Metropolitan Goes Trekkin’

Ask co-CEO John Scher how Metropolitan Talent Presents won a bidding war to promote “Star Trek: The Tour” against such rumored competition as Live Nation and AEG Live, and he’ll tell you it’s all because of the Grateful Dead.

“I think one of the reasons we might have had a little bit of a leg up – and it’s an odd reason – is that the Star Trek tour started to have a lot of similarities, in regard to the potential audience that would come to this event, to Deadheads,” Scher told Pollstar.

Scher knows his Dead, and the Deadheads, well. He spent the better part of three decades working with the band, its individual members or other offshoots of the genre on the East Coast.

“I always say, there’s lawyers and doctors and Indian chiefs, every kind of person, that came to a Grateful Dead show,” Scher explained. “The similarity here is that there are all kinds of people that are Trekkies. It’s amazing as you start to talk and read, and realize how you could market it. There’s such a huge array of people that, for one reason or another, ‘Star Trek’ has become a really integral part of their life.”

“Star Trek: The Tour” is expected to launch in December with plans to hit 40 cities for up to a month at a time. What separates this exhibit from countless Trekkie conventions and other memorabilia shows is that CBS has, for the first time, exclusively licensed the franchise for the 40th anniversary of the original TV series’ debut.

Scher expects a high level of participation in the tour by stars from all incarnations of the “Star Trek” franchise, including William Shatner, James Darren and Whoopi Goldberg.

Some of these performers have reportedly approached exhibit producer SEE Touring Productions asking how they could get involved with the tour. And Scher is considering adding some elements to the tour, including possible concert performances and private events, that could take place after the exhibits close.

Scher acknowledged that securing the winning bid for “Star Trek: The Tour” was a long, grueling process. But he remained excited about the potential of the road show and its place in the American cultural pantheon.

“If anything, after we dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s and got our numbers together, we got more enthused,” Scher said. “Sometimes there is negotiation fatigue. Certainly there has been with me. There have been projects over the years where I’ve gone way down the line and finally just walked away from.”

Sometimes promoters will negotiate too much and too long, until they question what it was they saw in the project in the first place, Scher said.

“This has been the complete opposite. Every time we’ve checked our assumptions and done the research, people get more and more excited,” he said.

There’s talk of a new movie and maybe another television show, four decades after Kirk boldly split his first infinitive.

“That’s why I can say pretty boldly that ‘Star Trek’ has really become ingrained in the very fabric of American entertainment culture and it’s very exciting to see how we can roll that out and succeed.”

– Deborah Speer