It's been rumored, but Deadline says it's all but a done deal: Roberto Orci will probably be directing Star Trek 3. This is bad news for anybody. I was going to say anybody who likes Star Trek, but I think anybody who is alive has cause to worry that a crazy Truther is getting his hands fully around the neck of the greatest and most optimistic scifi franchise of all time.
There is one silver lining: could this be the movie where Orci the screenwriter finally does something good? Orci (and his recently broken-up partner, Alex Kurtzman) has been historically the worst thing on every movie with which he's been involved. Their scripts have been dire, absolute messes that make little logical or emotional sense and often betray core elements of the properties themselves. But numerous insiders have told me the same story, time and again: Orci and Kurtzman are stenographers, taking down every bad idea that the director and producers give them and somehow fitting them all into the scripts. This is why they keep getting high profile work - they make the executives feel listened to, and this is the single most important skill a Hollywood screenwriter can have.
One example is that Orci and Kurtzman didn't want to have Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. They were going to do Gary Mitchell, but JJ Abrams demanded Khan. Another is that in the original script for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 the Richard Parker stuff actually paid off because he shows up at the end and gives Peter the 'With great power" speech that's been missing from the series. Maybe - just maybe - these guys have good ideas, but they're too willing to take orders, like a submissive taking orders from his dominatrix. "Put this in your butt," JJ says, and they bend over.
Now Orci will be pretty much calling the shots. Bad Robot has serious control over Trek, and with JJ off in Star Wars land (and being famously unable to do two things at once - he couldn't even get serious about STID until the press for Super 8 was over), Orci's going to have free reign. He was already positioning himself as the boss of this film; sources tell me he's been scaring off good directors for months by having meetings where he made it clear they'd be following his orders. And Orci has a visual template; Star Trek 3 is just going to look like the other two, except a little less artful.
So without masters and without kings Roberto Orci is a free man. There is no secret cabal, as he believes there was on 9/11. He makes his own choices. He's also benefiting from the strong choices Abrams made, including inheriting a great cast. He's an avowed fan of the series, he's done his horrible Truther movie, and he has the Enterprise officially on its five year mission. If there is an ounce of ability in Roberto Orci it's his time to shit or get off the pot - this is his moment, and if there's every going to be a time to for Orci to prove that he's not a witless, untalented hack of a stooge, this is it.
Maybe the spirit of Roddenberry will overtake him. Maybe Orci will be divinely motivated and will make the best Star Trek (reboot) movie yet. It's actually possible. Is it likely? Well, that's the big question.