J.J. Abrams and Valve’s Gabe Newell strike a deal to produce movies and games based on their respective projects [Update: video]
At this year’s D.I.C.E. summit (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain), co-founder of game developer Valve conversed with filmmaker J.J. Abrams about collaborating on future projects. Gamers and sci-fi fanatics alike, perk up. Newell and Abrams have expressed their interest in bringing some of Valve’s most popular titles–Half-Life and Portal, specifically–to the big screen. ”We’re going to try and figure out if we can make a Half-Life movie or a Portal movie together,” said Newell. Additionally, Abrams said that he’d be interesting in working with Valve to create video games inspired by Bad Robot films. Apparently this partnership has been in the making for awhile. “We sort of reached the point where we decided that we needed to do more than talk,” Newell admitted. Though details beyond these are sparse, this is something to definitely be excited about and when more comes through the pipeline you’ll know.
Update: The exciting announcement laid out above came at the very end of a rich 20-minute conversation during which the Bad Robot and Valve founders discussed storytelling methods in movies and video games. At first the two make friendly jabs at each other’s work but quickly the back-and-forth evolves into a stimulating discussion about the importance of the relationship between the viewer/player and the on-screen experience. Watch the full clip courtesy of D.I.C.E. after the break.
FOX orders futuristic drama from J.H. Wyman & J.J. Abrams [Update: Another Abrams pilot a-go at NBC]
With Fringe in his rearview mirror, showrunner and sometimes writer and director J.H. Wyman has a new drama at FOX to work on. Today FOX ordered to pilot an hourlong drama from Wyman and J.J. Abrams, the same auspices that brought us Walter Bishop and the rest of the Fringe family. The untitled project is being produced by Abrams’ production company Bad Robot in collaboration with Warner Bros. TV. It’s being described as “an action-packed buddy cop show set in a near future when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved humanlike androids.” Yeah, count me in. Wyman is writing the script and serving as executive producer, a title he shares with Abrams, Bryan Burk, and Kathy Lingg. After the script is locked in and casting choices are made, the pilot will be made and if all goes well we’ll have another Abrams/Wyman futuristic drama on the air in the fall.
Update: Mere moments after wrapping this post news broke that another pilot headlined by J.J. Abrams was ordered by NBC. (After landing the Star Wars directing gig and two pilots at two of the major broadcast networks, somebody is having the best week ever.) This project also falls under the Bad Robot/Warner Bros. TV banners and Abrams is working closely with Alfonso Cuarón (director of Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban). It’s working title is Believe and the script is currently being penned by Cuarón and Mark Friedman (Home of the Brave, The Forgotten). Believe is about “the unlikely relationship between a young girl in possession of a great gift/powers — which will come into their own in seven years — and a man sprung from prison who has been tasked with protecting her from the evil elements that hunt her power.” Abrams, Cuarón, Friedman, and Bryan Burk are executive producing. Cuarón is on tap to direct.
The Force is strong with this one. Today news spread like wildfire that J.J. Abrams–the same man who resurrected Star Trek for the big screen–will do the same for the other massively popular set-in-space franchise Star Wars. The Wrap broke it first.
This fall George Lucas sold his Lucasfilms to Disney for $4 billion and his partner Kathleen Kennedy signed on to ensure the making of a new Star Wars movie. Shortly thereafter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) agreed to pen the script and now the immense project has a star director in Abrams. Star Wars: Episode VII aims for a 2015 release.
Neither Abrams nor Disney has commented on the story yet. What’s interesting, however, is that just a couple months ago Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that he wasn’t interested in taking on Lucas’ lucrative franchise. He admitted that he had “original stuff” he was hoping to do next. He went on to say how much Star Wars influenced him at a young age and that it ignited his passion for visually epic storytelling. “As a kid I was always a fan of special effects,” he said. “Watching movies I was constantly trying to figure out how they did it, whatever the effect was. Star Wars was the first movie that blew my mind in that way; it didn’t matter how they did any of it because it was all so overwhelmingly and entirely great. It was funny and romantic and scary and compelling and the visual effects just served the characters and story. It galvanized for me; not for what was exciting about how movies were made, but rather for what movies were capable of.”
In a two-part interview with Hero Complex conducted in 2009, Abrams talked about the challenge of reimagining Star Trek in a post-George Lucas Star Wars world. “I’m just a fan of Star Wars,” he said. ”As a kid, Star Wars was much more my thing than Star Trek was. If you look at the last three Star Wars films and what technology allowed them to do, they covered so much terrain in terms of design, locations, characters, aliens, ships — so much of the spectacle has been done and it seems like every aspect has been covered, whether it’s geography or design of culture or weather system or character or ship type. Everything has been tapped in those movies. The challenge of doing Star Trek — despite the fact that it existed before Star Wars — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done.”
It is definitely going to be interesting to see exactly how J.J. Abrams plans to bring Star Wars back into the fold compared to the way he did it with Star Trek. He’s a powerful player in the sci-fi arena, and personally I have no doubt he’ll get it right. What say you?
TCA 13: J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke promise a bigger, better, more surprising ‘Revolution’ this spring (new trailer inside)
Revolution is on break until March and executive producers J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke accept the extended with a positive attitude and they think viewers should as well. “When we were doing Lost, that [scheduling] helped us enormously,” Abrams said. “So when the idea came up for Revolution I was really relieved. I thought, and still think, that it will get us to a place where it will be the best possible way for the viewer to watch the show.” Added Kripke: “The little break has afforded us the ability to take a breath, look at what we’ve done, really analyze it, and make adjustments. It also supplied us a natural break point between the season’s first half and second half, and the second half sort of lives as its own continuous piece.” While Kripke maintained that “we learned that we did a lot of things right,” he also admitted that “the pace of the shocking surprises were a little too slow.” So what can viewers expect next? The “second [half will be] bigger, better, more exciting and [with] more revelations–at the same time maintaining the format.” The shock factor will increase as well.
What else? When Revolution returns this spring, the action will continue “exactly” where we left off. “Giving [Monroe] power was more about making him an unstoppable force,” said Kripke. “We start to deliver on the promise of the title. The revolution begins.” Kripke fed the questions, “Can [the Matheson family] stick together in the face of these overwhelming odds and danger? And can you maintain your soul when you’re a warrior?”
Kripke went on to say that he’s definitely planning ahead for upcoming seasons of the show, but they’re at the “cocktail napkin sketches” state at the moment. “Because [the world is] so expansive, there’s no end to the stories we can tell,” he said.
Revolution returns March 25. Get a glimpse of what’s to come in a new trailer after the break. (Click here for more…)
Director J.J. Abrams sat down with Conan O’Brien this week and during their interview Abrams–against the studios wishes–shared with the audience a clip from the upcoming Star Trek sequel. And it has a name now, by the way; it’s Star Trek Into Darkness.
Get this: the clip is only three frames long. After you watch it unfold at the speed of light in the video above, jump after the break for a better look at what you think you’ve seen. Conan correctly predicted that the Internet would freeze frame the very first look at Zachary Quinto as Spock in a volcano. There really isn’t much that can be gleaned from this, but at least it’s something.
Star Trek Into Darkness releases May 17, 2013. (Click here for more…)
Today NBC kicked off the 2012 Upfronts, an annual event where the big four networks present their upcoming slate of new programming to advertisers and the press. The Peacock unveiled 12 new series coming to the network next season; seven comedies and five dramas. Half will premiere this fall, and the others will wait for midseason. Jump after the break to get more information about all of the new shows including synopses, cast and creator/executive producer listings, and clips.
Also posted after the break is NBC’s 2012-13 programming schedule. The three most significant changes to the schedule include Whitney and Community moving to Friday nights paired with Grimm and Dateline NBC; The Voice gets a second cycle in the fall; and Smash is being held again for midseason.
NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt explained Community‘s move to Friday: “I know that most people in our industry think Friday is a graveyard but we don’t really believe that. If you don’t build it they won’t come. We got some traction with Grimm, it’s the No. 1 18-49 on Fridays. We thought if we have a base there, let’s see if we can give Grimm a lead-in with these shows that actually have fan bases–including Whitney.” … He added, “[Community] has its faithful audience and they will follow it to the ends of the Earth. And I really wanted to do something to invigorate Friday because we love Grimm. So I thought, let’s move a show where the audience will move with it. I actually look at the positive side of it, although no good deed goes unpunished.”
While The Office and Parks and Recreation were picked up and given full 22-episode full season orders, other comedies like 30 Rock, Community, and Up All Night were handed smaller 13-episode orders; and this has led to speculation about whether or not NBC plans to phase these shows out sooner rather than later. Greenblatt addressed this: “[The Thursday night comedies] have a really strong following [but] they don’t have a large enough audience. They’re still shows that mean something to this network…I think on the Thursday night shows, ‘broad’ is synonymous with ratings…we’re always trying to be broader.” … He added, “a 13-episode order does not mean a death knell to the show.” So fret not, my friends. (5/14 update: It has been confirmed that the upcoming seventh season of 30 Rock will be its last.)
On why the network is saving Smash for midseason, Greenblatt wants the second season to air uninterrupted with not a single hiatus, like FOX started doing with 24 by premiering it in January instead of September. The plan is for the musical drama to produce 15-18 episodes every season as opposed to the standard 22. Also, the network wants accomodate new showrunner Josh Safran (Gossip Girl). Explains NBC’s Jennifer Salke: “New showrunner Josh Safran is coming in–he’s awesome. And we wanted him to get a chance to own [it] and get in there and have an ownership stake in the show — not just put a gun to his head and [tell him], ‘You gotta get going!’ So we wanted him to be able to stand back and have a real creative discussion about what he wants the season to be and be a big part of that.” (Click here for more…)
NBC is allowing J.J. Abrams to stir a Revolution by greenlighting his new sci-fi drama from Warner Bros. TV and Bad Robot. Eric Kripke (Supernatural) will pen the script and together he and Abrams will tell a story described back in September as “an epic adventure thriller.” Since then, however, two new and fuller loglines have surfaced that help generate a grander buzz for the project:
A high octane action drama from J. J. Abrams following a group of characters struggling to survive and reunite with loved ones in a world where all forms of energy have mysteriously ceased to exist.
In this epic adventure thriller, a family struggles to reunite in a post-apocalyptic American landscape: a world of empty cities, local militias and heroic freedom fighters, where every single piece of technology — computers, planes, cars, phones, even lights — has mysteriously blacked out … forever.
Now it’s got your attention, yes? With a pilot pickup, it won’t be long until we get our first glimpse at some of the action. Expect an extended trailer to hit the ‘Net this summer when NBC officially unveils Revolution at the network’s Upfronts presentation.
And for the J.J. diehards, you should also be aware that the CW picked up another new project from the mastermind behind Lost and Fringe. He and One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn are developing Shelter, a drama “set at a historic New England summer resort where the new and returning staff attend to the practical, emotional and often comical needs of the guests while navigating friendships, rivalries and romances of their own.”
Update: Deadline reports that Jon Favreau (Iron Man) will direct the Revolution pilot.
Alcatraz – FOX — 8PM
Another show from mastermind J.J. Abrams is about to premiere on network TV and that show is Alcatraz. Though chunks of the story take place on an island and one of the show’s leads is Jorge Garcia, Alcatraz and the intrigue that oozes from the promotional lead up to tomorrow night’s premiere is far different than what fans know from Lost. First, a quick mention of the plot: The show tells a story where Alcatraz inmates disappear from their cells in 1963 and mysteriously reappear in modern day society. A secret task force led by Sam Neill (of Twin Peaks fame) and Parminder Nagra (ER) manage to round up Sarah Jones who plays a homicide detective and Garcia who’s an Alcatraz expert and together they investigate the reappearances and ultimately try to unravel the mystery behind it all. In a tw0-part interview conducted by FOX, Abrams admits that when Lost was on, people were either invested in the show and watched every week or they likely didn’t watch at all. With Alcatraz he thinks that it plays more like a procedural (think inmate reappearance of the week) and because of this people will have an easier time jumping into the show even if they had missed previous installments. And for avid viewers who get hooked with the pilot, there will certainly be nuggets planted that tie episodes together for a more serialized feel. Having watched the pilot twice at Comic Con, I can say that the two-hour pilot will definitely hook Lost fans and at the same time it should help distance it from Abrams’ ABC hit. In this way Alcatraz will make room for newcomers to the procedural/serial hybrid and to the genre fare outputted under Abrams’ Bad Robot banner.
If you’re looking for a new show with mystery and intrigue and smarts, tune into the Alcatraz premiere Monday night at 8PM on FOX. Next week it falls into its regular 9PM timeslot airing after House. Check out stylized cast photos below and hop after the break to watch the two-part Abrams interview.
The connective tissue tying together these two TV news bites: the pedigree behind the new respective projects come from a show you probably heard of…Lost.
First let’s see what’s up with the creator of the Island. J.J. Abrams has much on his plate already. This TV season he has three shows airing: Fringe (FOX), Person of Interest (CBS), and Alcatraz (FOX) premieres in midseason. He’s also working on the Star Trek movie sequel. But all of this isn’t enough for the mastermind behind some of the greatest shows produced for TV. He’s ready to dip his wand in a new Warner Bros. TV/Bad Robot project and it’s called Revolution. According to Deadline, the show is being described as “an epic adventure thriller.” Since it’s an Abrams project, don’t expect the plot to leak until the man behind the curtain allows that to happen. Abrams has teamed with Supernatural creator and executive producer Eric Kripke for Revolution; Kripke will pen the pilot script which recently got pilot production commitment from NBC. More as the story develops…
In other news, Lost showrunner Carlton Cuse has a new project up his sleeve too. His is titled Stronger and Deadline describes it as “a drama project with spiritual overtones.” Cuse’s partner in crime is author/pastor Rob Bell, and he will serve as co-writer and executive producer. Bell is leaving Michigan’s Mars Hill Bible Church (which he created) to develop the series which was recently sold to ABC. Deadline reports that the show “revolves around Tom Stronger, a musician and teacher, and his spiritual journey as he becomes a benefactor and guide to others.” Stronger won’t hide its autobiographical roots; Bell is in fact a former musician and he will likely incorporate his experiences into the script. Now don’t forget–like his former Lost cohort Cuse is keeping busy with multiple projects in consideration, too. Look out for his ABC civil war drama Point of Honor on the horizon.
Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt in the fourth installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise. Ghost Protocol is directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles). Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg reprise as Luther Stickell and Benji Dunn, respectively, and Jeremy Renner, Josh Holloway (Lost‘s Sawyer), Anil Kapoor, Paula Patton, Vladimir Mashkov, Michael Nyqvist, and Lea Seydoux join the cast. M:I 4 is a Bad Robot Production; J.J. Abrams produced the film (with Cruise and Paula Wagner) and co-wrote it with André Nemec and Josh Appelbaum (these guys previously worked with Abrams on Alias).
Here’s a synopsis that’s making rounds across the ‘Net: This is not just another mission. The IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in a global terrorist bombing plot. Ghost Protocol is initiated and Ethan Hunt and his rogue new team must go undercover to clear their organization’s name. No help, no contact, off the grid. You have never seen a mission grittier and more intense than this.
The trailer, in a word, is awesomesauce. It’s action-packed, thrilling, and sexy–a great mix if you ask me. And how insane is that final sequence we’re left with? Cruise actually scaled Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, to get the shot. Plus the theme song, it never gets old.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol hits standard and IMAX theatres on December 16, 2011.
The J.J. Abrams / Steven Spielberg production Super 8 is in theatres now. Leading up to the film’s release, Paramount has been adding snippets of video to this official website. On June 9, one day before the film hit theatres nationwide, the studio brought it all together and the final black-and-white video sits above. The “Full Editing Room Film” gives those anticipating Super 8 a small glimpse into the mystery behind the creature that lands in the small Ohio town the movie takes place in. If you’ve seen the movie already, you’d know that bits of this video are included in a pivotal scene.
I attended a midnight premiere screening of the movie, and without giving anyway away I will say this: Super 8 is a perfect summer movie filled with action and healthy doses of emotion & sci-fi. All of the kid actors nailed it, especially the young lead Joel Courtney. It’s truly a must-see. Whether or not it is a veiled Cloverfield prequel remains to be determined; I’d like to think it is. Also, beware of so much lens flares–alas, it is the Abrams touch (see Star Trek).
In mid-September it was reported that CBS picked up a new series from J.J. Abrams titled Person of Interest. As a standard Abrams affair, the program was shrouded in secrecy in terms of casting and plotline. Today that has all changed. Abrams and series collaborator Jonah Nolan (brother of renowned film director Christopher Nolan) have chosen Michael Emerson to be show’s lead. Emerson, who reunites with Lost creator Abrams, is best known for his phenomenal portrayal as the villainous Benjamin Linus. The CBS project, backed by Warner Bros. and Abrams’ Bad Robot, is being described as a crime drama centered on an ex-CIA agent, presumed dead, who teams up with a mysterious billionaire (Emerson) to prevent violent crimes in New York City. David Semel (Heroes) will direct the pilot which is slated to air in the fall.
By now you might be thinking to yourself what about the other Abrams project known as Odd Jobs starring Emerson with Lost pal Terry O’Quinn. It’s true that NBC picked up the show with Abrams, Bryan Burk, Josh Appelbaum, and Andre Nemec (all producers) attached, but now it’s apparently being saved for the 2012 pilot season. Whether or not Emerson will be able to juggle two TV shows at once is a question no one has to answer to just yet. They are both backed by the same studios (Warner and Robot), so the potential is there. We shall wait and see. But for now you should rejoice knowing that Emerson will serve as a lead in another Abrams project that’s sure to dazzle and mystify TV viewers this fall.
FOX renews ‘Raising Hope’ early, comments on cancelled shows & Fringe’s move [Update: J.J. Abrams addresses the move, too]
One day after ABC granted early renewals to six of its series, competitor FOX decided to show its muscle by renewing its freshman series Raising Hope. The Greg Garcia comedy was actually the first freshman series of the year to receive a back-nine episode order, so it’s certainly fitting that today it became the first freshman program to be renewed for a second season. Go Hope! The laugh-out-loud family comedy is FOX’s highest-rated new series; having that Glee lead-in doesn’t hurt. The show’s creator Garcia said, “I’m happy that the show is getting another year. But the fact that I’ve been trying to think of a funny quote for the last two hours and this is the best I could come up with makes me a little nervous about season two.” FOX prez Kevin Reilly also shared his excitement about the continuation of Hope: “Raising Hope has emerged as a comedic standout: wickedly smart, hilarious and full of heart. Greg Garcia and his great cast have established an appointment show on Tuesday nights this season and we’re confident it’s just the beginning of great things to come.” Raising Hope returns with new episodes Tuesday February 8 at 9PM. If you’re not watching this show, it’s never too late to start.
Update 3: Click here to watch Hope‘s Golden Globes plea. Greg Garcia and the cast put together this “For Your Consideration” video and sent it to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association hoping it would help their chances at landing a nomination. It didn’t, but it’s still well worth a watch. Let’s just say Cloris Leachman brings down the house with her wildly NSFW language. (Click here for more…)
The man who built Bad Robots Productions has another drama up his sleeve. J.J. Abrams is prepared to pitch Pulp, described by TV Line’s Michael Ausiello as “an hour-long crime drama set in a slightly heightened reality,” to the networks as early as next week. In pure Abrams fashion, he’s working with longtime collaborators including Monica Breen and Alison Schapker (Alias, Lost, Fringe) who wrote the script and will serve as executive producers if the show gets picked up. Ear is to the ground with this one.
So much for my Evangeline Lilly prediction. After scooping up Lost‘s Jorge Garcia for his upcoming FOX pilot based on the infamous prison, J.J. Abrams has cast the lead female role for the show. Sarah Jones has been featured in a number of TV series including House, Justified, and Sons of Anarchy. This (hopefully) will be her breakout role and cement her as Abrams’ latest leading female powerhouse (she follows Felicity‘s Keri Russell, Alias‘ Jennifer Garner, Lost‘s Evangeline Lilly, Fringe‘s Anna Torv, and we must include Undercovers‘ Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Jones will play Rebecca Madsen, “a smart, thoughtful and a little obsessive police officer.” She’s gorgeous–but then again, Abrams’ knows how to pick his leading ladies.
Also joining the show are Jonny Coyne (Undercovers) and Jason Butler Harner (Fringe). Coyne will play Alcatraz Warden Edwin James and Harner is Associate Warden E.B. Tiller “who enjoys and abuses his power.”
Alcatraz “centers on a group of missing Alcatraz prisoners and guards who reappear in the present day. It chronicles the efforts of a team of FBI agents to track them down and unravel the mystery behind their disappearance thirty years prior.” Abrams, Bryan Burk, and Elizabeth Sarnoff are attatched to the Warner Bros. TV/Bad Robot project. Production begins next month.
Update: More cast additions have been made. According to Deadline, Sam Neill (Happy Town) will play Emerson Hauser, “the head of a government agency who radiates authority and piercing intelligence”; Parminder Nagra (ER) is Hauser’s lab technician, Lucy; Robert Forster (Heroes) is Ray Archer, “a retired detective who is now owner/bartender of a cop hangout bar.” Alcatraz characters are getting cast in rapid succession, so exciting!
J.J. Abrams pitching Locke/Linus buddy cop show [Update: It's official: NBC picks it up!] [Update 2: Postponed]
Read that headline again. Now again. J.J. Abrams, creator of Lost, is hoping to bring together Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson (aka Lost‘s John Locke & Benjamin Linus) for a new series. O’Quinn and Emerson would play former black-ops agents in the comedic drama tentitively titled Odd Jobs. News first broke about a potential reuniting of Lost‘s brightest stars back in February when O’Quinn told TV Guide about “a TNT-type show that would pair him back up with…Michael Emerson as suburban hit men juggling family issues.” Much time has passed, and now things are starting to heat up again. Plans to make this show a reality are very real. NYMag reports that Abrams and collaborators Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (Alias, Mission: Impossible 4) are pitching Odd Jobs to a handful of TV networks. All I can say is that if these plans do result in a Locke/Linus buddy cop show, the world will be a better place for it.
Update: According to Deadline, this thing is happening!! After shopping around Odd Jobs (working title) to various networks, NBC came out on top with the winning bid. It was a nailbiter between former Lost home ABC and NBC, but in the end the Peacock nabbed it. It’s official: The one hour long drama will star the fantastic Terry O’Quinn alongside Lost-mate Michael Emerson. J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Josh Appelbaum, and Andre Nemec will serve as executive producers; the latter two are also penning the pilot script. Warner Bros. TV, with Abrams’ Bad Robot, are backing the project. Deadline reports that the show has a put-pilot commitment, meaning NBC will air the pilot and likely followup by picking up the series granting it a 13 to 20-something episode season. The show will join Undercovers as the second Abrams production on NBC by *fingers crossed* next fall.
Update 2 (3/10): Development of the show has been postponed. In the meantime, you can catch Emerson and O’Quinn in new pilots this fall–CBS’s Person of Interest and
ABC’s Hallelujah Hawaii Five-0. (Hallelujah is being retooled for Fall 2012.)
J.J. Abrams, creator of Felicity, Alias, Lost, Fringe, and the upcoming NBC spy show Undercovers, is readying two new dramas for network TV. Variety reports that FOX has picked up Alcatraz, a series based on the famous island prison that was shut down in 1963. The spec script was written by Elizabeth Sarnoff (Lost, Deadwood). Sarnoff will serve as executive producer along with Abrams and Bryan Burk (Alias, Lost) on the Warner Bros. TV/Bad Robot project.
Next up is Person of Interest, another Abrams-backed project that was just picked up by CBS, according to NYMag. The source describes it as an hour-long crime thriller. Jonah Nolan, brother of film director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), is penning the pilot script and serves as co-creator with Abrams. Can someone say dream team?! This marks the first time Nolan contributing to a TV series. He is best known for his collaboration work with his brother on The Dark Knight & The Prestige; he also wrote the short story that inspired Memento. The fact that CBS of all networks reportedly picked up this particular series is somewhat startling. CBS is known for playing it safe by strictly airing procedural shows that people can tune into at any time without worrying about missing key plot developments (think the CSI franchise, The Mentalist, etc.). The Abrams/Nolan series might just break the CBS mold by premiering a more serialized show that demands weekly viewing. And that makes me very, very giddy.
As you might guess, very little to no information regarding plot and casting has leaked about these new Abrams projects. But you can be sure I’ll report back when things start to ramp up. If all goes according to plan, I’m hoping the new dramas will be ready to premiere next fall.
At this year’s Comic Con in San Diego, a panal called “Visionaires” brought my two favorite people together: J.J. Abrams (MI: III, Cloverfield, Star Trek, Lost, Fringe) & Joss Whedon (Serenity, Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse). The panel, conducted by Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jenson, is literally packed with all sorts of intriguing information. Jenson starts things off with the question, “When did you guys decide you wanted to be storytellers?” Whedon and Abrams are also asked about their takes on comic books, 3D movies, the current and future states of television (including what it wants and supports, the waning of serialized story format), and the outlook for new media (shooting for the web, web content). They also delve into their respective past and upcoming projects. Whedon makes it official that he is directing Marvel’s The Avengers and briefly elaborates on the direction he plans to take the movie; he also talks about his now-on-hold horror flick Cabin in the Woods and what’s up with the impending Dr. Horrible sequel. Abrams shares an anecdote surrounding his super-secret Super 8 movie (which is set to start production this September) and the collaboration with producer Steven Speilberg. During the 3D movie discussion, Abrams confirmed that Super 8 will not be shot for 3D; he pans 3D and that it adds an unnecessary barrier between the viewer and film. Although Joss is “totally into” watching 3D flicks, he hopes that his upcoming Cabin in the Woods doesn’t get the streoscopic treatment. While going back and forth about the state of the serialized story format for TV, Abrams spilled that his upcoming NBC show Undercovers will be self-contained episodes (meaning you can miss a few episodes and still know what’s going on), but there will be an overall mythology to keep week-to-week viewers satisfied. Speaking about mythology, Abrams also shares his thoughts on the final episode of Lost (spoiler: he loved it). Whedon continues the conversation by bringing up the demise of FOX’s Dollhouse. All in all, it’s a great watch and interesting look into two very successful film and TV artists that shouldn’t be missed. Head over to EW to access the 5-part stream. Or click here to watch an abridged interview.
Those of you who have seen Iron Man 2 in theatres were treated to a first glimpse into the next cinematic project from J.J. Abrams.
Here’s what we know so far about Super 8. It’s a sci-fi film set in 1979 written and directed by J.J. Abrams (M:I3, Cloverfield, Star Trek). Abrams, Steven Spielberg, and Bryan Burk serve as executive producers. It’s being distributed and promoted by Paramount Pictures and produced by Abrams’ Bad Robot and Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment teams. According to Deadline, Super 8 is “a personal passion project for Abrams, an homage to the films he loved as a teen.” Abrams recently squashed rumors by confirming that it has no relation to Cloverfield. It will cost around $45 million to shoot and it will be shot in traditional style (unlike Cloverfield‘s shaky cam ways).
So what’s it about? Well, up until today zero plot detail was spilled, just the way Abrams likes it. But now that there’s a teaser trailer out in the wild there are some pertinent facts to be divulged. Please watch the trailer I’ve posted above; it’s good for your health, really. Here’s what we get. There’s a truck, it veers onto a train track and heads straight towards an incoming train. We get these words: “In 1979, the US Air Force closed a section of Area 51. All the materials were to be transported to a secure facility in Ohio.” Truck slams into train, big explosion. The camera looks at a train car that seems to contain some sort of destructive beast, erm, alien? “Next summer, it arrives.” End scene. Yup, I’m salivating.
Production for Super 8 begins this fall and it’s expected to hit theatres Summer 2011.
And the first new scripted TV program of the fall is… J.J. Abrams’ spy drama Undercovers. NBC pounced on this back in December, and now it has been made official. NBC ordered an inital 13 episode run set to start in September. Undercovers is about a married couple (Boris Kodjoe & Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who play ex-CIA agents that are pulled back into the “into the world of espionage.” That’s right people; Abrams is going back to his roots (Alias, MI:3). Here’s the synopsis:
Outwardly, Steven Bloom (Kodjoe) and his wife, Samantha (Mbatha-Raw), are a typical married couple who own a small catering company in Los Angeles and are helped by Samantha’s easily frazzled younger sister, Lizzy (Jessica Parker Kennedy). Secretly, the duo were two of the CIA’s best spies until they fell in love on the job five years ago and retired. When fellow spy and friend Nash (Carter MacIntyre) goes missing while on the trail of a Russian arms dealer, the Blooms are reinstated by boss Carlton Shaw (Gerald McRaney) to locate and rescue Nash. The pair is thrust back into the world of espionage as they follow leads that span the globe — and Steven and Samantha realize that this supercharged, undercover lifestyle provides the excitement and romance that their marriage has been missing.
Jeff Gaspin, Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment: “We have tremendous confidence in this promising series and feel this is a great way to kick off our upcoming Upfront development announcements. J.J. has delivered another signature series along with our partners at Warner Bros and we couldn’t be happier.” NBC President Angela Bromstad: “Having J.J. on our creative team is a great reason for celebration. In Undercovers, he’s found a breakout couple that is rich in character and brimming with romance and action. We feel he’s found the perfect cast.”
Abrams will servce as co-writer, executive producer, and co-creator (with Josh Reims). He also directed the pilot; this is the first time he’s directing a TV show episode since the Lost pilot. This should be good. Keep it on your radar.