Kurtzman, Orci & Lindelof Talk Abrams & Star Trek Collaboration

They have been referred to here as the current ‘Supreme Court’ of Star Trek, but the collaboration between JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Bryan Burk, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman goes far beyond the final frontier. Today’s Variety has a lengthy feature on Abrams team and how they have come together to create projects that are at the top of the Hollywood buzz list, including some insights into the process of creating the new Star Trek movie. Excerpts below.


The Abrams ‘Cabal’
In the feature "Abrams keeps it all in the fan family", Variety explores how JJ Abrams has maintained a cadre of creative talent for his various projects, noting that he is "a magnet for like-minded creatives who share his professional DNA: hard-working, prolific anti-elitists who revel in pop culture and strive to deliver highly commercial fare with flair." Variety refers to this group, which includes the Star Trek ‘Supreme Court’ as well as others as "a tightly knit creative cabal that continues to work frequently with one another."

Damon Lindelof (producer on Star Trek and show-runner for Lost) explains:

Lindelof: We’re the first generation of fanboys who are now in a position to make (films and TV shows) for each other — stuff that we’d want to watch ourselves

Writer Alex Kurtzman (collaborator with Abrams on Alias, M:I:III, Star Trek & Fringe) elaborates:

Kutzman: What’s made us all come together in a way is that we recognize each other as long-lost brothers. We were influenced by the same things growing up. I think that on some level, we are all attempting to replicate the emotions that we felt with the movies we saw as kids. We come to story from a similar place.

Kurtzman’s writing partner Roberto Orci explains how this place they come from is the belief that character is as important as f/x and plot twists:

Orci: When your audience is only thinking about the sci-fi or the fantasy part of your movie, you’re in trouble. You have to connect on an emotional level.

The Star Trek Collaboration
The article also goes into some detail on how the collaboration worked while they were making Star Trek:

Another shared trait among the group is what Abrams calls "that sick workaholic gene" and a work ethic — honed in the grind of episodic television — that thrives on collaboration. Abrams, Kurtzman, Orci, Lindelof and Burk spent many hours together hashing out the basic story for the "Star Trek" reboot — knowing what a tricky assignment they had on their hands — while Kurtzman and Orci would bring the group pages to review as they progressed on the screenplay.

The continued emphasis was to make the pic work as a buddy drama even for non-"Star Trek" aficionados.

"You try different things on," Lindelof says. "You can’t be afraid to mess up. … And we argue with each other all that time. That’s what is good about the process."

Says Orci: "The best idea wins. Collaboration wins. It’s not about individual achievement when we get together."

And the same team will be back for the second Star Trek, this time with Lindelof working even closer with Bob and Alex on the story. But we still don’t know if Abrams will continue double duty as producer and director, or if he will bring in a new director. 

The Supreme Court and their Spocks: (L-R)
Roberto Orci, Leonard Nimoy, Damon Lindelof, Zachary Quinto, J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Bryan Burk.
(w/ Stratton Leopold on far right, early unit production manager on Star Trek)

Photo: Al Ortega – ComicCon 2007

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Great stuff, thanks !!! First ???

nice group shot

Sounds like a dream job, lucky guys – lucky us!

OK, you collaborators, start squealing: who’s the villain in ST: XII? LOL

I’m expecting a Jacob/Khan/Sark/Cloverfield Abramsverse super villain teamup.

Het great article. I hope they come up with sopmething that will blow us all away. But please guys. No Khan. Please. Been there and done that. I am glad we have real fans of Trek making more Trek for us. Way to go guys and good Luck.

The nice thing about a collabrim of Star Trek creative fans as the authoring staff. Far less of a chance that they will get stuck out on a weak branch of the story line. Plus between them all new ideas can be explored for it greatness or weakness. No one or group will replace the Great Bird but it sure does not hurt to try. The best of luck to them all.

The nice thing about Star Trek is the story line does not need brute force, war or even bad guys to have a great story. It may help and drag in more confict type. But those paths are the cheap non thinking type’s stories.

But when we become thinkers and not kill first types we are light years closer to become brains like the Vulcan desire to be. May be it is the beast within a Man that tends to give us more and faster victorys with more progrss as a result.

Could that reason be why if their is an Intergalactic society out their, stories show them as being scared of us. But that frame of mind only comes from one point of view. To get the other side we need to talk to the UFO citizens. (at first I said people but those people are Earthers not aliens)

#6 Capt. Mike, you left off in the ‘Been there and done that’ the key convincing part of ‘And the shine of before is now a dull metal that can not blind a blind person.

Oldness bores and Newness shines, the shiner it is the faster money seeks to find. The Star Trek Continuum needs to have that burned on to the inside eye lids.

Continuum is an odd word with double U’s, but it can attract more as their Title.

I’m glad everyone gets along.
Continuity is important, especially at this stage.
Since you guys may be checking this thread, I’ll just repeat my request as a fan: PLEASE include something for the brain, along with the eye candy and yuk-yuk moments.


Consider that motion seconded.

@10: And thirded. :)

how about for yuk-yuk stuff, a basic training course class for the Orion slave girls, Pleaseing your master 101. How pleasing would that be. Set it up by someone like Kirk hides on a slave ship to escape klingons when he is on a spy mission. Or to have sex but no sex have it be Spock.

Given how Abrams structured the last movie, the only “continuity” that still matters is Enterprise. Which was argurably the least interesting part of the Star Trek canon.

In fact, I wouldn’t mind if they pretended the events of Enterprise didn’t happen. We don’t need to name drop the Temporal Cold War or the Xindi stuff. They added nothing to the franchise that’s worth going back to. And even if they do Khan and the augments again, we really don’t need to bring Arik Soong into it just so the fans can see Brent Spiner.

Constantly name dropping minor TNG, DS9, and VOY references into the NextGen movies was part of the reason why it felt so out of place on the big screen. Everything from the Duras sisters to Lore was added to the scripts without any explanation for non-Trekkies. It ran like a two-part episode rather than an epic film.

This time around please try to make the Enterprise exterior LOOK more realistic!

I saw the movie 3 times and the ship never registered with me for a second!

Kirk gets massive fight scene…and wins!; Kirk tears his shirt; Kirk gets laid. That’s a start to what should be in Trek 12.

#16) Smilin Bob, first you need to set up some thing to concur and be prowd of that he one, then the girl wants him because in her mind she feels that he can do that for the rest of his life. In other terms become her knight in shining armor. But Kirk has bigger plans and she is just a one nighter. That is what makes him the prise stallion of the herd.

It’s not the fits that make him the stud, thats so 60’s playboy stuff. It’s the IQ and knowing how to use it that makes him king of the hill, just look at the Kobey Ashimaru. As another cowboy like star said in the past He has to know how to hold them cards of power and when to throw them down to be used. in fewer words but the same message.

And then fists are only the last tool to be used, not the first, that is only for one dimentional frame of minders. And Star Trek is not a GI Joe cartoon, it is some thing that thoughts and actions can go both ways at the same time. In other terms think above Middle school thinking, and fists first is middle school level thinking for those that can only think one dimensionally.

Did I mention I’d love to see Kirk and Spock play chess? Have that be a motif in the movie. Do something along the lines of Corbomite Maneuver and give Clint Howard a job.

Such slackers. ;)

I hope they don’t make Kirk Mr. Perfect- he is the youngest starfleet captain and should make mistakes- maybe even a mistake that could cause the death of a major crewmember?

More development between the triumvirate of Kirk, McCoy (his conscience) and Spock (his logic) would be good too…

Have Kirk and Spocl play Chess. Thats how the Movie should Start.


Fade Up. Kirk and Spock are playing 3D chess in the crew’s lounge.

Spock: Queen to Queen’s level three. Check.

Kirk: Hmmm.

Spock: Your mind is not on the game, Captain.

Kirk: I was thinking about Rand.

Spock: As always.

Kirk: Yeah, I gotta make my move. Pawn to King’s level two. Check-mate! Oops.

Spock: I fail to understand how you check-mated me with a pawn… or how you managed to tear your shirt in the process.

Kirk: Yeah, you figure that out, Spockie, while I go visit a certain young, nubile yeoman in her quarters. Later!

Roll credits.

I seem to recall Lucas and Spielberg talked like that in the 70s…

…and then we got a second set of Star Trek movies (no extra qualifier required), a redone Star Wars where Solo doesn’t shoot first and ET with walkie-talkies.

So keep eating your Willy Wonkas or flying outside Wendy’s window or whatever you folks need to do to not TURN into the Geriatric Pack please.

#15) Harry Ballz do you remember the sales point of Star Trek: The Movie, this is not your fathers Star Trek, so they had to alter the look of Star Trek (i.e. the Enterprise). Do you remember your second car, odds are it was an old clunker but had a Hot Rod engine. And it looked ugly or like a piece of Chit (with a Mexican flavor/sound). But you loved it because you built it.

The Enterprise is no junker but flaws in it beauty were needed to change it’s perfected beauty. So the ship designers aimed at giving it freckles and zits. In time they may finish or become part of it’s future for ever. But the Enterprise is still a baby and has to grow up and learn to fine tune it’s self, or it can say the hell with hollyweed beauty and take the angle I’m me and thats what you have to love, I care less for the body puddy to cover the minor imperfections, life is not a perfect beauty so live with what you got.


I have to agree with Harry on this one. Star Trek 09’s Enterprise realism and scale never truly registered with me. I don’t care so much about the swollen nacelles, but the exterior shots, especially the super-duper ‘reveal’ in Saturn’s rings made TMP and TWOK look cutting edge.

JJ did a bit better with his Kelvin sequence, and the debris field sequence was OK, but quite derivative of Wolf 359 and the beginning of “First Contact,” but with a bigger budget.


Ah, Spockish, “you proceed from a false assumption”. I’m not criticizing the look of the ship in the movie because of any fondness for Enterprises of old. I just didn’t think this new version of our favorite starship looked believable.

With all the latest special effects, CGI, etc…..THAT’S THE BEST THEY COULD DO? The actors were great, just get somebody who can make the ship look great!

p.s. nice to see we’re on the same page (as usual), AJ!

please please please bring back the holodeck
& Janeways period dramas

I miss that shit soo bad

Do you think they have play dates, and dress up their Star Trek figurines and trade Topps movie cards?

I hear that card #32 of The Black Hole collection is a hard one to find.

Olley, you sarcastic twit! :>)

Personally, I a sucker for really great models. Just for an example the two versions of The Poseidon Adventure. Watching the few brief shots of the 70’s model in a swimming pool is still heart-wrenching (because it always comes just before one of the stars bites the big one.) The recent CGI extravaganza is flawless… and as interesting as waxed fruit.

Ditto, the Enterprise. I deeply regret that there’s no REAL model of the new one out there. I remember how crappy the E-E and all the other ships looked in Insurrection after the gorgeous introduction of the model of the E-E in First Contact.

I know CGI is here and ain’t going anywheres, fella! But, it lacks more than a physical weight. It lacks an emotional one.


Seriously, there were no “wow” moments in Star Trek ’09. The FX were stuck in the ’90s.

I was not awed by Spacedock like McCoy and Kirk were, for example. Maybe I am just spoiled by so many years of ILM. There was just no sense of scale. McCoy says “Jim! Look!” and the E just sort of appears from nowhere. We get a shuttle pass over the primary hull before it docks in the rear. And then the warp-core ejection sequence was terrible. The ship sort of lurches diagonally, farted out of the cloud, and it looks like a cut-out.

NOT Oscar material.

I wish the next Trek movie would incorparate Q.
The “Supreme Court” is Trek fandom-wise mostly focused on TOS + TNG so why not bring those together?

It doesn’t matter if the new Trek line is an alternate reality or not.
Q could like Kirk be the alternate Q or Q Prime.
I guess Q should have the ability to switch in all quantum realities as he wishes.

And I think John de Lancie would be awailable for a big Trek movie.

-Supplemation to my previous post-
Which would be one way of making another appearance of Leonard Nimoy reasonable.

Video can be viewed, for some reason, at the following link OUTSIDE OF THE USA. Just for those who wanna see it. I live in Canada and this works where as the posted video did not.


Whoops, wrong thread. lol!

Bob Orci+crew:

honestly, fellows, if you pay any heed to what we say here, please let it be about the look of the ship! The storyline and actors are in good hands with you, but the appearance of the exterior to the ship REALLY needs to be addressed! Please do whatever it takes to make it look REAL!

31 or maybe you’re just jaded. I loved all the ship shots in the new Trek movie. The Kelvin intro was fantastic. The Enterprise battle at the end was fantastic. At least this movie just didn’t reuse effects shots from other Trek movies and call it a day.

From all these interviews, I got and still get the notion these guys respect and understand Star Trek and believe in the ideas created by Roddenberry. The funny thing is that the movie looks like it was made by other people who do not understand nor respect the world of Star Trek.

I realy DONT like this movie.
there to NO continuity to star trek. it was good summer popcorn with a lot of trek like nouns.

If you continue this into the next movie. PLEASE get the tos referances right. compliants about the city, the kelvin and Spock prime not correcting the movie events and/or returning to his own time etc.

i realy DONT like this movie.
but if you continue PLEASE get the ref right.
changing geographical location of SF landmarks for the sake of conecting with the audiance is not ref the city. calling a planet near Vulcan, Delta Vega. is not a way to ref (easter egg) Star Trek for the fans. thats just not how its done. that is not what a ref is. If your going to make a trek ref in a trek movie then it HAS to be in CONTEXT.

I’d prefer the next movie to be TOS rather then what we got.


(in all caps)

Put some major plot points in the next movie in Engineering so Scott Chambliss or whoever is the Art Director on the next film has an excuse to actually build the Engineering set next time.

39. Enc

I enjoyed the movie, but I totally get what you’re saying. Even though I found it to be very entertaining, they’re asking us to overlook a lot of things that, quite frankly, are near and dear to our Trekking hearts.

At first I didn’t think it was that big a deal, but after after a bit of reflection, it kind of is. To me anyway. I can accept the alternate timeline thingy. I really can. But it wouldn’t have been so hard NOT to call that planet Delta Vega. Cadet to captain was certainly NOT the only way to get Kirk in command of the E. Building a supersize E on the ground. In Iowa. It just doesn’t feel right. There are a number of other things that just aren’t sitting right with me anymore.

All of the above are my impressions alone. I totally understand that it’s a whole new ballgame and I’ll definitely be in the theaters to watch (and most probably enjoy) any new productions. But man, it just feels…unsettling. Maybe it’ll pass.


I rather see Kirk own Spock in Texas Limit NL Holdem, where Kirk bluffs the @#$! out of Spock and Spock stating that is a illogical move and folds. Kirk shows the bluff, showcasing Risk > Logic.

Kirk smiling and saying, “sometimes you gotta risk it and go for it.”

Chess is so 60’s, go with Poker!

Sorta like Phil Ivey Vs. Chris Ferguson.

In regard to the new timeline I think a bunch of new and innovated stories will be tod and tested out as updated trek and the timeline will revert to the old time line Nero gets neutralixed before he trashes the trek universe!

39 – actually, they DID pay respect to the original timeline. If it wasn’t for Spock coming back through time, Earth and Vulcan would be gone, and probably a lot of other planets.

#26) Harry Ballz (or is that Gonads if you do Spanish) It looks like I totally miss read how you were aiming your statements. But that could be easy because when the movie came out everyone and their gramothers were prasing it. And now many are crapping on it. Many of your comment before have been very additive to other comments.

My big dislike lately is those that care less about science education, and really understanding how things work. If you can’t tell I try to give as close to Jr. High level explanations of how things work to those that seem to care less in knowing that. And all in hope that it may turn on that off switch in their brain to learn new things and hope it many improve the education they never seemed to care to have.

In the long run I wish I could just snap my fingers and society could transform into a happy prosperous Trek Universe. To do this we need to convert the Tie-died T-shirt lovers in to those that were lab coats aiming to improve all of humanities life styles not just theirs.


Right back atcha, fella!

#32) Lope de Aguirre, the odd thing is Q trys to present it’s self as a Prime Number of One of a Kind, but then he is always talking about thw Q race and other Q persona. And on Voyager and TNG, Janeway and others have entered the Q Continuum. it’s almost as if Acorn has created the Q Continuum. There is one person but their are so many others.

NCC-1701 (with no bloody A, B, C or D ect.) May not logically have their time line become known in any thing but the history of Q’s 24th century. But then again Q has stated he or they know every thing that has ever happened or can happen. What about that girl in TNG that became a Q, she would be an interesting Q personality. And being tutored by Grampa Q (Mr. De Lance)

But then again thats recycling old stuff, But Khan himself was recycled in the second movie. And this is the second movie of this version of Trek.

That would be odd a second rebirth of Star Trek Movies from a Second reused character.

I do not recall whom that was but I liked her in that story line. I guess I’ll have to dig up that TNG DVD.

#30 –

I totally agree. I really prefer physical models to GCI. They always seem more “real”. CGI is just that, and it never looks “real” to me. It’s always so obvious to me it’s just computer animation. That’s why I’m not impressed with what I’ve seen of Avatar thus far. It’s just so obviously animation. Give me real actors in makeup, and real, physical models. BTW, I love the new E, and she would look beautiful as a real model, not animation.

All you guys who complain about the new “E”…seriously it’s mental. You look at it and since you know it’s CG you think on those terms. Reality is that if someone had told you it was a physical model you’d be none the wiser.

Look at the other films, matte lines, blue spill, garbage mattes (those gray boxes around the ships in some shots) and fill light all make it much less detailed and realistic.

There were shots in “First Contact” where the Enterprise is CG. I know exactly which shots, I doubt a lot of people claiming CG is inferior to physical do.