Orci hits with ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Transformers’

Screenwriter to receive Norman Lear Writer's Award

Screenwriter and producer Roberto Orci has been having a hell of a year.

As writer of two of 2009’s biggest blockbusters (Michael Bay-directed “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboot) as well as producer for the year’s highest-grossing romantic comedy, “The Proposal,” Orci’s streak continues into today’s Imagen Awards, where he will receive the first major kudo of his career, the Norman Lear Writer’s Award.

While Orci says he’s honored to collect the award, it is nonetheless with some reservation that he accepts it.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been singled out without Alex (Kurtzman),” he notes, referring to his longtime collaborator, “so it does feel a little bizarre.”

Orci was born in Mexico City and later moved to Los Angeles, where he met Kurtzman in a high school film class. The two have collaborated on nearly every project they’ve tackled, first attracting attention as writers on the Abrams series “Alias,” then proceeding through to Fox’s “Fringe” (which they co-created, along with Abrams) and features “Mission: Impossible III,” “The Island,” “The Legend of Zorro” and “Transformers.”

Although he’s now vaulted into the upper echelon of Hollywood screenwriters, Orci seems determined to maintain an even keel. “We’ve just been trying to keep things as much the same as possible,” he says of his working process, noting that he and Kurtzman “actively studied” successful partnerships, hoping to stave off the personal tension that often follows breakout success.

In keeping with his studious approach to the filmmaking business, Orci has some very clear guidelines for aspiring screenwriters.

“No. 1, read everything you can,” he says. “No. 2, write all the time, and finish what you start. And No. 3, never become a snob about the kind of work you’re getting. A gig is a gig.”

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