‘Mission: Impossible 4′ Writers Let Loose From The J.J. Abrams Stable

In these hard financial times, J.J. Abrams is a guy you want as your friend. The entertainment everyman doesn’t just slap his name on a project, he invariably brings some old friends along for the ride. The names you’re used to seeing are Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the superhuman writing/producing duo behind nerdfests like “Xena: Warrior Princess” and big budget blockbusters like… well… like Abrams’ “Mission: Impossible III.”

Since Orci and Kurtzman are busy with about a bajillion other projects these days, Abrams is bringing out a new super-team to deliver a script for “Mission: Impossible 4,” which the bespectacled one will at the very least produce. Variety reports that “Alias” writer/producers Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec will trot out of Abrams’ bullpen for “M:I 4.” Like Kurtzman & Orci before them, I expect a meteoric rise for the duo. After “Mission” just you wait; they’ll pick up the rights from George Lucas for a “Phantom Menace” remake and the world will come together in harmony. Hey… a fanboy can dream, right?

Applebaum and Nemec exec produced “Alias” with Abrams for four seasons, but the trio hasn’t worked together since. Notably, the new “M:I 4″ duo did write and produce the U.S. import of UK TV series “Life on Mars,” the story of a modern-day cop who is zapped back to 1970s New York City after a car wreck leaves him in a coma. The show never attracted the following it should have, even with Harvey Keitel in the role of a bad Lieutenant, but I myself found it very enjoyable.

There’s really not much known about the plans for “M:I 4″ at this point, other than that it will happen. Abrams is producing with Tom Cruise, star of the first three, though there’s been no confirmation that his Ethan Hunt character will return. Rumors have suggested as much, but there’s also a rumor going around that some dude can turn water into wine. As is always the case with unconfirmed reports, take any Hunt-in-“M:I 4″ possibilities with a shaker full of salt.

I did like the direction Abrams went in with “M:I 3″ very much, though much of what made that film work can be credited to the writing talents of Kurtzman and Orci. Opening with a tense countdown-to-death and then framing most of the rest of the proceedings as a flashback was a stroke of brilliance, and “sitting on the edge of my seat” became more than a trite phrase when I saw it unfold in theater. Now Applebaum and Nemec get a crack at “M:I 4,” which is targeted for a 2011 release.

After that? “Star Wars” episodes one through three, the re-boot. You heard it here first.

Were/are you a fan of “Alias”? Do you think Applebaum and Nemec are the next Kurtzman and Orci? What might Kurtzman and Orci think of that? Do you think they should decide who nabs future Abrams projects with a four-way tag team wrestling match?