But "Star Wars'" influence on Abrams is well-documented, which is cause for optimism; he probably won't come up with some all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza with Jar Jar Binks at the center. And he spoke of it as recently as Saturday night at the Producers Guild Awards, where he accepted the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television for the groundbreaking series he created, including "Felicity," ''Alias" and "Lost."

He said being chosen to direct "Episode VII" is "as surreal as it is exciting." Asked what kind of spin he might put on such well-established material, he acknowledged that it was early in the process, but said: "I want to do the fans proud. I want to make sure the story is something that touches people. And we're just getting started. I'm very excited."

Others in the industry already are excited, as well. "Modern Family" co-star Eric Stonestreet said at the Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday night that he was looking forward to Abrams' "Star Wars" based on the success of his "Star Trek."

"I have faith," Stonestreet said. "I'm hoping J.J. does J.J., because nobody else is doing it that well."

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AP writer Beth Harris contributed to this report.

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Contact AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire through Twitter: http://twitter.com/christylemire

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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