Exclusive: Producer Roger Lay Jr. on the Final STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION Season and DEEP SPACE NINE on Blu-ray
By Joseph McCabe on June 30, 2014
At last week’s Saturn Awards, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films saw fit to honor CBS Paramount’s Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray editions for the second year in a row with the Saturn Award for Best Television Release (Home Entertainment). On hand to accept the award — for the Blu-ray release of Seasons 3, 4, and 5 — was the man who, along with his partner Robert Meyer Burnett, has been responsible for so much of the Blu-ray project’s success, Roger Lay Jr, the writer-director-producer responsible for the acclaimed behind-the-scenes documentaries included on each release. I chatted with Roger backstage after he received the Saturn, and he dropped some hints as to what we can expect from the upcoming Blu-ray edition of the show’s seventh and final season — and the possibility of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s eventual Blu-ray release.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 7 will feature the show’s acclaimed final episode, “All Good Things…”, one of the most challenging productions in Star Trek history…
“Patrick [Stewart] was in every scene,” said Lay, “and they had a ton of press, so it was a very hectic period for him. He and the cast talk about that in our documentary, about how difficult the pressure was. It even came to a point I think where there was a day where Patrick basically had to tell everyone to leave the set [so they could] focus on the work. You gotta remember, when they were doing ‘All Good Things…’ and finishing the show, the focus was on all these other things — including the upcoming motion picture, Paramount being purchased by Viacom, the [Las Vegas] Star Trek Experience down the road… The franchise was this big beast and ‘All Good Things…’ was just a little piece of that. So you’ll hear from Patrick and all of those who were on the front lines during the making of that episode. You’ll see imagery from that point in time which will hopefully paint a really clear picture.”
Lay added that a theatrical release of the episode, like those which accompanied several past seasons, is unlikely.
“We really can’t do the theatricals anymore, because of all these things that have come up with the guilds – the Writers Guild, the Directors Guild. All these things where we were doing theatrical releases of episodes that were meant for television. If you go into theatrical you have to factor in all these royalties. So probably not. But we’re definitely going to give you guys the definitive final account of everything that happened, and we’re putting a lot of really cool things in there that haven’t been seen before. I’m going through the Entertainment Tonight archive right now, [we're] finding behind-the-scenes footage and interviews filmed during the making of the finale. I’m dealing with the TV Academy, trying to get footage from when the show was nominated for the Emmy and all that stuff. So we’ll be covering all that, and we’ve got some really great footage that Mike and Denise Okuda had filmed on the sets before they were altered for the film [Star Trek: Generations]. So we will have the ability to paint a really clear picture for the fans of what the ending for this chapter was.
“By this point, we’ve filmed over a hundred hours of interviews. So all the people you’ve been seeing in these documentaries, you’re now gonna hear from one last time. We always make a feature-length documentary, and this one will be a four-parter. By part 3 you’ll be hearing about the end of the show, ‘All Good Things…’, but by part 4 you’ll kinda get a philosophical approach from everyone involved in the show about what it meant to have been a part of this chapter in the Star Trek saga.”
As for the likelihood of Deep Space Nine beaming onto Blu-ray after Season 7 of The Next Generation is released…
“Deep Space Nine, we all want to do it. I’ll tell you that. I think it’ll be more difficult in the sense that by season 4 of DS9 you had digital elements, a lot of digital elements. By the Dominion War they were doing entire sequences that were digital, there were no models anymore. On TNG we’ve had all these plates and all these model motion-control shots to re-composite. You don’t have anything like that now. So you kind of have to recreate everything when it comes to that stage. I think the first three seasons will be fairly close to what has been done on Next Gen, but by season 4 and beyond it will get a lot more complicated. So all of that has to be factored in. And honestly they have to look at the sales of Next Gen and see how it did overall and what kind of a budget they could allot for Deep Space Nine. So will it happen immediately? I don’t know. Do we all want to go and bring Deep Space Nine back? Absolutely. I think the next couple of months will be crucial. It will also be crucial to fans who have been waiting for all seven seasons of TNG to be released. It sounds sad, but it’s a business decision when it should be a creative one. But you need sales in order to put out more product, it’s as simple as that. We’re hoping to get news within the next several months. But if fans want to do anything to make that happen, pick up these Blu-ray sets right now, because the entire Next Generation collection will be out.”
“We’re all ready to go, man,” added Lay. “I’ve been finding some really cool stuff related to the making of Deep Space Nine that I can’t wait to put on a Blu-ray set. Enterprise is out on Blu-ray as well – we released that simultaneously with TNG. So DS9 seems like the next logical choice.”