Kurtzman Talks About His Respect For Trek’s Past – ‘Star Trek’ Not a BSG-style Reboot

In the last week we have heard a lot from Star Trek co-writer Roberto Orci, but now in a new audio interview at Voices From Krypton we hear from Orci’s other half Alex Kurtzman. Kurtzman noted that over the years many writers have contributed to the character of Trek but that the show was "very much Roddenberry’s and it always has maintained a optimistic and hopeful universe about exploration and ultimately also about friendship and family." He spoke about how much he and Roberto have been influenced by the many people involved in Trek’s past…

It is an honor to be part of it now and to inherit that mantle, but I feel like we couldn’t have really been doing that without the instruction that everyone else has given us and the road map that has been laid out for us.

Not a BSG style reboot
Kurtzman specifically said that the new Star Trek would not involve radical changes like the new Battlestar Galactica and pointed out that the 40 year history provided ‘a sort of guard rail’ for what they could and could not do. In addition he noted that due to the mix of fandom withing the film makers there were checks and balances to help the film with both fans and a general audience. Apparently producer Damon Lindelof and co-writer Roberto Orci represent the more ‘rabid fan’ wing ensuring that things will work for the Trek fans who he described as "intelligent and incredibly passionate about what they feel is true to Star Trek."

[Tony says: After everything said by the writers in the last weeks, hopefully those who are fretting about about canon and reboots should have their fears put to rest.]

Alex [HEARTS] TOS
Kurtzman is known to be more of a fan of TOS, and talked in detail about how he views the show…

The thing that strikes you when you watch it [TOS] is how unbelievably sophisticated those shows were for the time. They didn’t pander to anybody and in a way you had to catch up with a lot of the technology that was happening at the time. It also managed to entertain and also managed to have this very relevant social parable behind the whole thing. There is real substance there. It is making a comment on basic human relations and politics and everything that you could want or think or feel and that is what makes a Trek. That is what makes it unique, I think that shows that can do that are a miracle. You look for things like that for inspiration. You certainly couldn’t imagine doing Trek without taking that into account. 

There is much more in the interview and I suggest you listen to it to get to know this half of Trek’s new writing team. It is available in 4 parts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

 

More Orci
If you haven’t had enough from co-writer Roberto Orci, then there is another interview with him at Dark Horizons. Here is the best quote about the new Star Trek film.

If you’re a fan, you’re going to see one kind of movie and if you have never seen it, you’re going to be introduced to it in a different kind of a way. That’s the goal.

photo courtesy of Horshu, LLC

newest oldest
Notify me of
Sleeper Agent X

More reassuring news… See, I don’t think we need to be giving these guys advice. They’re already being guided from the people who came before them.

Could it all just be lip service? Seems like Hollywood is getting better at spinning things these days than they were just a few years ago. But if it is lip service, they’re very, very good at it. I think it’s more likely they’re being honest about their love for the franchise.

John Gill

1. Sleeper Agent X – June 25, 2007

I want to believe. Please let want is said in this post be real.

We can have a film that purists, fans and a new audience will enjoy. But don’t sell us out for shadows. That is all I ask.

John Gill

Sorry, it should read… “Please let what is said in this post be real.”

Stanky McFibberich

They can say whatever they want. What ends up on the screen remains to be seen. I will remain skeptical.

Sleeper Agent X

Re: 2

Well, we’ll see how things turn out next year, John. A lot of what gets put on screen is going to depend on JJ’s and the studio’s input, of course. But I feel that the script, at least, got things off to a good start.

Sleeper Agent X

Or I should say I feel hopeful that the script got things off to a good start.

Cygnus-X1

I’m gladdened to learn that they have a contingent of fans involved in the writing and filmmaking processes. This should greatly limit the cheese probability factor, or CPF.

Cygnus-X1

Good interview with Kurtzman. It’s indicative of a good value system, and suggests that the writers of “Trek ’08” recognise what Trek-at-its-best, looks and feels like.

stallion

I’m sure the movie will be good. Even if it is not the best Trek movie ever made I’m sure they can at least make a decent movie.

stallion

I hope this time around with the Trek franchise the people who owns the right to it don’t interfere with it like UPN did with Star Trek in its later year. The Writers were obvious having trouble with Voyager and having UPN demanding the show to be more action pack, sexy, standalone adventure show, and so on wasn’t helping. Sure B&B caved into the network demands (Bounty, T’pol catsuit, Night in sickbay) but they did a pretty good job on keeping the quality (Cogenitor, Shuttlepod One, Andorian Incident, and etc) in Trek toward the end.

THEETrekMaster

Well, this is not to slam the new guys (I hope they truly follow what they are saying they are going to do) — but Logan said the same kinds of things in interviews prior to Nemesis coming out. At the time, I thought “OK, he’s a fan — like me — there’s no way this can get screwed up” — and then look how Nemesis turned out.

So, yeah…I’m skeptical…but hoping for the best…

“They can say whatever they want. What ends up on the screen remains to be seen. I will remain skeptical.”

Stanky, as do I.

Alex Rosenzweig

11. Logan’s script was a lot more Trek-savvy and a lot smarter than the way it all ended up on-screen, to be sure (even with the hokey cloning premise). One big difference from the new film, though, was that the director of “Nemesis” barely knew what Trek was and the producer, even then, was–even with the best of intentions–just plain burning out.

This time, the producers, the director, everybody are both fresh to the production side of the franchise and big fans of Trek. The last time we saw that situation, we had some really kick-ass storytelling, so I’m at least hopeful that the real respect and affection for Trek that the team has put out there will be a good influence on the film.

Best,
Alex

#11 – THEETrekMaster

They did get a director who called “Laverne Burton” an ALIEN when directing him. How little can you know about the movie your directing when you call a blind and black dude an ALIEN?! I seriously doubt that they could find someone that stupid again. As Jonathan Frakes said “There was a perfectly good director available!”

http://www.trektoday.com/news/270905_01.shtml
-TGP-

Lukas

WTF didn’t they just let Frakes direct Nem for, if he had maybe he could’ve saved TNG :'(

Xai

“So with the fear dispelled from the kingdom, the good people could return to a simpler way of life knowing that their love and joy wasn’t being raped in some back alley next to BSG and the effigy of Berman.”

X

THEETrekMaster

13-15

All great points…

You’re right Alex…this film certainly does have a lot more going in its favor…

TTM

Cervantes

…”the 40 year history provided a ‘sort of guard rail’ for what they could or could not do.” …

But will that be a RED guard rail or not?… ;)

Crusade2267

14:

Also, on the commentary track of the Nemesis DVD, in the scene where B-4 is holding Spot in Data’s Quarters, Baird said somethig like “I don’t know why we had to have a cat… something to do with the TV show I guess.” How can you direct a movie in a franchise without becoming at least a little familiar with whats come before? Even if he’d never seen the show, if he at least did his homework and saw Generations, First Contact, and Insurrection, he would have known Data had a cat.

I don’t think the quality of Nemesis is John Logan’s fault… the story was decent. They should have gone with Frakes for director again.

Fanboy

The whole premise of Nemesis was ridiculous and terribly executed. That’s what happens when you get the stars to help develop the script and they just want to showcase their character and their “talent.” I think Patrick Stewart is an great performer and awesome Captain of the Big-E, but he is no scriptwriter. Nemesis was his “Final Frontier”.

Stuart Baird was obviously a stooge and a total buffoon, but the story was ridiculous and did not further Star Trek in any way. It was a story that did not need to be told (or even imagined).

It sounds like JJ and his crew are trying to craft a story that builds on the foundation of classic Trek (both the history and spirit of adventure) and I like where their heads are at so far. So I’m quite optimistically looking forward to see what they accomplish.

Demode

Stuart Baird is a great editor. Just look at Casino Royale for proof. What they should have done was hired Frakes as director, and Baird as editor. Then you would have had a good film.

Sadly, editors often don’t make good directors.

Kyle Nin

“After everything said by the writers in the last weeks, hopefully those who are fretting about about canon and reboots should have their fears put to rest.”

My fears are officially put to rest. It’s obvious now that the writers revere Trek canon enough that they wouldn’t want to destroy it.

Captain Pike

I didn’t think Casino Royale was that great. It seemed to have big problems with it’s pacing. I would hang that on the director. But I think there is enough wrong with Nemesis to tar the writers, directors, producers and the studio. Releasing it at the same time as LotR? What were they thinking….

Anyway, I’m not going to invest emotionally in this film until I know alot more about it. At the same time I don’t know how much I want to know before I see it. It’s a quandary. What would Mr. Spock do?

Crusade2267

I’m looking at this one hopefully, but I reserve judgement until I’ve seen it. I don’t want to be dissapointed by hype again.

That said, the hype of really getting back to Trek’s roots, not just pretending to, makes me happy.

Craig P

My only worry is that they are going to take the “Wagon Train to the Stars” spirit of TOS and attempt to TNGize it. Let’s face it, Roddenbery did a major transformation between TOS and TNG in which he took seriously (for better or for worse) his role as a future “prophet” of a utopian world for TNG which was utterly boring and was never as fun as TOS. During TOS it was Roddenbery the former military pilot, police officer, western writer trying to write fun action packed stories and get away with the open mouthed kiss. If they try to write as Roddenbery the ex-cop, they will do fine. Try to write as Roddenbery the futurist and it’s over as they will have another bland TNG movie. In TOS the Captain was a “soldier, not a diplomat”, the Enterprise was a “heavy crusier”, defending the free planets from the evil Soviet – *cough* Klingon Empire, the ship had a chapel, people drank Romulan ale, free marketters sold tribbles for credits, the Federation HAD to have the dilithym crystals, hell, Kirk essentially defended the Vietnam War, defended the US constitution, it was logical to destroy the Romulan Bird of Prey before they crossed the neutral zone or it was war, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, etc. Could you see any of that on TNG?!?!? No, and rightly so it was a different Roddenbery at a different time. If you want a TNG movie, write a TNG movie. That being said if they want to recapture the action and adventure of TOS – then they had better write a TOS movie and keep that in mind! In that respect Master and Command and Galaxy Quest had more in common with TOS than any TNG movie… Read more »

Sleeper Agent X

Re: 25

Bleh. This movie’s going to be released by Paramount, not Fox. I seriously doubt the movie will have as many pro-Republican elements as you wish.

John Gill

26. Sleeper Agent X – June 26, 2007

Let’s leave the political CRAP out of it please. What democrats and repubicans (note the lower case) are I would not eat.

It is one thing for TREK to take on Social issues, it is another to resort to political agendism.

Craig P

Whoa, whoa, I’m NOT saying it should be poltical. If anything I am saying they should totally stay away from it and stick to the basics : a young brash Captain Kirk that gets the job done, a logical Spock, a Federation unsure of itself, i.e. WAGON TRAIN TO THE STARS. Not TNG repeat.

Master and Commander for instance surely was not political and yet it was FUN and matched the TOS spirit, agreed?!? Same goes for Galaxy Quest, was that really “pro-Republican?”

Who wants to see Captain Kirk try to act like Captain Picard?!? If they go that route, they should not be surprised when the movie ends up performing like a TNG movie even though they stuck a “Captain Kirk” label on their star character.

Sleeper Agent X

Re 28: Well, if you want to see a movie about people doing bold and brave things, that’s fine. But all that stuff you mentioned about free marketeering and being pro-VIetnam War and for preemptive wars and a Federation based on the elimination of the estate tax (okay, I’m kidding about that last one) sure sounded kinda political.

Re 27: Yeah, I don’t want to see a heavily political movie either. No guest spots by Rush Limbaugh–or Michael Moore!

Craig P

Well I am with you, I just brought those up (i.e. Vietnam war support) just to highlight the contrast between “TOS Roddenbery” and “TNG Roddenbery” – not that I wanted to see them front and centre in a new movie.

After Enterprise TNGized the pre-TOS time period I fear sitting in a movie theatre, having a D-7 battle crusier open fire on the Enterprise and watching Captain Kirk order the ship to withdrawl that they can let things cool down and commence negotations and give him time to meet with the ships councillor to sort out his personal feelings on the matter…

CW

At this point, I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude. Maybe Trek needs a BSG re-boot. Who knows? But I will say this: the idea that Orci is the rabid fanboy of trek means nothing. After all, he’s also a rabid fanboi of Transformers.

Ozy

Star trek reboot. I’am not interest in watching that.

Michael Hall

Craig P–

Are you insisting, then, that Roddenberry , um, “devolved” from a politically conservative stance to a more liberal one in his post-TOS career? You’re welcome to make that argument if you think you can–but it flies in the face of everything ever written about the man (or that he wrote or said about his own opinions), and for every example you cited to establish the show’s political leanings, I guarantee I can point out several to the contrary.

(And yes, I agree that TNG’s utopianism made for some pretty bland adventures in the early seasons, until producers were hired who could make the show work dramatically within the pretty narrow confines Roddenberry had set. I think, though, that this had more to due with Gene’s advanced age and his own burnout on the franchise–to which no Trek producers have proven immune, including Gene Coon and Ron Moore–than anything political.)

Lord Garth Formerly of Izar

Lord Garth Excited Meter rising!!!

1. Being forced to watch the View, Nemisis or Insurrection at gunpoint
2. Being forced to watch an episode of Voyager at gunpoint
3. Just won $10.00 at the craps table after losing $800.00 on Blackjack
4. Watching The Alternative Factor on a rainy day
5. Most of Season 5 episodes of Babylon 5 involving the new age hippie telepaths
6. Star Trek re-mastered Pre better effects- original CGI model
7. Last months level of tangible rumor mongering on the new film
8. * This weeks flurry of seemingly real tangible news about the film!!!!
9. Watching Trek Remastered with upgraded effects (Tribbles and Space Seed)
10. Seeing TMP, TWK in the theater as a tiny Trekkie – Release of the New Film!!!!

Craig P

I personally think that it wasn’t a matter of changing political opinions as much as Roddenbery INCORPORATING political opinions in TNG as opposed to simply writing “Wagon Train to the Stars” was with TOS. As it states in the writers guide to Star Trek – his objective was simply to tell Horatio Hornblower in space period with TODAY’S MAN. The writers guide clearly states that man himself has NOT moved forward that the characters are easily recognizable to the audience. Roddenbery uses a “What would Vietnam PT crusier captain do?” example in his writing guide. Was it great in showing that humanity could succeed and triumph, etc – sure, but that was simply a SIDE SHOW to how fun it was to see the Enterprise chase the Romulan BOP, stop the Klingons or discover some new alien life form. It’s Captain Kirk versus the Gorn on some planet, is Captain Kirk going to fight back. You bet he is, even if the lesson is to show mercy at the end of it. THIS IS VASTLY DIFFERENT FROM TNG – to ignore this is to condemn us all to another episode of Enterprise. TNG was CLEARLY written with a political message in mind – that humanity had progressed. The evil capitalist Ferengi were the enemy. The Federation has no need for money, everything can be replicated. Peace is the way, no need to destroy that Romulan Bird of Prey before it crosses the border. Captain’s don’t need to single handedly beam down and defeat the evil computer. The Prime Directive is a sacred institution, not something to circumvent. The crew works together in PEFECT HARMONY. Even the UFP is drastically different, surely it is not the “arguing NATO style alliance” we saw in Journey to Bable. So…. if this was a… Read more »

Dr. Image

#25 Craig- Well said!
I’ll second that.

Kirk & Co

This will be the BEST Star Trek Movie ever….too much depends on it!

Michael Hall

Craig P.– *Sigh* Okay, let\’s get to it. Sure, obviously Kirk would stand and fight when cornered. If that\’s your point, it\’s a pretty shallow one that says very little about the character; moreover, in spite of all the stock oversimplifications and stereotyping to the contrary, so would Picard. In truth, while both captains were played by very different actors and had considerably different personas as a result, their approach to using force was pretty much the same: only reluctantly, and as a last resort. Because the only time Kirk ever employed violence with relish was in The Wrath of Khan (which is why I don\’t regard that film as an example of Roddenberry\’s Trek any more than he did, even though I hugely enjoyed it), and the only time Picard ever surrendered without a fight was in “Encounter at Farpoint”–not an auspicious beginning, to be sure, even though he was correct in assuming that an armed conflict with Q would have been hopeless). Yes, Kirk fought the Gorn tooth and claw, but apparently you didn\’t watch the episode too closely, because in the end it turned out that the Federation itself was in the wrong, however accidentally, in intruding on the Gorn\’s territory. (Since Kirk wasn\’t aware of this, the mercy he showed in sparing the Gorn captain\’s life was even more admirable.) In the original short story version of “Arena” by Frederick Brown, the alien opponents were purely evil; the wrinkle that gave the Gorn a legitimate point of view came entirely courtesy of the pen of Gene L. Coon–like Roddenberry (and Harve Bennett), a former warrior who hated war. Yes, Kirk in “Errand of Mercy” states that he is a soldier, not a diplomat–but the point was that the character actually grows by the end of the… Read more »

Leonard F. Krieger

I have to agree that they can say what they want but I will not be comfortable or have my fears be calmed until we see what makes it to the screen. Their words may be honest and genuine or their words may be lip service for the hard core fans. For myself I remain nervous and my fears have not abated.

Craig P

Michael Hall – I feel that you yourself are falling into the same trap that would condemn a TOS movie to failure if TNGized. Does Kirk “grow” during the episode. Sure he does. But HE HAS TO GROW. That’s the fun in the episode. The questions you have to ask yourself is would Captain Kirk declare himself a soldier, not a diplomat? Picard certainly WOULD NOT. Captain Kirk DID. If Kirk in this movie doesn’t….. he CLEARLY IS NOT A YOUNG KIRK. Did the overall concept of the episode have a grander purpose. Sure it did, but that does not change the fact that during the episode: * The Klingons invaded Orgainia, established a military dictatorship. Kirk was willing to oppose it by blowing up the armory, etc. I’ll leave it with this….. rightly or wrongly (as in Arena, “WRONGLY”) Kirk took the Enterprise and hunted down the Gorn ship that attacked the Federation outpost on Cestus 3 for fear that it’s escape would mean war. Spock agreed. Would Picard have done this, I THINK NOT (rightly or wrongly!). In any event, if we get a Trek movie where a Klingon ship destroys a Federation outpost and Kirk doesn’t end up going after it – CLEARLY we are not getting TOS. We aren’t getting the learning, we aren’t getting the action and at best we have an episode of TNG where Picard “the diplomat” already knows that is the wrong thing to do. Is that more enlightened? Sure it is. But it is not TOS and quite frankly, it is boring! And it certainly can’t be canon if Kirk is to not chase down the Klingon ship in this prequal but then end up hunting down a Gorn ship (and a Romulan Bird of Prey for that matter) in future… Read more »

THEETrekMaster

Right on, Craig P!!!

Well put…and I agree 200%!

Xai

#41 Craig P
I don’t know where you are getting your information. You can write as many posts on your opinion as Anthony will let you… that’s your right. But where does it say that this TOS movie will be written in a TNG style?
This fear that keeps growing in the fanbase that posts here is unwarranted, as Anthony has most recently stated in #33. We know little of the story (Icelandic location shoot) and less about casting or script.
Craig, the writers and director are fans of TOS. That’s been reported.
So has the fact that multiple interviews are stating that this is NOT a @#$% REBOOT. (Right Ozy?)

Michael Hall

Craig P–

Again, I think the whole Kirk-Cowboy/Picard-Diplomat comparison is way overdone and oversimplified. If you look past the young 60’s action-figure vs. the middle-aged quoter-of-Shakespeare to what the characters actually did, there just isn’t all that much real difference in how both characters reacted to threats. When push came to shove, both of them were reluctant warriors, just as neither one could rightly be called a pacifist.

(And sorry, but you’re wrong about Spock agreeing with Kirk about pusuing the Gorn ship. He dispassionately argued that there might have been more to the Cestus 3 massacre than met the eye, but Kirk in his anger overrode him, and he only “agreed” in the sense that he was Kirk’s subordinate and that the discussion was over. And FTR, I think Kirk was entirely justified under the circumstances for going after the Gorn the way he did.)

That said, I’m in agreement with you that a young Kirk should be portrayed as impulsive and a little hot-headed, and with a lot to learn. At the same time I don’t see a problem with the film reflecting TOS’ optimism about the human condition, so long as it reflects its fun spirit and sense of adventure as well. FWIW, I’m getting the sense that Orci and Kurtzman understand the nature of these characters (decent, but flawed) and the world they live in (far from perfect, but optimistic by our Dark Ages standards), and may just deliver a film both of us can be happy with.

Leonel

Hey, Anthony..

Think during any of the conversations with the new writers perhaps they could be asked to discuss the one or two most moving moments throughout TOS era Trek? Or, how about asking them what they consider to be the top two or three “historical events” documented in TOS years in the Star Trek: History Of The Future books? It could further establish their respect for Trek and get additional hints into the movie, no..? Would you be able to arrange anything like that?

(ps – count me among the optimistic for the movie!)

jonboc

Caig P, we reach brother! IF they try and apply the blueprint of TNG “style” storytelling for TOS characters, the movie will be destined to fail. Frankly I don’t see that happening, I think Paramount is getting as far away from the Berman formula as they can. Also Abrahms “gets it”. Being a huge TOS fan, he knows the difference between wagon train to the stars and Melrose Space. TOS and TNG are as clear a case of apples and oranges you will ever see and I really don’t think Abrahms will go anywhere near the metality of 24th century storytelling his telling of a 23rd century tale.

Trevok

I like the face these guys are real Trek fans, and I hope they bring their own unique flavor to the franchise.
LLAP

Cervantes ( crossing fingers optimistically... )

#33 Anthony

Thanks…I try…. :D

Reboot, restart, rejuvination,rehash,whatever… one of the biggest areas I am interested to know about is will it be an over REDESIGN? Taking for granted for a moment that the story and script and acting will be fine…I wonder what the “look” of this Movie will end up like. Will this “TOS era” Movie really look somewhat like the TOS series did, or will many areas be given a radical makeover? The TOS series has some excellent production design and I hope that J.J. and his production designers don’t depart TOO far from some of it’s iconic, colourful imagery. Personally, I’m NOT demanding bright red Bridge rails, ( but equally would take them if offered, and yes I know they weren’t originally red in the beginning ) for this thing to honour the original source, but hope that the imagery isn’t OVERLY changed from the TOS designs and vibrancy. If we don’t get the same colours of everything, fine, as long as we get a colourful “look”, reflecting what remains the most colourful television series in history.

cloudynow

to me the magic of TOS was its ability to amaze people with things (behaviours, technology etc) that they never dreamed of. That’s why each spinoff went one step down imho. There were nothing exciting or even surprising left when Voyager came out. So, to revitalize the franchise or to go with new series (i hope they do that too) they have to come up with something(s) big and surprising. Else, we may see a good movie but not the shockwave which the franchise needed so badly.

marko

One story I would like to see, that I think would be worthy of a motion picture, would be the origin of the Prime Directive. It’s something that “Enterprise” should have covered, but didn’t. What colossal f**k-up did the young Federation inflict on some unsuspecting society by interfering, that non-interference should then become its most important principle? That would be an epic story, grounded in Star Trek lore, that has not been told in the visual media, and would be something greater in scope than a glorified TV episode. But setting the movie in the Kirk-era is probably too late to tell this story. (I’m sure *a* story is told in one of the books out there – maybe even a Kirk-era book – but it’s unlikely the majority of movie-goers would know or care)