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‘Lost’ cast members find big pay increase

Actors would earn about $80,000 an episode
/ Source: Hollywood Reporter

The cast of ABC’s “Lost” has even more to cheer about beyond the show’s recent Golden Globe win for best drama series.

“Lost” producer Touchstone Television has offered all original members of the large ensemble cast a substantial salary bump in exchange for an additional year to the actors’ current contracts. The studio’s pre-emptive offer would see the actors earn almost $80,000 each an episode next season, the show’s third, up from a range of about $20,000-$40,000 for most cast members this season.

All original cast members, including Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Naveen Andrews, Dominic Monaghan, Terry O’Quinn, Jorge Garcia, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim and Harold Perrineau, have been offered the same deal and are expected to take it. Fox, who plays the pivotal role of Jack, is said to have earned an extra bonus of at least $250,000.

However, in the spirit of the show where no character is safe from being killed off or otherwise removed from the mysterious island where the series is set, the actors are said to have no guarantees about the length of their tenure on the show.

Representatives for Touchstone TV and all “Lost” cast members declined comment for this report. ABC and Touchstone are owned by Walt Disney Co.

The substantial raise would put the “Lost” actors on par with what the ladies of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” are now making, industry sources said. The core “Housewives” quartet of Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria, who also started off in the $20,000-$40,000 range, all reportedly received bonuses of $250,000 midway though the show’s first season as well as equal salary bumps for Season 2, bringing their per-episode fees to the high-five to low-six figures, depending on each actress’ starting salary.

This is understood to be the first salary bump for the “Lost” cast members, who reportedly received a bonus of an extra episode fee between Seasons 1 and 2.

“Lost,” which boasts one of the largest casts and the highest production values in primetime, has been a passion project for most of the actors on the show.

When actors sign on to do a network pilot, they are automatically committed to long-term deals that usually run at least five years. It’s common industry practice that when a show is a big hit, cast members are rewarded with salary bumps and bonuses beyond the studio’s contractual obligations. “Lost” has been the rare combination of a critical and commercial hit for ABC, earning a rabid worldwide following, the Emmy last year for best drama series and the drama series Golden Globe last week.

“Lost” has done very well in DVD sales, finishing 2005 as the second-best-selling TV-DVD with 1.04 million units sold, according to trade publication Home Media Retailing, and it has been the driving force for the 1.5 million downloads of Walt Disney Co.-produced series that Apple’s iTunes music store has sold for viewing on iPods since Disney struck its groundbreaking download-on-demand licensing pact with Apple in October.

A new-media spinoff designed for cell phones, “Lost Video Diaries,” is slated for launch on Verizon V Cast service this month.