In a new multi-part interview, TrekCore talks to Roger Lay, Jr. who is producing the bonus features on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Enterprise's new Blu-Ray releases. Roger was keen to discuss the new found appreciation he has for Enterprise after being involved so closely in the new Season 1 Blu-Ray release and spending time with both the staff and actors who worked on the show.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Enterprise Season 1 Blu-Ray Interview, Part 5
Interviewed by Adam Walker for TrekCore.com
TrekCore: If tomorrow, you got a phone call from the head of CBS and they said, "Roger, we’re going to do a new Star Trek series, and we want your ideas" – where would you take the franchise?
Roger Lay, Jr.: You know what, that’s the kind of thing Rob and I talk about a lot. That’s something that you really need to spend time thinking about before answering the question. I’d sit down with a lot of people that I trust – like Judy and Gar, people who know and understand this genre; maybe even someone like Joe Straczynski, who’s a great writer; all these people that I love and respect… God, I wish I still had Ray with us, Ray Bradbury. Ray and I talked a lot about these things; I would have sat down with Ray and said, "What should the next Star Trek be?" Because I’m not the kind of producer that sits down and just come up with an idea spur of the moment just to put something together; I think my skill, when I produce anything, is that I find the right concept and the right people, and I would sit down with the right people to figure out what is the best course of action right now to bring Star Trek back to what it used to be. Rob and I talk about it a lot, but I don’t think I could answer that immediately. That’s the kind of thing where you say, "Give us some time and we’ll come up with something great!"
And I think it should happen again. I think that at some point, it should happen, it will happen; Star Trek will go back to TV. I’m hoping that J.J. and his gang will finish the movies, and will say, "Well, now it’s time for Star Trek to come back to television." It shouldn’t be done just because the brand is available and there’s an open slot on a slate. You should spend the right amount of time to do it properly, and if you’re going to bring Star Trek back, bring it back to what it used to be.
TrekCore: One of the things I asked Rob, which I’m quite curious about – had you had the chance to work on the Original Series Blu-rays, what direction would you have taken those in? They were successful pieces in their own right due to the remastering, but the documentaries were still nowhere near the level of detail that we have with The Next Generation.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Maybe in the future when it’s time to reissue the show, we could have the opportunity to produce a definitive documentary on TOS, and create all these additional featurettes like a piece with the cast members that are still around, maybe commentaries – there haven’t been any great audio commentary tracks produced for TOS. A tribute to Gene Coon, I would think; kind of like what we’re doing for Michael Piller.
We’re completing a great tribute to Michael Piller now for TNG season 3. We just spent an entire afternoon with Sandra Piller, his wife, and with Shawn Piller, also. Sandra has given us access to a lot of photos even their wedding shots, their vacation pictures, Shawn’s graduation from USC Film School – everything. We’re completing a really amazing tribute. Ira just had some amazing things to say – Ira tears up – it’s a really heartfelt piece. Something like that for Gene Coon would be amazing, because he’s one of the heroes of TOS.
TrekCore: Talk to us a little bit about the future. If CBS goes all the way - and we hope they will – with Deep Space Nine and Voyager, are you on board? Do you all have plans ticking away in the back of your head for them?
Roger Lay, Jr.: Oh yeah, I’m totally on board to work on any Trek projects CBS invites me on. You know, I’ve given DS9 a lot of thought! If it happens, I’d be thrilled to work on it. Totally on board. I have this great relationship now with everyone; I know the entire team at CBS Digital and Home Entertainment. I’ve gotten to know the actual people who made the shows – everyone from Brannon Braga to Ira Behr to Rick Berman, the Okudas to Doug Drexler… so for me, it’s very easy to put these pieces together.
I’m not saying it’s easy, like, "This is a breeze!" I can conceptualize these very complex pieces of storytelling through the documentaries, knowing that I can pull it off, because now these people know my work and they trust me. It puts me in a very unique position where I feel that if I were to leave the project now, it would suffer – not because I’m full of myself and think I’m the best one at doing it, but Rob and I have a system in place now, the relationships are in place, the trust with the company and the CBS team. It’s very good for us now to keep doing this level of work. It’s not like at first, when we were ramping up and starting up, and the train had left the station and we were trying to keep up with it – it’s very different now. We’ve perfected it, and I think that when comes time for DS9, absolutely we’ll be able to do some great stuff. Don’t get me wrong DS9 has not been approved yet and I don’t think any serious discussions will take place until TNG is almost finished but it’s good to know that it’s on everyone’s radar.
TrekCore: That’s great to hear – so, all twenty-five seasons, locked in?
Roger Lay, Jr.: I hope! Here’s the thing -- this is a library. If you don’t have this library as high-def masters, you really can’t exploit it in the future.
TrekCore: It’s almost like an archival project as well, isn’t it? Locking these in for the future, in the best possible format.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Absolutely. You want to have that library in great shape, and in high-def, so you can make a complete-series sale again to broadcast, whether it’s a cable thing or whatever. Why wouldn’t they want to have their library available for those kinds of opportunities? I think the Blu-rays are just the tip of the iceberg – once you have all seven seasons of Next Gen, it should go back on the air, in HD - that's what I hope, at least.
TrekCore: It’s already started – I know here in Europe, the SyFy channel is getting HD TNG Season One, which is great.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Well I’ve got to say it again, with a visionary guy like Ken Ross heading up the effort, I’m confident that all of it will happen. Ken is one of the most visionary executives I’ve ever worked with.
TrekCore: He sounds like a hell of a guy.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, down the road, you’ve got to interview Ken. None of this would have happened without Ken – and Phil, by the way. Phil Bishop is one of the guys who, at first, when they were doing those upconvert tests, suggested rebuilding the show. Ken was more than prepared to hear him out and look into the feasibility of doing that.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, yeah – for Season Seven, we want to wrap it all up. Just like we opened it up with "Energized!" in Season One, we want to wrap it up in Season Seven. Absolutely.
TrekCore: That’d be nice.
Roger Lay, Jr.: That’s definitely part of the plan. I could talk to you for three hours here and just fill you in, because there’s so much we’re doing right now, and so much more we’re still planning on doing. The Season One set for Enterprise is jam-packed, but wait until you see Season Three of Next Gen. I mean, that thing is a monster. All-new commentaries; another three-part, feature-length documentary; a tribute to Michael Piller, and a writing staff reunion hosted by Seth MacFarlane – that writing staff piece is like seventy-one minutes long, I think.
TrekCore: The longer feature-length pieces are enthralling to watch
Roger Lay, Jr.: That’s it, that’s what I’m telling you – it’s like a feature-length piece… and we also have a newly-created gag reel which we’ve built from the original camera elements; more archival stuff… that set is a beast. It’s loaded and it’s a lot of hard work that went into it!
TrekCore: There is so much excitement and anticipation out there for Season 3 of Next Generation. And couple that with the fact that Enterprise is hitting shelves in no time at all.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Absolutely! I really wanted to do this interview, because I really want to make sure that Enterprise gets a fair chance now, that people pick it up – even if it is for that Rick Berman piece. As a Star Trek fan, and now a kind of historian to the franchise, I’ve got to tell you that everyone has to see that piece. It’s groundbreaking in itself, to have two creators participate in such a candid conversation on-camera and be so insightful. It’s the kind of thing that the Writers’ Guild used to have -- these one-on-ones with showrunners. It was stuff that general audiences would never get to see, because it was for Guild members, but it reminded me of that. Just a really honest, candid piece on the mechanics of the industry and the franchise and their personal thoughts on what they did and why they did it. Hopefully it will get the fans’ attention.
TrekCore: Certainly with something like Enterprise that obviously doesn’t need to be remastered, it’s riding more on the VAM that’s included – I think it’s even more important to include something like "In Conversation". It sounds like the biggest selling point of the set.
Roger Lay, Jr.: It is, yeah, it is. The documentary’s really interesting and it following the structure of what we’ve been doing on TNG – but we’ve never done anything like "In Conversation" with Rick, who was the final word on everything back then. That’s the guy everyone wants to hear from.
TrekCore: Which reminds me... I went to a convention last year, the captains were there. Avery Brooks responded to pretty much every question about the writing of DS9 with "Ask Ira Behr. Ask Ira Behr." Is there any time you would consider putting the producers, the writers, and the cast together in a reunion-type special, and see how they react to each other?
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, absolutely – I would love to do something like that for Season Seven of Next Gen. Like I said, for Season Four of Enterprise, if I can’t get the full cast together, it would be great to have a combination of cast with creative and writers. Here’s the thing – you have people like Bakula, who is really insightful, and a filmmaker himself – he’s directed; he’s done a lot of stuff – so when you put him with Brannon and all these guys, he has a lot to say. You have guys like Frakes, and LeVar, so when you put them with Rene and Ron, it’ll work out, because they’ve collaborated before, creatively. I’m looking to do that. The most gratifying thing to us is to put together these reunions, getting the trek family together.
TrekCore: There’s so much to be said for having an actor sit in front of a camera and have questions fired at him – that’s brilliant – but I think, as you say, having these people reunited with each other, their barriers come down and they just slip into the same mode as when they were shooting the show.
Roger Lay, Jr.: It’s fascinating. I’m really proud of those pieces – you’re going to see a lot more. I think, from now on, you’re going to see at least one of those on every set. TNG Season Two had the cast reunion; you have TNG Season Three which has the writing staff reunion; you have Enterprise Season One which has "In Conversation"; you have TNG Season Four which has the art department reunion; and then, as we move into Enterprise Season Two and TNG Season Five and beyond, we hope to do more of those one-on-one or group pieces.
Oh, and here's something we're very keen to do: the composers! No one has shined the spotlight on them, so we hope to do that for TNG – Dennis McCarthy, Ron Jones… We want to do a piece focusing on their work too.
TrekCore: Dennis McCarthy AND Ron Jones? That’s going to be fantastic!
Roger Lay, Jr.: …and Jay Chattaway, too! I got together with Wendy Neuss in New York a few months ago, and now I’m getting together with her here in LA to film her interview next week. She handled the post-production for the show with Peter Lauritson, so she dealt a lot with the composers. I’m toying around with the idea of getting Wendy together with McCarthy and Jones and Chattaway, and doing that side of the equation. I already spoke to Ron Jones about it, and he’s on board – I’ve been talking to the guys at La-La Land; it would be great if we could have someone like Jeff Bond moderate it.
TrekCore: Sounds absolutely fantastic. As a music fan, that really interests me.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Rob and I are big music fans, and we think the Next Gen music – and all the Star Trek music – there’s just great stuff there, and on all these DVDs, they never really focused on that element. You know, they’ve showed up on interviews – McCarthy has done interviews; you’re going to hear from Ron Jones on the single-disc "[The] Best of Both Worlds" release. We spent a day with him on the Newman scoring stage at 20th Century Fox where he recorded a lot of the TNG scores.
TrekCore: That brings up an interesting point – when I spoke with Dave Grant and Ryan Adams last year we discussed the possibility of having isolated scores for these shows accessibly on the Blu-rays. Is the idea feasible?
Roger Lay, Jr.: You know, I hadn’t even though of it. I’ll bring it up with them; I don’t know. We’d need to have the files, the stems… remove that, create separate channels on the authoring for that. But we have the stems, because everything’s being remixed over at Chase Audio, so… I’ll bring it up with Dave and Ryan and the whole team over there. Any ideas like that – please, let me know. Commentaries happened like that. When I went to the Vegas convention and I did the panel on Sunday, a lot of the fans came up to me afterwards, asking "What about commentaries!?" so now we’re doing commentaries too.
TrekCore: Thanks for your time, Roger – and we can’t wait to take a look at the Enterprise Blu-Rays!
Roger Lay, Jr.: Thanks, Adam – it was great talking to you about it.
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Lots of Great Joy and Gratitude to Mr. Roger Lay, Jr. for some great Trek talk. Be sure to leave your comments for Roger in the comments section below... I'm sure he's looking forward to hearing your feedback!
As usual, we have to point out that the views expressed by Roger Lay, Jr. here are his own personal views and don't reflect those of CBS.
Star Trek: Enterprise Season 1 is released on Blu-Ray on March 26 in North America and soon after in other territories worldwide by CBS/Paramount. Be sure to lock in your Pre-Order for the set today!