×

Bryan Fuller Stepping Back From Showrunner Role on ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Bryan Fuller is stepping back from the showrunner role of CBS’ “Star Trek: Discovery” as he juggles production responsibilities on two other series, Variety has learned exclusively.

The decision was made late last week to hand the day-to-day showrunning reins to “Star Trek” exec producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts as “Discovery” gears up for the start of filming next month and a May 2017 premiere date. Fuller, who will remain an executive producer, will still be involved in breaking stories, and the show will continue to follow his vision for the universe that this latest “Trek” series will inhabit. Writer-director Akiva Goldsman is also expected to join “Discovery” in a top creative role. He’s envisioned as serving as producing support for Berg and Harberts, Fuller and exec producer Alex Kurtzman as they juggle the demands of the series that CBS is counting on to be the marquee selling point for subscriptions to its CBS All Access SVOD service.

Sources said there had been some strain between “Star Trek” producer CBS Television Studios and Fuller over the progress of production on the show, as Fuller is also juggling the final weeks of shooting and post-production duties on Starz’s upcoming drama “American Gods” and prepping a reboot of “Amazing Stories” for NBC. Fuller has penned the first two scripts for “Discovery” and has hammered out the broader story arc and mythology for the new “Trek” realm. But it became clear that he couldn’t devote the amount of time needed for “Discovery” to make its premiere date and with production scheduled to start in Toronto next month. In September, CBS pushed the “Discovery” premiere back from January to May in order to give the team more time to work out stories and ensure sufficient time for production of visual effects.

Berg and Harberts are close with Fuller, having worked with him previously on ABC’s “Pushing Daisies.” Goldsman, a feature vet who was also a consulting producer on Fox’s “Fringe” with Kurtzman, is also close with Fuller. The new structure was worked out quickly over the weekend in an effort to allow Fuller to remain actively involved albeit not on the day-to-day production level as originally envisioned. There’s also some internal stress at the studio that the lead character, described by Fuller as a female lieutenant commander, has yet to be cast.

 

Sources emphasized that CBS execs have been happy with the material that Fuller has developed to date but became increasingly concerned that he had too much on his plate and there was no willingness to delay the premiere date once more. Given that “Star Trek” is one of the Eye’s crown-jewel franchises, there’s no question that CBS has a lot at stake with “Discovery.” The show’s budget is said to be approaching the $6-7 million per episode range.

“We are extremely happy with the creative direction of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ and the strong foundation that Bryan Fuller has helped us create for the series,” said CBS Television Studios in a statement. “Due to Bryan’s other projects, he is no longer able to oversee the day-to-day of ‘Star Trek,’ but he remains an executive producer, and will continue to map out the story arc for the entire season…Bryan is a brilliant creative talent and passionate ‘Star Trek’ fan, who has helped us chart an exciting course for the series. We are all committed to seeing this vision through and look forward to premiering ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ this coming May 2017.”

The news that Fuller would be the showrunner of “Discovery,” alongside Kurtzman, was met with a positive reception among fans of the series, given his background as a writer for “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” Fuller enthusiastically led a panel at the summer’s TV critics press tour as well as Comic-Con, where he teased details about the series, including that there would be an LGBT character in the cast of the new show.

Fuller had also confirmed during the press tour session that the lead character of “Discovery” would be a woman. Although no casting has been announced, sources say most of the other roles on the show have been filled. The lead character has proven a far tougher assignment.

More TV

  • Ariel Winograd'TOD@S CAEN' film premiere, Los

    Viacom International Studios Signs First Look Deal with Ariel Winograd (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  — Adding to a powerful and still growing talent roster, Viacom International Studios (VIS) has clinched a first-look deal with Argentine writer-director Ariel Winograd whose latest movie, “The Heist of the Century,” has just become one of the biggest Argentine openers in history. The multi-year pact takes in the development and production of not [...]

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

  • Editorial Use OnlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    TV Ratings: NFL's AFC, NFC Championship Games Down From 2019

    The NFL’s AFC and NFC championship games made for a blockbuster Sunday of football for CBS and Fox, but viewership of the games that determine the contenders for the Super Bowl was down from 2019 levels. CBS’ AFC championship in the 3 p.m. ET afternoon slot delivered 41.1 million viewers as the Kansas City Chiefs [...]

  • Medici TV Show

    Vuulr Online Rights Market Makes Global Expansion at NATPE

    Singapore-based Vuulr, an online content marketplace for film and TV rights, is expanding from regional to global operations. The move was announced ahead of NATPE, one of the oldest face-to-face TV rights markets, this week launching its tenth edition in Miami, Florida (Jan 21-23). The Vuulr platform is free to use for buyers and for [...]

  • What to Watch on TV This

    What to Watch on TV This Week: ‘Picard' Premieres and 'Shrill' Returns

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Star Trek: Picard” beams into existence on CBS All Access and “Shrill” returns [...]

  • SAG Awards 2020: What You Didn't

    SAG Awards 2020: From Charlize Theron to 'Parasite,' What You Didn't See on TV

    Brad Pitt made a crack about his marriages. Robert De Niro got political. And Jennifer Aniston talked about appearing in a commercial for Bob’s Big Boy. Those were just some of thing that happened on stage at the SAG Awards that were broadcast on TNT/TBS on Sunday night. However, Variety was inside the Shrine Auditorium [...]

  • Edges Unknown

    TCB, Cineflix, All3Media Announce Sales Ahead of NATPE Miami

    Miami’s NATPE market kicks off on Tuesday, but deal announcements are already landing. London-based TCB Media Rights has sold 130 hours of content to Latin America, Cineflix and National Geographic Latin America closed a deal for four titles, and Discovery Latin America picked up popular makeover format “10 Years Younger” from All3Media. TCB’s 130 Hours [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content