Rick Berman

From Academic Kids

Richard Keith "Rick" Berman (born December 25, 1945 in New York, New York, USA) is an American television producer. He is most famous for his work as the executive producer of the Star Trek series after Gene Roddenberry's death. He is very controversial among Star Trek fans, many of whom criticize his handling of the show, though he has many supporters as well.


Work in television

Berman graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967 with a B.A. in speech. From 1977 to 1982, he was the senior producer of The Big Blue Marble for PBS. His work won an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series. Between 1982 and 1984 he was an independent producer. He worked on various projects, including What on Earth, an informational series for HBO, and The Primal Mind, a one-hour award-winning special for PBS.

Berman joined Paramount in 1984 as director of current programming. He oversaw such popular shows as Cheers and MacGyver.

Work in Star Trek

In 1987, Berman was selected by Paramount to help Gene Roddenberry create Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). After Roddenberry's death in 1991, Berman took over as executive producer of the show.

Berman was the executive producer and co-creator of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9), Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise. He is also responsible for the production and story behind the four TNG movies: Generations (1994), First Contact (1996), Insurrection (1998), and Nemesis (2002).

Criticism by Trekkies

Rick Berman, together with Brannon Braga, is blamed by many Trekkies for Star Trek's downturn in ratings (and, according to many, quality) after TNG. Berman is also criticized for his corruption of Star Trek canon and the timeline, which was carefully (though not always consistently) upheld during Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS), the movies, TNG and DS9.

Under Berman many Star Trek ideals such as peaceful exploration were downplayed, instead leading to the long war story arc of Deep Space Nine. However, to be fair the Dominion War seen in Deep Space Nine had little influence from Berman and though many fans hated the war arc, many others also thought that it built upon the ideas that Gene Roddenberry developed in the Original Series and Next Generation. The Dominion Arc is often referred to as Trek's greatest achievement.

During Berman's control of "the franchise" many old-time fans became disinterested in Star Trek, and Berman effectively created a split between Old Trek and New Trek fandom. Many Old Trek fans see the new series from TNG onward as weak and inferior copies of the original series.

Rick Berman is seen by many as attempting to distance the newer series he's worked on from TOS and Roddenberry's vision, with some alleging that episodes written by Berman ignore canon from TOS.

Additionally, Berman is blamed for the diminishing success of the Star Trek franchise as a whole. With the exception of First Contact in 1996, the movies produced by Berman were poorly received by fans of Old and New Trek alike. The first three films Berman produced made a profit. But Nemesis became the only Star Trek movie so far to make less than it cost to produce, and helped diminish the perception that even-numbered Trek films are superior.

The series Enterprise is seen by many Trekkies as an attempt by Berman and the studio to shift the demographic of those who watch Trek related shows. Even before Enterprise, Trek in general had become much more action oriented. The casting of sexually attractive actresses as Seven of Nine (in Voyager) and T'Pol (in Enterprise) is seen as an attempt by Berman to make Trek appealing mainly to young men, though it should be pointed out that the costumes worn by these characters are conservative compared to what characters wore in the original series. The addition of provocative storylines in both Voyager and Enterprise have also been criticized, although supporters counter that this is simply a case of Star Trek keeping up with current levels of permissiveness on American television.

Berman has stated that work is underway on an 11th film, which is rumored to be a prequel film to be released by 2005 or 2006.

Credit for Berman

Many contend that Berman was a successful and effective steward for the Star Trek franchise. Berman, along with Brannon Braga, wrote many of the popular Star Trek episodes. He shared a Hugo Award with Michael Piller for "The Inner Light." Berman authored or co-authored the acclaimed episodes "Brothers" and "Unification" for TNG. Berman's writing was even more prolific in the early seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise. He wrote the premiere episode and pilot, "Broken Bow", along with the episodes "Shockwave", "Cogenitor", and "The Expanse", the last of which served as the second season finale; these episodes have been praised by many fans. Additionally, Berman was responsible for the story behind over 30 episodes from the various Star Trek series he has produced, and in his role as Executive Producer he was the principal editor for every script written for each of the series.

Moreover, The Next Generation, the Star Trek series that achieved the most mainstream success, was under the control of Berman though many fans attribute the success due to excellent writers on board such as Ronald D. Moore, Ira Steven Behr, Michael Piller, and Brannon Braga. Many controversial changes, such as the decision to sexualize the show on Voyager and Enterprise are thought to have been caused by pressure from the studio or network or due to influence from Brannon Braga who is considered the creator of Seven of Nine and T'Pol.

Berman is one of the most prolific producers in the history of syndicated television. Under his guidance, TNG became an acclaimed science fiction series after the first two heavily criticized seasons under Roddenberry. His supporters contend that if it weren't for Berman the Star Trek franchise might not have survived into the 1990s and beyond. Others however, point to Michael Piller's role as head of the writing staff from the third season of the TNG onwards as the turning point for the TNG, while also connecting the departure of Michael Piller from Star Trek production to the decline in writing quality in subsequent years.

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