Yelchin sets course for 'Trek'


J.J. Abrams is putting together his bridge crew for Paramount Pictures' 11th film in the "Star Trek" franchise. Russian-born Anton Yelchin is in negotiations to play Pavel Checkov, the Russian-born navigator of the USS Enterprise under the command of Capt. James T. Kirk.

Yelchin will join Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy, who both will play the role of Mr. Spock. Casting is under way in New York and London for Kirk, Bones, Uhura, Sulu, Scotty, the film's villain and the Federation captain. Abrams, who will helm the untitled film, is expected to sign bigger-name actors for the latter two parts.

Plot details are being kept under wraps, but the story line is believed to chronicle the early days of the Enterprise crew during their time at Starfleet Academy.

Checkov was played by Walter Koenig on the original "Star Trek" TV series, and he is a key member of the Enterprise crew.

Abrams is producing the tentpole through his Paramount-based Bad Robot shingle. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci penned the screenplay and will executive produce along with Bryan Burk and Damon Lindelof. The film is scheduled to bow on Christmas Day 2008.

Yelchin, whose recent credits include "Alpha Dog," next appears in "Charlie Bartlett" and "Finding t.A.T.u." He is repped by CAA.