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Lost, Damon Lindelof

ABC/MARIO PEREZ, Malcolm Ali/WireImage.com

24 is off, and Lost is on—well, sorta.

After Fox announced it is reshuffling its schedule in light of the WGA strike—with the biggest change being the indefinite postponement of the upcoming seventh season of 24, in order to preserve the nonstop integrity of the series—we've learned Lost is still set to premiere its fourth season as planned, most likely in February.

Good news, yes, 'cause Lord knows we'll have little else to watch in February, and we can't wait much longer for our Island fix, but herein lies the bubble burster: We will get only the eight episodes that have been completed, and will have to wait until after the strike to get the next (ninth) episode and beyond.

And the real kicker? Just wait till you hear what boss Damon Lindelof says about where Lost's eighth ep leaves off.

When Team WWK hit the picket lines yesterday to report on the strike, I chatted with Damon about the strike (see previous story), where Lost stands, how he and his team are coping and why Heroes fans should be a little more understanding.

UPDATE:  Click in for Damon's comments and be sure to also read our E! Online News story, but first, in totally relevant and topical news: We're just hearing that the long-lost Lost minisodes will premiere on ABC.com, beginning this Mon., Nov. 12. If you've been following the saga of the Lost minisodes, these short-form additions to the Lost saga have been delayed for years because of the very issues at hand in the strike: compensation of creative people for work delivered over the Internet. They were originally intended to be mobisodes launched on a Verizon Wireless platform, but will now be streamed via the Web. So, we'll finally get to see them, but is it just me or does the timing of all this—right in the middle of the strike—seem a little...curious?

It looks like Lost will air eight episodes and then go dark. Does it sadden you that you're not able to deliver those 16 in a row that were promised to the fans?
Yes, it does. I feel like the worst thing we could have done was to plan for a strike and plan accordingly. Everybody had to be optimistic, because then it would have felt like why does episode eight feel like such a conclusion? We learned last year that the show moves at a certain pace, and you can't build up critical momentum in the first six episodes. In fact, when you are doing 24 straight episodes of a show, the first six episodes are a lot of tap dancing and some writers are able to tap-dance very effectively. Cable writers don't have to tap-dance at all, which is why all their shows are so great.

Yeah, and I think that's something Heroes is getting unnecessary guff for right now, too. They're getting a lot of heat because the story can't really start until episode seven or eight. And I remember all this bad-mouthing going on about our show last year, and I talked to Tim [Kring]. I said, "This all feels so familiar to me—don't worry, it only takes one good episode to round the corner and then everybody is back on board again." But an eight-episode season is an incomplete season, and I am not going to try to spin it any other way.

At the end of the eighth episode, is there any sense of conclusion whatsoever?
It's as much of a conclusion as, say, Ana-Lucia and Libby getting shot.

Wow. Really?
Yes. And you'd be, like, oh my god, I can't believe I have to wait another year and two months for episode nine of this season.

So, it's a cliffhanger?

Yes. And that's the thing, we really planned out the three seasons of 16, 16 and 16...so the idea of having to come back and maybe do a 24-episode season, and that would be season five is just...I can't look the fans in the eye and tell them that we're executing the original plan anymore.

Will the storyline have to be tweaked?
The story will remain the same, but the way [it's] constructed is a lot like saying to J.K. Rowling, "Can you do it in eight books?" And she goes, "I don't want to write an eighth book." And they say, "How about you just take the seventh book and release two 400-page books?"

Anyone else need a hug? Post your thoughts on Lost's interrupted season below...

Obviously, many of our favorite shows and show runners are dealing with similar storyline and scheduling issues, so here's hoping for a swift and just resolution.