Fox Takes J.J. Abrams’ Fringe


Fox has picked up “Fringe,” a spooky series from the minds of J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, reports Variety.

The network has made a series commitment to the Warner Bros.-Bad Robot production, which will start off with a two-hour pilot budgeted at more than $10 million. Abrams, Kurtzman and Orci (who are working on Paramount’s new Star Trek movie) wrote the project and will executive produce along with Bryan Burk (“Lost”). A search has begun for a pilot director as well as a series showrunner.

“Fringe” mixes elements of “The X-Files” and Paddy Chayefsky’s Altered States with what Abrams calls “a slight ‘Twilight Zone’ vibe.” It will focus on brilliant but possibly crazy research scientist Walter Bishop, his estranged son and a female FBI agent who brings them together.

Episodes will explore self-contained mysteries of the paranormal, as well as the relationships between the three leads.

“So much of the story is relatable people in extraordinary situations,” Abrams said. “The show is definitely a nod to ‘Altered States’ and ‘Scanners’ and that whole Michael Crichton/Robin Cook world of medicine and science.”

There’ll also be an overriding mythology that will come into play from time to time, as well as a healthy dose of humor.

“It does the stuff my favorite TV shows and movies do, which is to combine genres that shouldn’t fit together,” Abrams said. “It’s definitely meant to scare the hell out of you, but it’s also meant to make you laugh… It pushes all the buttons of things we loved from our childhood.”

Driving the show will be the Walter Bishop character, a larger-than-life figure who bears some resemblance to the titular character in Fox’s “House.” In the pilot, he’s in a mental hospital.

“Imagine that your father is Frankenstein mixed with Albert Einstein,” Orci said. “He’s someone who has the mental ability to solve so many problems but is so different that communicating with them is almost impossible.”