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STAR TREK Profile: Fan-Writer-Producer Ronald D. Moore
Part 1: Moore Joins VOYAGER, Then Leaves Under a Cloud.
By Anna L. Kaplan
January 18, 2000
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, 'I've thought about it a lot, and there's 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 'they' 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; 'we can work it out.' 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, 'You are making a mistake,' and I am not saying that they should. I wouldn't 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 . That's why I didn't 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 didn't want to leave. I loved it so much and I just didn't 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 didn't like their own show, and weren't pleased with the people they were working with. It's 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 don't have to be there. I am just happy that I am not working on that show every day. I know it hasn't gotten any easier.'
Moore laughs, 'I know that life hasn't gotten better. It hasn't had this epiphany and turned the corner. It's not a happy ship, the good ship Voyager. If I had not gone there, I think I would have always wondered, 'Maybe 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.' Now I know that none of that is true, that I didn't miss out on any opportunities. It wasn't going to be fun.'
What did exactly push Moore out? Others have said that story meetings were held without Moore's 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 wasn't allowed to participate in the process, and I wasn't part of the show. I felt like I was freelancing my own show. That was the feeling I had. I wasn't involved in it enough. Part of me said, 'So what? You've got a baby. You are making a lot of money. Shut up, enjoy it; go home early; go in late; relax. You've had a long ten years; take a break.' But I couldn't. 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 couldn't 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. I've 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, 'That's stupid; that sucks,' without it being personal. It's 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. It's a very emotional thing. It's 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 can't go back. I just couldn't go back. You just leave. There are things you can forgive but you can't forget. I couldn't go there any more. I realized what was happening: 'I'm not going to do this.' I don't care how much money was involved. It just wasn't 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, 'Fuck this.' I'm just not going to do it. I won't do it, and I have no regrets about that. None whatsoever. I feel like I made the right decision. I wish it hadn't happened. I wish that things had not turned out that way. I could have handled it a little differently myself. I don't think it would have changed much. I think I could have, tactically, gone in and been confrontational early and said, 'This is bullshit. Let's clean this up.' I think it would have turned out the way it turned out regardless of what I did. It just had to happen. It's 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, 'Now your education is complete. Now you have learned all there is to know about Hollywood from your experiences at STAR TREK.'