Bryan Fuller Steps Down as ‘Star Trek Discovery’ Showrunner

     October 26, 2016

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Well this is not great news. Bryan Fuller has been a wonderfully unique voice on the small screen for years, from series like Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies to the terrific three-season run of Hannibal. After Hannibal was cancelled by NBC, Fuller was tasked with his biggest job to date: creating and running a brand new Star Trek series. The fit was perfect given that Fuller is a self-professed Trekkie who got his start in Hollywood writing for Deep Space Nine and Voyager, but unfortunately Fuller’s run as the showrunner of Star Trek Discovery was not to be. Per Variety, Fuller has stepped down as the day-to-day showrunner of the upcoming series.

The report notes that Fuller will continue to be involved in breaking stories on the series as an executive producer, and that the show will continue his vision that he set when the series was first formed, but showrunning duties have been handed over to executive producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts. The reasoning? The report notes that there has been “strain” between CBS Television Studios and Fuller over the progress of the show, as the series’ January premiere date was recently pushed back to May. Not helping matters is the fact that Fuller is also serving as co-showrunner on the Starz drama American Gods and is prepping a reboot of Amazing Stories for NBC, and it sounds like CBS wasn’t crazy about Fuller splitting his time when the schedule for Discovery was beginning to fall behind.

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Image via NBC

Writer-director Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Winter’s Tale) is expected to join the Star Trek Discovery team in a “top creative role”, serving as a support for Berg and Harberts alongside Fuller and executive producer Alex Kurtzman as they juggle the demands for the series.

Indeed, Discovery comes with lofty expectations as not only the first new Trek series in a long while, but also a major play for CBS’s streaming service CBS All Access. The pilot for Star Trek Discovery will air on CBS, but subsequent episodes will be available exclusively on CBS All Access in a digital capacity.

CBS apparently grew concerned over potentially having to push the premiere date back yet again—something they don’t want to do, obviously—and while they’re reportedly happy with Fuller’s creative output, they felt he was being stretched too thin. As a result, the team put in place is an effort to allow Fuller to be a creative voice in the series while also ensuring that the show moves forward in a timely manner.

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Image via NBC

Berg and Harberts both worked with Fuller on Pushing Dasies so he’s not being replaced by outsiders, and it’s nice to know that he’s remaining an executive producer going forward. Between post-production on American Gods and prep work for Amazing Stories, it sounds like CBS was simply concerned he was dividing his focus too much, and with $6-7 million per episode on the line, the network wasn’t crazy about taking its chances.

Apparently Fuller and Co. have been having trouble casting the show’s lead character, which Fuller revealed this summer would be a female lieutenant commander. The report notes that most of the show’s other roles have been cast, but finding the lead has proved incredibly difficult.

Production on Star Trek Discovery is set to begin in Toronto next month, and it’ll be interesting to see how the show progresses going forward. While it’s understandable to want to ensure the show is firing on all cylinders, replacing Fuller and hiring Akiva Goldsman seems like overkill. Given how passionate Fuller is about Trek, here’s hoping he truly does remain a vital creative force in the series going forward.

Television