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The Mystery of J.J. Abrams

Cast aside those unanswered questions about the smoke monster on Lost. Quit worrying about what the hell Cloverfield is. There's only one question that really needs answering. Just who on earth is Jeffrey Jacob Abrams?

The 41-year-old American is so adored within the entertainment industry that his first two names have been disposed of and replaced by J.J. instead. If you thought legendary English actor Dennis Waterman was multi-talented for not only writing his theme tunes, but singing them as well, then check out J.J.'s credentials.

For he is responsible for writing, directing, composing and producing a great deal of his output. He even demonstrated his thespian prowess, albeit vocally, with his memorable portrayal of the chap who says 'Joey's Pizza' in the first season of his espionage drama Alias. Currently masterminding the resurrection of the Star Trek movie franchise, he's come a long way since writing the script for the dismal 1998 blockbuster Armageddon.

Born in New York in 1966, Abrams first attracted the attention of Hollywood as a student when he co-developed a film idea that was snapped up by Touchstone Pictures and turned into the James Belushi comedy Taking Care Of Business. Hardly taking the world by storm, the film's saving grace was the fact it wasn't Curly Sue. Scripts soon followed for the higher profile movies Forever Young, with Mel Gibson, and Harrison Ford vehicle Regarding Henry in the early 90s.

Abrams made his mark on television with the advent of Felicity in 1998. Spanning four seasons and scooping a Golden Globe, the drama followed the romantic fortunes of a college girl in pursuit of her high school crush, much to her parents' disappointment.

Conflict with the folks and tangled love affairs also formed the basis of the brilliant Alias, which ran for five years from 2001 and starred Jennifer Garner as super-sleuth Sydney Bristow. However, a distinct science fiction element was thrown into the mix and the series helped to demonstrate that television in the new millennium can be just as enjoyable, eventful and exciting as a trip to the cinema.

Then came the Lost phenomenon in 2004, sparked by the audacious pilot episode directed and written by the man himself. Somewhere along the way, he also found time to pen and helm Mission Impossible III, balancing his duties with those of showrunner on Lost.

Abrams' brilliance in constructing elaborate, but accessible narrative arcs that developed throughout the seasons of Lost and Alias drew parallels with Buffy The Vampire Slayer supremo Joss Whedon. Their works both contained strong fantasy elements but never lost track of the importance of pure human emotion when it came to the dramatic crux. But unlike Whedon, Abrams managed to swipe aside any hints of 'niche programming' and take the mainstream by storm with impressive ratings.

Like a populist version of David Lynch, he incorporated a great sense of mystery within the narratives of Alias and Lost. In the former, the various Rambaldi artefacts teased viewers with hints of their apocalyptic qualities, while the latter show is laden with cryptic clues, bizarre coincidences and endless headscratching. Crucially, Abrams knows exactly when to serve up answers to key questions and avoid the frustration endured by fans of The X-Files before they gave up.

As a testament to his commercial value, notice how often his name crops up in promotional material for Cloverfield. It's eye-opening to discover that he neither directed, nor wrote it. Nonetheless, audiences have flocked to see it in the hope it bears the stamp of quality that is linked to J.J. Abrams.

Source: Digital Spy

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