This afternoon's cuppa: black iced tea with a hint of mint

SDOF_Mark_0761.rc Today, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Fox has picked up "Human Target," the DC Comics-inspired series starring Mark Valley, who last appeared in the recurring role of unfortunate FBI Agent John Scott in Fox's "Fringe," and subsequently married the show's star, Australian actress Anna Torv.

(He was also the star of Fox's "Keen Eddie," the early demise of which broke my heart, but left me with a great magnetic dartboard and a very cute Pete the dog bobblehead.)

Of course, if I'd been paying closer attention to last Friday's conference call with "Fringe" executive producer JJ Abrams, I would have been able to tell you about "Human Target" last week.

At least I remembered today that I heard Abrams say what he said and dug into the transcript, which also came out today. It's all in there somewhere.

(Oh, and Abrams' new "Star Trek" movie will be airing eventually on Fox's sister cablenet FX, but I have no evidence indicating that has anything to do with "Fringe" being picked up for a second season. None at all.)

Here's Abrams' answer to a question posed by Adam Morgan from…

Morgan: ….Anyway, now that we’ve seen Charlie and Broyles in

this alternate reality, do you think we might run into, say, a still breathing

John Scott over there?


JJ Abrams: I

would say that it’ll be very difficult now that John’s show got picked up.


A. Morgan: Oh,

that's right.


JJ Abrams: But

having said that, I'm very excited his show got picked up, and I do think that

there will be some very interesting things happening, given this other place

that you were referring to. 

I gotta get back to my deadline work, so here's the rest, and since "Fringe" comes on in less than an hour in Eastern time, read fast…

Final Transcript




PUBLICITY: Fringe Conference Call with JJ Abrams

    May 8, 2009/2:00 p.m. PDT





Josh Governale

JJ Abrams





 Moderator                  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by,

and welcome to the Fringe Conference

Call with JJ Abrams.  At this time, all

participants are in a listen-only mode. 

Later, we will conduct a question and answer session.  Instructions will be given at that time.  As a reminder, this conference is being

recorded.  I would now like to turn the

conference over to Josh Governale. 

Please go ahead.


J. Governale                Thank you,

Brad.  Thanks, everyone.  Good afternoon.  I just want to say thank you to everyone for

your ongoing support throughout this season. 

We look forward to continue this through Season 2, and as one last

reminder, Fringe has its revealing

season finale on Tuesday, May 12th at 9:00/8:00 Central.  So JJ Abrams, thank you very much for taking

time out of your very busy and exciting week for questions and answers.


JJ Abrams                    Oh,

please, this is my pleasure and you’ve just basically done all my work for me

just now.  I think we can basically just

end this.  No, that was very nice of you,

and it's my pleasure to do this.  Thank

you to everyone on the call for being here.


J. Governale                Please

proceed with questions and answers. 

Thank you.


Moderator                   And our

first question comes from the line of Joshua Maloni from Niagara Frontier.  Please go ahead.


J. Maloni                     Hey, JJ,

thanks a lot for your time today.


JJ Abrams                    How’s it

going?  My pleasure.


J. Maloni                     Tell us a

little bit about the conversation that landed Leonard Nimoy in the season

finale, if you would, please.


JJ Abrams                    I believe

what happened was it began with an e-mail that I sent to him — oh no, this is

what happened, this is what happened.  I

remember, I called him and I just essentially started begging, and I told him

that we were doing this show.  He was

familiar with it, but I don’t think he'd seen it.  But he knew of the show and I basically

explained that there was a critical character who had been mentioned throughout

the first season, including the pilot, and it was a big deal for the show, and

not just where he came from and what his back story was, but where it was

going, and that it would be an obvious honor if he would consider playing the




was open to the idea of it but he wanted, of course, to see the show and read

some pages, and so we sent him everything that we could, and I was thrilled

when he called back and said that he thought it was intriguing and

interesting.  And that was how we

actually ended up getting him to return to the role of Spock in Star Trek, where we told him the idea,

…, and his response was interest and intrigue, and I knew that was a good



J. Maloni                     All

right.  And what can you tell us about

that season finale?


JJ Abrams                    I can tell

you that it is, in the story of Fringe,

it is the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.  If you look at the show as a series of

stand-alone episodes, I think it even works in that regard, but because we're

trying to do both, have a show that you can tune into at any time and get a Fringe fix, or you can watch regularly

and sort of ride the wave of the overall story and see how things connect and

fit together that you might not otherwise expect to.  This show feels like it is definitely one of

those tent pole episodes in the … of the show. 



I think it really does begin the story that's in the beginning of the show, we

knew wasn’t …, but the first season was really about the set-up of this

world, the characters, their roles, their jobs, getting a sense of, and I think

that as the show went on, we got more of a handle on their actions.  But getting a sense of the rhythm of the

show, but this is really a massive sort of turning point in the long term arc

of the series.


J. Maloni                     All

right, looking forward to it.  Thanks,



JJ Abrams                    I can’t

wait to see it.  Thanks so much.


Moderator                   We'd like

to remind everyone to just ask one question at this time.  The next question comes from Andrew Hanson

with LA Times.


A. Hanson                   Hello.  When you originally conceived of the series,

did you have anyone in mind for the part of William Bell, and were you planning

to hold off for the entire season before he first was revealed?


JJ Abrams                    Well,

thanks for the question.  We discussed

having him show up earlier in the season, but as you work on a show and as the

season progresses it tells you as much as you're telling it, sort of what it

wants to be, and it was clear as we were going that getting to William Bell

could and should be pushed off, and we should pace ourselves.  And that's one of the biggest challenges, I

think, of any first season of a show is really finding the pace of the series,

especially a show that has both a stand-alone episode-to-episode and a … to

follow.  So that was very important to



Moderator                   And our

next question will come from Glen Garvin with the Miami Herald.  Please go ahead.


G. Garvin                    Mr.

Abrams, three weeks out of the last four, I believe, my TiVo has missed the

conclusion of Fringe because it ran

past 10:00 p.m., after getting a late start due to the expansion of American Idol.  I’ve heard the same complaint from numerous

of my readers.  So I have two questions,

notwithstanding my instructions to only ask one.  The first is, does it bother you that the

show is carried by a network run by drooling … idiots?  And second, can you tell me what happened in

the final two minutes last Tuesday night?


JJ Abrams                    Well, I

will say that I do have a different opinion about the network.  But I will say that I, too, have heard from a

number of people in frustration that the shows have been cut off, and it's

infuriating.  And this happens to me,

obviously, as well when I'm watching something, not necessarily Fringe because I get the DVD.  But it is infuriating, and I would say that I

would be happy to send you, rather than describe what happens in those last two

minutes, which I think are actually pretty cool, I'd rather send you the DVD,

if you don’t mind, than describe it to you because I think it's fun to watch.


G. Garvin                    That would

be great.


JJ Abrams                    Done.


G. Garvin                    Thanks.


JJ Abrams                    Thank you,



Moderator                   And our

next question comes from Ellen Gray with the Philadelphia Daily.  Please

go ahead.


E. Gray                        Well, I

looked those last two minutes up, or the last ten seconds up, on Hulu, but the


JJ Abrams                    I'd be

happy to send you a DVD as well, if you'd like one.


E. Gray                        No, it's

okay.  The show, I don’t want to say it

changed tone over time, but it did seem to be a lot funnier as time went by and

also, I think, maybe Olivia became less of a, or maybe I hate to say it, but a

robotic character?  How much of the arc

of the season did you have in your head when you started and how much of it, as

you say, is the show finding itself and telling you what it wants to be?


JJ Abrams                    Well,

thank you for the question.  We actually

had a surprising amount of plans in terms of broad strokes, but the crazy thing

is, as you work on it, like I said, you start to get resistance, not from an

actor and not from a director, or even other writers on the show, but you start

to, the show just sort of defines its shape in a strange way.  I do think that one of the things that I love

about the show is the kind of inherent humor in the insanity of it.  If the show takes itself too seriously, then

I'm afraid people will laugh at it.  But

if the show has humor inside of it, then the show itself is embracing and

admitting to the preposterous nature of many of the episodes and stories.



love preposterous stories.  My favorite

movies, if you look at Jaws or Alien or Tootsie, or whatever, I mean, there are movies that if you describe

the story, you go what?  All right, well,

okay.  But done well, you're like, oh my

God, this is the greatest write ever.  So

for me, the humor did, I think, increase as the season went on and I do think

things like bringing in Olivia’s sister, I think, began to give her at least

opportunities to sort of be warmer to someone. 

She's a character who admitted in the show that she doesn’t really have

friends, so I think that there's a, the story for Olivia over the course of

time is one of a guarded, protective woman who over time is in a sense forced

to kind of be more vulnerable and forced in, and this is as you’ll see,

something that happens definitely next year, but it is an evolution for her.


Moderator                   And our

next question will come from Walt Belchter, with Tampa Tribune.  Please go



W. Belchter                 Hello.  Congratulations on everything. 


JJ Abrams                    Oh, thank

you, sir.


W. Belchter                 Good movie

and good renewed TV show.


JJ Abrams                    Oh, thank

you very much.


W. Belchter                 I have a

question about, you seem to like time travel. 

There's time travel in Lost

and time travel in Star Trek

movie.  Will there be time travel on Fringe?


JJ Abrams                    Well, I

definitely think that one of the fun aspects of doing Fringe is the kind of open-ended possibilities of the show, where

we could go and what we would do. 

Obviously, it is not a brand new convention, the idea, especially science

fiction, the idea of traveling through time and space.  But I would say that while Lost concerns itself more with traveling

through time, I would say that Fringe

can serve itself more in traveling through space.


Moderator                   And our

next question will come from Adam Morgan,


A. Morgan                   Hey,

JJ.  Thanks again for doing this.


JJ Abrams                    Oh, thank



A. Morgan                   All of your

projects feature very strong-willed, independent females like Olivia.  Who or what is your inspiration for those



JJ Abrams                    Well,

thanks for the question.  I would like to

think that I’ve been lucky enough to work on projects that have strong-willed

characters who happen to be male or female, and certainly in the case of

characters like Kate or Sydney Bristow, and certainly Olivia Dunham, that those

are females who are … because they are interesting and strong-willed.  But I also could point to certain male

characters that have the same thing.  So

I guess the answer is, I don’t really try to write characters who are strong

women, I just try to write, where I can, strong characters, and if they happen

to be women, they happen to be women. 



my life I’ve got the most spectacular wife in Katie McGrath.  She is probably the strongest and best

influence on me that I’ve ever had, and I would say that it's no coincidence

that it was after I met her that I wrote Felicity,

mostly because I think she reminded me to write about stuff that I actually

care about again, because it had been a while. 

But her strength and her amazing ability to not only immediately

understand right and wrong, but she's amazingly capable at articulating that

position, and she's very socially active and politically-minded and fights a

good fight, and she's someone who is definitely an inspiration, who happens to

be a woman.


Moderator                   And our

next question will come from Mike Hughes, TV America.


M. Hughes                  Hey, JJ,

since everyone else has been asking about the show, let me just ask you about

your mood today.  It's got to be a super

weird day for you to have a movie come out, the first full day of it and get

the kind of reviews you’ve had and so forth. 

You’ve been looking forward to it for so long.  Just how do you feel right now?  What kind of day is this for you?


JJ Abrams                    Well, it's

nice of you to put it that way, and thank you. 

I'm, of course, on the edge of my seat in terms of what the business of

the film will be like.  I just pray

people go, and that they like it.  But in

terms of my actual day, it was wonderful because my oldest son didn’t have

school today so he and I got to hang out, and especially given how much

traveling we’ve all been doing on the movie, it was really nice to just get to

hang out with him and have as close to a non-working day as possible.  So it's just been fun.  It's been good.


Moderator                   And our

next question will come from Mickey O’Connor,

M. O’Connor              Hey, JJ,

thanks for taking the time with us today.


JJ Abrams                    Oh, thank



M. O’Connor              I'm wondering

if Season 1 was about learning about the enemy, learning about ZBT and learning

about how Walter and Olivia cross paths with that.  I'm wondering if you can speak sort of

generally about what Season 2’s arc might be.


JJ Abrams                    Well,

first of all, I would say that it's ZFT.


M. O’Connor              ZFT, sorry.


JJ Abrams                    I would

say that, yes, I think the first year was about not just getting to know the

enemy but getting to understand that there is an enemy.


M. O’Connor              Right.


JJ Abrams                    I would

actually argue that in a way Season 2 is getting to know the enemy.  Season 1 is identifying that there is an

enemy and really getting to know each other. 

But I think that as the show progresses what you’ll see in the second

season is that it's building to a very specific type of confrontation and I

think that you’ll see that there will be a really interesting shift in the sort

of fundamental paradigm of the show at the beginning of next season, in a very

cool way. 



without going into any details about it, it has a kind of fun, fresh way in

next year that I think is, you never know how it's going to work, you just

cross your fingers and pray people like it, but I feel like it's one of those

next season beginnings that feel thrilling to me, in a way that is more than

just, oh, I can’t wait for him to come back. 

It's, I can’t wait for him to experience what we're doing, and for them

to come back this way.  And so that's the

thing that is, I know I'm being insanely vague, but I would say that the

excitement is not just now, in sort of these characters knowing each other, but

now it's with playing with them a little bit.


Moderator                   And our

next question will come from Hilary Rothing with


H. Rothing                  Thank you

for everything, JJ.


JJ Abrams                    Thank you.


H. Rothing                  I'm

wondering, what lessons, if any, did you learn from Lost that you applied to the creation of the first season of Fringe?


JJ Abrams                    Have Damon

Lindel of run it.  No, well the truth is,

when I was on Lost, at the beginning,

we were just trying to figure out how the show was going to work and how could

we take our ideas that we had, these big picture ideas, and actually make a

series out of it, which … what happens with every show.  But one of the lessons that I learned from Lost, and from Alias, was to try and create a show without … that would not

confound people if they happened to miss the first two or three hours.  And it was a very conscious decision at the

very beginning of developing the show, which was like, let's come up with a

show that could just be a series of really crazy week-to-week insane events,

and knowing that we all love the ongoing nature of series television character

development and stuff, we knew that we would never not have that as a part of




secondarily, we knew we would be doing, of course, character stories which you

would see evolve over the years.  So we

try to pace ourselves out in that regard. 

But I think that the biggest lesson was to try and avoid hurting

people’s brains by making the show too confusing too early and then making it

in that regard, limiting to and unwelcoming … 

Thank you for the question.


Moderator                   The next

question is from Curt Wagner with Redeye. 

Please go ahead.


C. Wagner                   Hi,

JJ.  First of all, I just want to thank

you for both Fringe and Star Trek.


JJ Abrams                    Oh, thank



C. Wagner                   They're

both awesome.


JJ Abrams                    Oh, right

on.  Thanks.


C. Wagner                   And then I

wanted to ask you about, I talked to Jasika Nicole recently, and she told me

that the season finale is going to reveal good secrets about Peter and his

past, and I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about that.  I know you can’t tell us what they are, but

like maybe what kind of things we’re going to see, or give us any kind of hint.


JJ Abrams                    Well,

instead of, obviously, giving any details away, because I'd rather not do that,

but I would say that what's particularly cool about where we're finally going

now, and where we're going to be next season, is that the story has, it's

working on all three characters strengths. 

And that is to say that over the course of the season you'd find what

sort of, is most exciting about a character and you figure out what are the

elements that aren’t working as well and what are the things that you'd love to

see a character experience.  I think that

where we are at the end of this year, yes, you're going to get a little bit of

a piece of Peter’s ultimate story; but I think that it also is a huge turning

point for the other two as well. 



so, again, without giving anything away, I think that the fun of this first

year was getting to know our people and their getting to know each other, and I

feel so grateful that FOX were as supportive as they were and that we're coming

back.  They have the reputation for

immediately canceling shows and I think that we are proof positive that it's

not always the case, and again, I stand here incredibly grateful.  But I think that the fun of next season is

going to be now that we have this life, is that we're going to get to actually

delve not only deeper into sort of who they are, but like I said, we're going

to push the buttons that I think are working particularly well for each of the

characters.  And again, I just hope the

show becomes more and more, the best version of itself, though.  And I hope that the next year, we’ll see



Moderator                   And our

next question will come from Maggie Furlong with AOL.  Please go ahead.


M. Furlong                  Hey,

JJ.  Thanks for taking the time.


JJ Abrams                    Yes, how’s

it going?


M. Furlong                  Pretty

good.  So, how much do you really, truly

understand about everything that happens on the show?


JJ Abrams                    On Fringe?


M. Furlong                  Yes.


JJ Abrams                    You mean

in terms of the science?


M. Furlong                  Yes.


JJ Abrams                    Well, I’ve

always, and I'm sure to a fault, been of the mind that if you have a cool idea

that's compelling and crazy, that's the idea you follow, and then you do

research to back it up.  There are

occasions when research actually yields a story, but I have often found that

that's not the case for me, that I’ll have ideas here and there, but usually

it's an idea that comes to the, okay, well, if that's the case, can someone

blow up spontaneously?  Like, could that

happen?  And then you end up working

backwards and finding out that there are insane tests where people have applied

microwaves to their — and you're like, oh, okay, and then you just kind of go

with whatever feels closest.  Fringe, … these words, but Fringe was never intended as a course on

any kind of physics or medicine or science. 

It was always meant to just be a kind of fun, cool, and insane

representation of what it feels like to live in a world where science seems to

be limitless in what it can do. 



crazy thing about a show like Fringe

is, as you're working on it, as you're writing about things that are insane,

like a cold virus the size of a football, or whatever the hell you happen to be

playing with that week, is invariably there will be a story online that you

will see that is weirder than what you're writing, that actually happened.  Whether it's a body part that was grown,

whether it's about something that was replaced, whether it's about somebody

that came back to life, whether it's about some really weird spontaneous event,

like it just seems like the weirdest part about Fringe is, as we work on it, pushing the envelope, kind of having

fun for ourselves, inevitably there is some real life actual story that's

reported that feels almost beyond what we're playing with. 



kind of feel like, yes, it's not, yes, it's fantasy, it's fiction, and yes,

we're inspired by gut instinct much more than we are factual data, but I think

that we all live in a moment where nothing surprises us any more, where almost

anything that we would see online or in a paper, we would believe unless

someone would whisper in my ear and said, by the way, that's ….  So I just want to feel that we are in that

weird place where as crazy as Fringe

is, we no longer need to look to the supernatural ghosts or aliens to feel like

there is an unpredictable and terrifying enemy among us.  I think that we have made that enemy



M. Furlong                  Thank you.


JJ Abrams                    Thank you.


Moderate                     Our next

question is from Daniel Fienberg with


D. Fienberg                 Hey, JJ,

thanks a lot for doing this.


JJ Abrams                    Thank you.


D. Fienberg                 I want to

return to something you were talking about a couple questions ago about sort of

not confounding the audience.  This past

week began with a three or four minute monologue from Broyles, sort of catching

viewers up, and there have been several episodes that have had similar

expositional, in case you're just joining us, monologues.  Do you foresee a day at some point, next

season maybe, hopefully, where you don’t need to do that any more?


JJ Abrams                    Yes.  I can’t say yes loud enough, fast enough, or

with more passion.  There is nothing more

crazy than having that sort of massive chunk of exposition thrown at you at the

beginning of the story.  It is one of

those things that I would love to avoid, and I think that sometimes the desire

of either the producers, writers, network studio, wherever it comes from, to

try and provide clarity, there is almost always the net result of confusing the

hell out of people, like clarity looks like one thing on a script but is

another thing …  And I feel like those

kind of monologues of exposition don’t help anyone.  I mean, although, by the way, I think Lance

delivers them beautifully and he's a wonderful actor, but I think any actor

tasked with catching an audience up deserves a drink at the end of the day.


Moderator                   And our

next question comes from Adam Morgan from


A. Morgan                   Hey, by the

way, I saw Trek last night and I'm

going again tonight.  I loved it.


JJ Abrams                    God bless

you, sir.  Thank you very much.


A. Morgan                   It's great.


JJ Abrams                    Thank you.


A. Morgan                   Anyway, now

that we’ve seen Charlie and Broyles in this alternate reality, do you think we

might run into, say, a still breathing John Scott over there?


JJ Abrams                    I would

say that it’ll be very difficult now that John’s show got picked up.


A. Morgan                   Oh, that's



JJ Abrams                    But having

said that, I'm very excited his show got picked up, and I do think that there

will be some very interesting things happening, given this other place that you

were referring to.  And again, it's part

of the fun of the show and I think and hope that it will become one of the

aspects of Fringe that again, make it

incredibly unique, meaning my favorite kind of ideas are things where we work

on them, we think, like, that there's no other show on TV that could do that

weird thing.  Like that's my favorite

kind of an idea.  And I just think that

if you don’t go for those, then the show becomes increasingly mundane and just

disposable, but the more you can do something, even if it doesn’t work, to try

and do those things that feel specifically, that show.  So anyway, there are some things … place

that I think are going to continue that I think will ….


Moderator                   And the

next question will come from Kate O’Hare, Tribune Media Services.


K. O’Hare                   Hey, JJ.


JJ Abrams                    Hey.


K. O’Hare                   One of the

things that's always worked for me on the show since the beginning is Walter

and his son.  It's like a little sitcom

right inside the middle of an action adventure show.  What's been the thinking on developing that

relationship as the show has gone on?


JJ Abrams                    Can you

repeat that last part, I just –


K. O’Hare                   What's been

the thinking about how to evolve that relationship, as the show has gone on?


JJ Abrams                    Thank you

for the question.  I think that the

father/son relationship was, at the very beginning, one of the things that got

all of us excited, Alex and Bob and myself. 

And one of the things that I think has happened over the course of this

season is that there is a sort of sense of sort of facility of their

relationship has increased.  There's no

longer as much of a conflict between them as there was at the beginning. 



granted, they’ve gotten to know each other and this is happening and they

develop a rhythm, but one of the things that I think we're going to play with a

little bit, which I think speaks to our sense of evolution of that

relationship, is that there will be, I think, some issues between them and some

sort of set back that I think will make their working together, frankly, a

little bit more dynamic and a little bit more interesting, and not just so

familiar and easygoing.  But I could not

adore the actors, both Josh and John, more and I think they're wonderful

together and I just think that when you give them more, when there are more

sparks between them, I think it's that much more interesting.  So we're playing with that now.


Moderator                   And we have

time for one more question, and that will come from Julia Diddy with


J. Diddy                      Hi,

JJ.  Thank you so much for your time



JJ Abrams                    Well, thank



J. Diddy                      My

question is a silly one, but it's about the ZFP manifesto.  I'm probably overlooking something totally

obvious, but I was wondering how Walter knows that the missing chapter

pertained to ethics when his memory is so unreliable.  I love his character, but it doesn’t seem

like ethics are always a high priority for him.


JJ Abrams                    I think

you're right, and I think that you’ll see as we go you’ll learn more about that

background, including the manifesto.  One

of the things about Walter that I think you could either say is a writer’s

convenience or conversely actually an interesting character trait, which is the

untrustworthiness of his memory, that there is this sort of swiss cheese

quality to it, which is not to say that there aren’t pieces there, but without

existing memory there are no holes. 

Meaning, that I think that the fun of it is that he will have the

ability to recall something, to understand something, but then not understand

how it pertains to something else.  In

fact, I have to say, part of my desire would be to see more of that, which is

what we had more at the beginning of the year, that sense that Walter is on a

track and he understands something, he's made a connection, but then he

literally can’t understand something as simple as how or where or when he did

an experiment. 



remember when we did Regarding Henry

and I went to a recovery center where people who had suffered brain trauma were

in therapy and recovery, and there was a young man who had been in a bad motorcycle

accident who was sitting doing some cognitive therapy, and they were showing

him a book and there were simplistic line drawings of a dog, and he would say

“dog,” and they'd turn the page.  There

was a tree, and he'd say “tree,” and they'd turn the page, and there was a

house.  He'd say “house.”  They'd turn the page and there was a car, and

he just stared at it, and he said, “I know those are tires and wheels.  I know that's a steering wheel.  I know you sit in it.  I know you go places in there.  I know that's how you drive, I even know how

to drive,” but he could not remember the word. 

And after this long … and he was searching, they said “car,” and he

said “car.” And it was one of those things that has stuck with me that the idea

that you can, depending on what you’ve been through, and you learn more about

that next season on Fringe for

Walter, but the idea that a very specific piece could be missing, right next to

a piece that is there, is part of the way the brain actually works. 



it feels like it might be the convenience of storytelling, but I think when

you're talking about a show like Fringe

there’s a certain kind of creative license you can take to tell stories and

provide information.

Posted by:Kate O'Hare