The Ron Moore Interview

These texts were once available on various websites. The text below is taken directly from USENET postings mid-2000. I don't intend to trample on anyone's copyright by making them available. I post the following simply to let people know what sort of person Ron Moore is and was, and what sort of person Brannon Braga is. I'll leave judgment to the reader. -- Hypatia Kosh, September 2003


PART 1

During the summer of 1999 shock waves rippled through the STAR TREK community
as the departure of Ronald D. Moore from the VOYAGER staff and STAR TREK proved
to be truth and not rumor. Moore had little to say publicly at the time,
leaving this post for one and all to read, all over the Internet, on AOL and
other bulletin boards, newsgroups, and websites. The posting read: 

Subject: Goodnight and Goodbye 

Date: Thu 08 July 1999 


Well, folks it`s true. I`ve left VOYAGER and STAR TREK. I know there`s a lot of
speculation out there as to the how`s and why`s of my departure, but I`d really
rather not get into the details of what happened. (Dirty laundry and all that.)
What I will say is that I realized that it was time for me to move on and that
I left more out of sorrow than in anger. I have no bitter feelings over what
happened and I wish everyone associated with TREK and with VOYAGER only the
best. 


I`d also like to clear up some odd rumors that have been clogging the net: I
did not leave because of the supposedly negative reaction to my sole Voyager
script, "Survival Instinct." In fact, the teleplay was well received by
everyone and went through a fairly modest rewrite. The same goes for "Barge of
the Dead," to which I contributed only a co-story and was actually written by
[staff writer] Bryan Fuller. I wanted to specifically put both of these rumors
to rest because I think leaving a show over "bad script notes" would be
incredibly unprofessional. I`ve been around the block a few times and I`ve had
more than my share of nasty notes and even had entire drafts thrown out. It`s
not something that would make me head for the exits even if it had occurred
(which it did not). 


All I can tell you is that I felt that I had to leave and that it wasn`t an
easy decision to make. Let`s leave it at that. 


So my personal Trek has come to an end. It`s been a helluva ride, let me tell
you. I sold my first professional script to STAR TREK 10 years ago next week
and it`s been an amazing experience ever since. I`ve often posted how much this
show has meant to me over the years, so I won`t bore you with another nostalgic
paean to all things Trek. Let me just express to you that my overwhelming
feeling as I leave is one of gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to be a
part of something that was an integral part of my childhood; for the chance to
contribute to a bit of Americana; for the professional rewards that come with
being part of an enormously successful series; for the education in learning my
craft; for the many, many friendships that I`ve formed. And gratitude to you --
the fans. You`ve been loyal and passionate throughout the years and I`m
continually amazed by your thoughtfulness and generosity. Not fifteen minutes
ago, a very special package arrived on my doorstep. Inside was a beautifully
made scrapbook of thank yous and mementos from the regular users of this board.
To say that I was touched would be an understatement. The fact that it arrived
at this moment, after all that`s happened means a great deal to me and I will
treasure it always. 


One last anecdote: 

My last day was Thursday, July 1 and I spent most of it walking around the lot,
saying good-bye to various members of the cast and crew, some of whom I`d
worked with for a decade. It was a melancholy sort of task and I was eager to
be done with it and get outta there. So when Bryan pulled me aside and said
that my birthday gift had come in, my first reaction was to put him off for
another day, but then I relented and he walked into my office with it hidden
behind his back. 

It was a bat`leth. A genuine, metal, leather-handled, sharp as all hell,
bat`leth. Made by our prop department, which is as close as you can get to
getting one from Kronos itself. I was touched and I laughed, but it wasn`t
until I was on my way home that I realized what Bryan had really given me: an
ending to my own STAR TREK story. You see, ten years ago I walked onto the
Paramount lot for the first time with a script under my arm and last week I
walked off with a bat`leth. I left carrying my sword. There`s a certain poetry
to that and it went a long way toward making me feel as if I`d left with my
head high and my "honor" intact. Thank you, Bryan. 


So that`s it -- now I`m just another fan. Which is what I was at the beginning,
and what I`ll probably be until I shuffle off to StoVoKor (which better
friggin` exist after all the time I spent talking about it.) 


Take care, and I wish you all well in your personal Treks. 

Ronald D. Moore 


Time has gone by, and Moore now feels ready to share more of his thoughts, and
talk about what happened to him. Sitting down at his home to begin what will be
a long conversation, he says, "Iíve thought about it a lot, and thereís a lot
of ground. I am pretty open to discussing any or all of it." 

First, to place this in context. Ron Moore, a fan of the original series, came
on board the writing staff of THE NEXT GENERATION when he managed to get a spec
script into the hands of [then co-executive producer] Michael Piller. The
script, which became "The Bonding," was quickly followed by a script assignment
and then a staff position. Moore rose through the ranks to become story editor,
executive story editor, co-producer, and producer of THE NEXT GENERATION. He
penned many key scripts for TNG, including "Relics," "Tapestry" and "Sins of
the Father," which introduced the audience to the Klingon homeworld. He would
go on to create much of what fans now know of the Klingon people. He often
co-wrote with close friend Brannon Braga. Together they scripted the finale of
TNG, "All Good Things..." as well as the first two TNG feature films,
GENERATIONS and FIRST CONTACT. After THE NEXT GENERATION finished its run,
Moore moved over to DEEP SPACE NINE, where he flourished, ending up as
co-executive producer. As DS9 ended, he could not resist the siren call of
VOYAGER; he agreed to join the staff as co-executive producer. Things went
terribly wrong with executive producer Rick Berman and most especially with
executive producer Brannon Braga. Moore explains his use of the term "they,"
which comes up in much of the conversation. "My use of Ďtheyí here is pretty
wide. I`m essentially referring to VOYAGER as a creative whole, but the
responsibility for the show and its choices ultimately falls on the Executive
Producers [Braga and Berman]." 


Moore says, "I regret going to the show. I think that was my mistake. I should
have known better. I should have been smart enough to know. He and I had been
partners and friends for so long; Ďwe can work it out.í You get into that kind
of situation, and things change. Things changed, and it was a slap of cold
water. I think all the other writers on DS9 knew better. None of them flat out
said it. None of them said, ĎYou are making a mistake,í and I am not saying
that they should. I wouldnít have listened to it if they did. But I knew at the
time that they all thought this was a mistake. I should have left on DEEP SPACE
NINE because that was a high point. I could have left the stage with the
audience still applauding and feeling good about the performance. You take your
curtain call and you get off . Thatís why I didnít do the next movie, for just
that reason. Rick asked Brannon and me to make the next movie, and I said no
because I was happy to leave FIRST CONTACT as my swan song to the TREK
features. I should have been smart enough to do that and not take the VOYAGER
gig. But I just didnít want to leave. I loved it so much and I just didnít want
to go away from the franchise, and I just really enjoyed it. I was afraid to
leave the nest on a certain level. They made it very easy for me. They gave me
a lot of money. They let me stay in my own office, just change the business
card on the front of the desk.. Then it just turned into this other thing, and
it was this bad trip, and it was a bad place to work, and it was an unhappy
experience. I was surrounded by people that were unhappy working there, and
didnít like their own show, and werenít pleased with the people they were
working with. Itís a bad thing to work through. Part of me is hurt, and a bit
angry at Brannon on a personal level, as my friend, not as my boss. As my
friend, I felt pretty pissed off. I am not angry any more. I am just grateful
that I donít have to be there. I am just happy that I am not working on that
show every day. I know it hasnít gotten any easier." 

Moore laughs, "I know that life hasnít gotten better. It hasnít had this
epiphany and turned the corner. Itís not a happy ship, the good ship Voyager.
If I had not gone there, I think I would have always wondered, ĎMaybe I should
have gone. Maybe it would have worked out. Maybe I would have been involved in
the new series. Maybe that was a missed opportunity.í Now I know that none of
that is true, that I didnít miss out on any opportunities. It wasnít going to
be fun." 

What did exactly push Moore out? Others have said that story meetings were held
without Mooreís knowledge, and that things were done behind his back. Most of
this he still keeps to himself and to those nearest to him. He will say, "I
have very hurt feelings about Brannon. What happened between he and I is just
between he and I. It was a breakdown of trust. I would have quit any show where
I was not allowed to participate in the process like that. I wasnít allowed to
participate in the process, and I wasnít part of the show. I felt like I was
freelancing my own show. That was the feeling I had. I wasnít involved in it
enough. Part of me said, ĎSo what? Youíve got a baby. You are making a lot of
money. Shut up, enjoy it; go home early; go in late; relax. Youíve had a long
ten years; take a break.í But I couldnít. It just ate at me. It was an
integrity issue. I took a lot of pride in the work. The work matters to me. I
took a lot of pride in what I did on TNG and DS9 and the movies. I just
couldnít work that way." 

He adds, "It was happening with Brannon, with a writing partner. You have such
a fundamental bedrock trust, that you must have between the two of you. Iíve
said this for many years. You have to sit in a room with somebody, and you both
have to slug away at a script and say to the other one, ĎThatís stupid; that
sucks,í without it being personal. Itís about the work. Neither one of you is
trying to get your words in, and neither one of you is trying to put the other
one down. Itís a very emotional thing. Itís a very intense experience, and it
only works if you trust each other just completely. For many years, we trusted
each other. When that trust is broken in such a fundamental way, you just canít
go back. I just couldnít go back. You just leave. There are things you can
forgive but you canít forget. I couldnít go there any more. I realized what was
happening: ĎIím not going to do this.í I donít care how much money was
involved. It just wasnít worth it. Once I made my decision I never looked back.
It was going to be over, and it was over, and I walked away. I was very
disappointed that my long-time friend and writing partner acted in that manner,
that crossed lines to the point where I felt like I had to walk away from STAR
TREK, which was something that meant a lot to me for a very long time, from my
childhood right through my entire professional career. But I absolutely was not
going to work like that. Coming from him, it carried even more of a weight that
just forced my hand. I said, ĎFuck this.í Iím just not going to do it. I wonít
do it, and I have no regrets about that. None whatsoever. I feel like I made
the right decision. I wish it hadnít happened. I wish that things had not
turned out that way. I could have handled it a little differently myself. I
donít think it would have changed much. I think I could have, tactically, gone
in and been confrontational early and said, ĎThis is bullshit. Letís clean this
up.í I think it would have turned out the way it turned out regardless of what
I did. It just had to happen. Itís a Hollywood ending to a Cinderella story. I
did see the entire chain of events from Hollywood. From the way I got on the
show, with the kid tucking the script under the arm and going to the set, and
the whole fan dream come true, to leaving with hurt feelings, because of
disproportionate power in the relationships. Ira Behr [executive producer, DS9]
did say that to me. He said, ĎNow your education is complete. Now you have
learned all there is to know about Hollywood from your experiences at STAR
TREK."

PART 2

The writer-producer discusses his beginnings at TREK and the switch to VOYAGER.

Author: Anna L. Kaplan 
Date: 1/19/00 

Letís go back to the beginning for Moore, to get a history lesson as well as an
idea about what about VOYAGER upset him so much. He remembers, "When I came
aboard in the third season, NEXT GEN was very much the new kid on the block.
There was a lot of static from the fans about the old series. ĎYou can never
replace Kirk [William Shatner] and Spock [Leonard Nimoy]; itís not the real
Enterprise, and this isnít STAR TREK.í People forget that. Now NEXT GEN,
everybody holds it up as the greatest thing. But nobody was giving us those
plaudits at the beginning. We felt a bit under siege when I was there. There
wasnít a lot of support out in the fan community. At conventions people were
still selling bumper stickers that said ĎKirk and Spock forever, Picard
[Patrick Stewart] and the bunch, to hell with them,í and that kind of stuff.
But what we really had was an esprit. We really cared about the show, and we
were very proud about what we were doing. We were determined to try to make
something good happen. That third season was very difficult for everybody, as I
have recounted many times. Michael Piller came aboard; there was warring with
the writing staff; [TREK creator] Gene Roddenberry was still around. The
politics of the show were still churning a little bit. What Michael brought to
the process was this determination to make the show about the characters, about
these people that were on the Enterprise, and not just about the alien of the
week or the situation of the week. It was that determination on his part that
really informed the rest of that series, and consequently DEEP SPACE NINE, and
to a large extent, the movies. I think Michael has become the forgotten player
in all of this. People now argue about Rickís contribution to the show, and
where Rick has taken the show since Gene died, and what is Rickís legacy, and
the Gene-versus-Rick thing--whether he has been the good guardian of the
franchise ever since Gene passed away. In truth, it was Michael. Michael is the
guy who came in and said, ĎThis is the show we are going to do,í and forced the
series in that direction. In doing so, what he really did was validate the
central premise of STAR TREK, which was always about the characters. It was
always about Kirk and Spock and McCoy [DeForest Kelley] in the original series,
and how those adventures affected those men, and the relationship between those
people. People tend to get caught up in the plot and stories, and what kind of
story telling STAR TREK is doing. But at its heart itís a human show about
human beings in the future, and using that as a canvas to tell stories about
the human experience. I think people mistake the campy-ness of the original
series for its appealóthat it has a sort of kitchy value. I have heard Rick say
things like, ĎKirk is the prototypical sixties hero. He had a babe in one arm
and a phaser in the other.í Thatís kind of his popularized image of Captain
Kirk and what that whole series was about. But really it was about Kirk as a
man, as a character, as a human being, and what he experienced out in the
galaxy, and the way he led that ship. What people remember about that show are
not those plot lines. I think the true hard-core fans will recite chapter and
verse of the episodes that mean a lot to them, why ĎMirror, Mirror,í was a
great show, what ĎCity on the Edge of Forever,í really meant. But in truth,
itís really because they fell in love with those people. People ran around
dressing up like Kirk and putting on Spock ears. They didnít run around waving
signs about the politics the show espoused, or what the sociopolitical
commentary of the show was. That was all interesting, good stuff, but it was
the people that they were seeing on the screen each week that they cared about.
When Michael really forced NEXT GEN to go in that direction, he was really
being truer I think to the spirit of what the original series was about. It was
about those three men, and less so the supporting characters, because that show
really wasnít an ensemble show. It was about those three principles every week,
week in and week out, and mostly Kirk, almost entirely Kirk. As NEXT GEN
started to really go in those directions, and the writing staff kept changing
over the years, we had a sense that we were getting traction, and the show was
starting to work for us. The characters were starting to come together. We
started enjoying it more. It started being a fun place to work." 
Moore continues, "TNG was just a happy place to be. It was the kind of place
where there were no bad ideas in the room. Michael created an atmosphere where
you really felt free to voice your opinions. You could argue with the boss. I
argued with Mike a lot, right to the point I thought I should be fired, but he
never even came close to that. Thatís a tribute to him. What he really fostered
was this sense of, ĎWeíre all in this together, and itís just about the work.
Itís just about making the best show that you possibly can.í That was always
everybodyís top priority. The last season of TNG was not as much fun as the
others had been. Everybody was getting really tired. I think the quality of the
show suffered in that last year. I bear some of the responsibility for that,
because I think I underestimated the impact that GENERATIONS was going to have
on the series. So TNG didnít leave with the best taste in the mouth, as I look
back on it. I regret the way the series went off the air, even though, miracle
of miracles, the final episode turned out really well. Somehow, someway, it was
just one of those nice little pieces of magic that happens. You happen to write
a good script, and it happened to be really memorable, and it happened to all
click together in ĎAll Good Things...í" 

Then Moore moved over to DS9. He recalls, "DEEP SPACE NINE took that to another
level. We were so tight as a writing staff, we loved the show so much, that we
could sit in that room and literally scream at each other. Hans Beimler and I
could just go at it, hammer and tongs, yelling and really getting upset. We
would just sit there and yell about story points, and then, ĎWhere are we going
to lunch today?í We would all go out, and really enjoy each otherís company and
have a good time. What I found on VOYAGER was suddenly it wasnít about the work
anymore. It wasnít about making the best show that we possibly could; it was
about all these other extraneous issues. It was about the politics of the show,
and the strange sort of competition of egos within the writing staff and the
producing staff and the management of the show. ĎCompetitioní is probably a
misleading term. The politics of the show were such that the egos of the people
in charge of the series were threatened by the people who worked for them. To
be blunt, [writers] Bryan Fuller and Mike Taylor were treated very shabbily,
and it pissed me off. They took a lot of crap, and the only reason it was done
was to keep the guys on the top of the pyramid feeling good about themselves.
It also had the effect of keeping the writing staff from working in concert as
a group. The DS9 staff by contrast was very tight. 

"The fun factor dropped precipitously, and I think that shows on the screen,"
Moore continues. "I think that the product that you are getting now is also a
reflection of the way the show is produced. Certainly the spirit of DEEP SPACE
NINE, and what we were trying to do, and what we believed in, informed what we
put out. You could say that DEEP SPACE NINE was too inside, and it was too
complex. It got too much inside of its own head to be accessible to people who
just approached the show for the first time, but that is a reflection of deep
passion and commitment to the show. Whereas VOYAGER is so scattered internally,
the way itís put together, that in a large measure, the product is very
scattered, and doesnít have cohesiveness. In terms of the arc of the
relationships and the working environments, it was just like a parabola. It
started tense, difficult, but, ĎWe are all in this. Letís just keep the show
going somehow, and it does matter. It doesnít matter if Gene likes us or not,
it doesnít matter if Michael is mad at us today; we are going to get the show
on the air, so come on.í TNG was about learning the craft. We were all trying
to do the best thing, and sensing that it was getting better, and watching the
ratings go up, and watching more public acclaim, and watching it become its own
piece of Americana, and eventually eclipsing the original series to a large
extent in the popular imagination. DEEP SPACE NINE was this real sense of,
ĎWeíre here. Letís do the best show we possibly can, and letís push the concept
as far as we possibly can.í I was hearing stuff about VOYAGER all along. Then
to go to VOYAGER and just to find out that on a personal level that the
environment was not conducive to doing good work. The environment was chaotic
and fraught with other issues that just didnít have anything to do with the
work. It just became another job. Thatís never what I had experienced, and it
was very disappointing. Weíre talking just about the work environment. Thatís
aside from all the reasons that I left." 

Moore went over to VOYAGER expecting to do his job as a writer and co-executive
producer. He studied the episodes of VOYAGER, asked questions, and tried to
familiarize himself with the showís characters. This did little to allay his
underlying doubts about the show. He says, "I can only criticize VOYAGER so
much. I only worked on it for a given amount of time, but I do have a lot of
experience at STAR TREK. I did work on it for a couple of months, and I did
study it intensely for a few months leading up to that, trying to get my head
inside of it. Writing an episode forces you to kind of get your hands dirty and
see where the flaws in the show are." 

In fact, Moore is very qualified to comment on VOYAGER, knowing TREK inside out
and having worked on all of the last three incarnations of TREK. Moore knows
TREK as well as anyone can. He recalls early impressions. "I would see things
from the outside, and I would just pick up things from talking with Brannon,
and his frustration. He wasnít happy a good chunk of the time either. I think
VOYAGER has always had a certain rocky, internal structure. Thatís not to say
you canít produce a quality product out of that. If you can put it on the
screen and make it work, the internal politics donít matter. But when whatís on
the screen isnít working, then the whole equation gets thrown into question." 

Who judges if VOYAGER is working? Moore answers, "The audience is still
watching VOYAGER. The ratings are down, but the ratings are down across
television, in every category, on every network, and every program. As long as
the studio believes that the franchise can make money, and that there is an
audience there, they will continue to produce it. If they believe that it is
seriously in great difficulty, Paramount will make changes. But each of us has
to make our own judgement on what is good and bad. I know what I like in the
series, and what I donít like in the series. I donít really care for where the
franchise is now, where itís going. Itís not about anything. It feels to me
that it is a very content-free show. Itís not really speaking to the audience
on any real level anymore. Whatís happening is that itís very superficial. It
talks a good game. It talks about how itís about deep social problems, and how
itís about sociological issues, and that itís very relevant. Itís about
exploration, and itís about the unknown, and all these cute catch phrases, but
scratch the surface of that and there is really not much underneath it all.
VOYAGER doesnít really believe in anything. The show doesnít have a point of
view that I can discern. It doesnít have anything really to say. I truly
believe it simply is just wandering around the galaxy. It doesnít even really
believe in its own central premise, which is to me its greatest flaw." 

Moore notes, "Iíve said this to Brannon for years, because he and I would talk
about the show when it was first invented. I just donít understand why it
doesnít even believe in itself. Examine the fundamental premise of VOYAGER. A
starship chases a bunch of renegades. Both ships are flung to the opposite side
of the galaxy. The renegades are forced to come aboard Voyager. They all have
to live together on their way home, which is going to take a century or
whatever they set up in the beginning. I thought, This is a good premise.
Thatís interesting. Get them away from all the familiar STAR TREK aliens, throw
them out into a whole new section of space where anything can happen. Lots of
situations for conflict among the crew. The premise has a lot of possibilities.
Before it aired, I was at a convention in Pasadena, and [scenic illustrator,
technical consultant Rick] Sternbach and [scenic art supervisor, technical
consultant Michael] Okuda were on stage, and they were answering questions from
the audience about the new ship. It was all very technical, and they were
talking about the fact that in the premise this ship was going to have
problems. It wasnít going to have unlimited sources of energy. It wasnít going
to have all the doodads of the Enterprise. It was going to be rougher, fending
for themselves more, having to trade to get supplies that they want. That
didnít happen. It doesnít happen at all, and itís a lie to the audience. I
think the audience intuitively knows when something is true and something is
not true. VOYAGER is not true. If it were true, the ship would not look
spick-and-span every week, after all these battles it goes through. How many
times has the bridge been destroyed? How many shuttlecrafts have vanished, and
another one just comes out of the oven? That kind of bullshitting the audience
I think takes its toll. At some point the audience stops taking it seriously,
because they know that this is not really the way this would happen. These
people wouldnít act like this."