LeVar Burton Calls Out J.J. Abrams About Star Trek

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There has always been a friendly rivalry between the fans of the various Trek series. One fan will argue that Kirk will always greatest of the captains, another will talk your ear off about how Deep Space 9 is brilliant and underrated. But for some long-time Trekkies, the rivalry between Classic Trek and J.J. Abrams’ version isn’t friendly at all. But based on the comments of one beloved Trek actor, Abrams isn’t exactly making things any easier for fans who have difficulty accepting his brand of Trek.


In an interview with the Toronto Sun, TNG actor LeVar Burton recently called out J.J. Abrams for comments he allegedly made about his version of Star Trek. Burton says:

(Abrams’ Star Trek) was a great movie, and he brought a whole new generation to Trek. But I’m a little disquieted by things I hear coming out of his camp, things like he would like to be remembered as the only Trek—which would discount everything before he got there.

There’s ‘breaking the canon,’ which he did (by re-inventing Star Trek‘s timeline). But there’s also honouring the canon. And to pretend to be the only one is really egocentric and immature.

I just came from a conference in San Francisco with Advanced Micro Devices, and they’re working on technology towards building a holodeck. That was Next Generation. And that’s part of what Star Trek has brought to the culture. So when JJ Abrams says, ‘There should be no Star Trek except the one I make,’ I call bulls—, J.J.

While it’s unclear where/when Abrams is purported to have made those comments, something has obviously rubbed LeVar Burton the wrong way. Abrams has admitted he wasn’t a fan of Trek before accepting the reboot gig, but he’s never come across as quite so flippant or dismissive about Trek‘s long legacy. But perhaps LeVar Burton knows more than us.

This isn’t the first time a Trek icon has sounded off on Abrams in recent months. William Shatner once called the geek director a “pig” for hoarding both Star Trek and Star Wars, and said his movies are “great rides” but lack emotional heart. (To be fair, in context the “pig” comments were seemingly meant jokingly.) There’s just something about J.J. Abrams that rubs the Star Trek old guard the wrong way.


  1. Jacob Teske says:

    Abram’s Trek is merely an action flick franchise. Real Star Trek is at its best when addresses the moral issues of our day and examines and challenges our beliefs. I saw none of that in the first movie don’t expect to see any of it in the next. Obviously, all the prior films all have an action focus, but ST 2, 4 and 6 are heads above because of the rich characterization and because (especially 4) they have something bigger to say about the world we live in. I enjoy Abram’s Trek, but I mainly enjoy it because its the only new trek out there, not because it’s better than what’s been done before. Abram’s idea of character development is to have Spock make out with Uhura. Great for the fan boys, but not exactly a deep commentary on 21st century society. Good for Levar for speaking up.

  2. Mike Danko says:

    You go, LeVar! I’ve been a Star Trek fan from the beginning, and I will continue to be a fan for the rest of my life. As much as I tried to appreciate what Abrams did with his “reboot”, I couldn’t get over the fact that he killed Spock’s mom and destroyed Vulcan. I love time travel and alternate realities as much as the next guy, but smashing some of the most important aspects of the ST universe is beyond reproach. And, don’t even get me started on the Spock/Uhura relationship. That needs to go into some other alternate reality for good. I hate to think about what Abrams plans to do with the Klingons now that he screwed up the Vulcans and the Romulans. They could redeem themselves by calling their own bluff and restore things to the way they really “should be”. Paramount probably deserves as much blame as Abrams for letting the “old” franchise die on the vine. They effectively killed the movie franchise by opening Nemesis a week before Lord of the Rings. They could have opened it during Thanksgiving week and given it a solid 3 weeks or so before it had any real competition. Then, they cancelled Enterprise just when it was really starting to pick up steam and tell some great stories. Maybe the franchise was a little tired, but it could have been re-energized without turning it on it’s head with a complete reboot. No choice now but to sit back and go along for the ride and try to take the good with the bad.

  3. Jeff says:

    Say what you want. Star Trek and it’s subsequent series was the fulfilling of a vision. Not just Gene Roddenberry’s but the many, many people who had a hand in making it happen. Trek dealt with social issues and crossed boundries that no other show or shows had ever crossed before. The new Star Trek is for the youth of today and tomorrow. The one’s with virtually no attention span. Where movies need to be thrown up on a 60 ft IMAX screen with explosions and chases and heart pounding excitement virtually every second. Plot, story, characters… not necessary in the green screen world of modern Science Fiction. This is why movies like the new Trek and the last 3 Star Wars movies, Transformers etc…. all make billions at the box office. Star Trek… that was a show our daddy’s or grandparents watched. I won’t spend a penny of my money on the new Trek movie, having wasted $11 on the first one. Make as many as you want J.J…. Star Trek is what I watch on DVD.

  4. YAY!! Levar!!!! I am a big Trek fan. I have the StarFleet Poodles. I have no intention of going to see this latest reboot in the theater, not worth the money. I will just get the DVD. There is to much of a gap between the movies now. We need a new series on TV.

  5. Xzaviére says:

    Sorry but the only person/thing that can claim they legitimately “saved” Star Trek is Lucille Ball.

  6. It’s “Trekkers”

  7. I’d like to thank J.J. Azzh0le for taking everything created before his “movie” and pissin all over it. I’m sure he could have relaunched the franchise without using Gene’s legacy as butt wipe.

  8. TRoane1 says:

    LaForge= one of the worst characters in franchise history. Burton couldn’t act his way out of a box. Abrams has put out a very decent rehash of the universe and I for one am interested in where it goes from here. I would so go see a STNG movie or even one from the other parts of the franchise so I’m not overly biased against any certain installation. Burton can go away already.

    • Sleeper99999 says:

      Sad that you’re openly interested in something you call a “rehash.” That’s not a complimentary term, y’know.

  9. Mr.Shvonk says:

    LeVar Burton is not the only on insulted by J.J. Abrams’ version of Star Trek. Anyone knowing Star Trek cannon would be insulted, and I don’t just mean the alternate timeline, although that seems to be the excuse for serious screw ups. For example, in all of the star charts I have looked at to check Vulcan is on the other side of the federation from Delta Vega, and really to be able to see it with your naked eyes is ridiculous even if Vulcan was a moon of Delta Vega, or viceversa, they would have both been destroyed, the whole solar system destroyed, not just one planet. Abrams has no respect for Star Trek, he made an action movie that wiped it’s ass with Star Trek. Anyone want to compile a list of errors. What is Spock doing in a snow cave when there’s a Federation base 24 kilometers North, as he says himself, or wait was that 14 kilometers as Kirk says. oops. “A simple mining vessel” 20 times bigger than the Enterprise?? Bullshit is right.

  10. Mr.Shvonk says:

    Here is one if you’re looking for a list of Abrams’ Star Trek mistakes.


    • Neville Ross says:

      Nobody gives a shit except people like you trapped in the past-stop complaining about canon and deal.

      • Mr.Shvonk says:

        Fail on accuracy, that doofus you are defending doesn’t know the difference between Star Trek and his own ass. Plus your are very BLIND, you can say you speak for “Nobody.” He wiped he ass with Star Trek while making an action movie, and he’s pull the same crap with Star Wars.

  11. I’m an old Star trek fan from TOS to TNG and DS9 (Voyager was crap and you all know it) but I loved the new movie because it was fresh and different from the originals Who wants the same old thing?

  12. I was a fan of the original series, having seen it as it originally aired. Not all the episodes were perfect, but any means, but they were far beyond what you usually saw in the way of science fiction.

    I was dubious when ST:TNG was first announced, but willing to give it a try. I loved it as well. I also came to love the later series, at least until Enterprise. Good actors aside, I just couldn’t get into it.

    The movies, with the exception of the first, were acceptable. The Wrath of Khan was brilliant, but after all it did have Ricardo Montalban.

    As to Abrams’ reboot? I freakin’ loved it. He wasn’t a fan of the original series and, frankly, I think that helped. It is a reboot, just as BBC’s Sherlock is a reboot of Sherlock Holmes. They are two different critters, but it doesn’t mean that fans of one can’t enjoy the other.

    Of course, I never got the alleged Star Trek vs. Star Wars rivalry. Adored them both, as any good scifi fan with a love for old style space adventure movies should.

  13. TNG, was the best of what the star trek canon did. I always had a problem with it because everyone got along, everyone was smarter than the average guest star and we all knew that no one would die that was a major character. I have met Mr Burton, found him to be a very no nonsense, straight forward person as would anyone that has achieved what he has. He has an educated opinion being that he has been in front of and behind the camera having been around that product for many years.
    Did STNG revive the industry? which industry? sci-fi? no. star trek? nope, the movies had already making money and remember movies like Road Warrior, Blade Runner and others were also running around (remember TOS had four movies out before TNG came out in SYNDICATED TV). I could see it making syndicated TV stronger by such a great brand being available and leading to interest in shows being made like Highlander, Zena and Hercules.
    All the Treks have their strong points and their weak points. While i am a huge fan of DS9, the tail end of season 3, the show kind of was looking for something to boost the ratings. Worf came on board and ratings went up. Was sort of on the fence with Voyager but grew to love it. And i think that Enterprise, saddled with that god awful theme song (IMHO) and the sell of Paramount to CBS with demise of UPN, was a show that never saw it’s full potential.
    As for Mr Burton and his comments, he is entitled to them and he has earned the right to make them just like Shatner and I really think people need to get over it.

    • Al says:

      Good points. Except… how was TNG the best?

      • Troy Carrington says:

        It was the best in the way of what the characters could do. None of the main or secondary characters were not grey hats (with the exception of Data (Descent parts one and two) and Riker (Phoenix) where they were conflicted for whatever reason. They showed humanity as in the best possible light, the best of the best as opposed to DS9 which had conflicts every week of conscience, Voyager, which was trying to survive it’s journey back to the Alpha quadrant by any means necessary and Enterprise which Archer was first starting to discover why it was important to stay out of internal development of societies.
        STNG was the entry to get a new audience excited about a reboot of a television series so it was cut in the vein of the old series. Show started, conflict arises, wisdom of humanity or other races solved the problem, show ended with everyone smiling (for the most part).

  14. David Wilson says:

    If Abrams really made such an egocentric statement (I’m not saying he did, mind you) then LeVar was 110% right to call him out for it.

  15. Davy Bible says:

    I agree with LeVar and alot of the comments on here. It’s good to know that there’s others that feel the same. Perhaps the 2009 film just needed time to establish everything and maybe the next film Star Trek Into Darkness will have more soul to it and feel all around more Star Trek.

    • Al says:

      I don’t really agree with Burton, but the rest of your comment makes good sense, well-reasoned. It’s sort of like what goes on with the James Bond franchise when they change actors. Often it takes a movie or so to warm up and hit the stride. The old episodes, movies, etc. have had many many years to live in our minds and build in fondness, etc. Will be interesting to see how the new ones age. I think I like STII and VI more and more as the years pass. I enjoyed TNG era stuff when it first aired (except the movies… unless you count the exception First Contact), but over the years that stuff gets harder and harder to watch.

  16. Valkery Draconis says:

    it could have something to do with the fact that Abrahms is destroying story lines that we grew up with

    • Al says:

      He’s retelling them not destroying them… As to whether he’s duccessfully doing so, that’s another discussion.

  17. milspecsin says:

    I could bore you with a massive point by point dissertation on why JJ should be removed from trek, but I am going to point out one thing. At the end of Star Trek, Scotty was ordered to eject the core.

    9 pods flew out the dorsal section on the secondary hull…

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ????!!?!?!

    Core is a singular reference.

    Everyone knows that the core of a starship is at least 3 decks high, and gets ejected out of the ventral section of the hull.

    But then again engineering was a Budweiser brewery in this film… Guess everyone was drunk from the free beer.

    • Al says:

      I’m on an old skool TOS fan…. and I don’t get the canon and continuity arguments. I mean, Trek (particularly TOS) was rarely if ever consistently consistent. Details, terminology, backstories, etc. change from episode to episode.
      Engineering looks like a brewery… sort of I guess. But y’know, on TOS the ship looked like a studio set, the aliens looked like they were wearing makeup and masks, etc. None of that bothers me.

  18. Paul Emerson says:

    I think this is something that’s going to blow over. If, indeed, Abrams made those comments, and I can’t imagine he actually would, though he is still young, then he should retract them, and keep in mind the truth that all of the rest of us Trek fans came first, we’ve literally put Billions into the original time-line, and it was really hard to accept the change to the time-line, though accept it many have.

    • Al says:

      As I understand it, he never said the things Burton attributes to him… at least not in the way he takes them. I think Abrams was voicing the hope that his version (or continuation) will be remembered favorably by fans and non-fans. Also… sadly (as with the Star Wars prequels), there will be kids growing up with this version instead of the original simply because they weren’t born earlier.

  19. SoothSayer says:

    I fear for Star Wars VII, considering JJ Abrams essentially wiped out all Trek history with his first foray into the Trek universe.

    Vulcan was always shown as an ancient place with equally ancient ritual sites, not forgetting TNG episodes like Gambit Pt2, which essentially necessitate that Vulcan still exist. Now, thanks to Abrams, Vulcan was destroyed before Kirk even became Captain of the Enterprise. I also found the destruction of Romulus in such a hokey way cheap; a poor ending for such a mainstay adversary.

    Sure the films are fun, but they lack a lot of what made Trek great. The obvious nods to TOS characterisations (e.g. McCoy’s “I’m a doctor, not a ….”) felt tacky and shallow, but then all the characters feel shallow; the only character that feels it has any real depth is the old Spock.

    • Al says:

      From what I’ve heard, Abrams is Star Wars freak, so maybe he’ll be more gentle with that franchise. Also, he’s not starting it over, he’s continuing it. Otherwise, the Abrams’ Treks seem pretty true to TOS to me. (I’m an old skool TOS fan who finds TNG era stuff to be…. okay.) Much of the same criticisms lodged at the Abrams movies could be said of TOS. I rewatched/studied lots of TOS episodes and movies before STID… because I’m an obsessive geek. And I noticed more similarities than differences. Most differences are more cosmetic. Not all of course. But I have a feeling, the foiks behind TOS would’ve gone for some of the same big action scenes if they’d had the cinematic technology back in the day.
      I wasn’t so sure about the destruction of Vulcan or Spock’s relationship with Uhura at first (the latter is starting to get on my nerves in STID as it so happens), but the former pushes the reboot into exploring different angles on familiar stories or storylines and not just recreating TOS. For instance, Spock’s “emotional” development may sooner than it did in the original.
      Hopefully STID was just a sophomore slump. Still, one thing’s for sure, it’s better than and feels more like classic Trek than any of the TNG movies… except First Contact.

  20. John says:

    Well, it would be better if Burton had heard those comments more directly than a “somebody said Abrams said this or that” kind of thing. I haven’t heard anything like that from what I read. But, people say things behind the scenes than you might not hear otherwise.

    To me, “Trek” was at its best and most original at the beginning. But, that’s true of any series. I think what’s happened with the past two movies is that they’ve fallen into the non-stop action mode, the sequel more so that the 2009 movie.

    In some ways, it could just be that “Trek” works better as a TV series than as movies. I think we’re all hoping that things get better with the next movie!

  21. Troy James Martin says:

    All the best character moments in STID were jarringly interrupted by the onset of the next blaring, blazing action sequence and were never allowed to settle and make an impression. Gene Roddenberry’s sunny pseudo-socialist utopianism aside, Star Trek’s strengths lay in the characters. If they are constantly overshadowed by action set pieces, then there is no longer a “Star Trek” as we know it.

    What would ST II: TWOK have been like had we not had the McCoy/Spock argument (“they say the world was created in six days. Here comes Genesis—we can do it for you in six minutes!”), or McCoy’s lecture to Kirk in the beginning about birthdays (“This is not about age, and you know it.”), or Khan’s sinister interrogation of Chekov and Terrell (“I never forget a face, Mr… Chekov. Why are you here?”), or Kirk’s ruminations about age, love and loss to Carol Marcus (“How do you feel?” “I feel young.”)? The answer? We would have Star Trek Into Darkness.

    Abrams’ first Star Trek was better in that respect, and he actually let the characters breathe a little. We were more tolerant of him meddling in the Star Trek universe as a result. Regrettably, Into Darkness did not continue that trend.

    The series (especially the original series, TNG and DS9, which were the best iterations) itself had little room for action set pieces—it was almost all drama, and done well. If J.J. wants to make good movies, let alone good Star Trek or Star Wars movies, he needs to learn that little tidbit. The best character moments lay not in action, but in drama.

    It’s a shame Into Darkness made so much money. It means that, unfortunately, there will be more where that came from.

    • Al says:

      If you think TNG and DS9 were the best Trek interations, that could explain part of why you might not care for the Abrams movies. (I’m kind of surprised you like TOS.) In TOS series and movies, the characters disagreed with each other, actually had conflicts. In TNG era, it was a bit too touchy feely and PC for me… with some few exceptions. Roddenberry’s edict of no internal conflict (which he didn’t seem to apply to TOS) hampered those shows in my opinion. One thing Abrams and company have reintroduced to Trek is the possibility of internal conflict between regular characters. STID could’ve been better of course, but I enjoyed it. I would’ve prefered more of the classic TOS type character interplay used in the first reboot. But like James Bond, Batman, and other franchises, Trek tends to adapt to the times… for better or worse.

  22. HateJJ4ever says:

    The ONLY thing good about J.J is that he is alot older than me so HOPEFULLY!! *Fingers croosed!* i live to see this fucker die in my life time! And I will set up the greatets party this side of the quadrant!

    (My god how i hate what you have done J.J.. And i REALLY hope that you know how much people hates you! YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO REWRITE HISTORY YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!!!)

  23. hall442 says:

    His films suck. Period. Not only are they not good Trek,,they’re simply sh*tty Sci fi.

  24. Dusty Ayres says:

    You responded to me, I responded to you. Don’t like what I have to say? Don’t respond to me, then.