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May 4, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Television director Jeffrey “J.J.” Abrams, 39, will make his film-directing debut on Friday with Mission: Impossible III. The world is expecting big things from Abrams and this project. After all, it’s the most expensive film made by a first-time movie director. Hand-picked by the Mission: Impossible star and first-class loony-tune, Tom Cruise, Abrams earned the final film of this popular adventure trilogy because of his work on the hit series Alias.
The upcoming film will surely jump-start his film career, but for now Abrams takes after his father, Gerald W. Abrams, a semi-famous TV producer of made-for-TV movies, Out of the Ashes (2003) and the award-winning Nuremburg (2000).
Abrams, a 1988 graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, is a well-rounded breed of director. He has taken part in every aspect of the film and television industry as a writer, producer, director, actor and composer, which gives his career an edge over most others.
One of Abrams’ strengths is that he’s not afraid to show his sensitive side. As creator of the show Felicity and producer of the new ABC series What About Brian?, Abrams shows he can get emotional. Even his action series, Alias, finds ways to tug at the heart strings. The show’s main character, Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), is constantly torn between her love life and dangerous spy liaisons.
Abrams’ soft spot might be credited to his good luck charm, Greg Grunberg. A childhood friend of Abrams, Grunberg plays the character of Agent Weiss on the Alias series and had small roles in Felicity and Lost. Abrams is hoping to keep his luck going with Grunberg, who takes on another minor role in Mission: Impossible III.
Early in his career, Abrams wrote and produced the film Forever Young (1992) starring Mel Gibson. He then went on to write the screenplay for Armageddon (1998), which was nominated for four Oscars and grossed more than $200 million at the box office.
Abrams also made his TV debut that year writing and producing multiple episodes for the WB series Felicity. He then went on to create Alias, which was nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Television Series – Drama (2002).
Despite the title, Abrams has continued to find his way with Lost, a series that is proving to be an even bigger runaway hit than Alias. The show has won Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (2005) and a Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Drama (2006).
— erin sucher