He sold his soul to the devil after co-writing Gone Fishin’.

The year was 1997; J.J. Abrams, still trying to carve a niche in Hollywood, was looked at as a purveyor of schmaltzy, mediocre dramas after writing the heavy-handed tearjerkers Regarding Henry (starring Harrison Ford) and Forever Young (led by Mel Gibson). Hoping to rework his image, the young writer/producer took a shot at comedy by co-authoring Gone Fishin’, a Grumpy Old Men-esque romp with Joe Pesci and Danny Glover as two New Jersey pals who get into all kinds of mischief once their fishing boat gets jacked.

Yes, J.J. Abrams was responsible for Gone Fishin’, a movie so unfunny and witless that it made Pesci’s other miserable 1997 failure 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag look like his best career move since Raging Bull. The film bombed, to no one’s surprise; Abrams, one would imagine, took a long, hard look in his bathroom’s mirror, perhaps saying “Candyman” three times in the process, to which the C-man’s boss, Lucifer himself, appeared. “One day, J.J., you’re going to make kick-ass TV shows and movies, and people will forget about your brain-fart known as Gone Fishin’,” Beelzebub probably said. “But, in order for that to happen, you’re going to need my help. After all, a piece of shit like Gone Fishin’ isn’t going to wipe itself off of the public’s subconscious.”

Abrams, who’s no dummy, obliged, and a year later his screenplay for Michael Bay’s Armageddon led to a $200 million domestic smash. And the rest, as they say, is history. Somewhere in New Jersey, Joe Pesci is still chanting “Candyman” in his own bathroom’s mirror.