This clip of J.J. Abrams talking about storytelling and Star Wars is excerpted from a 2007 talk at the annual TED Conference. In the clip (watch it below) Abrams talks about “the mystery box,” the key information that’s withheld in a story that makes the story intriguing and compelling. As he puts it: “The intentional withholding of information is much more engaging.” The talk was a big hit today on the social media site Reddit when someone dug it out and pointed to it as evidence Abrams will be a terrific director of the next Star Wars, which he was assigned last week.
In the larger presentation (you can view it on the jump), Abrams ranges widely on the nature of storytelling, with clips from his own show Lost as well as Jaws. He references his childhood Super 8 camera, a never-opened box of magic tricks from his beloved grandfather, the biggest mystery box of all, and one of the three rules of the universe: Don’t hurt Tom Cruise’s nose.
UPDATED: J.J. Abrams is having a pretty good end of the week. After signing on to direct the next Star Wars movie yesterday, he received two pilot orders today. NBC has greenlighted Believe, Abrams’ project with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón. The network also has ordered Undateable, a comedy from writer Adam Sztykiel (Due Date) and producer Bill Lawrence.
The Fringe legacy continues at Fox. Days after the cult series ended its run, the network has given a pilot order to a new sci-fi drama from Fringe‘s J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman. The untitled Warner Bros. TV/Bad Robot-produced project is described as an action-packed buddy cop show, set in the near future, when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. In a competitive situation, the drama landed at Fox in September with a pilot production commitment. Wyman wrote the pilot and will executive produce with Bad Robot’s Abrams and Bryan Burk. Kathy Lingg is co-exec producing.
This is one of two dramas from A-list auspices this season set in a world where human-looking robots co-exist with humans. The other, from Howard Gordon and Josh Friedman, which has a big penalty at NBC, is still awaiting word. NBC also is yet to pull the trigger on Abrams’ high-concept drama with Alfonso Cuarón, which has a pilot production commitment and had been exploring casting since December.
The terminally ill Star Trek fan who got his wish to see the latest movie before its May release has died. New York’s Subway Cinema reported on its Facebook page that Daniel Craft died Friday …
Never let it be said that J.J. Abrams doesn’t go out of his way for Star Trek fans. During the holidays the director learned through a series of communications over Reddit and Twitter about a dying man’s wish to see …
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros TV is exploring casting of key roles in its high-concept drama project from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams. The project, tentatively titled Believe, already has a pilot production commitment. It is not unusual for studios to do preliminary casting work on high-profile projects before a formal green light, especially those with a strong, hard-to-find lead whose casting can make or break a show. WBTV is doing the same with the lead in its potential Wonder Woman origin series at the CW, Amazon.
Directed by Cuarón and written by him and Mark Friedman, Believe is about a girl in possession of a great gift/powers — which will come into their own in seven years– and the man who is sprung from prison to protect her from those trying to hunt her down. The breakdown, released this week by casting director April Webster, is searching for the young lead: 10-year-old Bo, innocent and beautiful, a regular girl who has a depth and mystery to her.
Adulting, a half-hour single-camera comedy from The Vow co-writers Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, Warner Bros TV and J.J. Abrams’ studio-based Bad Robot, has landed at Fox with a put pilot commitment.
Adulting is based on the upcoming book Adulting: How To Become A Grown-Up In 387 Easy(ish) Steps by Oregon-based journalist Kelly Williams Brown, which spawned from Brown’s blog of the same name. The blog is described as a quirky, humorous guide on how to become an adult. In it, she dishes out advice on a wide range of issues, from how to take care of your basic human needs, how to discuss politics with friends, how not to look like a slut at work, how to deal with dangerous toasters and how to shut down office creepers (Watch one of Brown’s videos below). The tone of the blog and Brown’s persona appear close to Fox’s quirky New Girl, making Adulting a potential companion for the network’s flagship comedy.
UPDATED: J.J. Abrams is staying put at Warner Bros Television. The uber-writer-director-producer has closed a new three-year development and production deal with the TV studio, where Bad Robot Prods — which Abrams runs with long-time partner Bryan Burk — has been based since 2006. Back then, Abrams inked simultaneously two massive deals: a first-look pact with Paramount and a development/production deal with Warner Bros TV. In February, Abrams and Paramount extended their deal through end of 2015. Now the new pact with WBTV will keep him at the studio until 2015.
With his old deal coming up, I hear there was no question on Warner Bros’ or Abrams’ mind whether to continue the relationship. Like with any deals of that scope (the original deal reportedly guaranteed $4 million plus $2 million in overhead per year), it took time for terms to be negotiated. (UPDATE: We hear a major sticking point was the fact that the Bad Robot-produced CBS series Person of Interest is not available online.) But while talks were going on, it was business as usual on the development and production side, as evidenced by the pilot production commitment that Bad Robot and WBTV landed at Fox last night for a robot-cop drama written by Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman. Under the extension, Bad Robot will continue developing new TV projects to be produced in association with Warner Bros Television, with Abrams and Burk serving as executive producers.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Fox bid farewell to its never-quite-a-hit cult drama Fringe late this afternoon with a panel featuring exec producer J.H.…
NBC went on a comedy pickup spree today, ordering four new series to join previously ordered Go On. That includes 1600 Penn, The New Normal, Save Me and Animal Practice. All five are single-camera, the format that has completely dominated NBC’s comedy slots since the network’s last big multi-camera comedy series, Will & Grace, went off the air in 2006. The quintet includes one workplace comedy, Animal Practice, a genre that has dominated NBC’s Thursday comedy block for the last few years. It also features two family comedies, a genre NBC had been looking to get into, both with a twist and an edge: a blended family of a gay couple and a surrogate (The New Normal) and a dysfunctional First Family living in the White House (1600 Penn). The remaining two comedies, Save Me and Go On, have a somewhat cable sensibility as they are centered on a flawed/wounded central character.
Missing from the list of NBC comedy pickups so far are multi-camera sitcoms. The network was very bullish on the multi-camera format earlier this pilot season, with 30% of its pilot orders going to traditional sitcoms. Despite being shut out today, multi-camera comedies will still likely have some presence on NBC’s schedule next year. There are three multi-camera pilots that are still in contention, with NBC expected to make a decision shortly. The Jimmy Fallon-produced Guys With Kids, which is meeting with writers, is considered a strong bet. If multi-camera freshman Whitney is indeed going away, its is logical to assume that NBC would pick up a companion for Guys between the two other multi-camera pilots still in the running, Daddy’s Girls, which has been gaining momentum, and early standout Lady Friends, which has lost some steam. (Also a possibility for midseason is singe-camera magical family comedy Isabel. The remaining NBC pilots, Friday Night Dinner, Sarah Silverman, Hilary Winston and Downwardly Mobile, are no longer in contention.)
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that JJ Abrams and his Bad Robot production banner partnered with EVP Bryan Burk are one of, and perhaps the, most important relationships at Paramount. So this is no surprise. But betcha the terms were rich indeed to extend their first-look deal through the end of 2015. The deal dates back to 2006. Grosses on Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol are now $670M globally while those for the Star Trek reboot hit $385M worldwide. Abrams is right now shooting the Star Trek sequel which he’s producing and directing. Under the Paramount deal, Abrams also has made Cloverfield (producing) and Super 8 (producing and directing), both of which did well at the global box office.
UPDATE: Here’s the official press release -
HOLLYWOOD, CA (February 22, 2012) – Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc., and Bad Robot Productions jointly today announced an extension of their exclusive, first-look agreement through December 2015.
The prolific production company, whose original first look deal with Paramount began in 2006, is currently shooting the next installment of the studio’s Star Trek franchise. Once again, Abrams is directing and Bad Robot is producing the tent-pole, which will be released in 3D on May 17, 2013.
“J.J. is a unique talent and a captivating storyteller,” said Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. “J.J., Bryan Burk and the whole Bad Robot team are an integral part of Paramount and we’re proud to continue our collaboration. Their pictures have extraordinary resonance around the world and we’re so pleased Paramount will be their home for years to come.”