A new report has revealed an unspoken racist and toxic culture behind the scenes of the popular TV show, Lost. Reporter Maureen Ryan interviewed over a dozen people who worked on the show across all six seasons. Actor Harold Perrineau, who played Michael, claimed that the show constantly favored the white characters over the people of color. When he tried to raise his concerns, they were either ignored or met with outright hostility. Eventually, he was fired before season 3 began shooting. Furthermore, while the cast initially made efforts to have equal pay, compensation tiers were introduced, with the highest tier being entirely occupied by white cast members.
The Writer’s Room
The writer’s room was reportedly hostile to people of color, particularly women. Writers who spoke up or took offense were ostracized. Writer Hsu Taylor claimed that co-showrunner and executive producer Carlton Cuse took false credit for an acclaimed episode she had written and denied her work opportunities. When the departure of Perrineau from the show was discussed, Lindelof allegedly said, “[he] called me racist, so I fired his ass.”
The Creators Respond
When Ryan asked co-creator Damon Lindelof about the experiences of the Lost cast and crew, he claimed to be “shocked and appalled and surprised.” Although he does not remember the incidents, he does not believe that anyone is making them up. Lindelof said, “What can I say? Other than it breaks my heart that that was Harold’s experience… I’ll just cede that the events that you’re describing happened 17 years ago, and I don’t know why anybody would make that up about me.” Similarly, Cuse claimed that he was not present for or aware of any offensive or malicious behavior. However, he expressed regret for not knowing and said he would have done what he could to make changes if he had been aware of the situation.
The Vanity-Fair-published excerpt from the upcoming book Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood sheds light on the toxic environment behind the scenes of Lost. The report shows how people of color, particularly women, were marginalized and discriminated against. The actors and writers who spoke out faced hostility and ostracism. The show’s creators have responded to the report, expressing shock and regret for the incidents. The report highlights the need for change in Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole.