Lost’s Damon Lindelof Has to Go Baaaaack to TV, Lands HBO Show

After a couple years of separation from that infamous Lost ending, Damon Lindelof is ready to saddle up and ride back into the realm of television. Deadline reports that Lindelof has struck a deal with HBO to adapt The Leftovers, Tom Perrotta’s 2011 novel about the people left behind after a Rapture-like event. Lindelof had to go back, people who hated the Lost finale. He had to go baaaack.

Perrotta, who’s already seen his novels Election and Little Children adapted quite successfully, will be co-writing the show with Lindelof. And seeing as he copped an Oscar nomination (alongside Todd Field) for the Little Children screenplay, he seems pretty qualified to do so. (For the record, The Leftovers isn’t in the same pro-God boat as Kirk Cameron’s Left Behind series. Perrotta’s novel follows a family that’s falling apart following the instant disappearance of millions worldwide, an event that some have accepted as the work of God and others define as a secular “Sudden Departure.” Meanwhile, religious factions like the “Healing Hug” movement and the “Guilty Remnant” pop up left and right. Oh, and while we’re sort of on the topic: Remember Kirk Cameron’s hilariously sad birthday party?!)

Anyway, back to Lindelof. The guy’s spent the last couple of years knocking out big-time Hollywood screenplays like Prometheus and the upcoming Star Trek sequel, and you’d have thought he’d keep on doing that — making big bucks far away from the burdening scrutiny that weekly TV can bring — for a while. (Sure, Lindelof got some shit for Prometheus, but it never reached the shrieking fever pitch that Lost could whip up on a regular basis.) But no! Boldly, the dude now returns to TV, knowing exactly the flood of “Lindelof’s first show since Lost” press coverage he’s just triggered.

But, see, Lindelof doesn’t really mind talking about Lost. Since the show ended, he’s consistently, admirably charged full-steam into all that Lost-finale hate. His writing partner Carlton Cuse has more or less checked out of the conversation, but Lindelof still engages in it with an impossibly easy air of contentment. During the Prometheus press cycle, he’d toss off statements like “I was so terrified of screwing it up. Here I am, the guy who ruined Lost, and now I’ll be the guy who ruined the Alien franchise.”

He doesn’t really think he ruined Lost, though (however much you’d like him to). In a recent interview with The Verge, Lindelof went full-force in combating the tactics of his interrogator, a representative Lost-negater. You’ve heard his basic points before, most likely: He wasn’t interested in crafting a mythology for you to solve; what he really cared about were his characters. Check out the video to see how Lindelof lays it all down, though, and tell me he doesn’t convince you, at least a little bit, to cut the Lost finale some slack.

Mostly, Lindelof gets points for (a) honesty (on the legacy of the finale: “I embrace it the way Matt Damon embraces Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting — under duress and wanting to punch it too”) and (b) ballsiness. Maybe if Lindelof had come back with a show about four white people and one black person that hang out in an apartment in Chicago/L.A./New York, he’d have been able to avoid Lost comparisons (maybe). A show as ambitious and alternate-universe-y as The Leftovers has no chance. But as Lindelof explained regarding why, even though it terrified him, he took the Prometheus job: “Those are the jobs you have to say yes to. You either ski the Black Diamond and risk being in traction for a month or you do the bunny slope.”

Filed Under: Damon Lindelof, HBO

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

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