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'STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE' Star thinks the show is near the end of the line



Published: Fri, January 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Economics, not creativity, proves the key element.

By DAVE MASON

SCRIPPS HOWARD

"Star Trek: Enterprise" star John Billingsley says he expects the series won't be renewed, even if the cast doesn't get official word until May.

"I have a fairly pragmatic attitude," he said. "I look at the economics."

Billingsley, who plays the alien Dr. Phlox, said he's "betting on the black" because of the low ratings plus the fact Paramount will have the 100 episodes needed for syndication.

Filming wraps in March, and the story lines should show some indication of whether "Enterprise" will return, Billingsley said. A season cliffhanger, if one's written, would give some hope.

Moving "Enterprise" to Friday nights boosted UPN's ratings for that day, but viewership fell for the series. Paramount Pictures already had agreed to budget cuts to convince sister network UPN (and CBS chairman Leslie Moonves, who oversees UPN) to renew the show for the 2004-05 season.

CBS and UPN haven't announced whether "Enterprise" will be renewed.

Billingsley doesn't expect viewership to suddenly rise.

"My feeling is that after all these years, the people who are not watching 'Star Trek' won't start watching," he said.

Better stories

"Star Trek" fans have praised "Enterprise" for doing a better job this season of connecting the stories with the original series. But Billingsley said he doesn't think that approach would have built a larger viewership over the years.

"You know, I'm not sure it would have done much better," he said.

"Yes, the plots are more complex and more action-packed," Billingsley said. But "Trek" needs to appeal to non-fans to boost ratings, he said.

Billingsley said he thinks that if "Enterprise" is canceled, Paramount would be wise to wait awhile and produce movies, as opposed to another TV series.

"We're not going to be the movie franchise," Billingsley said about "Enterprise."

Executive producer Rick Berman has said he has hoped to set the next "Star Trek" film sometime between "Enterprise" and the time of Capt. Kirk.




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