“Lost” to run in uninterrupted blocks next season

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It’s a plight that “Lost” fans know all too well – you tune in on a Wednesday night praying for a new episode only to find a random repeat from nearly a season earlier, or else a lengthy and unexpected clip show. ABC is hoping to eliminate that experience.

Following a format somewhat resembling Fox’s successful treatment of “24,” ABC revealed its new fall schedule on Tuesday, vowing to dramatically reduce “Lost” repeats. The plan calls for “Lost” to begin the season in its standard Wednesday 9 p.m. ET time slot, but just when the show would typically move into a rerun cycle in the winter, ABC has an alternative up its sleeve.

“We really wanted to just say to the audience, “Listen, it’s going to be on for this block here and then we’ll bring it back and it will run straight through,”‘ explains ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson. “So yes, the plan is that “Lost’ will come on in the fall in the first or second week of the season, run for seven episodes and then “Day Break’ will launch into that period and “Lost’ will come back in January or early February and run straight through for the remainder for the season.”

That way, instead of wondering why Shannon and Boone suddenly seem to be alive again and why the castaways are still scratching their heads over the contents of the mysterious hatch, viewers can follow Taye Diggs as he relives the same day over and over again trying to avoid being framed for murder.

“I think it’s the best role he’s ever played,” McPherson says of Diggs and his “Day Break” character. “He just explodes off the screen and really is a TV star. I think that like “Lost,’ it’s a challenging area, but we really feel like in the drama world that’s what we do well and we want to take those chances.”

McPherson wouldn’t rule out the possibility that “Lost” repeats might still air in different time periods, including the 8 p.m. hour before fresh content. He also refused to leak any information on new cast members.

“There are no new people at this point,” he hedges. “All the cast are returning except the people we shot on “Lost.”‘

Although convention wisdom holds that a schedule loaded with new programming and low on repeats is an expensive schedule, McPherson urges pundits not to cry for either ABC or “Lost.”

“It’s an extremely profitable show for everyone,” McPherson reassures the masses. “There’s DVDs that’ll be out, there’s the dotcom, there’s going to be a lot of content … The thing to keep in mind is that it won’t be three-on/one-off/two-on/one-off. There will be no break in the aired episodes. Much like “24,’ you will be able to come into that experience and stay with it week after week after week.”

McPherson explains that it’s all just part of a changing television landscape in a medium which is offering viewers more options than ever before.

“It’s a more expensive schedule, but I think the audience is more demanding right now,” he says. “I think that the audience has so much choice, is so sophisticated, is so demanding now that we have to work into our schedule more and more original programming and I think that giving the audience what they want is something we’re charged with doing.”



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AP-NY-05-16-06 1507EDT

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