Lost by Mario Perez/ABC
Make no mistake, out of all the shows whose fate has been left dangling in the wind by the just-concluded writers' strike, the one we're most concerned about is Lost. Good thing, then, that the sixth fifth fourth third second first call Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse made after meeting with ABC execs this evening to finalize the new plan for Season 4 was to, yep, you guessed it, Variety Hollywood Reporter Entertainment Weekly Golf Digest Mac Addict me!

Welcome back!
Carlton Cuse:
It's good to be back. It'll be even better tomorrow when the writers all start rolling in and we start getting to work... pending the vote, of course.

What came out of your meeting with ABC today?
Cuse:
Damon [Lindelof] and I are going to try to make five more episodes before the end of May, which is ambitious. But we've found ourselves in a situation where we had eight episodes of story planned, and we're going to try to fit that into five hours of the show. Even though it's going to be very hard to execute, we felt like any less would be doing a disservice to the story we had planned. We really want to give the fans the best possible experience and ending... to Season 4.

Any chance that the first of the five episodes will air the week after that last pre-strike episode - thus eliminating any scheduling gap?
Cuse:
No, there's probably going to be four weeks between the airing of the first batch of episodes and our new episodes.

What will happen to the three "lost" episodes? Will they roll over into next season's 16, or will they vanish forever?
Cuse:
Damon and I remain committed to producing the 40 additional hours of the show that we promised. We haven't figured out exactly when we'll put those other three on, but we're not eliminating them from the show. You will get those three episodes downstream.

I know it's early, but have you decided what will have to get cut from this season's arc in order to accelerate things? Are we going to lose some flashbacks and/or flash-forwards?
Cuse:
All those conversations will take place tomorrow when we actually start talking about story.

Is it possible that some guest actors you were planning to use before the strike may no longer be available now? Like, for example, Andrea Roth?
Cuse:
Yeah, there are a lot of issues that have to get sorted out. We're also in the middle of pilot season.... We're kind of figuring out what has happened to all of our actors who have gone on to do other things. Literally, there are cobwebs on the couches in the writers' room. Call me in a couple of days and I should have more answers for you.

OK, last question: Have you come up with a code word for this season's top-secret cliff-hanger?
Cuse:
[ Laughs] Not yet. That's a very good point. We'll have to get on that. If you have any ideas, Mike, let us know.

(BTW, I was joking in my intro. I'm pretty sure I was Carlton's first. Wait, that came out wrong.... )