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J.J. Abrams On FRINGE: ‘I'm Going To Be Deeply Involved’!!

I am – Hercules!!
Fox’s TCA “Fringe” session was held this morning, and James Hibberd at The Hollywood Reporter offers some highlights: * "I'm going to be deeply involved in the show,” said pilot co-scripter J.J. Abrams, who by his own admission largely abandoned “Lost” after he landed his gig writing and directing “Mission: Impossible III.” “I feel jealous I didn't get to [direct] the pilot." * “You don’t have to watch episodes one, two and three to watch episode four,” said Abrams. “Fringe,” he says, “doesn’t require the sort of insane, absolute dedication” one might need to follow shows like “Alias” and “Lost.” (Hibberd has an interesting quote about Abrams finding an old “Alias” episode “impenetrable.”) * Abrams said the version that was leaked online is not the version to be broadcast this fall. (Hopefully this doesn’t mean we’ll see a less scary or gory version of the pilot’s opening.) “We” didn’t leak the pilot, said producer Bryan Burk. * "It wasn't like, 'Let's do "The X-Files" again,'" said Abrams. “We started and made a list of all the shows we like ... certainly 'Twlight Zone,' 'Night Stalker' are ones I really like," said Abrams. * "'X-Files' was an inspiration as well, but that's not where we started. ... I wanted to do a show with geniuses solving problems," said co-scripter Roberto Orci. For those just joining us, "Fringe" is about a hot FBI girl who teams with a father-son team of geniuses to investigate a growing wave of paranormal activity engulfing the globe. It hits Fox this autumn. One can read my review of the leaked version of the pilot here Read all of Hibberd’s story on the TCA event here.

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Readers Talkback
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  • July 14, 2008, 2:39 p.m. CST


    by fishpillow

    The pilot sucked! I hope they fix it up before it airs.

  • July 14, 2008, 2:41 p.m. CST

    This is bad news...

    by andtheflesh

    Abrams having his mitts all over the show is an awful plan. He's an idea guy, not a great writer or director. Additionally, making the show more episodic and with less story threading is a terrible idea. The pilot was decent but this new info is quickly lessening my anticipation.

  • July 14, 2008, 2:43 p.m. CST


    by RokurGepta


  • July 14, 2008, 2:44 p.m. CST


    by Thunderbolt Ross

    Whatever happened with Lost, it worked out really well. Maybe he should abandon this show too.

  • July 14, 2008, 2:44 p.m. CST

    "A Show with Geniuses Solving Problems"

    by Squashua

    So, Fringe is Monk with Blood?

  • July 14, 2008, 2:46 p.m. CST

    "not a great writer or director."

    by Hercules

    so I gather you didn't enjoy the universally acclaimed "Alias" and "Lost" pilots?

  • July 14, 2008, 2:46 p.m. CST

    by andtheflesh

    Fringe appears to be the X-Files with more production value and less aliens. They keep trying to distance the show from that description but I've watched the pilot, that's what the show is no matter how much they deny it.

  • July 14, 2008, 2:47 p.m. CST


    by holyguacamole

    I love J.J.

  • July 14, 2008, 2:48 p.m. CST

    Fix it like this

    by Diagnostic

    Have a hot FBI agent solve <br>mysteries with the girls.

  • July 14, 2008, 2:49 p.m. CST

    fringe=X Files + House

    by j2talk

  • July 14, 2008, 2:49 p.m. CST


    by andtheflesh

    I was not a big fan of Alias, no. As for Lost, the pilot was great but not for it's writing. The dialogue in that episode is not of the same caliber as the show went on. Now maybe that's not Abrams fault, could be the actors were still settling into their characters, but I would argue that the plot layout and the idea behind the pilot was better than the actual writing of it. Seriously, go back and watch the pilot again, it's amateurish (flame on) compared to even the end of that season.

  • July 14, 2008, 2:54 p.m. CST

    I only watched Alias and Lost...

    by CrazyGnome

    because the story was epic and was built episode by episode. The new X-files movie will fail. Why? Because we want to know about the freaking aliens. Not a random thriller mystery. Hell, he has created enough great stuff, how can I not give the series a real shot. I owe JJ more then that for all the great entertainment.

  • July 14, 2008, 2:56 p.m. CST

    Leaked episode...

    by viranth

    is not going to be the same that's aired this fall? I bet you my soul that it'll be the exact same episode that's aired. Might be minute changes, but it will not make any difference. The show has TONS of potentional, but episodic content isn't very good for this show.

  • July 14, 2008, 3:09 p.m. CST

    The pilot has me interested in watching more

    by RokurGepta

    The lead actress is hawt... the story has potential, but... it's on FOX.... so who knows what's going to happen

  • July 14, 2008, 3:12 p.m. CST

    he didn't say which night stalker

    by RaveX

    and for his own sake, I hope it because it goes without saying...

  • July 14, 2008, 3:14 p.m. CST

    People get so hung up...

    by aversiontherapy2

    on comparisons. This ISN'T the X-Files, sure there are things in common but there are things in common with a ton of other shows as well. I liked the Fringe pilot and I think it can easily stand on its own without all these cheap and easy, but fallacious comparisons.

  • July 14, 2008, 3:15 p.m. CST

    "I hope IT'S because it goes"

    by RaveX

    WTB edit button.

  • July 14, 2008, 3:33 p.m. CST

    Inspired by The Night Stalker... just like Chris Carter!

    by tonagan

    "But really, it's not like the X-Files at all. Now let me tell you about my show. Her boss is named Skiller, and she gets help from a trio of goofy characters called the Grassy Knoll Gang..."

  • July 14, 2008, 3:52 p.m. CST

    It can't be the same version, viranth

    by GregoryHarbin

    It wasn't the right length. Fringe is going to be fifty minutes per episode, and the leaked episode was around 83 minutes. Either they're going to cut 33 minutes (not crazy, it was a little slow), or they need to add another 15 or so. But bottom line, I assumed when I watched it that it wasn't final, just based on the length.

  • July 14, 2008, 3:57 p.m. CST

    The teaser commercial has me intrigued

    by skimn

    even moreso than the X Files movie. My only concern is Joshua Jackson. Even though I've never seen one episode, I can't think of anything but Dawson's Creek when I see him.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Of Course they leaked the Pilot

    by SamBlackChvrch21

    Same thing with Heroes a few years back. They leake it on purpose and gauge response from the truly dedicated viewers, which mainly comprise these boards and forums.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:12 p.m. CST


    by viranth

    Interesting, didn't notice it was 83 minutes, but I agree, they should have no problems cutting it down, making it a bit more fast paced. If anything, it could become even better.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:18 p.m. CST

    you guys are fucking morans sometimes

    by RokurGepta

    it was 83 minutes because it will be a 2 hour pilot... just add commercials

  • July 14, 2008, 4:19 p.m. CST

    Abrams is the most overrated guy working today.

    by Holeman

    They pull LOST out of their ass on a weekly basis and have no fucking idea where it's going or how to get there and as a result, I'm not surprised it feels fucked up and boring as it does. "Alias" was among the convoluted bullshit ever to air on TV. I saw the pilot for "Fringe" and it looks like more of the same shit.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:24 p.m. CST


    by Inglorious Bastard

    Fringe, along with Dollhouse, is airing with limited commercial interruption, as was highly publicized already. 37 minutes of commercials in 2 hours isn't limited. In comparison, Lost, which has waaaay too many commercials, clocks in at around 10-15 minutes of ads. Therefore the finished episode must be either shorter or longer.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:28 p.m. CST

    Great Glam is blowing it's ad budget.

    by Quin the Eskimo

    Unless this transitioned into a tranny board when I wasn't looking.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:28 p.m. CST

    ok with limited commercial interruption....

    by RokurGepta

    lemme think hey look a 90 minute pilot.... 83 minutes of show, with 7 minutes of commercials, seems like very limited commercial interruption to me... <br> now from what I understand, the leaked pilot isn't the final product that is going to eventually be the pilot that airs on tv, but i can see them cutting 20+ minutes out of what we've already seen, so unless they add more footage, i'm going with a 90 minute pilot....

  • July 14, 2008, 4:28 p.m. CST


    by MetiphisLabs

    Please go back to whatever planet you came from.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:37 p.m. CST

    So is Abrams taking our advice from these Talkbacks?

    by Jim Jam Bongs

    My honest constructive criticism: The pilot doesn't need to be two hours (82 minutes). JJ, edit the whole thing down to 41 minutes -- you know you can do it, because the actual plot is 41 minutes stretched out. There are several scenes which could be cut out completely, and character backstory (especially the lead FBI agent's) which should be held off and would be better revealed in future episodes. You can put this deleted stuff as bonus features on the Season 1 DVD box set.<p><p>Fringe already has potential problems (not retaining a significant potential female viewership, being the primary one). But, really, the biggest one is that the pilot should not be two episode hours long.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:41 p.m. CST

    But i like the insane, absolute dedication

    by newc0253

    Alias was only worth watching when it demanded that kind of attention. It began to suck when it lost that from season 4 onwards.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:45 p.m. CST

    "Limited" commercial interruptions doesn't mean "less" commercia

    by Jim Jam Bongs

    It means, literally, fewer breaks for a commercial. But the number of commercials (the total running time of them) could be the same -- just that there are fewer breaks to a commercial. The Fringe pilot (the not for air, given out to industry people version) is 83 minutes long. That is the standard runtime now for 2 hours of programming on network television.

  • July 14, 2008, 4:55 p.m. CST


    by billypilgrimisunstuck

    Constructive criticism please. You're just bitching.

  • July 14, 2008, 5:21 p.m. CST

    Nuked the Fringe.

    by mrfan

    Whoops. My bad.<p>It really doesn't look that bad. Probably give it a few episodes to see if I will continue to watch.

  • July 14, 2008, 5:34 p.m. CST

    Lacked the originality and ambition of the Lost pilot..

    by brolly

    There wasn't one new idea in the pilot of this show, felt like an empty mishmash of other shows with to flaw to the script of storyline. It felt a lot like that pilot a couple of years ago, THRESHOLD I think it was, 'cept that had more gore and a sarcastic midget in it. This has nothing.

  • July 14, 2008, 5:37 p.m. CST

    "Deeply Involved" placates FOX

    by G100

    After all it's not like FOX have a reputation for cancelling shows or anything...<p> <p>No doubt he is doing all he can to ensure this gets a full season run and beyond. Retooling the Pilot would seem to indicate this too.<p> <p>There's easily room for a show like this and he seems to want to make it far less arc based so it may be interesting indeed to see how it turns out episode by episode.

  • July 14, 2008, 5:37 p.m. CST


    by Dradis Contact

    Didn't that also have Carla Gugino in it?

  • July 14, 2008, 5:43 p.m. CST

    John Noble and Lance Reddick are all Win

    by G100

    Can't underestimate that part of the show either.

  • July 14, 2008, 5:47 p.m. CST

    Not the version...

    by the_patriot

    "Abrams said the version that was leaked online is not the version to be broadcast this fall..." YEAH, RIGHT. We're gonna make changes! Seriously! Make sure you actually watch it with all the commercials and all the other bullshiat because we didn't mean to leak it so early and have our entire audience see the damned thing already. PLEEEEEEEEEEASE! (ahem) After watching this pilot, I'm not so much interested in what they do or don't change with the pilot - I'm more interested to see the 3rd or 4th episode - and see what kind of budget/production value/storyline they create past the premise. While it was an entertaining show, it's hardly original - here's hoping they do something that IS original with it...outside of the floating interstitial titles...

  • July 14, 2008, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Nuked the Fringe...

    by br1947

    Someone had to say it. Besides, Fox + sci-fi? We know where this story is going.

  • July 14, 2008, 5:54 p.m. CST

    JJ is a deceitful liar.

    by V'Shael

    When some paymaster waves a giant wad of cash in front of his face, he will hightail it out of there like he's just remembered that Jennifer Garner is still naked in his basement.

  • July 14, 2008, 6:01 p.m. CST

    Fox is heading back to genre TV from reality crap

    by Yeti

    TSCC, Fringe, and Dollhouse are all good signs. Have some faith people. <p> Constructive critisism my ass. What's wrong sweetie? Bitter cause your script for a pilot you've been shopping around since graduation in the mid 90's still isn't getting any nibbles?

  • July 14, 2008, 6:02 p.m. CST


    by snowpuff

    Why are you shooting yourself in the foot? If this show lasts more than a couple of seasons... you'll be deeply involved??? While you're shooting motions pictures?<br> <br> C'mon. I don't blame you for letting Alias go adrift - let's call that a learning experience. But saying you're going to be "deeply involved" on this show... I just don't know why you're committing to something that you're going to find almost impossible to fulfill...

  • July 14, 2008, 6:12 p.m. CST

    I agree that the pilot should be cut to 1 hour

    by Prof. Pop-Cult

    There were industry reports where the producers boasted that the plot/act structure of the pilot was unique, because it had 4 or 5 acts instead of the 8 or 10 that a usual two-hour programming time typically uses. Well, guess what? The Transformer writer guys did a crap job of it. It IS just a one hour episode that has been doubled in running time. So many of the scenes drag, character backstories which are awkwardly shoehorned in, a number of scenes could just be dropped entirely -- even the cool 3D graphics interstitial location text feel like they run longer than they should. Fox should write off the extra money they paid for an 83 minute pilot, and accept that this can all be cut down to 41 minutes and would work far better. This new series must open with a bang, and not be a drawn-out premiere.

  • July 14, 2008, 6:21 p.m. CST

    "Geniuses solving problems"

    by photoboy

    If they want to do a show about geniuses, using Kurtzmann and Orci is about the worst choice they could have made. Their scripts are more along the lines of retards solving a join-the-dots puzzle.<br><br> I'm not surprised Abrams is trying to pretend the leaked version isn't near what the final episode will be like, because the leaked version was a derivative, boring X-Files knock-off. Most of the X-Files rip-offs from the '90s were better than it. Especially Dark Skies, mainly because of Megan Ward...

  • July 14, 2008, 6:24 p.m. CST

    Commercials: you guys must have missed all the news

    by GregoryHarbin

    Here's just one of many articles about the longer episodes:<p><p> I know you're sorry for calling me a moron, Roker.<p> For the record: each episode will be around 50 minutes in length. That, plus five minutes of national commercials, and five minutes of station commercials, makes an hour of TV.<p> 'Fringe' is premiering as a two-hour premier, so the 83 minute screener will need to be expanded to 100 minutes for broadcast.<p> It's not that complicated.

  • July 14, 2008, 6:46 p.m. CST

    John Noble better stay on this show

    by performingmonkey

    He elevated the pilot. He needs to stay and he'll be the show's lifeblood. If only Sarah Conner Chronicles had anyone with his class.

  • July 14, 2008, 6:51 p.m. CST

    No Star Trek at ComicCon????

    by Bones

    What is up with that? I mean, wouldn't you think that JJ and everyone would want to promote that film to the fans? This is the only time (well, I guess Wondercon and the NYCC) that they have to promote the film before it comes out next spring.<p> Doesn't show a lot of confidence, does it?

  • July 14, 2008, 7:53 p.m. CST


    by RokurGepta

    83 minutes would be perfect for a 90 minute pilot... 5 minutes per hour of commercials right. only 2 extra minutes of commercials needed to fill up the 90 minutes... the math sounds about right....

  • July 14, 2008, 8:06 p.m. CST


    by GregoryHarbin

    It's not a 90 minute pilot. It's a two hour pilot. Do I need to do a Google search to find you a link to that well-spread press release as well?

  • July 14, 2008, 8:10 p.m. CST


    by RokurGepta

    yes please

  • July 14, 2008, 8:25 p.m. CST


    by RokurGepta

    found it

  • July 14, 2008, 8:43 p.m. CST

    They need to keep jaw-falling-off guy.

    by Christopher3

    I'm not watching if they ditch that scene!

  • for a third season. It was February 27 when TV Guide reported she was still not under contract. The negotiations took over one-third of a year, but now, it's finally resolved. She'll only be on for 5 (?) episodes, but it shouldn't have taken that long for Kring and NBC/Universal to get her on board. WTF took so long, in your opinion?

  • July 14, 2008, 9 p.m. CST

    Yeti, TSCC, does give some hope

    by br1947

    but the rest you listed have yet to air. The way I'll believe Fox at this point is somewhere around season 3.

  • July 14, 2008, 9:05 p.m. CST

    "They pull LOST out of their ass on a weekly basis"

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    If this were true, I'd be pretty impressed.<p>Also, "nuked the fridge" is a terrible, terrible catch phrase.

  • July 14, 2008, 9:35 p.m. CST


    by necgray

    You have "Jedi" in your name. George Lucas is a genius, right?

  • July 14, 2008, 9:43 p.m. CST

    pennsy, please, stop it with the Bell

    by necgray

    Fringe. JJ Abrams. No mention of "Heroes" or "Tim Kring" or "Veronica Mars" or "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" or ANYTHING Kristen Bell. Maybe what took so long was Bell seriously considering whether or not to give the show another chance after that craptastic S2. OR Kring and NBC/Universal were seriously considering if she brought anything at all interesting to the show.

  • July 14, 2008, 10:10 p.m. CST

    I Was Deeply Involved In How Much CLOVERFIELD Sucked Ass

    by LaserPants

    Worst faux documentary movie EVAR! When the characters do things nobody would do in real life, when physical reality is bent out of all recognizable shape, it ceases being a believable event and takes on the aspect of unintentional comedy. Yeah, GODZILLA has all kinds of ridiculous stuff in it, but its not supposed to be really happening, whereas CLOVERFIELD begs us to stretch the suspension of disbelief to the breaking point, and then breaks it, and then theres still like 45 increasingly insipid minutes of movie left. TERRIBLE. After the first attack, which was really cool, really scary, and really well done, it steadily went down the shit slide to hell. People in the theatre I was in burst out laughing at the end. No joke! Clearly NOT the directors intention. I'd nominate it for one of the worst movies of the year, if only because it had so much promise and fucked it up so badly. Then again, it did make a mint, so clearly I do not understand the psychology of your average retarded teenager (the only people who liked it).

  • July 14, 2008, 10:13 p.m. CST

    Bell's character Elle will be killed off...

    by Prof. Pop-Cult

    That's my prediction, which is admittedly a cynical one. She's been signed for 5 episodes, so I doubt her character lives beyond the fifth appearance. It would be cool if they didn't kill her off and instead came up with another (and more creative) way to put Elle on indefinite hiatus (putting her into a coma, for example).

  • July 14, 2008, 10:16 p.m. CST

    And The Sad Thing Is It Could Have Been Good, Nay, GREAT

    by LaserPants

    If it was done from multiple perspectives, shifting viewpoints, from frantic news broadcasts to hand held cameras to phones to surveillance cameras and beyond; a truly post-modern giant monster epic where the event itself becomes the main character, Imagine that! Imagine if Abrams actually had the balls and brains to do such a thing? Sadly, in these troubled times, mediocrity is praised for some friggin' reason that escapes me utterly. Oh well. De-evolultion is very real apparently.

  • July 14, 2008, 10:20 p.m. CST

    I Know A Way To Put Kristin Bell On Hiatus

    by LaserPants

    She suddenly is overcome with an uncontrollable nymphomaniac passion for me, LaserPants, and decides that she wants to fuck me for the duration of her hotness (I reckon she has a good 2 to 5 years left in her). And not just regular fucking, but deeply transgressive hardcore shit that would make Larry Flynt blush. So, yeah, she walls herself up in my house and just becomes my sex slave for the next 5 years.

  • July 14, 2008, 10:32 p.m. CST

    83 minutes??? what version did you people download?

    by Holodigm

    i got mine off the torrents and it clocks in at 121:50. and as much as i hate to rag on JJ, it was pretty boring. the first part was pretty awesome, but once john noble showed up it turned into the same old "ooh look at the weird guy!" crap. plus dream sequences suck balls.

  • July 14, 2008, 10:56 p.m. CST

    83 minutes = 1 minute of end credits

    by Prof. Pop-Cult

    People are assuming that the finalized end credits will run under 1 minute. Anyway, I just don't see how they can shoot and add more footage to this, because at 82 minutes, it's already kinda dull, which is why they should just cut it down to less than an hour.

  • July 14, 2008, 11:40 p.m. CST

    Published on Wednesday, December 31, 1969 - 7:00pm

    by couP

    that's what i get for this dark knight link that's in my AICN rss feed

  • July 15, 2008, 1:47 a.m. CST

    FUCK THIS!!! Bring back Miracles, dammit!!!

    by Han Cholo

    Now that Jericho is on the fringe, pun intended, they should bring back Skeet Ulrich and that hot latina chick, with Angus McFadyen to revive Miracles. That show was badass!!!

  • July 15, 2008, 3:13 a.m. CST

    MI:3 was utter shit

    by kwisatzhaderach

    and a box office disappointment. So they give Abrams control of Star Trek. Yeah, way to go Paramount.

  • July 15, 2008, 3:14 a.m. CST

    Kurtz and Orci

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Can anyone give me one piece of memorable dialogue these two have penned? Apart from "We must find the Allspark!" obviously.

  • July 15, 2008, 5:45 a.m. CST

    LaserPants, I like Cloverfield

    by necgray

    I'm neither mentally retarded nor a teenager. Does it stretch believability with the single-camera technique? Yeah, it does. But I have just as many problems with multi-camera faux documentaries. I'm not going to argue the film as vehemently as I would others because I can see most of the points people make about it, I just disagree. But I will say that your theory about teenagers is wrong. Faux docs are a hard sell for an audience. I watched people walk out of and talk through The Blair Witch Project and thought they were just as ignorant and ridiculous as I would have felt about your "laughing" audience. A reaction I didn't see once in the three times I saw it in the theater.

  • July 15, 2008, 10:05 a.m. CST

    Then I'm deeply uninterested

    by gruntybear

    I've had my fill of the masturbatory excess that is "Lost."

  • July 15, 2008, 1:17 p.m. CST


    by Boborci

    You'll see. I'll go through our scripts and find a good line before the summer is over. We'll show you!

  • July 15, 2008, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Twilight Zone and Night Stalker...inspirations?

    by brokemart

    Well, if TZ and Night Stalker are shows the creators really liked, here's hoping they actually take some inspiration from them. It's good to hear Abrams say you can actually miss an episode and not be hopelessly lost when you do sit down to watch it. I'm sick of having to watch a show religiously for two years just to get familiar with the characters (Lost, Alias). Everything's getting to be like a damned soap opera. Give me a good anthology any day.

  • July 15, 2008, 11:04 p.m. CST

    gruntybear, what is masturbatory or excessive

    by necgray

    about Lost? Seriously, let's just take your hyperbolic word as literal just for a moment. What, exactly, about Lost is self-pleasuring or self-absorbed, moreso than any other TV show? What aspect of the show could be considered over the line in comparison to other shows? And is that excess or just different? If you like more straightforward narrative storytelling in your TV shows, you can find plenty of that. Meanwhile we Lost fans will continue to be mesmerized by the character and narrative complexities offered by the show. Even if those complexities take a long time to unravel.

  • July 16, 2008, 2:01 a.m. CST

    holodigm.. um...

    by soup74

    do you really think the version you got from the torrents is 121.50 minutes long? try opening it's 1 hour, 21.5 minutes. (basically 83 minutes)

  • July 16, 2008, 1:56 p.m. CST

    Yeah ummm... Lost and Alias were horrible?

    by claytron5000

    Who are these tools? I'm so fucking sick of these supposed "scifi" fandoms that basically rip anything that isn't directly spawned from some obscure graphic novel or an homage to a Romero film. Go away, get a job and enjoy life and try not to leave your jizz on the floor during The Dark Knight.