Sunday, February 03, 2008

Season IV: A New Hope

Red Five standing by... or make it the Oceanic Six. Widespread industry rumors have it that the writer's guild may be on the verge of a breakthrough settlement to end their strike, possibly in time to save part of the remaining unfilmed half of Lost Season 4.

If you've really been under a rock, we noted back in October that the writers were about to go on strike, halting the production of scripted Hollywood TV, including halting the filming of Lost Season 4 after episode 8 of a planned 16, a strike that has now lasted three months. And 2 weeks ago we commented on the tentative agreement the director's guild made with the producers about 2 weeks ago here. The progress the directors made put the negotiators for the writers under the gun to make similar progress.

This pressure led to two big guns from the writers (John Bowman, head of the negotiating committee, and the WGA West head honcho David Young) informally meeting with two big producers (News Corp's Peter Chernin and Bob Iger, CEO of Disney which owns ABC and by extension Lost). There was a media blackout that started to break today, with good news.

The Hollywood Reporter reported that these informal conversations resulted in monumental breakthroughs that could result in official negotiations to finalize a settlement soon, perhaps in the next week. The sticking points had to do with payment for rebroadcasts in "new media" such as Internet streams and downloads.

If this actually results in the WGA authorizing filmings to resume, it may mean the salvage of part of episodes 9-16 of Lost if the cast and crew can be reassembled hastily over in Hawaii. Probably all eight episodes cannot be saved at this late date, but that's speculation upon speculation for now, and also dependent on whether ABC extends its general television season this year-- if it doesn't, there might be as few as 4 new episodes. Any shortening of Season 4's planned arc of 16 episodes provides ample speculative ground for how the storyline arc might be re-written with respect to any planned season finale, as well as the segue into the 32 previously-planned episodes of the final two seasons 5-6. So sit tight and follow the entertainment news closely because it just might mean a second installment of several more episodes of Season 4 for Lost fans.

See also DocArzt's blog for the debunking of a recent rumor that Lost has already resumed filming. However the facts suggest that some of Lost's laid-off crew and equipment may be tied up in another production for all of February.

UDPATE TUES FEB 5: See Daily Variety for current status. They report a draft contract might be submitted to the WGA leadership as early as Friday. They also report here that the West branch of WGA has scheduled a general membership meeting this Saturday, presumably to gauge the likelihood of the general ratification of any draft deal--this scheduled meeting is one of the most direct evidence so far that the strike is in a possible endgame. Addition: The WGA East has also scheduled a meeting the same day.
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