'Lost' Mobisodes: A Writers' Strike Case Study

For those of you trying to make sense of the Hollywood writers’ strike — and we know it’s not easy, what with all this talk of residuals, percentages and “respect” (what the hell is that about?) — here’s something else to consider. Among the things that scribes would like to see covered in a new contract with networks and studios is new-media content created to support or enhance a traditional media property like a TV show or movie. By way of example, we point to our friends at Lost.

Earlier this year, ABC and the show’s producers announced their intention to shoot short “mobisodes” — two- to three-minute untold tales of the Oceanic 815 castaways — that were to be made available to Verizon wireless customers first, then possibly shown on the Web. Such material wasn’t exactly covered in the just-expired WGA pact (in fact, Lost’s producers and actors negotiated separate individual deals with ABC Television for the mobisodes). The Writers Guild would like this type of non-traditional content included in a new contract, but it remains to be seen whether the studios/networks would be willing to cover “made for Internet” content residuals in a contract, or insist that the issue continue to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

So, will these Lost vignettes soon be screening on a cellphone
near you? Well, prior to the strike, the writers managed to write
scripts for all of the mobisodes (exact number unknown) and to date,
about half of them have been shot. Since the Hawaii-based production
team remains at work, presumably the remainder of the mobisodes will be
filmed. At press time, it was not yet known if the mobisodes will be
released even if a lingering strike ends up delaying the launch of Lost’s
fourth season, currently slated for February. Also possibly impacted:
the January launch of a separate Web initiative tied to the show; the
creative details aren’t known, but it’s believed to tell a story that
takes place in the Lostverse, similar to “The Lost Experience” of 2006.

So, will these Lost vignettes soon be screening on a cellphonenear you? Well, prior to the strike, the writers managed to writescripts for all of the mobisodes (exact number unknown) and to date,about half of them have been shot. Since the Hawaii-based productionteam remains at work, presumably the remainder of the mobisodes will befilmed. At press time, it was not yet known if the mobisodes will bereleased even if a lingering strike ends up delaying the launch of Lost’sfourth season, currently slated for February. Also possibly impacted:the January launch of a separate Web initiative tied to the show; thecreative details aren’t known, but it’s believed to tell a story thattakes place in the Lostverse, similar to “The Lost Experience” of 2006.

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Comments (6 total) Add your comment
  • TheBookPolice

    Jeez, Jeff, you certainly have a way of sneaking a shocker into a dry piece. A second Lost Experience-type endeavor? And anyway, we now know that the Missing Pieces “mobisodes” will now “air” on ABC.com instead of Verizon VCAST. Good! I just decided to not switch from AT&T to Verizon.

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  • Mobile Phone Phormat « s3080639

    [...] Entertainment Weekly on contractual issues of extra-media television content [...]

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