J.J. Abrams may be one of Hollywood’s most in-demand filmmakers at the moment, but with small screen smashes like “Lost” and “Alias,” he remains a powerhouse television producer as well.
By early 2012, his Bad Robot production company is expected to have three shows – “Fringe,” “Alcatraz” and “Person of Interest” – on two networks, and Abrams tells PopcornBiz there’s still plenty of J.J. TV to come - maybe even in the seemingly boundary-less landscape of cable television.
“Yes, I would love to [do a show for cable],” he says. “I have a vague idea for something that I don't think would ever work on a network, but some of those shows I've thought of have ended up on network and I've been proven right. I'd love to try and get one on a cable network at some point.”
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As the producer/director who so successfully reinvented television’s most enduring sci-fi series for the multiplex, would Abrams ever consider shepherding “Star Trek” back to the small screen after his film franchise has run its course? “I don't know,” he muses, appearing to give the notion thought for the very first time. “It's never really come up, frankly, but depending on what that would sort of be and how it would be done I'd be open to the idea of it. Right now we're just sort of focusing on making a movie that's worth people's time."
And as for the rebooted “Trek” sequel, which seems closer than ever to leaving drydock: “I'm excited. We're working hard. We're very close and I hope to have something to talk about concretely soon. I do feel like if 'Trek' happens as we hope that it will, it will be a fun return to that group of people, because it's an amazing group.”
“Star Trek” was one of the very first TV series to be successfully translated to the multiplex, but does Abrams see a second life on the big screen for any of his own series a generation or two down the line? “I think that people could probably come up with better ideas for movies than rehashing my old TV shows,” he chuckles.
And lastly, were there lessons to be learned from the failure of the 2010 spy series “Undercovers,” a rare recent Bad Robot production that failed to catch fire with viewers? “I felt the problem with the show was that I made bad choices,” Abrams insists. “I think I wasn't as respectful of the audience or the characters and I didn't give people anything of substance. The thing that's fun about fluff is that it needs to be contextualized: it needs to be fun and fluffy within something of meaning. It was kind of fluff on top of fluff as opposed to something more substantial. I just honestly think I sort of wrote into mediocrity and I feel guilty because I love the actors, I love the idea of the show, but ultimately if you don't have a great conflict, you've got what you have.”