CBS All Access Exec Julie McNamara Talks the Future of ‘Star Trek’ at the Streamer

Michelle Yeoh in Star Trek: Discovery
James Dimmock/CBS
Star Trek: Discovery

To paraphrase an old potato chip tagline, Star Trek: Bet you can’t air just one! CBS All Access is certainly gorging on the perennially popular franchise. On September 24, 2017, the streaming channel launched Star Trek: Discovery, prompting a record number of subscribers to sign up — so the network quickly ordered Season 2, which premiered January 17. News that a young Spock (Ethan Peck) would join the sci-fi drama and that the Enterprise’s Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) would return caused another subscriber spike. CBS’s instinct that the series would put All Access on the map was on point.

So on point, in fact, that showrunner Alex Kurtzman signed a five-year deal last June to expand the franchise. The network just announced a spinoff focusing on Discovery’s devious Capt. Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). This followed the August reveal that fan favorite Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation would headline a new Jean-Luc Picard series. A half-hour animated comedy, Star Trek: Lower Decks, is also in the works, and Star Trek: Short Treks, four mini episodes featuring Discovery characters, aired between the show’s two seasons (two more episodes will air this spring).

Last summer, CBS TV Studios chief David Stapf stated that “there should be a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access.” We spoke to Julie McNamara, All Access’s original content chief, about the network’s plans to make that dream a reality.

Are you on the way to at least two Trek-verse shows a year?

Julie McNamara: We’re looking to mine the franchise wisely — both the series and the timing must feel right. Likely most of these series will not be on at the same time. There could be years between them even, as developing Star Trek series involves world-building, which takes time.

Tell us about the still-unnamed Picard show.

It will be very different from Discovery, even more character-driven. Picard was radically affected by the dissolution of the [anti-Federation] Romulan Empire, and this series will explore a different chapter [of his life.] We aim to debut the show toward the end of the year.

Star Trek - Patrick Stewart

Will the Philippa Georgiou show focus on Starfleet’s Section 31, the shadowy organization within the Federation?

Section 31 has always been of interest to fans, and she’s such a phenomenal character in Discovery that it only made sense to explore what a series could be. Michelle is still very much a part of the cast of Discovery, so there is time for this to develop before we would consider when it might air.

And what’s on tap for Star Trek: Lower Decks?

It will be an adult comedy focusing on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships. We’re excited to bring fans a very different type of Star Trek story.

Star Trek: Discovery, Available now, CBS All Access