"Whether by coincidence, omen, or temporal tampering, Star Trek writer and director Nicholas Meyer had been in attendance at J.J. Abrams' bar mitzvah. "It was my first step in preparation for working on Star Trek," jokes Abrams in an interview for Variety.
Trekkies may be glad to know that Abrams et al have been doing plenty of research. "We've been provided with every published Star Trek work," he notes, "whether it's original novels or analysis or companions to the series."
The impossible mission team is also immersing itself in episodes of The Original Series, though perhaps not plunging into the deep end of the franchise pool. "We don't want to become oversaturated with the pre-existing material," says Abrams. "We're reading as much as we can, and as much as we need to, but we're also going to limit it. You want to remain fresh and be inspired."
Alas, Abrams remains mum on details of the Star Trek XI script he's penning with Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, insisting it's "infinitely too early to be talking about" the plot. Neither does he tip whether or not he'll sit in the director's chair for the film.
Abrams does tell us what he has liked about Trek, and what he's aiming to have at the heart of his story.
"Star Trek to me was always about infinite possibility and the incredible imagination that Gene Roddenberry brought to that core of characters," he says. "It was a show about purpose, about faith vs. logic, about science vs. emotion, about us vs. them. It was its own world, and yet it was our world.
"[Trek] was always my favorite when it was a little bit scary, when they would deal with beaming something on the ship that was an incredible mystery or there was a clear threat.
"All of these things I loved about the series is what we're working to incorporate into the story for the movie."
Though Abrams was a regular viewer of TOS, he admits, "I don't think I would qualify as a 'Trekker.' I fall in the 'big fan' category." Writer Robert Orci claims "immediate recall" of all things Trek, while producer Bryan Burke is "relatively fresh" to The Great Bird's galaxy. "The beauty of that is we have all points of view," says Abrams.
So, will ST:XI be dressed for the hardcore Trekkie, or the fairweather populace?
"We absolutely feel beholden to the fans, but at the same time, we have to recognize that you can't only go out and make a movie or TV shows for a group of people that live and breathe a show," Abrams says.
Abrams goal is a tale that "simultaneously speaks to the people who hold Star Trek close to their heart, and at the same time tell a story that resonates" with new fans.
After the failed Nemesis movie and Enterprise series, this project presents Abrams with the nontrivial pressures of resuscitating Paramount's high-profile franchise.
"Maybe if I looked at it from the point of view of a TV analyst or an entertainment analyst, I'd be thinking it's too risky or scary," said Abrams. "My reaction is always a gut reaction, which is, if there were a great telling of a Star Trek movie, it could be as thrilling and as fun as anything I could imagine.
"Listening to that voice has been very helpful.""