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Black actors and screenwriters have accused the showrunners of hit TV show Lost of creating a ‘toxic’ and ‘racist’ work environment.
Lost, a series that followed the lives of survivors of a plane crash as they struggled to exist on a mysterious island, became an instant hit when it aired in 2004.
At its peak the show brought in an average of 16 million viewers per episode, running for six series before wrapping in 2010.
As part of a new book by Maureen Ryan, some who worked on the show, either as writers, actors or in other behind-the-scenes roles have revealed their shocking claims of racism and abuses of power on the show.
The claims against showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse include firing an actor after he raised concerns involving race, and making overtly racist comments that contributed towards a toxic work environment. Both deny the allegations.
Lost, the show that followed the lives of plane crash survivors as they struggled to exist on a mysterious island, became an instant hit
Harold Perrineau claims he was fired after raising questions about how his black character was treated compared to his white counterparts
Harold Perrineau, who played Michael Dawson one of the main characters in the first two series, claims that he was fired after raising questions of how his black character was treated compared to his white counterparts.
Perrineau told Ryan that he raised concerns with showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse about his character following a racist stereotype of not caring about his son.
He also raised concerns that white characters were being prioritized in the narrative and screentime over cast members of color.
The actor said he was swiftly axed from the show following the conversations.
‘I was fucked up about it. I was like, “Oh, I just got fired, I think,”‘ Perrineau told Ryan.
According to Perrineau, the response from Cuse was, ‘”Well, you said you don’t have enough work here, so we’re letting you go.”‘
‘It was all very much, “How dare you?”‘ he recalled.
Cuse told Vanity Fair who have serialized part of the book, that he denies the allegations.
Multiple sources claim they heard Lindelof later say that Perrineau ‘called me racist, so I fired his ass.’
One of those sources was Monica Owusu-Breen who worked in the writer’s room.
‘Everyone laughed’ when Lindelof said that, Owusu-Breen recalled to Ryan.
‘There was so much shit, and so much racist shit, and then laughter. It was ugly.’
Carlton Cuse denies making or hearing of any of the comments on the Lost set
Damon Lindelof said he was ‘shocked and appalled and surprised’ to hear the allegations
Questions were raised about preferential treatment for white characters on the series
At its peak the show brought in an average of 16 million viewers per episode
Screenwriter Monica Owusu-Breen recalled many acts of racism on the set of Lost
‘I can only describe it as hazing. It was very much middle school and relentlessly cruel.
‘And I’ve never heard that much racist commentary in one room in my career,’ Owusu-Breen said.
She began leaving the room when she couldn’t take it anymore, she explained. ‘I’m like, once you’re done talking shit about people of color, I’ll come back.’
Among the things Owusu-Breen heard at Lost, corroborated with another individual by Ryan, was an incident when someone on staff was adopting an Asian child, one person is alleged to have said to another writer that ‘no grandparent wants a slanty-eyed grandchild.’
On another occasion when actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s picture was on the writers room table, someone is said to have told another to remove their nearby wallet ‘before he steals it.’
When Owusu-Breen and others were riding in a van on a trip, in answer to a question about the luggage, one writer—using a Yiddish word—said, ‘Let the schvartze take it.’
‘You could tell everyone knew it was a toxic work environment. But it was a huge hit’ she explained.
The only Asian American writer was said to be called Korean, as in, ‘Korean, take the board.’
In response to the allegations of the toxic set Lindelof told Ryan: ‘My level of fundamental inexperience as a manager and a boss, my role as someone who was supposed to model a climate of creative danger and risk-taking but provide safety and comfort inside of the creative process—I failed in that endeavor.’
Lindelof, said he did not recall ‘ever’ saying that Perrineau was fired for calling him racist, but added that ‘I’ll just cede that the events that you’re describing happened 17 years ago, and I don’t know why anybody would make that up about me.’
He claimed he had no knowledge of the other allegations raised but was ‘shocked and appalled and surprised’ to hear of them.
Cuse also denied making or hearing of any of the comments on the Lost set.
In a statement submitted to Ryan through a PR representative he said: ‘I deeply regret that anyone at Lost would have to hear them. They are highly insensitive, inappropriate, and offensive.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk