J.J. Abrams



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

Falling Up
The nets reveal their strategies for next season

Brad Garrett, 'Til Death

After attending the networks' upfront presentations all week, the Biz has this analysis of the coming season. (Click here for next fall's grid and new-show descriptions.) CWYou've got to wonder what went wrong in CW's new-series development process if the network had to bring back 7th Heaven — even though the show lost a reported $16 million for WB this past season. But the decision to have CW's inaugural schedule made up of established shows from WB and UPN may end up being a blessing. Many of the shows have small but rabid followings, and promoting new shows on a new network will be tough. The fans of shows like One Tree Hill and Veronica Mars will track  them down on their own. Viewers in the 18-to-34-year-old demographic that CW targets don't watch networks, they watch shows. (According to recent survey, only one in four 1 read more

I have to say that I share ...

Question: I have to say that I share Jason's fears that Lost will decline in quality next season with the continued absence of J.J. Abrams and the reduced involvement of the current show-runners. Not only will it be difficult to keep up the intricate mythology and character development that have been critical to Lost's success, but I have noticed a trend where dramas often suffer creative declines in their third seasons. I've noticed this in some of the best shows of our times, including The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Alias, West Wing, 24, Nip/Tuck and The Shield. All of those shows suffered huge drop-offs in quality after two amazing seasons. The Wire has been one show that seemed to buck this trend, and hopefully Rescue Me, Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica and Veronica Mars (if it gets renew read more

One of your readers wrote in ...

Gregory Smith, Everwood

Question: One of your readers wrote in recently to say that "only Joss Whedon understands the concept of having a character evolve." I have to disagree with that, and I humbly submit the example of Everwood to prove my case. One of the brilliant things about Everwood is that, at times, its characters make miserable decisions or go through phases in which they are really unappealing. It's a brave thing for a show to do, and I think they do it better than any other show on TV. I know you've supported the show in the past, and I wonder if you think that its refusal to make its characters always likable helps or hurts it in terms of ratings. I'd really like to see it find an hour on CW. Answer: You and me both. First, I should note that more than a few readers wrote in to gripe about that random Joss Whedon comment. Gotta love his rabid fan base, and gotta cut them some slack when they go a bit overboard. (What else are these poor souls going to do, given that we're in a non-Joss lull here ... read more

While this topic crosses over ...

Jorge Garcia and Josh Holloway, Lost

Question: While this topic crosses over into film territory, it could have major ramifications for a certain top TV series. It was recently announced that Lost cocreator J.J. Abrams is now going to direct a prequel Star Trek movie for release in 2008. And he's bringing along producers and current show-runners Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk as copilots on this adventure (though in a reduced capacity). I personally think this is very bad news for Lost fans. While I feel that Lindelof and Burk have been handling the series quite well, there was a sense of excitement for Abrams' return to a series that seems strongest when he and Lindelof are conspiring. Now it seems like he won't ever be back. And to make matters worse, Lindelof and Burk are now going to have added distraction. Season 3 is such a vital season for a show like this; the last thing Lost needs is its three brains distracted by Kirk and Spock. Additionally, Abrams is one of the brightest, most creative people in television, ... read more

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The Multiple Worlds of Fringe: Essays on the J.J. Abrams Science Fiction Series
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Charlie Rose with George Stephanopolous; J.J. Abrams (May 2, 2006)
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