Orci & Kurtzman: Balancing geekery and nongeekery

Yes…even more on Orci and Kurtzman. Today the pair of Star Trek (2008) writers are profiled in the New York Times in an article titled ‘Character-Driven Films (but Keep the Kaboom).’ The piece covers their biography and discusses how they are just a couple of fanboys who made it big (interesting fact…Orci had a phone shaped like the USS Enterprise). Orci talks about what it is like balancing fandom with business:

You can never be just a fanboy in the eyes of other fanboys, because you’re also, in a way, the establishment. You’re like, ‘No, but I’m you.’ But you’re accountable for all your decisions, and inevitably you can’t please everybody.

The article also quotes Star Trek (2008) producers JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof on their Trek writing team.

Abrams on some of the mixed reviews of Orci and Kurtzman’s previous work (Island & MI3:

It’s easy to dump on anyone who helps create something that can be seen as a commodity for a company. At the same time you can tell that their movies are no less full of passion just because they’re meant to be crowd-pleasing.

Lindelof on their ability to take a franchise to a larger audience:

Alex and Bob are both geeks and nongeeks at the same time. They can have a tremendous amount of respect for the source material, but they know that a studio is bringing them in because they can make it understandable to an audience that has no comprehension of that source material whatsoever.

Specifically on Star Trek, Lindelof noted that Orci is the bigger fan of the pair, with Kurtzman mostly just a fan of TOS, but said that they are using that to their advantage.  

It’s like talking to a priest and a casual churchgoer about Catholicism. The story is being cooked up by someone who is aware of every shred of arcane Trekkery, and someone who isn’t hampered by decades of canon.

The article draws a comparison between working in the Trek and Transformers universe, and how they plan on avoiding rewriting Trek’s history.

Compared to “Transformers” “Star Trek” is a miles-long minefield of established chronology, laid down over four decades, one that Mr. Orci and Mr. Kurtzman must be careful not to tamper with or contradict. But they say that by focusing their film on the earliest adventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, they can avoid most of these perils.

Yes, the article does seem to confirm that the new Star Trek film will be about Kirk and Spock’s first adventure…but we all knew that anyway. In the past the writers have spoken about how they want to ‘fill a gap’ in Trek history. We have never seen how Kirk and Spock met or seen their first adventure(s). Of course when they had their first adventure is still an open question. 

The Transformers promotional tour is certainly getting a lot of exposure to the writers and gleaning more and more information from them. I expect more from them in the next few weeks as well. From reading all the articles and from meeting the pair I am getting more and more comfortable with them. It is clear that they respect the material and are not here to change Trek’s history, but to tell a new story to both the fans and a new audience.  


Source: New York Times






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FIRST! I personally think things are in good hands.


I like what I’m reading here. Orci and Kurtzman have embraced their inner geek–but at the same time they know they have to move beyond it, too. That’s what’s going to separate this new movie from a fan production, and possibly bring in new viewers.

Dag. Not first.

But at least I didn’t wimp out and post a comment and then add First! later after verification! That’s a wuss move, people! If you’re going to call First, put it all on the line!

Sleeper Agent X has spoken.

Very funny! Sleeper Agent X.
Well I ‘m happy with all the interviews.
Yet, I want to HEAR casting and more on the STORY!
I’m suffering from Star Trek withdrawls, and remastered is going on hiatus!?!

It’s going to be like a fan film, except with a budget, good actors, and fans who KNOW how to make a movie.

Thumbs up.

Who said there was a gap to be filled?
I’m still not sure this movie is about gap-filling… so much as miraculously pulling a very long train back to the station so more passengers can get on board.
My previous hopes for STXI remain the same: give us a good story… don’t put the whole universe in peril (just a few characters who you make important to us) and don’t use CGI any more than you must. Models is pretty! (Oh, and don’t forget the miniskirts and go-go boots.)
God speed, Capts. Orci and Kurtzman. You’re both geeks in my book and that’s a good thing.

WONDERFUL! plain english and concise… maybe we can get away from the fear mongering for awhile…
“…established chronology, laid down over four decades, one that Mr. Orci and Mr. Kurtzman must be careful not to tamper with or contradict.”

This sounds more and more like a movie for fans and the general public.

re: 7. Xai (waiting to judge Star Trek XI AFTER I see it)

I will be interested to read your judgement either way.

My personal take on this is truly personal… Since I heard about this new film, I have conjured up all sorts of scenarios as to how the film would finally look. Now I’m just interested to see if what I’ve imagined is anywhere near what these writers come up with… since we are all, supposedly, hoping for the same thing. And that’s it. Period. I’m not going to second guess them, or try to define what they are doing, or what they are thinking. I just want to see if I’m seeing it the way they see it, kinda as a game. I get more excitement out of that than wondering who will be in the film, or who the major characters will be, and so forth. Not that some of that doesn’t have some entertainment value, but, in the end, does it really matter if Joe Smith plays Kirk, or Matt Damon… as long as they deliver?

Sounds good.

7. Xai ( waiting to judge Star Trek XI AFTER I see it) – June 24, 2007

I agree may the mongering stop…for a while at least….PLEASE!

The more I read the more I like, from this we can rest assured that ALL Cannon (Inc. TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT) will be observed. I don’t like speculation, but, even to those who already don’t like the film, just think, they may be drawng their inspiration from the best of all the Trek shows, now as far as I am concerned that can only be a good thing!

Each bit of information they release only adds to my curriosity.

#9 mikeg “Now I’m just interested to see if what I’ve imagined is anywhere near what these writers come up with…”
Eloquent and to the point, I love it!! From what we’ve heard, I think we’re in GOOD hands!! Come on December 2008!!!

What if we IMAGINE that they will “blow our minds with something new and amazing”????

I must reflect, Rodenberry created a show that showed a united Earth, out in space spreading the word of freedom, sometimes fighting for it, yet the show itself is devided, and at times partakes in open “conflict” It is truly an irony, the eaquality and openess that he dreamed would come, does not exist in the fan base of his own show at times, eg: TOS against ENT, ENT against DS9 etc, I know many are not like that but there are many. I have been sick of late and have watched the show from ENT through to VOY and each are beautiful when viewed as seperate shows, and magnificent as view as whole, I appreciate each for what it is, a show and a story.

And I have no doubt this movie will be a great as any of them.

Yippee!! More positive news. #11: I agree let the mongering stop!!

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” — James Branch Cabell

Sounds really good!
Let’s hope this puts to rest the annoying “this movie will poop all over canon” rants!

It’s good to hear that they will be carefully observing canon. This will make for a deeper, richer, more meaningful film.

However, the road laid by Orci & Kurtzman will be treacherous for Abrams. The Kirk & Spock story that O&K have written will entail a re-casting of, perhaps, the most beloved and important characters of the Star Trek Universe – Kirk and Spock.

Assuming that the screenplay is good, the casting of those two roles will make or break the film. It’s all in the hands of Abrams and his casting director now.

for me it still seems like they are looking back not forward like enterprise (which shound not have happend and for the first two season i realy wished it had not) star trek is about the future and shoud keep on moving forward and one more thing that really worrys me is that they read other scripts what is that about have they no ideals themself so they rip off from others(pun not intended)

I am reassured by the coments in the article. But I will always be an “ever vigilant watchdog” here. Once I hear rumors that strike me a STOOPID…the dog will bark again.

“the earliest adventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock” And Gary Mitchell, lets not forget him.

I’d like to see Pike too, but that’s just me talking. You could do a pre-Where No Man Has Gone Before without a Pike appearance but Mitchell has to appear.

For me that’s the “Geek” test. If they don’t include Mitchell they then really don’t appreciate the TOS canon.

I just hope lots of people see it and it makes lots of money. That is more important then whether or not I like it.

The success of this movie might just save the last 40 years of Star Trek.


So this will take place before ‘Where No Man’, that means no McCoy, original original uniforms and Gary Mitchell. Interesting

“We dont know when [Kirk and Spock] had their first adventure”

Somehow that sounds so wrong! ;)

Oh, please. That’s PR, for God’s sake. That movie will no more resemble Star Trek than the first Mission Impossible typified the TV series it was based on, or “canon” either. Don’t mark what they say, watch what they do, especially JJ. Abrams after he gets ahold of that script and shooting starts. That script will probably be revised 100 times before production ends. They have no control over it. The director calls the shots, not unless Biz rules have changed since I did business there years back hawking freelance scripts, and writers are actually treated like human beings, even the highest paid ones.

Canon. What the *&%$ does 40 years of it have to do with the premise of Kirk & Spock’s “unknown first mission” together UNLESS it involves time-travel, for crying out loud, and the timeline’s altered, and history, as you know it is wiped out?


It is just possible from what little actual confirmation we have had so far, that this new Movie is a CONTINUATION of the TOS series timeline, rather than a prequel to it! Although it has been stated that the makers are going back to the TOS era, I DON’T recall it being confirmed anywhere that the story is definately set BEFORE the original series started. It has all been speculation thus far.

Above it states … “In the past the writers have spoken about how they want to “fill a gap” in Trek history.” And even the article referred to above states… “But they say that by focusing their film on the earliest adventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock…”

Now, those two things could mean that the story slots in AFTER the end of the TOS series, as some of their EARLIEST adventures, but BEFORE Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock’s LATER adventures in Star Trek:The Motion Picture and it’s subsequent sequels and series, and help them easily minimise “canon” contradictions in the process, while still allowing scope for future sequel stories if successful. IF this proves the case, then we will probably only see something SOMEWHAT resembling the TOS series “design ethic” on most fronts too… I personally so hope I’m right on this ( hey, it’s my speculation, so I’m allowed my own preferrence ) as I don’t particularly want some convoluted “Wonder Years” origins story, but rather a seasoned crew thrown into mid adventure with relish. Remember how the beginning of “Star Wars” started off in 1977?…

Just and addendum – This proposal STILL allows for a cameo of Bill and Leonard recalling earlier events, rather than some cliched “time travel” plot. I hope this will prove to be the case too and that BOTH actors appear, regardless of recent reports. I MIGHT just get me some of that ‘ol time TOS era imagery in a Movie yet…

Final addendum – Orbital, I haven’t forgotten to write my imaginary ideal Movie “intro” that you inspired me to do with your own marvellous one a while back… It’s coming soon.


Well, Kirk shouldn’t die. Spock should be a Vulcan.

Being serious, however, they could observe historical dates set before TOS, such as the first warp flight, or first contact with the Klingons, or any other historical events that have been noted on the TV series’ before. Saying there’s no real canon to adhere to is stupid, because there’s plenty.



If they go back before TOS, it’d be easier to cast different actors to play Kirk and Spock without all the fans going in an uproar than if they went forward a few days from the last episode. Unless everything is animated.

That’d be awesome.

Anyway, yeah. Seeing them younger allows more flexibility in casting. And I guess it’d be more interesting too?


# 29 Hon. David Kulessa

I hope you don’t think I meant that there is no established “canon”. I meant that by having this as a TOS era setting, that everything established after that era is still to come.

I also think that the actors at the end of the TOS episodes were still young enough to be roughly cast as the same age today. I really don’t want “teenage” Trek, but people with a little gravitas.

I think what they mean by keeping with the canon and being a prequel is not bringing in say something like a “temporal cold war” and aliens bent on wiping humanity out of existence and are never mentioned or heard from again.

It would be nice to see Kirk first take the Center seat. “The Where No Man Has gone before” design ethic is what is problematic to some. I mean, those uniforms and sets are not what most people see as TOS.

How about a Trek that takes place just prior to “The Man Trap” or “Corbomite Manuver?” Still with lots of TOS iconic setting. I could go with a bit os something after “Turnabout Intruder” as well. That would be the easiest.

Again, someone mentioned it. The “Enterprise” being the only ship in the “Quadrant” to save the UNIVERSE from some peril is already so chiche. Not all emotionally affecting events have to be “galatic in scale.” Plus, it might be nice to see some OTHER SHIPS than the Enterprise.

As I said in another post, I have not been moved by Star Trek since STII:TWOK. As I understand it, the producton staff of that film watched the entire TOS series and came up with what we know and love about that FILM. That coupled with realistic portayals of Chracters as HUMAN beings and one heck of a story rooted in what we would not call canon gave the movie gravitas.

#28 Cervantes
I am honored that you remembered and liked my introduction. I may go back and repost mine again and I really look forward to yours. Today whould be an excellent day to start filming my intro in Iowa. A clear, hot summer day, everything is green, crickets chiriping in the tall grass lining the river…
The path to the Final Frontier started here.

Regards, Orbitalic

32 — Yes, that’s the problem with all prequels to stories that have a huge chronology. If it’s new to the audience, then it makes no sense that the characters have never mentioned it.
We have to be ready to jump to a parallel Trek, one that’s along the same lines but allows for new innovations. Oh, and allows for a bigger audience.
Hopefully, Jim Kirk isn’t a traitor (a la the first M:I film) but if Kirk and Uhura want to take a sonic shower together, I’ll just have to live with that.

35. CmdrR. – June 25, 2007

No…We don’t need to see “Gay Spock,” “Scotty naked,” “suddenly militant Hispanic Kirk” or any schiess-kerl thing like that.

So much for positive…bupkes!

re: 25, Shadow,

“Canon. What the *&%$ does 40 years of it have to do with the premise of Kirk & Spock’s “unknown first mission” together UNLESS it involves time-travel, for crying out loud, and the timeline’s altered, and history, as you know it is wiped out? Well?”

Well, firstly, the Trek Universe has an established history and timeline going all the way back to the mid-21st Century (and before, if we consider first contact with the Kilngons, as depicted in “Enterprise.”)

If “Star Trek ’08” were to involve, for example, some other discoverer of warp drive, some other first contact between Vulcans and Humans, or technology that was conspicuously less advanced it should have been during the period of young Kirk and Spock, circa mid-23rd Century, these inconsistencies would annoy the likes of us, and, pull us out of the story. Instead of being caught up in the drama, we’d be thinking, “Wait, that doesn’t make sense!”

Secondly, even without direct references, the events and characters portrayed in “Star Trek ’08” should reasonably lead to those which we recognise the Trek Universe comprising. If a surprising or unexpected event or character attribute arises in “Star Trek ’08,” it will seem thoughtless, or the product of ignorance, if a good, satisfying explanation does not accompany it, or, at least, if one is not hinted at, or suggested.

For example, if Kirk were portrayed in “Star Trek ’08” as being a family man with 5 children, we’d all be thinking, “WTF?!?” And, there had better be a damned good explanation for why, in his later life, Kirk was only known to have had one child.

#25 Shadow6283
I appreciate that you are a writer or have represented writers in the past and are providing your insight to the process.
I am not a writer. But it makes sense to me and it’s my opinion that until I actually see something or have first-hand knowledge of it, I shouldn’t assume.
No announced cast, no film in the can, no released script equals assumptions. Your post looks like flames to me, and forgive me if I am wrong.



25. Shadow6283 –

Hear hear!

Trek was about good drama. Canon was irrelevant except the audience would, sometimes, remember certain plot details from week to week, so it made sense to maintain a minimum level of consistency.

That’s all. Canon is nothing. Story is everything.

>>Well, Kirk shouldn’t die. Spock should be a Vulcan.>Being serious, however, they could observe historical dates set before TOS, such as the first warp flight, or first contact with the Klingons, or any other historical events that have been noted on the TV series’ before.


… are you just agreeing with me, or what?

39. Olde Timey Fan-

Hear hear!

>>Trek was about good drama. Canon was irrelevant except the audience would, sometimes, remember certain plot details from week to week, so it made sense to maintain a minimum level of consistency.

That’s all. Canon is nothing. Story is everything.

Writing Star Trek is one of the closest things to making a “period” or historical fiction film except its set in the future.

41. Hon. David Kulessa-

…are you just agreeing with me, or what?


“That’s all. Canon is nothing. Story is everything.”

And, how compelling is the story going to be if it contradicts its own premise?

If the events of the Trek Universe didn’t matter, then, they should give the movie a different title, and the characters different names, and just tell a story that wasn’t a chapter of the Trek saga.

Imagine reading The Two Towers, and, and coming to a scene that contradicted a previous scene from The Fellowship of the Ring. How much fun would that be?

The otherworldliness of Middle Earth would go *poof*, to some degree.

Its the smartest interview they had. Its a shame after nearly 20 of these Interviews they have said the most dumbest irritating things that would put thier immediate predecessors to shame.

If they can pull out a great story and not get too fanwankie on it they might have a shot. You have to convince the critics and the audience.if you have neither your pretty much dead.

People have to me more intelligent to believe explosions and fast paced senseless action do not make a Trek movie. Or are we?

46. Anthony Pascale – June 25, 2007
the writers have said all the right things…even to satisfy the purists
so can you all just move on…or must you keep staring at the trees?

Sorry, that is a bizzare thing to say. I don’t listen to people who “tell me what I want to hear.” Satisfy me with substance, not rethoric.

The get them to address our questions directly. You said you had connections to them…or at least one of your contributors did. If we really are “off base” then why don’t they address those issues and show us. Let’s see those interviews that have been promised to you.

It is obvious that a segment of fans do not want “BattlesStar Trek” or “Mission Impossible Trek…”

I personally think it is possible to make the fans happy and gain new audiences. Yet, people here think I’m a meshuggener for asking that the fans be fed along with…well, we really don’t know who this new audience is.

Want to see a good remake…look at Peter Jackson’s King Kong. It is a damn good remake of the Original that update and remains faithful to what is King Kong…can’t really say the same for the 1979 version or its ill fated sequel “KING KONG LIVES.”

It’s Kirk and Spock! It may be Shatner and Nimoy in a guest appearance! Best of all……TREK IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


What explosions?