Next Generation Trek Without Picard?

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I guess I always did kind of wonder why Picard had a French name but an English accent. Now it can be told: they were supposed to cast a French guy, but couldn’t find one with the proper chops. Roddenberry was dead set against casting Patrick Stewart at all — thus TNG producer Robert Justman:

“We met at Gene Roddenberry’s house, Patrick pulled up in his rental car and we spent about 45 minutes together, talking. We watched Patrick drive away in his rental car to go to the airport and Gene closed the door, turned around, faced me and said, and I quote, ‘I won’t have him.’”

“He wouldn’t have him and he wouldn’t tell me why. But I know why. I knew why. I knew that he had conceived of a Frenchman. And, you know, who was masculine, virile, and had a lot of hair. And Patrick didn’t fit that at all. Patrick was not so handsome, he was distinctive, and he was quite bald. Quite bald.”

Quite. There must be a bizarro alternate universe out there where Jean Reno filled the captain’s chair.

It’s both the 20th anniversary of TNG this year and the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. The latter is being marked by a new making-of book that I’m liking a lot. Some details from it are in this wire story. There’s tales aplenty of last-minute on-set spaceship-model hacking, and some amazing early concept art, with Luke as a girl, and Han with a full beard…