Human stress headache Damon Lindelof snagged a big deal last year to write a script for Disney. Because Lindelof operates by the J.J. Abrams code of “mysteriousness for the sake of mysteriousness, and also marketing,” we don’t know anything about this movie. We know it’s called “1952″ — at least that is the title right now — and we know Disney hopes it will be a big tentpole movie for them.
Now Brad Bird has gone and signed up to direct the movie, balancing out Lindelof’s raging Lindelof-ness with his sterling track record. Bird’s involvement gives me hope for this movie. The man behind “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille” made his live-action debut with last year’s thrilling “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” proving that he can make essentially anything excellent. The only hitch here is that Bird also has a couple of other projects he’s working on, like his movie about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. Disney wants this thing in production next year, so we will have to see what happens as development progresses.
Meanwhile, an interesting name appeared in the Toldja! Gazette story about Bird signing on to this movie: Jeff Jensen, Lindelof’s co-writer. Is this the same Jeff Jensen who writes for Entertainment Weekly – the very same Jensen who wrote glowingly about Lindelof’s “Lost” for so many years? Apparently yes, yes it is! (EW announced this last summer, but I didn’t see it at the time.) “The duo’s relationship began after ‘Lost’ ended in May 2010,” EW assures us. That still left plenty of opportunity for fun conflicts of interest.
EW says that per company policy (the magazine is published by Time Inc. and owned by Time Warner) Jensen can still write about movies and TV, he just can’t write about anything Disney related. Obviously EW is far from a bastion of journalistic integrity — take their shamelessness in pandering to “Twilight” fans, to offer one prominent example — and this is also something they have to deal with when they write about Warner Bros. movies, TV shows and the like.
But this is still interesting! Jensen wrote glowingly overwrought raves about “Lost” for years. A few months after the controversial/bad series finale (which he liked), he got Lindelof and Carlton Cuse to discuss the episode and fan reactions. This was a mere 10 months before it was announced that he was working with Lindelof on the “1952″ script. He also wrote two more glowing, ponderously wordy missives about “Lost” a year after the finale aired; he did not seem to make any mention of his collaboration with Lindelof, despite this being mere weeks before the “1952″ deal was announced. It seems likely that he knew he was working with Lindelof when he sat down with them a few months after the finale aired; he also had to know he was about to receive a big payday from Disney when he revisited the show a year after the finale.
So when, exactly, did his relationship with Lindelof turn into a business partnership? Was this something they discussed during the years Jensen was covering the show for a major magazine? This isn’t a huge deal in the big scheme of things; again, nobody goes to EW for incisive, honest commentary, and anybody reading Jensen’s “Lost” stuff knew he revered the show and wasn’t too critical. But what if he had a major critique late in the show’s run and he opted not to share it? What if knowing they might work together changed how he covered the show? What if he knew offending Lindelof meant potentially not working together later? What if his opinion of the finale was skewed by this, consciously or not? And what about in the weeks and months after the finale aired, where he and Lindelof were working on a script (Lindelof would go on to sign a seven-figure deal to write and produce it; no mention is made of Jensen’s compensation) while Jensen continued to defend “Lost” and received access to the show’s creators?
These are questions we can expect the journalists at Entertainment Weekly to tackle any day now, right?