‘Lost’ Turns 20: The Real Reason a Tropical Island Melted People’s Brains

There are many measures of success for a film or television series. The most obvious is viewership. A little less quantifiable is the number of cover stories, articles, think pieces, blogs, social media posts, and articles inspired by a film or show. Then there’s what I call Die hard factor.

In the decade after its release Stiff, You can swing a dead cat and hit someone by throwing or doing “Die hard in a void” (a cruise ship or military vessel, a bus, a stadium, an airplane, a boarding school, a larger aircraft, a military base or military academy, or a plane that happens to be Air Force One). Insiders joke that the final fields will come back ARRIVE “Die hard in a building.”

When I started my career as a network executive in 1993, Extra work has the highest level Die hard element of all television properties. One season later, everything changed with the huge success of Emergency. The Die hard The stakes were so high that in the years that followed, the airwaves were filled with programs that were surely advertised as “Emergency room in a newsroom,” “Emergency room in the police station,” “Emergency room in a law firm,” and even “Emergency room at the White House.”

All of which brings me to Lost, The series has been dethroned Emergency room give Die hard–crown factor.

It has been 20 years since Lost world domination. I should know: I was there from the beginning, helping develop the show during the filming of the first episode, and then serving as a writer and supervising producer for the first two seasons. And like so many things that have ever ruled the world, LostThe greatest lesson of success has yet to be truly learned…just as it has never been learned from Overtime, ER, or even Stiff, About that. It’s never the high concept that makes a success, but the audience’s feelings for the characters who live within that high concept.

Die hard It only works because we want John McClane, a goofball, to stop a terrorist plot so he can fix his marriage. Extra work It only works because the chaotic, mold-breaking writing supports the genre-defining chemistry between David Addison and Maddie Hayes. Emergency room It only works because of its documentary style, the magic of television that helps you see Michael Crichton’s unwavering belief that doctors are heroes.

Lost attracted audiences because it had a thrilling, high-budget, high-concept pilot episode that depicted an irresistible mystery. That audience came back and stayed because even if the subsequent series didn’t always deliver a satisfying resolution to those mysteries, it certainly delivered on the promise of a cast of deep characters whose lives were punctuated by compelling incidents, difficult situations, tear-jerking heartbreaks, and shocking fates.

There is a very sweet, but also very frustrating, time in the life of any artist involved in the creation of a television pilot that becomes a series: the months between the completion of the work and its actual release. During that time, the show belongs only to those on the inside and those they choose to share it with in secret.

In the summer before release Lost, I carry a DVD of the pilot in my computer bag. Occasionally, I’ll slip a friend or family member a variation of the NDA that I call “Friend-DA” and show them the first 10 minutes of it. Among the many beautiful scenes that JJ Abrams and his cinematographer Larry Fong was concocted for the epic opening plane crash scene, featuring one of Matthew FoxJack runs across the frame to save another passenger as hell erupts behind him.

When I showed it to a high school friend of mine on a trip back home and that scene came up, my friend took a moment to catch his breath. Then, with absolutely no irony whatsoever, he exclaimed, “What a guy!”

He immediately fell in love with Jack and would follow him throughout this story for the rest of the decade.

That moment—more than the off-the-charts audience testing, more than the petty focus of our corporate bosses (Lost (it’s the only show I’ve ever worked on where TV and studio executives were so excited about upcoming episodes that they showed up in the writers’ room to hear plot pitches), and even more so the rapturous applause from 3,000 new fans when we previewed the first episode at San Diego Comic-Con—made me realize that I wasn’t just carrying a DVD.

I had that fuck Thriller pair, and all who open it see the light

Images may contain Jorge Garcia Matthew Fox Boats Transportation Adults Boating and Recreational Activities


When I saw the pilot give Extra work on television as a high school student, it was clear that something important was going on in the television medium. When I saw Die hard On opening day at a cinema complex, the audience was extremely excited to see Bruce Willis become a big movie star in real time. When I watched the first episode Emergency room As the CEO of this channel, I can feel the world changing: I can feel the wave of vibrant documentary-style programming that we will be seeing in the coming years.

The feeling of secretly showing someone something that you know will have a huge impact on popular culture… the thrill of knowing that you’re part of the creation of something that will soon fill the first gap in the next cycle of television with missing information…


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