Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Abrams, Lindelof and... ?

Chicago Magazine has an interesting (albeit lengthy, which I never mind but some do) profile of Jeffrey Lieber, the first writer who was assigned to write the "Lost" pilot script, only to get pushed aside by J.J. and Damon. There are also a few excerpts from Lieber's original script, which even Lieber says only resembles the final version in the descriptions of some of the characters (a con man, a drug addict, a fugitive, etc.)

Hat tip to Mo Ryan for pointing out the story in the first place.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I recognized the name, but I always figured he was one of the writers. Feeling left out can't be much fun, but then again, lots of money.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I agree with the anonymous ABC execs who don't feel that sorry for Mr. Lieber. You're collecting 60% created by credit money for a successful show and you want me to feel sorry for you because you're "embarrassed"? Forgive me if I'm being too callous, but boo-freaking-hoo. Also, I know it's frustrating for writers when executives can't tell you what they want or what's not working in a script but it's always been like that. Executives are suits, not writers. (Sorry, I'm obviously very angry today! Heh.)

Interesting article about the process, though. Lost never would have become the sensation it is without the supernatural element, I think, so it's compelling to hear how that aspect came to pass.

Susan said...

I do sympathize with Lieber, but the 60% cut seems excessive compared to the size of the contribution he made. Sure, Hollywood can suck, and it must have been frustrating to be told that the show was great and would definitely be filmed and then be put off so abruptly. (Although I'm sure things happen like that all the time.) But the excerpts of his script bear very little resemblance to the show that was actually produced. Aside from the basic premise, which the network came up with, and a few basic character types ("doctor"), it's a totally different show.

I think Lieber also misses the point when he says that if the execs had just said they wanted a supernatural element, he would have added it. It was Abrams and Lindeloff, according to the article, who came up with that idea and transformed the whole show.

Anonymous said...

It really is hard to feel sorry for him when he's making millions off of the show still.

Plus, it's not even that unusual of a story. The same thing happened to Tim McCanlies on Smallville. He wrote a script for a Bruce Wayne tv show that never happened, but it lead to Smallville, which he has no involvement with but still gets money for.

Also, the Aaron Spelling connection is interesting to me because Spelling did a pilot for UPN in 1999 called Forbidden Island about a group of people whose plan crashes on an island where supernatural things happen. I'm surprised there wasn't a lawsuit from that writer.

Anonymous said...

To be clear, Lieber is not making 6 dollars to every four that Abrams and Lindeloff split. That is just the created by money, which is a drop in the bucket next to the actual writer/producer salaries. A drama like this with heavy continuity will likely never see profits, so Lieber will end up making a few hundred grand while Abrams and Lindelof will be well into the multiple millions.

Abrams and Lindeloff could have easily changed the characters, so they should only blame themselves for the small amount of revenue they lost.

afoglia said...

It might be "a drop in the bucket next to the actual writer/producer salaries" but it's still low six figures annually, according to the article. Seems like a pretty good payday.

If you ask me, he lucked out getting 60%. He should have gotten less. Abrams and Lindof not only came up with the scifi stuff (which works to defend it from all the nitpicks that a plane can't go missing on our satellite-watched planet), but more importantly came up with the flashback structure that's "Lost's" signature.