‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Twilight Zone’ Bring Energy, Emotion to PaleyFest

Both the CBS All Access shows “Star Trek: Discovery” and the upcoming “Twilight Zone” reboot held PaleyFest panels on Sunday, with both sets of cast and creators bringing energy, humor, and emotion to the stage.

Both panels were moderated by Variety‘s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway. First up was “Discovery,” where series star Doug Jones told the crowd about the evolution that Commander Saru has undergone this season since losing his threat ganglia.

“The character was developed with the understanding that he’s based in fear,” Jones said. “I also live my life based in fear and anxiety. So I understood Saru before, and now I’m inspired by him. The writers have given me hope for my own future.”

Wilson Cruz also spoke about the complex relationship between his character — Dr. Hugh Culber — and Lt. Cmdr. Paul Stamets, played by Anthony Rapp. Culber was resurrected this season, but was so out of sorts with his new lease on life that he ended his relationship with Stamets.

“I see it as a man who’s come back from the dead and is trying to figure out how to cope,” Cruz said, with Rapp adding, “Things continue to evolve. We’re grateful we get an authentic, complicated and rich story to play.”

And of course, series co-creator, executive producer, and showrunner Alex Kurtzman was asked what he could reveal about the new Jean-Luc Picard series with Patrick Stewart. While Kurtzman was mostly tight-lipped, he did offer one small update.

“I sat at Patrick’s kitchen table and heard him read the first episode,” he said. “I almost cried.”

During the “Twilight Zone” panel, executive producer and narrator Jordan Peele was asked why he decided to board the reboot of the iconic series.

“At first it wasn’t that appealing,” he said. “Why would we do that to ourselves? This is not a show that you can reboot and take it lightly. For us, the producers and many of the actors and the crew, it’s the greatest show of all time…I sat down with Simon [Kinberg] a couple of years ago and did the whole ‘OK, this is too big a show to reboot, but if we were going to do it, how would we do it and why?'”

“One of the things we kept coming back to was the timing felt right because one of the sentences you hear often for the past couple of years is, ‘It feels like we’re living in the f—ing “Twilight Zone,”‘” he continued.

Fellow executive producer Kinberg also addressed the potential pitfalls of rebooting the show as well as the legacy of “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling.

“The biggest danger is doing a karaoke version of what Rod was doing,” Kinberg said. “To just do a carbon copy of the show that was created 50 years ago. Even though those issues Rod was dealing with and the way he was telling the story are as relevant today as they were then, you want to be as bold and provocative and original as Rod was.”

“I think one of the things that really opened this up for was learning that [Serling’s] a humorist,” Peele added. “We think of him as a horror, science fiction master, but he really is a perfect-pitch tone of comedy. In thinking about his tone, we got to this thing that we’re calling the ‘Serling Link.’ One of the greatest episodes, ‘To Serve Man,’ is basically a long, pointed dad pun. And it’s this terrifying story that develops in front of you and at the end you are there with it. Only in retrospect years later do you realize that is a kind of silly joke, a kind of satire.”

More TV

  • Stephen Moore

    Stephen Moore, 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Android, 'Doctor Who' Actor, Dies at 81

    Stephen Moore, best known for his roles as the paranoid android Marvin in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” radio series and the Silurian Eldane in “Doctor Who,” has died. He was 81. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” producer Dirk Maggs confirmed Moore’s death Sturday on Twitter, writing, “Our dear friend Stephen Moore has [...]

  • Baghdad-Central-Image

    Fremantle, Hulu Bringing 'Baghdad Central' to United States

    Fremantle is partnering with Hulu to bring the UK drama “Baghdad Central” to the United States, Fremantle announced Monday. The latest in Hulu’s growing slate of international content, “Baghdad Central” will launch on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and stream on Hulu in 2020. Based on the novel by Elliott Colla, the six-part drama [...]

  • Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet

    Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet on ‘Sing or Spin’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Global production and distribution giant Endemol Shine is to duet with leading Chinese producer and broadcaster Hunan TV on primetime entertainment format “Sing or Spin,” which has an innovative spin: a revolving stage that lets singers know how well they are scoring. The show has been co-developed by Endemol Shine China and Hunan TV as [...]

  • 'Succession': Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen on

    'Succession' Stars Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen Break Down How To Make a Tomelette

    You can’t make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs, and you can’t get through an episode of ‘Succession’ without a few rounds of riffing, at least according to Nicholas Braun (who plays Greg Hirsch) and Matthew Macfadyen (who portrays Tom Wamsgans). “We basically improv in probably every scene to some capacity,” says Braun. Though the [...]

  • Manchester City Football Club Animated Series

    Manchester City Soccer Team Animated Series in the Works (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Sky Blue Academy,” an animated series set inside the training academy of reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City, is in the works, Variety has learned. The Pep Guardiola-managed team has enjoyed numerous successes in recent years and broken into world soccer’s elite, becoming a global brand in the process. The show will follow a [...]


    TV Review: 'Living with Yourself'

    Paul Rudd is such a naturally ebullient actor that it can be startling to see him ground down. A gifted physical performer who, at 50, looks so youthful that his appearance tends to precede all other attributes when he’s discussed, Rudd also still has the verve and energy of a rising star — a quality [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content