A Partnership Made in Hollywood

By Bel Hernandez

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are the dynamic duo, known simply as K/O in Hollywood circles.  They write blockbuster films with the click of a keyboard; gross millions at the boxoffice; write hit TV shows; and work on four films and a TV project all at the same time.  Orci and Kurtzman are what Hollywood is calling “the most successful writing/producing team in Hollywood”.  Their latest collaboration “Star Trek”  the prequel, could take this writing team where no other has gone before.

They’ve built their reputation writing and producing films like Transformers, Mission Impossible, The Legend of Zorro and hit TV shows like Alias and Fringe;  modeling their partnership after successful  ones like  Steve Jobs and Steven Woznizk co-founders of Apple.

Orci, a native of Mexico City, met Kurtzman at the Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, in Santa Monica, California.  Initially inspired by the film sex, lies, and videotapes, they set out to write small character driven independent films, but quickly found themselves working on their first gig, the hit TV show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys at the age of twenty-two. Their ascent from writers to executive producers happened in a matter of two year, and they haven’t stopped working since.

In 2008 this Dynamic Duo had three movies (“Star Trek, Transformers, Proposal”) and one TV show (“Fringe”) all filming at the same time.  While Orci flew back and forth between Fringe and Star Trek, Kurtzman was flying between Eagle Eye and Transformer 2.   How do they handle it all?  “It’s kind of controlled chaos,” Orci laughs.  “We have a great team of people at K/O.  We rely on our people to alert us as to where are brains need to go next”.

A self confessed Trekkie, Orci grew up watching the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation,  which he consideredthe best television show from my lifetime.”  He was able to delve into his collection of Star Trek novels and his extensive knowledge of the characters when writing Star Trek which focuses on the early days of James T. Kirk and Spock and the USS Enterprise crew members.

In 2007 Orci was ranked number 35 on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 50 most powerful Latinos in Hollywood.    With seven released film which have collectively grossed $1.5 billion dollars at the box office, and the upcoming release of Proposal, Star Trek and Transformers 2 this year, it could easily surpass the $2 billion mark.   Next year’s Hollywood Reporter could conceivably have Orci ranked number one.

Orci believes in giving back by reading young writers that would not otherwise get read.  That is how he and Kurtzman broke into the business, some generous producers and writers gave them the time and attention to let them show their writing skill.  But in the end, he warns, if you don’t have a good story you are not going to make it.  He also advices on the benefits of  multi-tasking if you want to have a long career in Hollywood.  “One of the reasons we have been able to become producers is because we are also writers.  We can be artists and then we can also be business people…we can put on both hats,” Orci explains.  “The business is in some ways is shrinking, it means that those who stay have to have more than one skill.”

In spite of all his success there is one thing Orci still hasn’t been able to do, make that small independent movie he and his childhood friend set out to do back when they started, before getting sucked up into the world of big blockbusters.  “Hopefully we’ll get to the point where we can do one a big movie and then a little movie and then a big movie,” he says wistfully.  “I wish I could to it all.”