Star Trek: Discovery is going through yet another showrunner change. The CBS All Access series had a tumultuous road to its first season, as creator and showrunner Bryan Fuller was asked to step down during the scripting and pre-production phase as producers weren’t crazy about him splitting his time between Trek and Starz’s American Gods (he also eventually left the Starz series over creative differences). At that point, writers/producers Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg were promoted to showrunners on the series, having worked with Fuller on shows like Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls.
Now, however, as production on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 is underway, Harberts and Berg are getting the boot. THR reports that Berg and Harberts are being let go not for creative differences, but for “leadership and operational issues.” Sources tell the outlet that the budget for Season 2 ballooned as the first five episodes were shot under Berg and Harberts’ leadership. Moreover, THR says that the two became “increasingly abusive” to the writing staff, with multiple writers threatening to complain to human resources. As a result, CBS has opted to remove Harberts and Berg from the series.
Also gone is Akiva Goldsman, the screenwriter behind films like A Beautiful Mind and The Dark Tower who served as an executive producer on the series. He was brought in to help flesh out the world of Discovery when Fuller left, and he directed the Season 1 finale, but THR says his personality clashed with the writing staff and he subsequently did not return for Season 2. It’s a bit ironic, though, as Goldsman has become Hollywood’s go-to guy to create and run writers rooms for big film franchises like Transformers.
In the wake of all these shakeups, executive producer and co-creator Alex Kurtzman—who took on an increased role in Season 1 after Fuller’s exit—is being promoted to sole showrunner on the series, and CBS doesn’t expect production on Season 2 to be affected. Apparently the season has hit a planned hiatus point, so Kurtzman will regroup with the writing staff and get things back on track for the remainder of Season 2.
Kurtzman is actually a pretty natural choice to step up. He first came to prominence in the world of television as a writer/producer on shows like Alias and Fringe and created Sleepy Hollow and Hawaii Five-0 before writing blockbuster films like the Transformers franchise and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies. Most recently Kurtzman was tapped to spearhead Universal’s Dark Universe film franchise, but the first installment—The Mummy, which Kurtzman co-wrote and directed—crashed and burned, after which he and partner Chris Morgan were essentially removed from overseeing the Dark Universe entirely. Huge plans were scuttled before they even got off the ground, and so now Kurtzman is returning to the world of TV to focus his attention on Star Trek: Discovery.
Despite clearly rocky periods, Star Trek: Discovery’s first season was well-received by fans and Season 2 looks to delve further intro Trek lore by introducing Captain James T. Kirk’s predecessor, Captain Christopher Pike, played by Anson Mount. The second season is still on track to debut sometime in 2019, and it’ll be interesting to see if the latter portion of the season has a different flair or flavor with Kurtzman at the helm. We’ll surely find out.