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`Lost' will be found at ABC through 2010

Sixteen episodes will be spread over three seasons, allowing the island mystery to come to a finite conclusion.

May 08, 2007|Maria Elena Fernandez | Times Staff Writer

Exhale, "Lost" legions. ABC's popular, genre-bending drama will go on for three more seasons with its creative team intact. In a highly unusual move, ABC announced Monday that it would air 16 uninterrupted episodes of "Lost" from February to May in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Yes, that means fans won't know exactly what the island is, why the airplane crash survivors are there and how a polar bear survives in the tropics until midway into the next U.S. presidential term.

The announcement came several months after executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, whose contracts were up this season, discussed publicly their wishes to negotiate a finite ending for their island mystery instead of letting the show stay on the air indefinitely and die unnoticed.

"What this allows us is both the ability to plot out exactly the remaining mythology and to give our audience comfort that their investment in the show is going to pay off and is leading to a now specified destination," Cuse said. "It's like book-marking a novel. You can now know at any time exactly how much of 'Lost' is left before you finish the novel."

In the end, there will be 117 episodes of "Lost," the Emmy-winning drama that helped to catapult ABC from King of Lame to King of Buzz in 2004. Knowing when the show will end is "a tremendous relief to not have to wing it," said Lindelof, who co-created the show with J.J. Abrams.

That should also soothe concerned fans who endured the show's countless and endless mysteries while ABC twice changed its time slot and, this year, split the season in two parts. Ratings are down 14% from last year.

"People are experiencing the show for the very first time the way that we've been writing the show," Lindelof said, referring to the 16 uninterrupted episodes that began airing in February. "It's close to the DVD experience: a weekly dose of the show."

The deal, struck Friday, is a win for the producers, who will retain creative control over their show and finish the story they set out to tell on their terms. But it's also a win for the network, which gets to bank on three more seasons of one of TV's biggest hits.

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