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A Lost Lost Opportunity for J.J. Abrams

Shepherding in one way or another not one (Lost) or two (Six Degrees) but three (What About Brian, returning Oct. 2) prime-time dramas this fall, J.J. Abrams' many TV obligations have caught up with him. As a result, he will not be directing the seventh episode of Lost — the first following the series' mid-season hiatus — as planned. "I was supposed to leave today for Hawaii to begin prep on an episode I was set to direct and I was dying to do — the story is just mind-blowing — but because of work on these other shows, I've been unable to do that," Abrams shared in a Tuesday teleconference with reporters. Instead, Abrams plans to get behind the camera for a later Lost outing, if not the season ender. Already teasing "such an enjoyable conclusion" to Season 3 (which doesn't even premiere until tomorrow night), he says, "I'd love to be able to work on the finale." read more

The "New" Trek: Burning Questions Answered!

To mark the 40th anniversary of Star Trek's TV debut, John Nogawski, President of CBS Paramount Domestic Television, and visual-effects producers Dave Rossi and Michael Okuda held a Wednesday conference call with reporters. The hot topic, of course, was the digital remastering of, and CGI enhancements being made to, the original series (as first reported here at TVGuide.com). The highlights, in brief:• CGI tweaks are being made to both the full- and syndicated-length versions of all 79 episodes, and in both standard and 16:9 formats.• Ranging in number from 15 to 70 per episode, the CGI enhancements at most amount to "maybe a minute and a half" in screen time.• There will be no plot modifications made along the way, akin to E.T. replacing rifles with walkie-talkies.• The original original series will continue airing on G4 and TV Land for "a year or two," until remastering/CGI work is completed on all 79 episodes. The enhanced episodes start airing Sept. 16 on ove... read more

Which are the top five new ...

Question: Which are the top five new shows you would recommend this fall? From the previews I have read, I am most looking forward to The Nine, Heroes, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Jericho and Ugly Betty. Six Degrees sounded intriguing to me when I read the premise, but critics have bashed it, so I'm uncertain. Although it does have J.J. Abrams involved, so I'm hoping. Answer: I'll give you a top six: my three favorite new dramas and my three favorite new comedies (the latter is almost by default because there are so few of merit). Dramas, in no particular order: The Nine, Studio 60, Friday Night Lights. Comedies, in no particular order: 30 Rock, The Class, Ugly Betty. There are a handful of shows I'll be tracking that fall on a second tier, but I can tell you that Heroes and Jericho will not likely be among them. (I know that because I write this particular column on the Internet, I'm supposed to gush on and on about any show with an element of fantasy — call it the Comic-Con factor — ... read more

Lost Boss Tackles Star Trek Enterprise

J.J. Abrams (inset) has "incredible" plans for Star Trek.

J.J. Abrams, the man behind Lost, Alias and Mission: Impossible III, is about to add another sci-fi classic to his résumé. Paramount recently handed the 40-year-old writer-producer-director the reins to one of its most revered projects: the next Star Trek film. Abrams will produce the movie with Lost cocreator (and fellow Trekker) Damon Lindelof. Abrams recently called from his Pacific Palisades, California, home, where he was hanging with kids (and budding sci-fi fans) Henry, Gracie and baby August, to chat about sci-fi, the th read more

Pretty Good Move for Ugly Betty With a bit of shuffling, ABC has a great Thursday-night lineup

America Ferrera, Ugly Betty

It's nice to see that ABC wised up and invited Ugly Betty to the Thursday-night ball. The new show — which will now be paired with Grey's Anatomy this fall — has been getting raves from those who have seen it. Executives from other networks have called it the best pilot they saw from their competition this year. Adapted from a telenovela that's been wildly popular for years in Latin America, Ugly Betty stars America Ferrera as a glamour-challenged woman from an immigrant family trying to make it at a flashy fashion magazine. Salma Hayek and producer Ben Silverman have been trying to sell a U.S. version of Betty read more

Press Tour Diary: ABC Day 1

Today's big news: I woke up to find a zit the size of a Vespa parked on my face. Good times....EXECUTIVE SESSION9:04 am: ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson is wearing blue jeans that scream "rock-star network executive!"9:06 am: McPherson announces that he's going to pressure the TV Academy to let us, the nation's top TV critics, decide next year's Emmy nominees. Hey, that was my idea! (And not to split hairs, but it's only supposed to be Matt Roush and me.)9:08 am: McPherson admits if he had to do Commander in Chief over again, he wouldn't have impeached Rod Lurie and replaced him with Steven Bochco. "We would probably bring it on later in the season and let Rod prep for it a lot longer than he had a chance to. He was the voice of that show." 9:08 am: I ask McPherson what he's doing behind the scenes at Desperate Housewives to address last season's "creative collapse." Although he disagrees with the "creative collapse" part — I was going to say implosion — he c... read more

Ron Livingston's Nightmares Scenario

Ron Livingston, Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King

Some actors possess an Everyman quality that gives them the versatility to take on any role. Ron Livingston is that type of guy. After gaining notoriety as a member of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn's crew of Swingers, he went on to play a conflicted World War II captain in HBO's Band of Brothers. This fall the Iowa native gets his first opportunity to play a series lead on Fox's hostage-negotiator action-drama read more

I was reading about how Six ...

Question: I was reading about how Six Degrees is the first U.S. series to air in the U.K. during prime time in nine areas, and I wondered, "What if it's a hit there but a bomb here?" I know you don't always like the hypotheticals, but would ABC stick with it longer with that added investment from the BBC? (I mean, they did renew What About Brian.) Or if it were canceled here, would it also be canceled there, even if it was a U.K. smash? Answer: If it doesn't work on ABC, it won't matter how well it's playing overseas — Six Degrees will be zero degrees. It's not going to stay in production just to satisfy other markets, unless of course it decides to make history or something. Which, having seen it, I strongly doubt. It's intriguing, but a bit pretentious, nebulous and terribly contrived. I'm curious to see what J.J. Abrams will do with this one, if he has time and gets the chance ... read more

Did you ever get that info ...

Question: Did you ever get that info from J.J. Abrams on Cheri Oteri's sitcom?


Answer: Actually, I'll probably be talking to Cheri this week about her still-in-the-works J.J. comedy, her just-released SNL DVD, and her new flick, Southland Tales, which just had its debut at the Cannes Film Festival (and costars Sarah Michelle Gellar). Send me your Qs for the funniest woman on the planet!

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Upfront Prattle: Lost, 24, Star Trek and More!

Here are some scoopy (and slightly-spoilerish) highlights from my recent Upfront adventures. At ABC's after party yesterday, a little birdie told me that there was a reason Lost baddie Michael Emerson (Henry Gale) made the trek to New York with the rest of the cast to shmooze with advertisers: He's returning next season as a series regular. 24's Kim Raver — now one of the stars of ABC's new drama The Nine — had this to say about Monday's two-hour finale: "It is unbelievable, and it sets up next season in such an extraordinary way." Hmmm... maybe there is something to those rumors that next season picks up immediately where this season leaves off. I ran into my good buddy JJ Abrams — he was on hand pushing his new drama Six Degrees — and I'm relieved to report that all the M:I:III hoopla hasn't gone to his head. He was the same old down-to-earth JJ. He told me that he spent the previous night hashing out the plot of the new Star Trek movie with fellow Lost creato... read more

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