HOLLYWOOD, CA - In a surprise revelation, Star Trek Executive Producer Rick Berman announced today that Paramount would soon be launching its own line of Enterprise parodies to compete head-to-head with those published on the Five-Minute Voyager website.
Mr. Berman's statement was made during a press conference held to advertise Paramount's flagship science-fiction television series, which recently began its second season.
Asked what viewers could look forward to in the coming season, Mr. Berman indicated that Paramount would start releasing "Official 3.1-Minute Enterprise" parodies on the Startrek.com website in about a month's time. "We're all thrilled by this exciting new development," said Mr. Berman. "These textual parodies will be a fine complement to the show's traditional TV-based format in today's dynamic multimedia environment."
Speaking in uncharacteristically non-cryptic language, Mr. Berman admitted that the fan base which has developed around the 5MV website had caught Paramount off-guard. "I'm a bit reluctant to admit this," he said, "but we never imagined that there would be any significant demand for this sort of material. The fans' positive response to this what's-his-name Zeke person's parodies convinced us that there was a whole new market to be tapped in this area -- so we decided to get in on the act. Which is only fair, since he's making fun of our own show."
Few details were given about the planned parody series, though Mr. Berman did clarify why the number "3.1" was being used instead of "5" in its title. "It's very simple," he explained. "Ours is an American site; Zeke's is a Canadian one. With the exchange rate between our two currencies being what it is, it only takes a little more than three minutes ofour parody time to equal five minutes of his."
Berman added that if O3.1ME was a success this year, the concept could be expanded in subsequent seasons of Enterprise. "For instance," he said, "we might decide next year to write our three-point-one parodies first and the actual episode scripts afterwards. And in Season Four, if the three-point-oners have been well received by the fans, we might dispense with the TV episodes entirely. That would save us enormous amounts of money in production costs -- money that we could use instead to create even more spectacular textual parodies."
When asked about the writers who would be hired to work for O3.1ME, Mr. Berman said that he was not at liberty to discuss the subject, since contract talks were still in progress. He denied, however, that former Voyager actor Robert Beltran was being considered to head the writing staff.
"Robert approached us about this a while ago," Berman said, "but his idea was to personally write sarcastic parodies of all the stuff on Zeke's site rather than to satirize our Enterprise show. That didn't fit with our marketing strategy."
Sources in the entertainment industry, meanwhile, have speculated that Paramount has had to delay the start of its O3.1ME project until expert advice on parody-writing could be obtained by the studio. One television executive who declined to be identified claimed that 5MV Site Manager Kira had been offered a lucrative consultancy contract by Paramount, but this was categorically denied by Ms. Kira in an exclusive interview with this reporter. Speaking by telephone from the posh resort of Chateau-le-Fric, in the French Alps, where she has been on holiday for the past two weeks, Ms. Kira declared that the allegations were "utter nonsense." She added that further questions on the matter should be directed to her representatives, the high-profile public relations firm of Dynamic Alibis Inc., since she was "due at the spa in a couple of minutes for her next champagne-bath hydrotherapy session."
When informed of Mr. Berman's announcement, Mr. Zeke called a hasty news conference to set the record straight. "Paramount's proposed O3.1ME project is a blatant knock-off of my 5MV concept," he said, reading from a prepared statement. "This gimmick of theirs is just retaliation for the fact that we turned down their recent offer to purchase the 5MV website. They couldn't afford our asking price of 4.7 billion dollars, so now they're trying to lure away our readers." He added that 5MV would immediately counter Berman's strategy by attempting to purchase Paramount's parent company, Viacom Corporation, for the sum of 74 billion dollars. Financing for the deal would consist of a cash down-payment of $16 (Canadian) and three pizza discount coupons, plus several billion shares of 5MV stock to be transferred to Viacom's current owners at a later date.
Asked to comment on Mr. Berman's plan to eventually base Enterprise scripts on O3.1ME parodies, instead of the other way around, Mr. Zeke allowed his attorney, the recently re-hired Jeice O. Garricker, to answer on his behalf. "Only someone with a deranged mind would write things in that order," scoffed Mr. Garricker. Mr. Zeke -- who is also well-known for the stories he has written for the Voyager Virtual Season 8 and 9 project, and for his VVS8/9 parodies -- went into an uncontrolled coughing fit at this point, bringing the press conference to a premature end.
As this report goes to press, late word has just arrived that Mr. Zeke has once again dismissed Mr. Garricker for "undisclosed reasons."