly Hills, Calif. -- The day started with CBS entertainment president Glenn Geller relentlessly grilled about his efforts to make the network’s shows more diverse, and ended with Bryan Fuller, executive producer of the Star Trek: Discovery series headed for CBS All Access, promising a very diverse cast for the hotly anticipated show. Fuller says the Star Trek franchise “is the reason why I became a writer.” Casting has not yet happened, but he said the lead will be female, and suggested she may be racially diverse as well.

An ebullient Fuller noted the “wonderful expression of diversity” in the show’s original cast those many decades ago. “We are absolutely continuing that tradition,” he said.

Related: CBS Renews 'Big Brother,' 'Zoo'

The first season will feature 13 episodes. Fuller spoke of hate mail he’d received from viewers who thought Jeri Ryan’s character on Star Trek: Voyager was gay (Fuller worked on the show), and how that motivated him to include a gay character should he ever have the opportunity to run a Star Trek franchise.

The Star Trek portion of press tour had the critics in the room more animated than they’d been all week, pushing Fuller hard for details on the new show. “I have an anvil hanging over my head about what I can say and when,” he said, adding that there would be an “evolution of reveals” as the production progresses.

Related: CBS Reports Higher Earnings for Second Quarter

There will be robots, he said, and time travel, and a good number of aliens. The spaceship may resemble a ‘70s race car. Episodes will play like chapters in a novel, he said. The show will take place a little before Captain Kirk’s mission, he said, and will “bridge the gap between Enterprise and the original series.”

Since the show will be on a digital platform, Fuller acknowledged some freedom from traditional network standards. “There’s a reason we call (the series) STD,” he quipped when asked about sex in the new show.  

Related: CBS Sports Partners With Tough Mudder

Fuller said he looks for strength and “an amusing neurosis” from his potential cast lead.

The series debuts in January and is the “crown jewel”, said Marc DeBevoise, CBS Interactive president/COO, of the All Access programming slate, which includes spinoffs of The Good Wife and Big Brother, and a fourth series to be announced. Last month, CBS Corp. chairman, president and CEO Les Moonves revealed during the company's earnings call that All Access and Showtime's OTT service have a combined 2 million subs.

Related: New Show Is Not 'King of Queens,' Swears Kevin James

DeBevoise says he anticipates an audience of 15 million for the Star Trek: Discovery debut, including both broadcast net and All Access viewing.  He said just about every network in the original programming game wanted the new Star Trek.

“I cannot thank Leslie (Moonves) and the team enough for giving it to All Access,” he said.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.