nb: satirical / opinion piece..ergo non defamatory or definitive as judgment..
Alex Kurtzman is a LUCKY man. He is a FUNNY man. And now, yet again? He is, it seems, a very POWERFUL one, too?
CBS just signed off on a deal that secures Kurtzman’s job for a further 6 years, minimum, and at a rate no doubt that will see him rake in multi-millions, many times over? Good luck. Fair play, etc. It is worth pointing out that the deal is not simply some reward for his Star Trek duties but also an incentive to develop several properties and in conjunction with production outfit, Secret Hideout. The deal is also not solely with CBS but takes in Paramount Plus as a new network via Viacom CBS.
So how has he done so well? What is it that Kurtzman ‘has’ in terms of vision or talent that nobody else seems to match? It’s certainly not down to THE MUMMY (a misfire back in 2017 that sunk the ‘dark universe’ at Universal).
And it’s not his good will generation for STAR TREK. DISCOVERY does not feel to me like proper ‘Trek. PICARD was a love letter to Patrick Stewart, played with verve, by..um..Patrick Stewart..for the entertainment and enrichment of…(you fill in those blanks).
The natural answer is that Alex is a solid team player. He need not bring in ratings smashes or good quality content, provided that he stay within the stable and keep producing. His work ethic is beyond dispute and politics very much ‘on message’. The man is well connected and runs a relatively tight ship. Artistic vision and even commercial viability do not come into it.
CBS, Paramount and co know that an investment in Kurtzman will inevitably generate consumer product film and television, with a strong sense of brand loyalty. Within that dynamic, there may well be the occasional write off, flop and pilot that does not get commissioned into full series.
But he will turn up for work, is unlikely to embarrass the organisation and with the critical expectation bar relatively low, the contract cannot ‘fail’. Alex is simply captain of a team, a ship at sail and head of a collaborative community: a base of ideas which will create at least one or two hits. And controversy can be good for business if one iteration of say, Star Trek, fails creatively /commercially, yet generates hype via online heat and hate. Win/win.
In short? It’s a safe investment, nominally in an independent creator of content, but ultimately in a dependable company man. And whilst that it is to Kurtzman’s credit in an uncertain market, it is also arguably prima facie proof of a real world, ‘Peter Principle‘. As in: you fail up.
One gets promoted not through innovation, imagination and dynamism (each of which, incidentally, can make one problematic in staying ‘on message’ in any organisation) but through a kind of professional professionalism and the safety of playing things middle of the road.
That said? There is a pay off. If you allow yourself to be the poster boy for a corporate system then it is, ultimately, you who take first fall, should things go wrong. In that sense, therefore, though many Kurtzman critics might lose hope at this latest promotion? They can take heart in the sense that the bar has indeed been raised on his performance and it is on him to deliver more in both quantity and quality.
And the world is watching. BOLDLY..GO? Best of luck, Alex: you will need it, but frankly, you seem to be blessed with it in abundance.