The TNG cast. [Image by Roddenberry Productions/CBS Studios]

‘Star Trek: TNG’ Celebrates 30 Years In 2017, Rare Behind-The-Scenes Info Made Available

Star Trek: The Next Generation (also known as Star Trek: TNG) is celebrating its 30th anniversary year in 2017. The show began airing in the US on September 28, 1987. Throughout this year, Roddenberry Productions will be sharing rare behind-the-scenes documents on their social media feeds. Roddenberry Productions is the company run by Rod Roddenberry, the son of Gene Roddenberry, the creator and key mastermind behind the Star Trek universe.

They are calling their behind-the-scenes look at TNG “Project 365,” as Roddenberry Productions will be posting a new photo or document every single day in 2017. An announcement introducing “Project 365” was made last week on the Roddenberry Productions Facebook page.

“Welcome to Project 365, celebrating 30 years of Star Trek: The Next Generation… All year long we’ll be releasing never before seen photos, scripts, productions notes, stills, designs and more. We hope you enjoy it as much as the pleasure we’ll take in sharing our exclusive content with you…”

Roddenberry’s Project 365: Behind The Scenes of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Although the plan for Project 365 is to cover the entire run of the series, the first several documents released so far have focused on the beginning. Going all the way back to 1987, starting out with some of the early development of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a TV show, readers get a rarely-seen look at how TNG evolved.

One of the first documents released was a casting list from April 1987, with a rundown of potential actors to play Captain Picard. Interestingly, Patrick Stewart is not listed. Instead, a variety of actors including Yaphet Kotto, John Saxon, Billy Dee Williams, and Lee Van Cleef are displayed as possibilities. Readers may need to click-through to a full-screen option to view the document in greater detail.

These casting ideas may have been long-shots, however. Another posting with a list from the same period shows Patrick Stewart as the preferred candidate for Picard. Other actors weren’t so lucky. Michael O’Gorman is listed as a favorite for Commander Riker; the role was taken by Jonathan Frakes. Denise Crosby is listed as the top pick for Counselor Troi. Crosby did make it onto the show, but in another role, as Security Chief Yar.

Other casting related posts have included original “headshots” of the supporting cast, likely used by the casting department to make a final decision on who should portray a character. Another fun quirk for trivia hunters: in Gates McFadden’s headshot for Dr. Crusher, she is listed under her given name of Cheryl; Gates is her middle name.

Another document posted is a memo from Gene Roddenberry to staff writer and producer Maurice Hurley regarding revisions to the script of “When The Bough Breaks,” an episode from near the end of the first season of TNG. Roddenberry asks that the antagonists of the episode should have more impressive technology, along with other story and dialogue adjustments.

30 Years: Looking Back On TNG

Despite having premiered and since ended many years ago, it is amazing how large the following for Next Generation is. The fan community around Star Trek: TNG remains strong, rivaling (if not exceeding) the fanbase for the original 60s TV series. TNG cast members are popular attractions at Star Trek conventions around the world.

Patrick Stewart at a 2005 Star Trek convention. [Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]
Patrick Stewart (Capt. Picard) at a 2005 Star Trek convention. [Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

Following the end of the TNG television series in 1994, there was a series of Star Trek movies featuring the TNG cast, including the fan-favorite Star Trek: First Contact in 1996. A more action-oriented film, it was one of the most successful Star Trek movies, even when including those featuring the original series cast.

1996 - Michael Dorn stars as Worf in "Star Trek: First Contact".
[Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]

It should be an interesting look back as Project 365 covers the run of TNG from some of its earliest days.

After seven seasons of television and four movies, the fan devotion TNG remains. Project 365 will give fans a unique view into sci-fi and showbiz history. What would you like to discover?

Are there specific behind-the-scenes documents you would look forward to seeing? What is a favorite Star Trek: TNG memory for you from the TV show or the movies? Leave a comment below.

[Featured Image by Roddenberry Productions/CBS Studios]