Being Jonathan Frakes
This was written by one of the staff reporters for Tribune but I get all her articles since some of them are posted on UTV. This is one she just sent over so you’re all getting to see it before anyone else.
Being Jonathan Frakes
By Kate O’Hare, Tribune Media Services
Actor, director, producer, future resident of the state of Maine – Jonathan
Frakes is far more than just “Star Trek’s” Number One.
After seven seasons playing Commander Will Riker on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” – and after a lackluster reception for “Star Trek: Generations,” the first feature film with the “Next Gen” crew – Frakes is widely credited with saving the “Trek” film franchise in 1996 with “Star Trek: First
Contact,” a critical and financial success.
He followed that up in 1998 with “Star Trek: Insurrection,” which, while no
blockbuster, did very nicely, thank you.
What his “Trek” status right now? “Waiting for the next movie.” Is he in
line to direct it, if and when it happens? “God, I hope so. I hope I haven’t
offended anyone. One would think they would remember ‘First Contact.’ I think
this wait is going to be good for the franchise. Get ‘Voyager’ off the air,
‘Deep Space’ is gone, get a little hunger, a little ‘Star Trek’ hunger, then hit
them with a huge war movie or something.”
Borg, perhaps? “I think the Borg are great. I think Q should be in the movies.”
Played by John de Lancie, Q was an omnipotent alien who bedeviled Capt. Jean-
Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the Enterprise crew during the run of “Next
“They don’t think he’s big enough visually,” says Frakes, “was the reason I was given. I’ve always pushed for it. He’s a wonderful actor, and that character, you can go anywhere.”
In the meantime, Frakes has been host of the “Alien Autopsy” special for
Fox (repeated so many times that he refers to it as “TV’s only one-episode
miniseries”), the series “Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction,” also for Fox, and
directed episodes of syndication’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” UPN’s “Star
Trek: Voyager” and CBS’ “Diagnosis Murder.”
With partner Lisa J. Olin, he produced, and starred in, a TV movie last year
called “Dying to Live,” with Linda Cardellini, currently of NBC’s “Freaks and
Geeks.” He also worked with Cardellini in a series about 1930s Hollywood called “The Lot,” for American Movie Classics, which has just been picked up for a second season.
“We feel like we discovered Linda,” he says. “Now, we’re so proud of her, because she’s the breakout character on ‘Freaks & Geeks’.”
Will he appear on Cardellini’s show? “I’m trying to get away to direct one, actually.”
Frakes is also executive producer of the WB’s hit aliens-in-high-school drama, “Roswell,” airing Wednesday at 9 p.m. (Eastern). Developed for, and then rejected by, Fox, the series found a home on the WB (it’s still produced by Twentieth Century Fox Studios, but in space rented on the Paramount lot, where Frakes did his “Trek” work).
Based on the “Roswell High” series of young-adult novels by Melinda D. Metz, the series centers on three teens (Jason Behr, Brendan Fehr, Katherine Heigl) who look human but who are actually aliens from the 1947 UFO crash in New Mexico, held in suspended animation until appearing decades later as human-like children.
Starring as the human students at Roswell High are Shiri Appleby, Majandra Delfino, Colin Hanks (son of Tom) and Nick Weschler; William Sadler plays the local sheriff, or, as Frakes describes him, “the token adult.”
Frakes is executive producer, with Olin, writer Jason Katims (“My So-Called
Life”) and director David Nutter.
Frakes had a cameo as himself in the “Roswell” pilot, and does a hilarious
second turn in an episode called “The Convention,” airing Feb. 2, a sort of
homage to “Star Trek” and the recent SF spoof “Galaxy Quest.”
“Very sort of Shatner-esque,” says Frakes, referring to “Trek’s” Captain Kirk, William Shatner. “In the opening scene, I’m complaining to Max, Jason Behr, who’s running the UFO convention that I’m moderator of, ‘Now, what’s the deal here? Shatner and Stewart got suites, but I only have a room at the hotel?’ It goes on from there. That’s the tone of the piece.”
And by the way, Frakes just loved “Galaxy Quest,” in which Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Daryl Mitchell and Sam Rockwell played actors doing the convention circuit many years after their science-fiction TV show was canceled, who get mistaken for real space explorers by aliens.
“I loved it!” says Frakes. “I really thought they’d been reading our mail. It couldn’t be more accurate. It’s spectacular, and so dead-on, just little, tiny details that are exactly what we experienced. The convention is painfully accurate.”
Speaking of spoofs, it was recently revealed that Frakes has signed a six-figure deal with Sony-based Centropolis Entertainment to direct a science-fiction spoof/black comedy called “Steve Was Here,” about the residents of a depressed town that get more than they bargained for when they stage a fake alien landing to increase tourism.
Acting as executive producers are the heads of Centropolis, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the duo behind “Independence Day” and “Godzilla.” Frakes is friends with Devlin from his pre-“ID4” acting days.
“I ran into him at Kennedy Airport,” recalls Frakes. “He said, ‘What have you got?’ And I said, ‘I’ll bring stuff over.’ And we pitched some stuff. This was something they loved, and we put it together. It was last February that we had our first meeting on this, so finally it’s a deal.
We’re waiting for a script. It’s being written by the guy who wrote “My Favorite Year,” Norm Steinberg. It’s a good pedigree. It’s just has enough taste of aliens in it that people can accept me doing it and Dean doing it, but it’s really a black comedy.”
Is there room for any of the “Roswell” cast? “Oh, that’s a good question.Perhaps, yeah, perhaps one of the chicks. They’re good.”
Having bought a house in Maine for himself, wife Genie Francis and their children, Pennsylvania-born Frakes is plotting his escape from Hollywood.
“Another year or so, maybe. We’ll get “Steve Was Here” shot, then we’ll make a
decision. It’s so good for the kids.”
When will “Steve” go before the cameras? ”
The best-case scenario would be to shoot this fall, because it should be shot during hunting season. The fall colors are a big part, because they find the alien in the woods, the Michigan militia. It’s a riot, it’s just a riot.”
If it’s set in the woods, perhaps it could shoot in Maine? “Don’t think I’m not pushing for it,” says Frakes. “I’ve got a plan. That’s my plan. Dean’ll go for it.”
Copyright 2000 Tribune Media Services