A new Kirk rises from the ashes of Trek (Star Trek XI movie news roundup, 10/16/2007)

“This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew. To them and their posterity will we commit our future. They will continue all the voyages we have begun and journey to all the undiscovered countries. . . .”
–Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek VI

Just a little over two years ago, Star Trek was dead. Star Trek: Enterprise, the sixth television series to bear the name, was cancelled due to low ratings. Three years before that, Star Trek Nemesis, the tenth movie in the franchise, flopped at the box office–failing to make back its budget and making less money than any previous Trek movie.

Of course, Star Trek had been dead before. Several times.

Now, thanks to the efforts of JJ Abrams, Star Trek is being reborn, and its most important character has a new face. Over 40 years after William Shatner originated the role, Chris Pine is taking over as James Tiberius Kirk in 2008’s Star Trek XI.

Though not yet confirmed by official sources, SCI FI Wire and others reported the news yesterday. Their primary source was a blog entry by White Jazz director Joe Carnahan. Due to filming schedules, the 27-year-old Pine reportedly had to decide between taking a role in White Jazz or Star Trek XI.

“The young man playing Junior Stemmons has opted to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’ and thus, had to bow out of White Jazz,” said Carnahan yesterday.

In a subsequent entry, after his comments erupted an Internet furor, Carnahan noted, “For the record, I never mentioned anybody by name in yesterday’s post […]. I hate when our little blog spills over into the larger, evil blogosphere and I get quoted in connection with (a) separate story.”

[10/17/2007, UPDATE: The official Star Trek site has confirmed that Chris Pine is James T. Kirk.]

Until now, Pine was perhaps best known for a role in Carnahan’s Smokin’ Aces. He is also the son of actor Robert Pine, who played Sergeant Getraer on the long-running CHiPs. The elder Pine also appeared on episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise (“Fusion”) and Star Trek: Voyager (“The Chute”).

Pine will become the third person to appear as Kirk in an official Star Trek production. Sandra Smith played Kirk briefly in the episode “Turnabout Intruder,” in which the captain’s consciousness is transferred into the body of Dr. Janice Lester.

Starting at the age of 35, Shatner played Kirk throughout 100 episodes of Star Trek on television (including the live-action and animated series) and seven films. In 1994, he agreed to letting the character die in the movie Star Trek Generations.

“I did it,” he said at the time. “I killed Kirk and I think I killed him well, using all of the emotions I’d denied for so long in allowing the man to battle, then ultimately accept his impending death, while simultaneously peering into the greatest mystery of all.”

Just two years later, he seemed to lament his choice. “Kirk was a heroic figure and there were those who felt it was time he died a heroic death,” he said. “I’m not sure that was the right decision.”

Since Star Trek Generations, Shatner has co-authored ten Star Trek novels (among other books), won two Emmy awards, and been inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

The only key hero role still open is Leonard McCoy, though web rumor mills are running wild about a possible casting decision there as well.

[10/17/2007, UPDATE #2: The official Star Trek site has also confirmed that Karl Urban is Leonard McCoy. The 35-year-old actor takes over the role made famous by DeForest Kelley. Urban is best known for appearances in The Bourne Supremacy, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Return of the King, and The Two Towers.]

Reporting live from the evil blogosphere, this is Troy saying goodnight everyone.

Title (Tentative)
Star Trek

Kirk: Chris Pine
McCoy: Karl Urban
Scott: Simon Pegg
Uhura: Zoë Saldana
Chekov: Anton Yelchin
Sulu: John Cho
Nero: Eric Bana

And as Spock
Leonard Nimoy
Zachary Quinto

Visual effects by
Industrial Light & Magic

JJ Abrams
Damon Lindelof

Executive Producers
Bryan Burk
Alex Kurtzman
Roberto Orci

Written by
Alex Kurtzman
Roberto Orci

Based on “Star Trek,” created by
Gene Roddenberry

JJ Abrams

Teaser Poster #1 (StarTrek.com)
Teaser Poster #2 (StarTrek.com)

Scheduled release date (US)
December 25, 2008