What I've always loved about J.J. Abrams (other than the fact that he's a contemporary entertainment visionary) is that he's loyal to his creative collaborators. Thanks to his TV series' Alias, Lost and Fringe, the industry has gained a host of talented writers and producers following in his footsteps. From Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who started as writers on shows like Hercules and Xena before working with Abrams on Alias and, eventually, becoming power producers in their own right (Hawaii 5-0 and Fringe are their babies, and they've got features like MI:3, Star Trek and Transformers under their belt) to Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who worked on Felicity and Lost with the auteur before moving into the film world with Tron: Legacy and the forthcoming Ouija project, the Abrams effect has sent qualitative ripples throughout showbiz.
Once such writer/producer pair is Monica Breen and Alison Schapker, who have worked on all three of Abrams' fore mentioned small screen hits. According to Deadline, they've just been re-hired by WBTV to continue working on Fringe, but they are also rewriting a top-secret feature for Abrams. The working title for the mysterious movie is Zanbato, and it is said to focus on "swashbuckling robots with swords" with a deep rooting in Japanese history. If that isn't enough to get you excited, then you probably should check your pulse.
The project is set up at Paramount, where Abrams has a lucrative deal that has resulted in hits like Cloverfield, Star Trek and this June's sure-to-be-a-smash Super 8. Breen and Schapker are also developing more original material with their master; one such project is the "heightened reality" crime series Pulp, which may now actually move forward as a graphic novel/comic book series at DC Comics (but as the publishing giant is owned by Time Warner, like WBTV where Abrams has his TV deal, you can expect it to go to series if it is as good as it sounds). In my eyes, more J.J. means better television and film, so I hope he can continue with the break-neck pace of production in which he's currently involved.
The past few days have given rise to what may be a major shift in ABC's primetime lineup.
Grey's Anatomy stars Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight are rumored to be leaving that show while it has now surfaced that Desperate housewife Nicolette Sheridan is leaving Wisteria Lane.
Earlier this week, Grey's co-star James Pickens Jr. told Us Weekly that Heigl and Knight were leaving but sources have said his comments were premature. The show has certainly had its share of backstage drama: Isaiah Washington's firing for 'behavioral' issues, the controversy over Brooke Smith's lesbian character being axed, Heigl refusing to put herself up for Emmy consideration due to a lack of strong stories...
Now, "the whole thing is in the hands of their agents and ABC's lawyers," an insider told EW's The Ausiello Files. "Something will probably be worked out soon, but it's a safe bet that Katherine and T.R. won't be returning as series regulars next season."
Meanwhile, over on Wisteria Lane, the departure of Sheridan after five seasons is said to be a creative decision. Creator Marc Cherry wanted another game-changing incident this season and scripted the exit of Sherdian's character Edie Britt, writes The Live Feed.
Adds TLF, the stakes are high for ABC. Grey's and Housewives are the network's top two dramas, and both have suffered some recent loss of viewership.
In further ABC news, although Balthazar Getty's departure from Brothers & Sisters has been rumored for several weeks, co-show runner Alison Schapker told the Los Angeles Times that the actor was just going to take some time off from the show "because we felt that character was really on a downward spiral and you see him really go on it."
Speculation about Getty's departure had intensified earlier yesterday when E! reported that Getty's exit occurs in the 19th episode. But that is only partially true as his character merely leaves Los Angeles in that episode.
"Tommy is in no way permanently gone," Schapker said. "This is just the logical end to this year's story. What we'd like to do is bring him back next year in a different way."
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