It seems that time travel is not just a science-fiction element in “Lost.” It could be a part of its history.
At least that’s what former “Baretta” and “Babes in Toyland” producer Anthony Spinner claims in a lawsuit he has filed against ABC and Touchstone Television, claiming both companies ripped off a pilot he wrote in 1977 that has a huge resemblance to “Lost.”
Why Spinner waited nearly five years after the show’s premiere and success was not revealed by TMZ, which first reported the lawsuit Monday. However, Spinner apparently did try to sue in August 2005, but that suit was dismissed for “procedural reasons.”
Spinner claims he was paid $30,000 more than 32 years ago to write a 121-page pilot script that he called “Lost.”
ABC reportedly passed on the show in 1977, but Spinner said he tried to sell it again in 1991 and 1994, both meeting with rejection. Later, however, Touchstone and ABC commissioned a pilot 10 years after his last attempt, which he said looked an awful lot like what he had written in 1977.
A copy of Spinner’s original script was not made available, but a list of what he perceived as similarities was included. The main similarity was the fact that an airplane headed to Los Angeles crashed into a “tropical, jungle-like environment.” A doctor on the plane, who he called Braeman, becomes the “humanitarian voice” for the survivors. Another character “eventually dies from injuries sustained in the crash,” but before his death, shares “harmful information regarding another passenger.”
In Spinner’s version, the dying survivor was the plane’s pilot, and he had some pad information about a character named Hagan, while in the ABC version of the series, Jack tries to save a U.S. Marshal, who ends up dying after sharing “harmful information” about Kate.
There also are some more common traits, like characters with father-son problem histories challenging the leadership, a survivor with a drug addiction, and women being able to perform the same tasks as men. Another interesting comparison is the fact that there is a female survivor who likes to show her body and becomes romantically involved with one of the tough men. Spinner said he had a beautiful character named Jackie that was attracted to a guy named Butch, while in “Lost,” Shannon likes to show her body, and becomes involved with Sayid.
Spinner claims there were some specific storytelling aspects taken from him, however. He had a group of people who lived on the island before the plane survivors known as the “primitives,” who he claimed “Lost” morphed into The Others. He also had placed a cold weather animal on the island, a saber tooth tiger, which was similar to the polar bear found on the “Lost” island.
However, the most interesting aspect Spinner claims he used was having flashbacks showcase survivors’ lives before the crash as a form of character development, something that “Lost” has become almost iconic for.
ABC has not issued a statement on the lawsuit, but Spinner is wanting royalties and profit among other demands.
Spinner, 78, started his career as a writer for “Studio One” in the early 1950s, but has has been largely inactive in the entertainment industry since 1996, according to the Internet Movie Database.