Star Trek: Discovery Replaces Showrunners After Issues Behind The Scenes

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(Image credit: Image courtesy of CBS All Access)
(Image credit: Image courtesy of CBS All Access)

Star Trek: Discovery brought the beloved Trek franchise back to the small screen in 2017, but it was a bumpy road to get there. The series lost its first showrunner before the first season even premiered, and the premiere was delayed time and time again for various reasons. Now, big news has broken during the hiatus between Season 1 and Season 2. Showrunners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts are out at Star Trek: Discovery after issues behind the scenes. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman will take over as showrunner.

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts took over showrunning duties on Star Trek: Discovery following Bryan Fuller's departure back in October 2016, and they were still promoting the show as recently as the end of May. All outward signs pointed toward Berg and Harberts continuing to share the top job throughout Season 2 and perhaps even beyond. Now, THR states that Berg and Harberts are out at CBS All Access due to "leadership and operational issues." The budget for the first episode of Season 2 reportedly ballooned out of what was expected, and subsequent episodes were going to have to compensate for the extra money allotted to the premiere. Money talks in showbiz, and CBS execs couldn't have been happy about costs skyrocketing in the very first episode of the second season.

Budget apparently isn't the only issue that demanded change behind the scenes at Star Trek: Discovery, and the other issues are more troubling. Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts were reportedly abusive to the writing staff at Star Trek: Discovery, and sources state that Harberts was seen leaning across a table in the writers' room to shout an expletive at a staff member. Multiple writers were allegedly uncomfortable working in the environment cultivated by Berg and Harberts, going so far as to threaten to file complaints with human resources or even resign from the series. Sources also report that the staff was threatened by Harberts, who wanted to keep problems behind-the-scenes in-house rather than involve human resources.

CBS hasn't commented on allegations against the showrunners of abuse, but CBS Television Studios producers released a statement acknowledging "some producer changes" and stating that the show "remains on course for season 2 in 2019." Alex Kurtzman is undoubtedly the ideal candidate to take over as showrunner for Discovery in the aftermath of Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts' ousting. Kurtzman is an executive producer of the series and has worked on the film franchise as well. For the second season, Kurtzman will oversee the writers' room, which should come as a relief for any writers who were uncomfortable with the prior working conditions.

Production is already underway on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, and the first five episodes of the season are reportedly nearly complete. It's expected that Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts will retain their credits on this first batch of episodes, with Alex Kurtzman probably taking over beginning with the sixth episode. That said, fans may want to control their excitement for the time being. Star Trek: Discovery won't be back on CBS All Access until 2019.

The good news is that there are plenty of great shows to watch in the meantime. Our summer TV schedule can help you plan what to watch on broadcast, cable, and premium cable. For streaming, check out our 2018 Netflix premiere guide and our 2018 Amazon Prime breakdown.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).