By the time J.J. Abrams made his way down the red carpet for Fox's annual Fall Eco-Casino Party, a group of reporters had to share his limited time. Abrams tried to stall them by playing with their flip cameras and promoting his buddy Greg Grunberg's iPhone app Yowza. SCI FI Wire pressed hard for answers to questions on Fringe's second season, Lost's final season and film projects Star Trek 2 and Mission: Impossible IV. We picked up a few tidbits from the gaggle, too.
The season premiere of Fox's Fringe features Olivia Dunham's (Anna Torv) return from her visit "over there," the parallel universe. Future episodes promise to explore more about the Observer (Michael Cerveris) and his kind. Meanwhile, over on ABC, Lost leaves us wondering whether Juliet stopped the Oceanic Flight 815 crash.
All the while, Abrams and writing team Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof keep hinting at their development of a Star Trek 2 script.
The following Q&A features edited excerpts from the group interview with Abrams on Monday night in West Hollywood, Calif. Fringe moves to Thursdays starting Sept. 17 on Fox, and Lost returns to ABC in January. (Possible spoilers ahead!)
The season premiere of Fringe focuses on Olivia's return to this world. When will we go back to "over there"?
Abrams: Well, the first episode is sort of meant to kind of reset things, and for those who have never seen the show, offer a way in. It has the advantage of being almost better than the pilot. You never have to have seen the show to see the first episode and hopefully get sucked in. So what happens in the very beginning, this crazy sort of situation that she finds herself in is in a sense meant to be the premise for what this year is about. So what you're asking is really what happens over the course of the whole second season.
What will we learn about the Observers this year?
Abrams: Again, you saw in the first season, this guy who was around. You learn there is a relationship that this sort of oddball dude had with Walter [John Noble], but what he really did, what his purpose was, was not clear at all. This year we'll get behind that.
And we'll meet more of them?
Abrams: Check it out, you'll see. It's cool.
How is Lost going to make sense of all these timelines they've started and perhaps altered?
Abrams: Every Lost question should be directed to Damon [Lindelof], and I'll give you his home number later. He said any hours you can call him. I don't know what that means.
Could you come back to direct an episode of Lost?
Abrams: I'd love to direct another episode. It would be fun. You have to ask Damon, same thing.
Is there room in your schedule to do another show when you're already stretched so thin with movies?
Abrams: Well, sadly, I'm working on a couple things right now that will test your theory, but the fact is that I'm working with some people like Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman, who are running Fringe, though it's not quite the same thing as when I did Lost with Damon Lindelof. He really has run that show since the first year.
My involvement with Fringe, though, much more so than Lost, is, generally speaking, becoming less and less critical, because Jeff and Joel are there every day, and they're really running. So when I wrote the first episode and am involved in this season, they're doing an amazing job, which helps free up time to work on other things. I am incredibly ADD in that way.
Where are you in talks for Star Trek 2?
Abrams: We're hopefully going to have everyone, obviously, from the first cast. I keep trying to spread this rumor that I'm going to recast Kirk as Greg Grunberg, but no one ever prints it.
Have you settled on what direction you're going to take it?
Abrams: We're just starting on that. Yes, we know the direction, but it's very early. We're working on a script right now still. I can tell you it's cool. We have some really cool ideas, but it's too early.
So Orci and Kurtzman have physically started writing?
Abrams: No, but we've started talking story, and Damon's writing it with them.
Any momentum on Mission: Impossible IV?
Abrams: Yeah, we have a really cool story. It's being written right now by Andre Nemec and Josh Applebaum.
What's your ETA on when you'll see the draft?
Abrams: We're hoping to get it soon, like by the end of the year.
Could it work out for you to direct it?
Abrams: I'm open to anything.
What about that secret romantic movie Morning Glory?
Abrams: Morning Glory is being edited right now. It comes out next year.
Does it have a release date?
Abrams: Not yet.