Abrams, J.J. 1966–

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Abrams, J.J. 1966–

(Jeffrey Abrams, Jeffrey Jacob Abrams)


Born June 27, 1966, in New York, NY; son of Gerald W. Abrams (a producer); married Katie McGrath, 1996; children: Henry, Gracie, August. Education: Sarah Lawrence College, B.A., 1988.


Agent—Endeavor, 9701 Wilshire Blvd., 10th Fl., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.


Producer, director, actor, and screenwriter. Producer of films, including (with others) Regarding Henry, Paramount, 1991; (executive producer) Forever Young, Warner Bros., Inc., 1992; The Pallbearer, Miramax, 1996; The Suburbans, Ignite Entertainment/Motion Picture Corporation of America, 1999; Joy Ride (also known as Road Kill), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001; Cloverfield, Bad Robot, 2008; and Star Trek, Paramount, 2009. Actor in films, including (as delivery boy) Regarding Henry, Paramount, 1991; (as Doug) Six Degrees of Separation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1993; (as second video photographer) Diabolique, Warner Bros., Inc., 1996; (as rock journalist) The Suburbans, Ignite Entertainment/Motion Picture Corporation of America, 1999. Director of films, including Mission Impossible III, Paramount, 2006, and Star Trek, Paramount, 2009.

Worked on television series, including (as creator, executive producer, director of some episodes, and theme song performer and composer) Felicity, Warner Bros., Inc., 1998-2002; and (as creator, executive producer, title designer, director of some episodes, and composer of main theme and other music) Alias, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC), 2001-06; (as cocreator, producer, writer) Lost, ABC, 2004—; (as executive producer) What about Brian, Bad Robot, 2006-07; (as executive producer) Six Degrees, Bad Robot, 2006-07; and (as executive producer and writer) Fringe, Bad Robot, 2008.

Composer of music and creator of sound effects for the film Nightbeast, 1983.


Top Television Series, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Film and Television Music Awards, 2005, 2006, for Lost (with Michael Giacchino); Emmy Award, Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, for Lost (with others); Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Drama, Producers Guild of America (PGA), 2006, for Lost (with others); Writers Guild of America Award (WGA) Award (TV) for Drama Series, 2006, for Lost (with others).



(As Jeffrey Abrams) Regarding Henry, Paramount, 1991.

(As Jeffrey Abrams) Forever Young, Warner Bros., Inc., 1992.

(As Jeffrey Abrams, with Jill Mazursky) Gone Fishin', Buena Vista, 1997.

(With others) Armageddon, Buena Vista, 1998.

(With Clay Tarver) Joy Ride (also known as Road Kill), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001.

(With others) Mission Impossible III, Paramount, 2006.

Also author of, with Jill Mazursky, Taking Care of Business (also known as Filofax), 1991.


Felicity, Warner Bros., Inc., 1998-2002.

Alias, ABC, 2001-2006.

Lost, ABC, 2004-.

Fringe, ABC, 2008.


With Breen Frazier, wrote the Alias video game, 2003.


Alias has been adapted for numerous novelizations by other authors, including Father Figure, by Laura Peyton Roberts, Bantam, 2003, Close Quarters, by Emma Harrison, Bantam, 2003, Disappeared, by Lynn Mason, Bantam, 2003, Shadowed, by Lizzie Skurnick, Bantam, 2004, Free Fall, by Christa Roberts, Bantam, 2004, and Replaced, by Emma Harrison, Simon Spotlight, 2005.


J.J. Abrams began his creative life in Hollywood as a screenwriter and producer, involved in such films as Regarding Henry, Forever Young, and Joy Ride. However, Abrams rose to fame after he turned to television with successful and long-lasting series such as Felicity, which ran from 1998 to 2002; Alias, which stayed on the air from 2001 to 2006; Lost, which began in 2004; and Fringe, a series that premiered in the fall of 2008. During this time, Abrams still remained involved in feature films; in 2006, he directed Mission Impossible III, after he was hand-picked for the job by the film's star, Tom Cruise, and in 2009, he directed Star Trek.

With his initial two hit television series, Felicity and Alias, Abrams featured young-adult women struggling to figure out who they are. But, the similarities between these two series end there. Felicity stars former Mouseketeer Keri Russell as Felicity Porter, a curly-haired, insecure young lady who follows her high school crush, Ben, to New York when he goes to college there. Despite writing a seemingly loving note in Felicity's yearbook, Ben actually has no romantic interest in her. Now Felicity is far from home, forced to define herself and decide what she wants to do with her life. Variety reviewer Ray Richmond noted the similarities between Felicity and other series about confused young women, including Ally McBeal and My So-Called Life, but continued, "shows that are this shamelessly imitative aren't supposed to be this good." Felicity "astutely transmits the conflicting blend of giddy anticipation and neurotic dread that defines the early college experience," Richmond concluded. Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker attributed much of the show's success to its "vivid, quick-witted ensemble" cast, but noted that "co-creators J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves have known just what to fine-tune about the show" to keep it successful after the first season.

Abrams described his next series, Alias, as "very much a comic book come to life" to an Entertainment Weekly interviewer. The show stars Felicity alumna Jennifer Garner as Sidney Bristow, a graduate student who is also an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Or at least she thinks she is a CIA agent; after her fiancé is murdered in the series premiere, Bristow discovers that she has actually been working for a rogue intelligence agency and CIA rival, SD-6. She then goes to the real CIA and becomes a double agent. She soon discovers that her always-distant father is also a CIA/SD-6 double agent. "On a human level," the growing relationship between Bristow and her father "is the most interesting thing" in the show, thought Variety reviewer Phil Gallo. There are also other plot lines of human interest in the show, including Bristow's discovery of what really happened to her mother and her budding romance with fellow agent Vaughn. Although the show is driven by its high-action stories, "having strong, balanced characters is important to me," Abrams told Daily Variety contributor Josef Adalian. "Identifying with a character and feeling there's a struggle worth telling is important."

Besides being a screenwriter, director, and producer, Abrams is also a composer who writes much of the music for his shows, mostly notably the techno-beats used in Alias. "Anyone who knows me says that I create TV shows so that I can create themes to them," Abrams joked in his Entertainment Weekly interview. "It's very rare to have someone who's good at virtually every element of the business, but that's what J.J. is," ABC Entertainment Television Group chair Lloyd Braun told Adalian. "He's the whole package in every respect."

Abrams followed up these early television successes with the series Lost, which follows the lives of plane crash survivors on a mysterious island after the flight they were on from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California crashes in the South Pacific. The program also incorporates stories from the lives of the forty-eight survivors before the plane crash. The island sequences (the show is shot on Oahu) involve usual survivor fare tempered with a mystery surrounding one of the passengers, as well as the eerie question of what or who inhabits the island with them. Shown on ABC-TV, Lost was an immediate success, gaining over fifteen million viewers per showing in its first season and retaining this level of fan support in subsequent seasons. Writing in the New Yorker, Nancy Franklin noted that the series "qualifies as a kind of cult hit." Franklin further commented that Lost "has elements of the disaster, mystery, adventure, suspense, and horror genres, and it has become a strong presence on the Internet among nerdy gamers and those who like to weave conspiracy theories and sift through clues in TV-show plots in their free time." Writing about the series' first season, Entertainment Weekly reviewer Tucker also had praise for Lost, noting, "Abrams excels at making you care about people and situations you think will leave you cold." Observing that many critics of the show complain of its similarities to programs from Gilligan's Island to Survivor, Tucker went on write, "But as far as I'm concerned, Abrams and [cocreator David] Lindelof have created one of only two new shows this season at the end of which I was yearning to see a second hour right away." Lost has attracted awards as well as a large audience following, garnering an Emmy and a WGA Award in 2006, and spawning spin-offs including novelizations and video games.

Abrams's success with Lost was instrumental in winning him the directing job for the feature film Mission Impossible III. Here the character of Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise, appears to be retired from his spying and action/adventure days. However, he is actually still working, albeit secretly, training others. Once again, the action, this time involving a secret weapon called the Rabbit's Foot, takes viewers around the world. A Rolling Stones contributor noted of this movie, "It's quite good, as senseless action flicks go, and a tribute to the talents of TV boy J.J. Abrams." Though Todd Hertz, writing for Christianity Today, complained of a lack of tension in the movie, he also observed, "Abrams and Cruise deserve credit for breathing life and heart into a franchise with lots of potential." And writing in the Washington Post, Joe Morgenstern felt that Abrams "presided over such a huge enterprise with such success that he is obviously, after this big-screen debut, an important new force in feature films." Indeed, Abrams continued with his ventures in film with the 2008 horror/monster film, Cloverfield, which he produced. Kevin Crust, writing in the Los Angeles Times, felt the creators of this film were "adept at wringing maximum suspense." Abrams was also signed for another franchise film venture, directing the eleventh installment of Star Trek.

Abrams has continued to perform a high-wire act between television and feature films. He acted as executive producer for the 2006 television series, What about Brian and Six Degrees, and then in 2008 brought another series to television, Fringe, which explores aspects of pseudo-science. Writing in the New York Times, Alessandra Stanley noted that Fringe "sets out to stretch the boundaries of conventional network series." She dubbed the series premier "an artful, suspenseful mix of horror, science fiction, layered conspiracies and extended car chases" in which passengers in a plane are not endangered by a crash as in Lost. Instead, they "are all dead, melted actually, by unknown forces that lead investigators to the far edges of technology and hypothetical science," Stanley further observed. The series features Special Agent Olivia Dunham, who investigates such weird happenings. Writing for Fused Film, Kevin Coll termed the new series "an interesting take on the advancement of science throughout our history but more importantly it is a well conceived mystery that will engage audiences in many different ways." Speaking with USA Today's Dan Vergano, Abrams summed up the intent of Fringe, but could also have been describing his entire body of work: "We're trying to entertain people with interesting characters placed into exciting situations, not bore them."



Boston Globe, May 4, 2006, Wesley Morris, review of Mission Impossible III.

Broadcasting & Cable, May 22, 2006, Ben Grossman, "Abrams Is Anything but ‘Lost,’" p. 3.

Bulletin Wire, March 1, 2006, "Keeping Lost Interesting ‘a Challenge;’" April 10, 2006, "Lost Creator Promises More Questions."

Chicago Tribune, May 5, 2006, Michael Phillips, review of Mission Impossible III.

Christianity Today, May 5, 2006, Todd Hertz, review of Mission Impossible III.

Cosmopolitan, February, 1993, Guy Flatley, review of Forever Young, p. 14.

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 3, 1996, Dann Gire, review of The Pallbearer, p. 22; June 4, 1997, Dann Gire, review of Gone Fishin', p. 9.

Daily Variety, August 30, 2002, Josef Adalian, interview with J.J. Abrams, pp. 15-16.

Electronic Media, June 3, 2002, Leslie Ryan, interview with J.J. Abrams, p. 12.

Entertainment Weekly, June 13, 1997, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Gone Fishin', p. 42; September 11, 1998, review of Felicity, p. 48; September 10, 1999, review of Felicity, p. 114; October 15, 1999, Ken Tucker, review of Felicity, p. 59; October 19, 2001, interview with J.J. Abrams, p. 85; November 23, 2001, Ken Tucker, review of Alias, p. 30; February 7, 2003, Dan Snierson, review of Alias, p. 6.

Hollywood Reporter, September 13, 2001, Michael Rechtshaffen, review of Joy Ride, p. 9; October 4, 2002, "Scribe Abrams Defuses Kryptonite Web Reviews," p. 8; June 25, 2003, Nellie Andreeva, "Abrams on Hunt in ABC Series," pp. 1-2; September 3, 2003, Chris Marlow, interview with J.J. Abrams, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, January 3, 2006, Maria Elena Fernandez, "ABC's ‘Lost’ Is Easy to Find, and Not Just on a TV Screen," p. E1; September 21, 2006, Robert Lloyd, review of Six Degrees, p. E13; January 18, 2008, Kevin Crust, review of Cloverfield, p. E1.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June, 1992, Kathi Maio, review of Forever Young, pp. 58-61; June, 2008, Lucius Shepard, review of Cloverfield, p. 118.

Metro Magazine, summer, 2004, Dave Hoskin, "Spy-Fi and Soap Opera," p. 158.

New Statesman, August 15, 2005, Andrew Billen, "Rescue Service," p. 34.

Newsweek, December 28, 1992, David Ansen, review of Forever Young, p. 58.

New York, August 24, 2009, Emily Nussbaum, "Weird Science."

New Yorker, May 23, 2005, Nancy Franklin, "Magical Mystery Tour," p. 92; November 24, 2008, Kelefa Sanneh, "Science Projects," p. 122.

New York Times, December 16, 1992, Vincent Canby, review of Forever Young, p. B3, C17; October 5, 2001, A.O. Scott, review of Joy Ride, pp. E21, E23; November 18, 2001, Joyce Millman, review of Alias, p. AR34; September 29, 2002, Steve Vineberg, review of Alias, p. AR34; September 21, 2006, Virginia Heffernan, review of Six Degrees, p. E8; September 9, 2008, Alessandra Stanley, review of Fringe; November 18, 2008, Dave Itzkoff, "J.J. Abrams Reveals His ‘Star Trek’ Movie."

Premiere, June, 1991, Rachel Abramowitz and John H. Richardson, review of Regarding Henry, pp. 58-59; October, 1992, review of Forever Young, pp. 99-100.

Record (Bergen County, NJ), May 3, 1996, Roger Ebert, review of The Pallbearer, p. 41; June 4, 1997, Gene Seymour, review of Gone Fishin', p. Y7.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), Lawrence Van Gelder, review of Gone Fishin', p. 11D.

Rolling Stone, January 7, 1993, Peter Travers, review of Forever Young, p. 51; November 2, 2006, review of Mission Impossible III.

Seattle Times, May 31, 1997, review of Gone Fishin', p. F3.

Time, December 28, 1992, Richard Schickel and Richard Corliss, review of Forever Young, p. 65.

TV Guide, September 12, 1998, Matt Roush, review of Felicity, pp. 44-45.

USA Today, September 7, 2008, Gary Levin, "J.J. Abrams Lures Casual Sci Fi Fans to ‘Fringe;’" September 29, 2008, Dan Vergano, "Fox's ‘Fringe’ Blurs Boundaries of Science," p. D6; November 11, 2008, Gary Levin, "‘Fringe’ Looks for ‘Perfect Balance’ of Plots," p. D2.

Variety, December 7, 1992, Brian Lowry, review of Forever Young, p. 71; September 28, 1998, Ray Richmond, review of Felicity, p. 86; September 10, 2001, review of Joy Ride, p. 60; October 1, 2001, Phil Gallo, review of Alias, p. 46; December 16, 2008, Michael Fleming, "Ford Teams with Abrams on ‘Glory.’"

Wall Street Journal, October 5, 1998, Barbara D. Phillips, review of Felicity, p. A28; May 5, 2006, Joe Morgenstern, review of Mission Impossible, p. W1.

Washington Post, May 5, 2006, David Segal, "Director J.J. Abrams, Running with the Shows," p. C1; Ann Hornaday, review of Mission Impossible III, p. T46.

World Entertainment News Network, April 27, 2006, "Abrams Seeks Gervais Collaboration;" July 20, 2006, "Abrams Confirms Star Trek Movie;" September 20, 2006, "Dylan and Abrams Team up for TV Show."


AV Club,http://www.avclub.com/ (September 3, 2008), Noel Murray, "J.J. Abrams."

Box Office Mojo,http://www.boxofficemojo.com/ (January 23, 2009), Scott Holleran, "Do Not Accept This Mission."

Entertainment Weekly Online,http://www.ew.com/ (January 23, 2009), Ken Tucker, review of Alias; Ken Tucker, review of Lost.

FringeTVFan.com,http://www.fringetvfan.com/ (January 23, 2009).

Fused Film,http://fusedfilm.com/ (July 1, 2008), Kevin Coll, review of Fringe.

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (August 28, 2008), "Jeffrey Abrams."

JJ Abrams Universe,http://www.j-j-abrams.com (January 23, 2009), profile of Abrams.

MTV.com,http://www.mtv.com/ (December 15, 2008), Brian Jacks, "‘Star Trek’ Director J.J. Abrams Says Film Has Plenty For Fans And Newcomers To Enjoy."

Newsarama,http://www.newsarama.com/ (July 24, 2008), Steve Ekstrom, review of Fringe.

Paulitics,http://paulitics.wordpress.com/ (September 21, 2008), review of Fringe.

Slant Magazine,http://slantmagazine.com/ (May 4, 2006), Nick Schager, review of Mission Impossible III.

Time Online,http://www.time.com/ (April 30, 2006), Tom Cruise, "J.J. Abrams."

TMZ.com,http://www.tmz.com/ (July 14, 2006), "Bad Robot Makes Good Deals."

USAWeekend.com,http://www.usaweekend.com/ (October 26, 2008), Brian Truitt, "J.J. Abrams: He Holds the Secrets."

Zap2It,http://www.zap2it.com/ (May 4, 2006), Daniel Fienberg, review of Mission Impossible III; (May 15, 2008), review of Fringe.