The Genre God
J.J. Abrams (7 noms, 2 wins)
Ridiculous" is how Abrams, the famously modest co-creator of Lost, feels when referred to as a television icon. More deserving of the title, he argues, are his small-screen inspirations, from The Twilight Zone's Rod Serling and Mary Tyler Moore's Jim Brooks to The X-Files' Chris Carter and The Sopranos' David Chase (honored in THR's 2011 Emmy Icons portfolio). Yet it was Abrams who took home two Emmys (both in 2005) and received another four nominations for ABC's Lost, the long-running critical darling that changed the face of serialized drama for every genre series that has come after it. Years later, he remains at once grateful and incredulous. "It is so horrifying to go up in front of people … my mind went blank," recalls Abrams, 46, of the evening he accepted the statuettes -- or "weapons," as his then-two (now three) children dubbed them at the time -- for drama series and directing. "The great thing about losing something is the absolute palpable relief of not having to get up, which I've also felt," he adds during a break from editing the sequel to his 2009 Star Trek feature at Bad Robot's geek-chic offices. Although Abrams has emerged as something of a genre god during recent years thanks to such fare as ABC's Alias -- for which he earned his first Emmy nom -- Lost and Fox's Fringe, the series he says he misses most is The WB's Felicity, which wrapped in 2002. "I miss writing for a show that doesn't have any sort of odd, almost sci-fi bend to it," he says, noting the challenge of having to come up with stories for a series that had neither high stakes nor a bad guy. "It was just sort of pure romantic, sweet characters who had crushes on one another and were dealing with which party to go to and if they had a part-time job or not -- stuff that was kind of fun to write about."
Photographed by Austin Hargave on Sept. 6 at Bad Robot in Santa Monica