The creator of ''Alias'' unveils its website
J.J. Abrams puts a new spin on the term multitasking. Not only did he create the hit TV series ”Felicity,” but he’s a screenwriter (”Armageddon”) and a composer who writes the theme songs for his own shows. With the debut of his la femme secret agent series ”Alias” (ABC, Sundays at 9 p.m. EST), he’s becoming a webhead, too. We asked the high-tech raconteur to bring us up to date on his latest project:
What are your online plans for ”Alias”? What’s fun about this show and the site is that there’s a detailed mythology to [”Alias”]. We’re able to address things on the Web that we don’t have time to address on the show. We have the official site, at ABC.com, which is going to be an entertaining wealth of information about ”Alias.” And then there’s an alternative secret Web presence that I don’t want to give any details about. It’s a very cool and very compelling, unadvertised project that I think is going to be, ultimately, the most exciting part [of the campaign]. There are certain things we’re doing that, if I were a fan of the show, I would find to be as interesting and compelling as the series itself.
Sounds a bit like the online scavenger hunt tied to the movie ”A.I.” this past summer. The thing about the ”A.I.” campaign that I thought was really cool was all the oblique references. What was frustrating, though, was that it didn’t connect to the story at all.
Did you compose the techno-flavored theme song for ”Alias” in a studio — or with computer software? Anyone who knows me says that I create TV shows so that I can create themes to them. I did this entirely in a program called Reason. I’ve been using all sorts of audio music programs for years. The amazing thing about this one is it’s like having a rack of synthesizers and samplers and drum machines and loop players all in one program. I actually wrote and recorded this theme while we were doing the color correction on the pilot [episode]. I had this little mini keyboard and my Titanium PowerBook, and I was sitting there like an idiot with headphones on. And then when it was done, I burned the CD and gave it to the sound guy. What’s also cool is that my friend Rob Letterman and I did the opening-title graphics on the same PowerBook. And then I edited it to the music.
Did the recent terrorist attacks affect creative decision making on ”Alias”? Obviously, Sept. 11 has affected all of us in ways that we can’t possibly imagine or even predict. Our show is very much a comic book come to life. The only change we had to make was on a story that involved a bomb and the World Trade Organization. The network never requested any changes, but just based on good taste and judgment we changed the name of the organization. Doing a show like ”The Agency” [a new series about the CIA on rival network CBS] would be, for me, a burden I wouldn’t know how to deal with. I respect them for trying. I just don’t know how I would do it.