John Fogelman just phoned me to report that he and JJ Abrams went to dinner two weeks ago and came to the conclusion that the writer-director-producer is too busy to be a partner anymore in Fogelman’s company Factorymade Ventures. The pairing was announced with great fanfare last September after Abrams had taken a brief work sabbatical. At the time Abrams said in a press release: “I felt strongly about continuing to work with John, and this was a chance to support his latest ambitious enterprise, just as he has supported me over the years.” Abrams’ Bad Robot producing partner Bryan Burk was to play an active role in the new company, which was located adjacent to Bad Robot’s headquarters in Santa Monica.
But since then Abrams under his own Bad Robot banner is one of the busiest guys in showbiz with two major network TV shows (Person of Interest on CBS and Alcatraz on Fox) and a major sequel to Star Trek for Paramount as well as multiple apps like the just launched ‘Action Movie’ on iPhone and iPad. Not just Fogelman but insiders close to Abrams also assure me there’s been no falling out between the two men who have a long association dating back to William Morris and WME days as agent and client, and say the duo will likely work together again in the future. “But JJ needs to focus on Bad Robot and the movie he’s directing, the shows and apps and other projects we are working on,” a source close to JJ tells me. “I hope to collaborate with John in the future but this wasn’t it.” Concurs Fogelman: “It was not a good fit having to run everything through JJ and having him involved in every venture. He has no time to focus on this. That’s what the problem is. It’s now not possible to do this together. JJ’s career couldn’t be going better. And how much more can anyone be doing? Like right now he’s on the set everyday doing Star Trek.”
Added Fogelman: “Some may try to spin this into a negative for me. But I’ll be announcing some really cool stuff starting next week.” Fogelman tells me that one of those deals is with a major retail partner — “as exciting a company as any in the country” — which Abrams set up for Fogelman. Fogelman says another deal with a new client for a new venture announcing on March 1 will be the biggest project yet for his firm.
Fogelman, a former WME board member, says that when Factorymade Ventures was conceived with Abrams, it was to “find creatives and then start companies around them”. Fogelman brought with him the entire WME skunkworks division to develop a hybrid entertainment and media business and consulting firm.