When notable producer Bryan Fuller was announced as showrunner of the upcoming CBS All Access update of Star Trek titled Star Trek: Discovery, fans were elated. The producer who could count Hannibal, Pushing Daisies, and Heroes-back-when-it-was-good on his resume also had a background in the universe that Gene Roddenberry first brought to life in 1966: His career actually started with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.
Fuller’s CBS All Access/Discovery panel at the Television Critics Association press tour this summer was also one of the most warmly received at the entire event, with many reporters and their readers savoring every last bit of material to be revealed about the project. Discovery was and is to be full of diversity, complete with a female lead and a gay character, respecting Roddenberry’s vision and legacy. Unfortunately, in October it was announced that Fuller was stepping down as showrunner of Star Trek: Discovery, citing his responsibilities with producing American Gods for the Starz cable channel.
In a new interview with Newsweek, Fuller spoke with more detail about that departure and how it was his “absolute goal” to respect that legacy. “Creating [Discovery] and getting to the heart of what the important themes were to me as a Star Trek fan—how do we get along with people who are different than ourselves?” he asked in the interview. “How do we find common ground? How do move into the future together? Those themes were implicit in the scripts that I wrote before I left, and the storylines [I plotted].”
Unfortunately, beyond the show’s first two episodes, an executive producer credit, and a pledge from CBS that they would “see his vision through,” Fuller confirmed in the interview that he no longer has an active involvement in the series. “It is bittersweet, but it was just a situation that couldn’t be resolved otherwise… so I had to step away,” he said.
“I’m not involved in production, or postproduction, so I can only give them the material I’ve given them and hope that it is helpful for them. I’m curious to see what they do with it,” he added. “Ultimately, with my responsibilities [elsewhere], I could not do what CBS needed to have done in the time they needed it done for Star Trek. It felt like it was best for me to focus on landing the plane with American Gods and making sure that was delivered in as elegant and sophisticated a fashion as I could possibly do.”
Fuller’s showrunning duties have now fallen to Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts. As for Fuller? He’s definitely willing to come back for a potential second season. “They have my number and if they need me I will absolutely be there for them,” he said.
Star Trek: Discovery premieres in 2017 on the CBS All Access subscription service after a one-time preview on the CBS broadcast network.