Star Trek, as a franchise, is definitely dialing things up of late with something like a resurgence in recent years around projects and initiatives. It’s been a great time for legacy fans of the franchise and also for new folks getting on board as well. But it hasn’t all been great shakes for those involved in the new programs. Recently, Star Trek: Picard showrunner Michael Chabon issued an apology for some of his actions when working with another power player in Hollywood circles. On his Medium account, Chabon wrote a lengthy mea culpa titled “Apology of a Rudin Apologist” that went into detail about his enabling of producer Scott Rudin’s abusive behavior to others in the industry.
Michael Chabon is known for writing one of the great novels of the last couple of decades, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay but more recently he’s been working as the head writer and showrunner on Star Trek: Picard. In his post on Medium, Chabon details his time working with producer Rudin in a number of different capacities and how the former witnessed all manners of unprofessional and abusive behavior. In his post, Chabon laments not stepping in and saying something at the time. It’s apparent Chabon was aware of the power Rudin wielded in the Hollywood industry and admits he didn’t have the fortitude to say something about the behavior he knew was wrong.
The two had worked together over a number of years and Rudin had optioned Chabon’s novel Telegraph Avenue at one point. They have a working relationship that allowed Chabon to see Rudin’s behavior toward others, especially underlings that were well beyond the scope of healthy or normal. In fact, some of it is downright grimy and worse. Now, all of this is well before Chabon had started working in the Star Trek universe, but it is disturbing nonetheless. In one passage, Chabon had this to say about witnessing Rudin’s issues:
…from the new kid doing the coffee run to the guy just under Scott on the SRP organizational chart, with what I would call a careful, even surgical contempt, like a torturer trained to cause injuries that leave no visible marks. And I saw him throw a pencil, once, at an assistant as the young man fled Scott’s office and Scott’s shouting. The pencil struck the back of the assistant’s head, eraser end first, and fell to the carpet. A minute later, Scott called me into his office, and we started talking, as if nothing untoward had happened…
The essay goes on to detail, even more, abuse handed out by Rudin that Chabon witnessed. It comes in light of a number of allegations against the famed producer when the Hollywood Reporter tan a piece detailing allegations against the guy. Chabon is just one of many to ring in on the issue. It doesn’t appear that this latest admission though will in any way affect Star Trek: Picard moving forward because, as mentioned, Chabon and Rudin no longer seem to have a professional relationship.
The latter is good news for Star Trek: Picard which will soon be entering its second season. The program, which Chabon now heads up, is still dealing with the transformation of the main character and has a number of cool surprises in store for its ongoing story. One, of course, is the addition of John de Lancie to the cast who will reprise his role as Q from The Next Generation. Picard and Q are set to reunite in what will be a story about time which the titular Captain refers to as the last true frontier.
It’s unfortunate that Hollywood is stealing with these workplace issues among its powerbrokers, though it’s a positive sign that more and more big names like Star Trek’s Chabon are speaking up about it and lamenting their past behavior which they effectively condoned.