The Lost World: treehouse news

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The following "Treehouse News" posts appeared weekly on the official The Lost World Discussion Board.

Started during the production of the third series by Nick Jacobs, Assistant Story Editor on The Lost World, the messages provided information about upcoming episodes, production news, and behind the scenes tidbits, giving fans a rare chance to hear from the people involved in the creation of the series.

With the demise of the official site and message board, I've reposted the messages here.

September 18, 2001 - April 11, 2002

Treehouse News–18 Sept ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick Jacobs here. I'm the Assistant Story Editor for Season Three on The Lost World, on location at the Movie World Studios in Australia. This is the first of a weekly series of postings to keep everyone up to date on the latest Lost World production news. Please feel free to repost elsewhere.

Today - Wednesday, September 19 in Australia - we continued production on episode number 5, which is being filmed on one of the biggest sets ever made for the series. I don't want to give away the surprise, but it's a location that's not on the Plateau, or even in the year 1922. Let the guessing begin!

To get things started, here are some answers to a few of the many questions that have been asked on this board:

1. Scheduled air dates. As of today, these are the scheduled air dates for the first eight episodes.

#1 "Out of the Blue" - Week of October 15
#2 "The Travelers" - Week of October 22
#3 "Eye for an Eye" - Week of October 29
#4 "True Spirit" - Week of November 5
#5 "The Knife" - Week of November 12
#6 "Fire in the Sky" - Week of November 19
#7 "Dead Man's Hill" - Week of November 26
#8 "Untitled" - Week of December 3

There definitely will be a full, 22-episode season.

2. Jennifer O'Dell's and David Orth's involvement. As you all know, because of the Telescene situation, the third-season return of The Lost World was a true cliffhanger for all concerned, and some accommodations had to be made to get the full season up and running at the last possible second.

In Jennifer's case, the production had to make allowances for her to take part in other productions. Thus, as has been reported on this board, Veronica will be appearing in 15 of 22 episodes. Fortunately, there are big plans this season regarding her quest for her parents, so it will make sense for Veronica to be off on her own journey during Jennifer's two brief absences from the show.

David's case is a bit more complex. It has nothing at all to do with David Orth's tax situation, but involves the business side of the series being an Australian production this year. In return for various tax incentive programs which make it possible for the show to be produced, we are limited in the number of non-Australian lead actors we can have over the course of a season. Thus, for the moment, Malone is scheduled to appear in seven episodes this season, beginning with episode #4. (However, Malone does have important roles to play in the first three episodes). Everyone involved with the production knows how important Malone is to the series, and we hope to have him back full time in the Treehouse as soon as possible.

(Since we're talking about Jennifer and David, I know someone's going to want to ask about Michael Sinelnikoff and Summerlee. All I can say right now is that Summerlee stories are being discussed in the writers' room but nothing definite has been planned.)

3. I don't have an answer yet on when the main website will be back up but we're certainly eager to get it going again. More news as it happens.

That's it for now. In the weeks ahead, I'll post more updates, answer some of your questions, and introduce you to some of the fine people working behind the camera. Then, when the new episodes start airing, I'll even share some behind-the-scenes stories.

Until next time, on behalf of everyone on The Lost World, we wish to sincerely thank you for your kind support and passion for the show. We have an ambitious season planned, and we think it will be the best one yet.

Stay tuned...

Nick Jacobs

More Treehouse News–26 Sept. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here again with your weekly update from Australia. Another busy week of production on TLW but we're all enjoying the adventure. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Here are a few items, in no particular order:

1) Episode 8 (listed last week) now has a title–it'll be called "Hollow Victory".

2) Jerome Ehlers, the fine actor who plays Tribune, will appear in ep. 2 "The Travelers" but he won't be in lizard costume. Stay tuned for his first "natural" appearance on the Plateau.

3) Assai, played by actress Laura Vasquez, will also be stopping by the Treehouse for an episode, the eerie "True Spirit" (ep. 4).

4) Big news–Marguerite sings!! I won't say when, how much, or why, but listen to our little songbird and her first LW tune. (Okay, here's a hint–ep. 6 "Fire In The Sky" and no, we haven't turned into a musical).

5) The writing crew. There are many, many creative folks and hard workers on the show but since I'm a writer, our department gets first dibs. The head writer, or showrunner, is Guy Mullally, credited as Executive Producer. Also vital to the writing team are Judith Reeves-Stevens and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, credited as Executive Creative Consultants. As I said last week, my name is Nick Jacobs and I'll be credited as Assistant Story Editor. That's the permanent writing staff although we have a small group of outside writers we know and trust to help us with the show as well (Please don't ask–we're full up. Sorry).

I'll introduce other personnel when possible–believe me, it takes the work of many fine people to put the show together and I don't want to neglect anyone. (The Coote-Hayes folks, for example, did a superhuman job of pulling the series out of the fire when Telescene went under).

That's all for now but thanks again for your devotion to the show–we're doing our best to live up to your expectations (within budget!).

Stay tuned...

Nick Jacobs

More Treehouse News–03 Oct. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here again with your weekly update from Australia. Busy but still having a great time. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Here are a few items, in no particular order:

1) Last week when I introduced the writing department, I made a huge omission. Suzanne Evans-Booth is our script coordinator in Australia and the person we rely on to keep all of our scripts and info moving smoothly between us and production. My sincere apologies for not mentioning her before. Suzanne's efficiency is essential to the show.

2) "The Matrix" fans–check it out! Ep. 306 "Fire In The Sky" will feature "Agent Brown"–the fine actor and "Farscape" regular Paul Goddard.

3) Saddle Up! I'll let you guess the episode but everyone is transported back to The Old West for one person's (???) deadly case of mistaken identity. We just started filming and the horses are great.

That's all for now but thanks again for your enthusiasm and for making me feel so welcome. We're making these shows for you!

Stay tuned...

Nick J.

More Treehouse News–10 Oct. ‘01

Dear Friends,

Nick J. here again with your weekly update from Australia. Busy with deadlines so I'll keep it short this week. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

1) Will start shooting episode 308 "Hollow Victory" tomorrow. Should be a good mix of new people and a new world for our cast to visit–and they won't even have to leave the plateau.

2) Season 3 opener finished and shipped out last week. Our group in post production does a great job of putting it all together on a really tight schedule. Many people involved from picture and sound editors, music composers, ADR mixers, visual and sound FX, film lab techs, office support staff, runners and more. You can see how the crew really adds up.

3) Veronica fans -- check out the blond jungle beauty with straight locks. It happens in ep. 307 -- what a change!

That's all for now but I'll talk to you next week. Hope we can begin the season (and the postings) on a positive note. Let's keep building on a good thing.

Nick J.

PS–Okay, you've got me hooked. I'll admit that I have just as much of an ego as anyone. I just saw the "Nick J. Fan Club" thread–I laughed hard several times (especially at the swipes) but please don't single me out for your kudos. If you ask me, I'm not even my favorite writer on the show. There are many, many crew people who make it happen. I'm just a writing geek who wants to spread the word of TLW and the hardest working crew in show business (at least it feels that way).

BTW–Laughed hard at the Nick Jacobs treasurer photo -- my kid brother!! If you mix that pix with the dog's head, you've got me spot on. Imagine a LW Trog (from Season 2) who wears glasses. Don't make these postings about me–it's the show. I'm just a typing monkey!! Beware of the tall poppy syndrome–an Aussie phrase which I'll let you mull over.


(Hello to the gals in Accounting!)

More Treehouse News & Malone!–17 Oct. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. I'll keep it short this week as deadlines loom. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

1) Rain, rain go away. The weather has gone tropo on us. As you drive, walk, or ride to work or school, think of us out in the elements. Always adds a twist to our day but it's also an interesting challenge to adjust our stories on the fly.

2) The balloon is back and it might be taking one or more of our characters on an unexpected journey! Don't fret, but Challenger's flying machine can sometimes cause as much mischief as anyone. See how our heroes make the most of an unscheduled trip in episode 308 "Hollow Victory"!

3) This week's featured crews -- Art, Construction, Props and Paint Depts. We write it and they build it, always bigger and better than expected on a tight budget and schedule. Thanks Eugene, JD, Bob, Andrew and company. Did you know we even have a dept. called "greens"? They bring in extra plants and trees when needed. I told you it takes a lot of hands! (Quick -- I need a nice shrubbery!)

4) The wait is over! Enjoy the Season 3 premiere this weekend with our sincere gratitude for your patience during the long wait.

That's all for now but I'll talk to you next week. The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.

Nick J.

PS -- Judy and Gar, come back soon, we will miss you!

More Treehouse News & Malone!–24 Oct. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Various deadlines are on the horizon so I'll be brief and let the season premiere speak for itself. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Here are a couple of items:

1) What else? -- the Season 3 premiere. Hope you were as thrilled as we were and thanks again for your patience during the long wait. Great fun to see Challenger, Roxton and Marguerite in uniform, yes? And what about Veronica kicking butt? What other show gives you action, romance, dinosaurs, history and Winston Churchill (thanks to actor Linal Haft) in one hour?

2) David Orth. I noticed the understandable concern about Malone's involvement in ep. 301. Sorry to bring up the business side of the show, but in case you didn't see it, let me reprint the exact information I wrote in my first Treehouse News post of 19 Sept. '01 (check out my other "Nick J" posts for more info).

"David's case is a bit more complex. It has nothing at all to do with David Orth's tax situation, but involves the business side of the series being an Australian production this year. In return for various tax incentive programs which make it possible for the show to be produced, we are limited in the number of non-Australian lead actors we can have over the course of a season. Thus, for the moment, Malone is scheduled to appear in seven episodes this season, beginning with episode #4. (However, Malone does have important roles to play in the first three episodes). Everyone involved with the production knows how important Malone is to the series, and we hope to have him back full time in the Treehouse as soon as possible."

(Ugh! I think I need a tax-immigration-entertainment lawyer after that statement!)

Again, Malone is NOT leaving -- he will be in at least 7 full episodes this season with important roles in the others. The production is working (and pleading) with TPTB to increase the number of shows in which he can appear. For Season 4 and on (hey, think positive) we're working on a permanent solution so that Malone can appear in the entire season. I will definitely keep you updated -- believe me, it's a lot harder to write a great character like Malone out than to leave him in. (Plus, David, as you might expect, is a great guy. We really have a positive cast.)

That's all for now but I'll talk to you next week. The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.

(Can't wait to see what you think about ep. 302 -- "The Travelers." As I mentioned before, look for a TLW guest star favourite in a completely new role.)


Nick J.

More Treehouse News–01 Nov. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another busy week, another new show. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Here are a few items:

1) Witches. We've got ‘em in episode 309. More sophisticated than the old "bubble, bubble, toil and trouble" type but witches nonetheless. See how a trio of them cause a stir for our gang.

2) Witch reminds me… upcoming episodes. Previously, back in September, I think I listed the titles of eps. 301-308 so here's the next batch:

ep. 309 "A Witch's Calling"
ep. 310 "Brothers In Arms"
ep. 311 "Ice Age"
ep. 312 "The End Game"

3) Episode 302 "The Travelers" -- Glad you liked the Roxton/Marguerite moments among other things. This week, you'll be seeing ep. 303 "Eye For An Eye". Roxton meets a real tough character, I'll let you discover who... a familiar face to be sure. To give you an idea of how fast this show moves, we were still shooting pick-ups for that episode on September 27th. One month later, with FX, music, titles, etc. and it's delivered free to your doorstep. For some episodes, the gap between shooting and showing is less. If you think a month is a long time for all the editing and FX, here's the catch -- we have to deliver the finished show to our distributors about two weeks before it airs. As I said before, the caffeine junkies in post do a great job.

4) Favourite episode. It's always interesting to know which shows and why appealed to you. A few seem to pop up quite often on the list but it's also nice to see the wide range of choices. With all of your varied tastes, no show is an orphan (well, maybe…).

5) A big thanks to the crews stuck out in the heat the past week. There's a location we sometimes use that's an old rock quarry -- basically, a giant hole and the heat seems to bounce off the walls and down on the crew. Our nickname for it is "The wok".

"Where you shooting today, mate?"
"The wok."
"Nice knowing ya."

That's all for now but I'll talk to you next week. The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.


Nick J.

More Treehouse News–08 Nov. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another busy week, another show on the air. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Here are a few items:

1) Last week I gave you a few hints about ep. 309 "A Witch's Calling" but I also noticed a lot of speculation about ep. 310 "Brothers In Arms." We're right in the middle of shooting this mini-epic, and all I'm going to say right now are two things -- Malone and World War I. Even though I'm here every day, I'm always impressed by the scope and scale of what our guys and gals can deliver on such a tight budget and schedule. Again, our many thanks to Eugene, Bob, JD, Andrew and company in the Art and Construction departments -- with other 35 people in just these two areas, we've got our own army! Charge!

The whole production team has tried very hard to give you a wide variety of BIG episodes this season and this one will surely fit the bill. (Just don't tell the accountants, they are turning grey by the minute!)

2) Ep. 303 "Eye For An Eye" -- pretty cool, right? Roxton hunting Roxton. Will had a great time playing both parts and as you might expect, is a real trooper when it comes to doing so much work and many of his own stunts -- a really focused guy with a great intensity and sense of humor. We practically have to hold him down to keep him from doing all the stunts by himself (even the ones for the other actors!). He could, but we don't want to risk him getting hurt.

This is probably a good time to mention our daredevil stunt team, led by Don and Dean. When we say jump, they say, "Can we blow up, too?!" Bodies are flying all over the place -- and they have to be good at everything from knife fights to horseback riding to high falls, etc. If it weren't for their eye for safety and practice as well, we'd have a hospital wing filled with our "Kids, don't try this at home" gang. (And please don't, either!)

3) More Malone! Okay, you fans of the plateau's favourite journalist, this is the week you've been waiting for -- the big-time return of Ned Malone! Ep. 304 "True Spirit" will air this week and I'm sure it won't disappoint. This is the "eerie episode" I mentioned so long ago. Enjoy.

(For any questions about Malone, Veronica, Summerlee and their participation this season, please check my previous posts -- the first was Sept. 19th. Any time I hear something new, I'll let you know but again, David Orth and Jennifer O'Dell are definitely part of the team as much as conditions (often beyond our control) will allow.)

That's all for now but I'll talk to you next week. The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.


Nick J.

More Treehouse News–17 Nov. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here. Sorry for the lack of post earlier this week but I just wanted to let you know all is well here in Australia, thanks for your concern. We are just finishing a week production break to recharge ourselves -- it isn't easy dodging raptors, parallel dimensions and madmen/women of all sorts. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Just a quick note to mention this week's ep. 305 "The Knife". This is an intense episode, but also one of the biggest of TLW Season 3, in fact of the entire series. The entire cast and crew labored furiously to make it all work and I think the results will demonstrate our passion. Big sets, big romance and action, and lots of fun character appearances. I can't wait for you to see it -- Enjoy!

That's all for now but I'll talk to you next week. The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.


Nick J.

More Treehouse News–29 Nov. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another week, another new show. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

I'll be very brief as a script is due:

1) Among other things, I hope you liked Marguerite singing in ep. 306 "Fire In The Sky". Maybe we should highlight the musical talents of our cast more often. This week for ep. 307 "Dead Man's Hill", besides the expected "big kiss," you'll hear one of characters whistle a little tune (but not in the shower like Marguerite!) Not a grand opera but it still sounds nice (and it's his own whistling).

2) Speaking of music, let's talk about episode 313 for the first time. It'll be called "Phantoms" in which a brooding, romantically obsessed musician turns his attention from the keyboard to one of our lovelies. More details later.

On another topic, as far as an on-line chat with the creative team, it sounds great and we're very flattered but nothing is in the works. Right now we're just too busy making the best shows we can.

The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.


Nick J.

PS -- Hello again to all the great people in Post! (You know who you are.)

More Treehouse News–06 Dec. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another week, another new show. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

A full list this week:

1) Last week I mentioned ep. 313 "Phantoms" which had just started shooting. It's about wrapped now, but even those of us on set were surprised with the sparks that flew between the two romantic interests in this story (I'll let you guess). Could we have a new TLW couple? Big thanks to everyone involved, especially director Michael Carson, quite well known in Australia, who really inspired Guy Mullally with the script.

2) I thought I'd give a brief update on Malone, which is to say there is nothing new to report. David Orth will still appear in 7 episodes this season, limited only by Australian tax rules which govern the show. In return for various tax incentive programs which made it possible for the show to be produced after Telescene's quick demise, we are limited in the number of non-Australian lead actors we can have over the course of a season.

Again, we know how important Malone is and we believe a long-term solution is possible. On a related note, this is another reason why Michael Sinelnikoff (Summerlee) has a very doubtful chance of appearing this season. If we can't get David, we certainly can't get Michael. We have pushed to the limit the number of appearances by non-Australian actors this season, and even that required some creative credits.

3) We're all thrilled (especially yours truly) with your response to our first TLW Western. The cast and crew had a real wild time making it. We've got a few more ideas on how to return to the Old West, but probably not until next year (we don't want to overuse it).

4) Ep. 314 "The Secret". Watch out, Roxton and Marguerite fans, here's my first tease on this episode -- could this be "the secret" that tears Roxton and Marguerite apart? Stay tuned.

5) TLW hits Australia. Although we all know the beloved Plateau is in the Amazon, TLW definitely has an Aussie connection. As some of you know, we've just started airing Season One in the Land Down Under. Don't worry, the locals here won't get anything else before you do (unless they live on the Gold Coast).

6) This week's episode is ep. 308 "Hollow Victory". Wait until you see the bizarre world that the group lands in this week. Filmed in the famous "wok". A brave new HOT world with a female warrior who has her eyes on more than the hot air balloon.

Okay, enough teases. Hope you're moving into a great holiday season, please enjoy it with family and friends.

The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.


Nick J.

PS -- Judy and Gar to the rescue! We can't wait.

More Treehouse News–13 Dec. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another week, another new show. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

A short list this week:

1) Last week I mentioned ep. 314 "The Secret." That episode is almost finished shooting but you'll have to wait until after the New Year to see whose secret it is and the impact it will have. Sorry for the merciless story teasing but I think you'll find the wait worthwhile (plus, you don't want me to spoil the surprise, do you?).

For the next few weeks, you'll get a chance to see the first few shows of this season again while we let the fine folks in editing catch up (and then we're all off for a much needed holiday break). This is a nice way of saying we'll show 'repeats' -- just like any other show but ours are better -- how many new details, nearly hidden objects, and secret meanings will you find???

2) Just to let you know we're not slacking off until our break, today we'll begin shooting a wildly ambitious story which will bring our explorers to a place both familiar and entirely new (and dangerous). I'll hold off on the actual title, but this one is ep. 315, our "Project X".

3) I saw some of you remark about a possible TLW Season 4. Let me tell you that although nothing is official, we'd love nothing more than to entertain you for years to come. We are certainly VERY hopeful considering the response and ratings. All I can say is tell your friends to watch!

The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.


Nick J.

More Treehouse News–21 Dec. ‘01

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

The only big news is that we're all on our first day of holiday! We've sent the dinos off with cookies and eggnog and the crew has scattered to the wind until January 7th when we'll return to finish shooting Season 3. Now that we're being televised here in Australia, our quiet little operation may lose its anonymity -- the strong ratings have been a real boost for crew morale.

I just wanted to write a quick note to let you know how much we all appreciate the passionate support of The Lost World fans. It's been a great year and a big reason is you! With a little TLW ingenuity, we're hoping to continue for a long time.

The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best this holiday season and into the New Year.

Thanks again.

Nick J.

P.S. - Where do Challenger and company go on holiday -- any ideas? The Zanga Hot Tub Spa? The Inland Sea Bed and Breakfast? You decide.

More Treehouse News–11 Jan. ‘02

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another week, another new show. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Sorry for the late post but it has been a CRAZY fun week since we returned. Sure it's the same with you at work or school. (Crikey, mate -- I forgot my locker combo!!)

So much to catch up on with cast and crew (oh yeah, and work too). From zero to two hundred once again. A very few items as I have a script due within hours -- honest!:

1) Just about finished shooting ep. 316 "Suspicion". A wild LW take on a creepy classic. Don't want to give away too many details this early because you've got a few other new episodes to enjoy beforehand. Which reminds me…

2) Our broadcast schedule. The reruns are over for awhile! You'll start back up with fresh from the oven episodes, starting this weekend with ep. 309 "A Witch's Calling." Enjoy.

3) Malone and Veronica. Don't you worry, we still love them and are making plans to see as much of them as we can get in the future (but as a couple or not -- hmm??). Please don't take their brief journeys off the plateau as a sign of anything more than what we've already talked about.

Back to the script but I enjoyed the little break.

The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best -- welcome back to you as well.

Nick J.

PS -- Two things to mention that I saw people fretting over. New Line (our US distributor) is very pleased with our ratings -- no problem there although no word yet on Season 4 (we don't expect to hear for another month or so). Also, I did work on "Tales Of The South Seas" and it was heaps of fun. I really thought that show would take off and it came very close but the tv world is sometimes a strange and unpredictable beast (and not just on the plateau.)

PPS -- Late breaking news!! Will Snow not kidnapped by aliens nor did he "break his back" as someone mentioned. Please, friends, you know some of these internet rumors get a bit over the top. Will loves to do his own stunts and has gotten minor bumps and strains before but he's tough as timber. Plus, he just had two weeks off! If he hurt himself, it was putting on sunscreen at the beach!

(Future silliness I will not respond to but this just seemed too bizarre to let pass.)

More Treehouse News–18 Jan. ‘02

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another week, another new show. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

A brief post this week:

1) This week's show is ep. 310 "Brothers In Arms." A real strong drama featuring our favourite reporter, Ned Malone. Can't wait for your reaction to this as it's really a pivotal episode for Ned. (The crew really enjoyed this one, blowing up as much as possible.)

2) Curious about our locations? Just as the credits say, we shoot everything in Australia, and most it within a 30 km radius of the studio. The landscape varies widely in Australia, especially near the coast. We've got true rain forests, pine forests, eucalyptus and gum tree scrubland, a bit of open grassland, hills, mountains, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, our rock quarry ("the wok") and of course the beach (make that the inland sea). The location manager is in charge of securing permits from the various gov't offices and permission from the property owners (whom we pay). Part of our responsibility is to be invisible as possible upon departure so any natural areas remain that way.

Of course, with our wild stories we have to build many sets as well and if you saw where we shoot (when we're not in the studio or on natural location) you might see an ice cave next to a London pub next to an Old West trading post with a few dinosaur bones nearby. Weird but fun and the construction guys do a great job of putting it together in a flash.

On one of our more frequent locations, we often have to shoo the cattle and horses away as it's a working ranch. By the way, the recent bush fires you might have seen on the news were farther south and didn't affect us. Also, a big rainstorm blew through this week and helped out those folks as well.

Thought I'd give you a break from the multiple story teases this week. Hope you enjoyed the little tour.

The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.


Nick J.

More Treehouse News–25 Jan. ‘02

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another week, another new show. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Here's the latest:

1) Will we or won't we? (Season 4, that is.) It looks good but let me explain:

New Line has announced a "4th Season green light" for TLW (The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Jan., '02). This is a fantastic start, but it does not yet guarantee a new season. Like any other syndicated show, there are a few more steps before we all celebrate.

New Line is the distributor for TLW in the U.S. -- without New Line's support, the show would not continue. However, we're still negotiating with distributors outside the U.S. who help pay for the show ("Hello... Romania? Iceland?"). The remaining deals will take several weeks to finalize. Nothing unusual.

I did not want to announce anything prematurely but also wanted to prevent any rumours. Still, the first big step has been taken and we are really thrilled.

2) Malone and Veronica. Again, we love them and understand their value to the show. Nothing has changed with that. Veronica will return in ep. 312 "The End Game." David Orth is still affected by the same Australian tax rules as stated before. However, we believe that a long term solution is possible if we return for a 4th Season. As you've seen, ep. 310 "Brothers In Arms" was a great way for Malone to gain some insight while he's away.

3) Back to the fun stuff -- stories. This week is a true TLW original, ep. 311 "Ice Age." You've seen the official synopsis and I can't add much more than to say grab your coat and hat, it's getting cold around here. Our guys must save themselves and the world... business as usual!

4) A bit of info and trivia. Peter McCauley's wife Catherine Wilkin will be guest starring in an upcoming episode. She's appeared before on TLW but her role is quite different this time, I guarantee it.

That's it for now.

The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.


Nick J.

More Treehouse News–01 Feb. ‘02

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another week, another new show. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Here's the latest:

1) Episode threads moved intact!! Friends, I wanted so badly to preserve the energy and spontaneity of your original posts regarding this season's episodes. It'd be hard to duplicate your initial reactions which were so fresh and entertaining -- even when you were critical!

I'm thrilled to report that the original discussion threads for eps. 301-311 have been moved to the "Talk About Specific Episodes" forum. A very big thank you to my web contact at New Line for helping with the heavy lifting, Mr. Y.S.H -- computer guru.

From now on, all episode threads will originate in the "Talk About Specific Episodes" forum. Of course this means switching back and forth between forums but it'll be great to have easy access to all episode topics, especially when you want to add new thoughts after repeats.

Let's see if we can make it work. It's your board!

2) This week's episode. There's been a lot of speculation about what "The End Game" means but I think the official synopsis sums it up best -- Roxton matches wits with the ultimate opponent -- Ms. Death (sorry ladies but Roxton (Snowie) has to be tempted as well as tormented, right?).

3) Romance! Yes, you've seen the official one-liner for "Phantoms" but do you remember my first tease on this episode?

"...even those of us on set were surprised with the sparks that flew between the two romantic interests in this story (I'll let you guess). Could we have a new TLW couple?"

Could this be the new guest star that Zerls hinted about long ago???

4) Regarding the request for TLW blooper tape (goof reel) -- not yet, no way (sorry). A bit too out there but maybe I can get a short clip posted. We'll see what the NL guys will allow. Usually they're pretty cool.

That's it for now.

The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.


Nick J.

More Treehouse News–08 Feb. ‘02

Hello Friends,

Nick J. here with your weekly update from Australia. Another week, another new show. (Feel free to repost this message elsewhere.)

Here's the latest:

1) Thanks for your help in making the move of the episode threads a success. Result -- your TLW thoughts in an easy to find place. Sounds like new and improved to me.

(Hey, the episode threads aren't here -- look next door in "Talk About Specific Episodes!")

2) A warm welcome to all the new members! It seems that we're really accumulating a bunch of you -- So what do we call ourselves? Should we even have a nickname? Plateau heads? The Zanga ganga? (Okay, time for bed.)

3) Back to the show. This week is ep. 313 "Phantoms." You know the new couple but the question is -- How long will they last?? And what about that pond our blond loves so much?

4) The long-awaited ep. 314 "The Secret" is next week and it should have you talking for a long time. Whose secret is it really? Maybe it's from someone you weren't expecting. And why did she... or he really come to the Plateau?

5) Can you guess which one of our cast used to be a scuba diving instructor? That's right, another Snowie factoid. (I've got to give you a least one solid fact or the crowd could turn nasty!)

That's it for now.

The many people who make The Lost World happen wish you the very best.

Thanks again,

Nick J.

Treehouse News 14 Feb '02

Hi Everyone,

Judy and Gar Reeves-Stevens here for today's Treehouse News, filling in for Nick J who's got the week off.

This is an especially busy time for The Lost World. While it's not uncommon for there to be an overlap in production between one episode's finishing and another's beginning, we're currently in the midst of filming three(!) episodes — #320, #321, and #322. One reason for the overlap is a rather elaborate set being shared between two of those three episodes. But due to the Official Secrets Act, more than that we cannot say. (Except: In one of those episodes, Robert Colby is reprising his role as William Maple White …)

Not much more to add to what's already been said about this week's episode, #314, "The Secret," other than we hope you enjoy it!

As always, more news to come about the remaining new adventures in Season Three in the weeks ahead.

And, with the end of Season Three almost upon us, please know that all signs are positive for Season Four. The moment an official announcement can be made, it will be posted on the board without delay.

On behalf of everyone at The Lost World, thanks for your ongoing support and enthusiasm—you're a real inspiration to us all!

More news as it happens…



Judy and Gar Reeves-Stevens back again with more news from the Lost Plateau.

The first of the wrap parties was last week and people are beginning to disappear. Nick and the first of the office staff and production crew are on their way, and more will follow in the next few weeks. The Story Department will continue to post News from the Treehouse until the last original episode of the season airs. Fingers crossed that by that time, there'll be news of Season Four and we'll all reconvene on the board to discuss Episode 401!

Meanwhile, business continues: Six episodes are in various stages from final scoring to editing to pick-up scenes to principal photography still underway. Most momentous of all, this week sees the Treehouse interior set dismantled and boxed (!) for storage, along with its key props and furnishings.

This week's episode marks another first for the Explorers. Though people from the future have visited the Plateau in past episodes, this time the Explorers are the ones doing the visiting. And like all good visitors, they come back with a souvenir.

The Lost World production office has a video library that includes every episode, and that treasure trove is frequently referred to by all departments—especially this season—to verify what's gone before. Last week, the make-up department had reason to check out Episode #105 (Oops - of course we mean Episode #106 - J&G) so they could reproduce a certain Lost World birthmark…

More news as it happens…



On Friday, March 1st, at 6:30 AM Gold Coast time, the cast of TLW will gather on location to film the last scene in which they all appear together–for Season Three, that is. Throughout the day, the cast will dwindle, as scenes for episodes #320 and #321 are completed. And sometime around 6:00 PM, after 127 shooting days, production for Season Three will officially end (and about two hours later, the latest wrap party will officially begin).

Post-production–which includes editing, scoring, sound and visual effects–will continue for about six more weeks, as the last six episodes are completed. (And if you liked "The Secret," you won't want to miss the revelations and adventures still to come in the final episodes.)

We're happy to report that Jeffrey Hayes of Coote/Hayes Productions has asked the Story Department to keep Treehouse News up and running throughout the "summer" ("winter" in the land downunder), until Season Four production begins. So still nothing official yet, but all indicators continue to be positive.

For those who wondered if Lara Cox ("Finn") would soon be starring in a new series called LEGEND, Lara did star in the pilot episode for the Australian series, but the series was not picked up.

In a previous Treehouse News, we mentioned the term "pick-up shot," without defining it. A pick-up shot–unfortunately indicated by the abbreviation "PU"–is a shot that's left over from an earlier episode. Usually, it's something small, such as a close-up on a journal page, or Challenger's hands operating controls. Occasionally, a pick-up shot might include a line of dialogue or two that has to be reshot for technical reasons. And sometimes a pick-up shot is as simple as pointing the camera in a specific direction through a cave opening or up through the trees to show what a character will be seeing in a particular scene, already completed. (That type of shot is called a POV, for Point of View.) Let us know if there are any other terms you'd like defined, and we'll do our best.

Here's a clue to the classic story that helped inspire this week's episode: Three of the archaeologists mentioned are Nyby, Hawks, and Carpenter…

See you next week…



All the live-action footage was successfully completed last Friday, but the editors, sound mixers, and CGI-effects team are still hard at work. So even though the cast members have gone their separate ways for the hiatus (thinking positively), it's still possible to walk through the post-production offices and hear Marguerite fighting for her life in one editing bay, while Challenger argues about a startling new theory with a colleague in another, all mixed in with sound effects for gunfire, knife fights, and a rampaging T. Rex. Oddly enough, another sound effect that occasionally joins the others is that of London traffic. The last few episodes are going to be… interesting…

During hiatus, the new address for fan mail is:

[Actor's/Recipient's Name]
The Lost World
c/o New Line Television
Promotions & Marketing
888 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10106

All mail already on its way to the old Movie World production address in Australia will be forwarded. New Line Television will then redistribute the fan mail to wherever the far-flung cast and crew end up on their travels during hiatus, so response time might not be as fast as it is during production when everyone's in the same place at the same time. The Treehouse News will update the production address when the fourth season begins.

The one exception to the above address is for TLW's armorer. In that case, letters should be addressed to the following gentleman:

Jody Waters
Film FX
Warner Roadshow Studios
Pacific Highway
Oxenford, Queensland 4210

The official website has a selection for a behind-the-scenes blooper video featuring Rachel Blakely and Will Snow, which can't be accessed. Unfortunately, this is because of technical problems with the original file and so that particular cut won't be made available again. However, it soon will be replaced by a new behind-the-scenes clip featuring a joint interview with Rachel Blakely and Jennifer O'Dell. What's it like? Well, at the end, Rachel asks if the tape can be rewound so they can start over. (Fortunately, it wasn't.)

The blooper tape that the cast has been asked to sign off on is for Dick Clark Productions. More news on this as it develops.

This story began during the first official story conference of Season Three when Executive Producer Jeff Hayes said he'd love a Jack the Ripper story, complete with foggy London streets. The London street in question was constructed in less than a week, complete with patterned concrete to stand in for cobblestones. In the real world, the pub at one end of the street had earlier been the air station office in which the explorers met Winston "Bloody" Churchill. About ten feet farther along from the other end of the street is the entrance to the Plateau's largest cave complex. And after-hours, the whole street continues to be a playground for the local cows. Fresh forensic evidence of their revels is on the cobblestones every morning-after.

When director Michael Offer was preparing to film this episode, he wanted to shoot test footage of the striking transitions he was planning to switch from the Plateau to Malone's visions. The test "victim" for these transitions did so well that the footage shot of her was actually used in the final episode, to show what Malone experienced the first time he touched the Knife. Appropriately enough, this first person to be cut by the Knife was the film editor who cut the episode–a fun way to sign her name to one of Season Three's most memorable episodes.

The news continues to be positive, but not yet official.

More news from the Story Department next week…



Editing is complete for the last two episodes of the season. CGI effects, however, are still underway for all new episodes to come (Ever wonder what a "shifting plane of reality" actually looks like?), together with the final sound mixes and music scoring. Although post production is winding down and the last of the TLW team will soon be off for a well-deserved break, all in the Lost World family are looking forward to Season Four.

Please see last week's Treehouse News (03 07 02) for the new fan mail address to use during hiatus.

When TLW's in production, there's always a big stack of fan mail on the mail-sorting table in the main office, and the mail is always passed along to whomever it's addressed to. Also, some of the letters–especially illustrated ones from kids–are pinned up close to the office entrance for everyone to enjoy.

Picture requests have their own route. Sometimes they are individually answered from Coote-Hayes at the Movie World Studios in Australia, and sometimes a group of them are bundled up and shipped to New Line in New York for individual mailing. But everyone on the production is aware of the mail TLW gets, as well as the terrific comments that are posted on this board.

Speaking of this board, the cast, crew, and production staff often hear about the number of posts that come in for various topics. Some people on the production do check in unofficially from time to time, though producers and writers have to be very careful about which topics they read. The Story Department for TLW takes great care to avoid any discussion of fan fiction or any threads about story ideas, so we always appreciate it when those topics are clearly indicated in the thread titles.

We passed on to Jeff Hayes this board's discussion about the possibility of holding a one-day TLW gathering in Chicago this summer. He's very pleased and thanks you all for your support. He did caution that if all goes according to schedule, though, that he hopes the cast will be hard at work on Season Four in July. However, please keep posting TLW convention details as they develop, because Coote-Hayes is already starting to look into what materials they can contribute, perhaps along with organizing a special programming event or two. We'll keep you posted.

This week's episode, "Fire in the Sky," is one of several this season with a multiple writer credit. TLW does follow the Writers Guild of America conventions on writer credits, so when an ampersand (&) is used between writers' names, it indicates the writers wrote as a team. When the word "and" is used, it means the listed writers did not work together. The first writer wrote a first draft, after which the second writer wrote the subsequent draft/s which contributed 50% or more new material.

Though "Fire in the Sky" is a Season Three episode, its story was initially developed in the latter part of Season Two. (Another episode that saw its first glimmerings in Season Two was "Eye For an Eye," though in the earliest version, Roxton was hunted by raptors under the control of locals.) Now that TLW is between seasons again, there is another group of as-yet-untold stories from the third season that the Story Department hopes will come to life in Season Four.

Like most TLW episodes, "Fire from the Sky" was shot at multiple locations. The interior Treehouse scenes, as always, were filmed on Stage Two of the Warner Movie World Studios on Australia's Gold Coast, about an hour's drive south of Brisbane. Exterior scenes were shot in a variety of spectacular outdoor settings–some of which are used regularly, and some which appear only in this episode.

One of the recurring TLW exterior locations is a privately-owned section of ancient rainforest where the base of the Treehouse is set up. Another key exterior location is adjacent to a local farm populated by those inquisitive cows we've mentioned before. This location is particularly versatile, with acres of grassy fields, hills, and jungle, plus room for the Windmill, the London Street, the Big Cave, several smaller caves, and the Western Street (which used to be the Outlaw Village, which used to be the Zanga Village).

Close inspection of the dungeon scenes in "Fire in the Sky" reveals the legacy of an earlier episode — the dungeon's curved stone ceiling was once the underside of the London Street footbridge from "The Knife." The Lost World construction department built two walls to seal the area under the footbridge, so that all the dungeon scenes could be filmed in the middle of the London Street. Then, when the episode was completed, the walls came down and the street was restored, ready to be used again for "Phantoms," as well as for one of the new episodes still to be aired.

"Fire in the Sky" is also memorable for being the first episode in which Marguerite sings in the shower (and that shower will make a reappearance before Season Three ends). The choice of song was simple once the Story Department uncovered the tale behind "She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage." Here's a great link to the song's fascinating history.

Now the question is: Did Marguerite sing this song because it reflects an experience in her past, or just to needle Lord Roxton?

One last note about "Fire in the Sky." Though the term doesn't come up in the script, the stone arch that Malone encounters in this episode is known on TLW as a story tablet. We'll be seeing another, even more significant one before the end of Season Three

More news next week…




The final six episodes of Season Three are nearing the end of post-production, with Episode 322 scheduled for completion around the second week in April. As always, the multi-talented people in post were the last to begin work this season, and now with everyone else off on vacation or onto other productions, they're the last—and the loneliest—on the job. For the rest of us, their amazing work will be worth the wait!

No official change in status yet from last-week's posting. Since New Line has announced renewal of the series for a fourth season, the next step will be the producers' official announcement of the start date for actual production. Unofficially, all concerned are hoping to begin Season Four sometime in July. Stay posted.

Everyone involved with TLW is truly appreciative of the efforts made by the members of this board towards getting publicity for the series. As information becomes available, Treehouse News will report on plans currently under discussion by TLW's producing partners for raising the show's profile in a variety of media—including, perhaps, announcements of long-awaited TLW merchandise.

All the way back in Season One, TLW Executive Producer Jeff Hayes and series star Jennifer O'Dell were among the first to suggest setting a classic Western on the Plateau. Season One came and went without a Western, but in Season Two, it almost happened because, as originally conceived, Guy Mullally's "The Outlaw" was set in the Wild West. Unfortunately, as the Season Two production schedule unfolded, it became clear there was no time to build a true Western street. So it was that the old Zanga Village was quickly transformed into an old English-village setting for what became one of Season Two's most popular episodes.

Season Three began with Jeff Hayes again asking for a Western, especially now that time was on the side of the set-building crew. So the Story Department began its discussions anew, and Nick Jacobs suggested using the discovery of a hangman's noose to pull Roxton into a classic story of justice denied. The Story Department developed the outline, and Nick got first crack at writing an early draft.

When it came to finding all the various Old West locations for the story, history repeated itself on two occasions—a fitting occurrence for the Plateau. First, a portion of Maylene's ranch already existed, having been built for a Western movie of the week that was filmed at a nearby, never-before-used-by-TLW location a few months earlier. Second, after several different possibilities were considered (including the Western-themed area of the Movie World Theme Park next door to the studio), the Western Street, complete with Violet's bar, the blacksmith's, and the sheriff's office, ended up being built at a well-known TWL location—the old Zanga Village—which had been the Season Two "The Outlaw" village! Obviously, true destiny cannot be denied.

The TLW location scout, in particular, faced a unique challenge on "Dead Man's Hill." The Hanging Tree had to appear in the overgrown jungle where Roxton and Marguerite first find it, as well as in the bleak Old West desert where Roxton first appears. The simplest solution would have been to use two different trees in two different locations, counting on the presence, then absence of jungle greenery to fool the eye. Second simplest would have been to use one tree in one location. In this scenario, an appropriate tree in a desert location would be "dressed" by the greens department with several truckloads of potted jungle plants, thus transforming the "desert" into a "jungle."

But often the simplest solution isn't the most satisfying, and so for maximum visual effect, the production decided on a third solution: one tree in two different locations. First, a suitable dead tree was found and cut down. Unexpectedly, the dead tree was so old and dry, it literally shattered when it hit the ground. A live tree (from a lot slated for clearing in any event) then became Plan B. Once cut down and stripped of all leaves, the culled tree was prepared for its desert debut in several stages. First, a Christmas-tree-like stand of welded steel was bolted to its trunk while earthmovers excavated a huge hole in the barren scrub of an abandoned housing-development landsite. Then, the tree was trucked to the site and planted by professional tree-movers, and a truckload of concrete was poured over its steel-stabilized trunk to keep it upright. Next, the concrete was covered with soil. And, finally, after many members of the stunt department had swung from a rope to be sure the main tree branch could safely support series star Will Snow, the Old West filming began.

In preparation for the Hanging Tree's jungle scenes, the professional tree-movers came back and the tree was "unplanted" and moved to its next location where it was "replanted," this time in the jungle among other trees. Quite close, in fact, to the Western Street. (This second journey necessitated removal of several key branches that had to be bolted on again for the next round of filming. By this time, the professional tree-movers considered the "movie people" odd, to say the least.) Next, the greens department added jungle vines and fresh-leaved branches to make the "dead" tree blend in with surrounding live vegetation. All that remained to add were the old noose and tombstone for the Teaser and Act Four of "Dead Man's Hill."

All in all, just another regular day on the Lost Plateau for the cast and crew, rearranging time and space!

NEXT WEEK: More news, and Behind the Scenes for "Hollow Victory."


P.S. Thanks for all the good questions. We'll answer all the ones we can in the weeks ahead, though not always in the order they were asked.


No change since last week's posting. Only a skeleton crew remains in post-production, working to deliver the final episodes of Season Three. So, in place of new developments, here's the line-up for the rest of the season.

First, the current set of reruns will continue for two more weeks.

03 25 02 - 03 31 02
Episode 308:"Hollow Victory"

04/01/02 - 04/07/02
Episode 309:"A Witch's Calling"

Then, the last set of all-new episodes begins.

04 08 02 - 04 14 02
Episode 317:"The Imposters"
It's been one year since"The Outlaw," which means it's time to go back to that cave... Label this one "unusual."

04 15 02 - 04 21 02
Episode 318:"The Elixir"
Catherine Wilkin, who's married to Peter McCauley, returns to the Plateau in a new role she's especially suited to play: Challenger's wife, Jessie.

04 22 02 - 04 28 02
Episode 319:"Tapestry"
Veronica returns in a tale of intrigue that could have been titled, "The Secret, Part II."

04 29 02 - 05 05 02
Episode 320: " Legacy"
The first episode ever to begin somewhere other than the Plateau. Where—and when—it goes from there is even more unexpected.

05 06 02 - 05 12 02
Episode 321:"Trapped"
There are some things our explorers just can't escape.

05 13 02 - 05 19 02
Episode 322:"Heart of the Storm"
It's finally time for those three little words that mean so much: "To be continued”"

The next set of reruns will continue through the summer, beginning with "Finn," and ending with a reprise of "Heart of the Storm" in the week of September 23.

Completely unofficially and subject to change, that points to Season Four beginning the week of September 30.

Watch for updates.

The ratings that are kindly posted here each week are certainly good news for everyone connected to TLW. Even better news is that these figures are only part of the story because they're the overall national numbers—arrived at by combining ratings from all the individual airings of TLW across the United States, including those markets where the show airs in less than optimal timeslots.

The best news of all for TLW are the local ratings from major markets, such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, where TLW ratings in the threes and fours are very common. And, in most of these markets, TLW is consistently number one in its timeslot, in addition to improving on the ratings of whichever program airs just before it. All this factors in New Line's enthusiastic early renewal of the series for a fourth season in advance of the NATPE convention when such announcements are usually made.

Jeff Hayes's office has unearthed a treasure trove of TLW promotional items—instant cameras, Swiss Army Knife tool cards, giant jawbreakers (dinosaur eggs?), autographed scripts, a canteen and binoculars, and even a crew jacket—which Coote-Hayes is happy to donate to a charity auction or charity raffle as part of a TLW convention. Please keep Treehouse News apprised of how plans are proceeding.

"Hollow Victory" was yet another episode that emerged from the first story conference of Season Three. Jeff Hayes, a big fan of classic science-fiction adventures, wondered if the Explorers could take part in a new Journey to the Center of the Earth story, without repeating Season Two's, "Under Pressure." The Story Department was already eager to use science-fiction settings popular at the time Doyle was writing the original Challenger stories, and one of the best of those settings was the Hollow Earth. Plus, by having the Explorers travel into the earth by balloon this time, the story setting and atmosphere would be distinct from the dark cave and tunnel look of "Under Pressure."

Fortunately, after sitting out the second season, the balloon basket was in great shape, having been wrapped up and stored on the lot. Though it looks to be a lightweight basket made of wicker and wood, the wicker is only a covering. Underneath is a welded steel frame - completely unsuitable for flight, but exactly what's needed to hold five extremely valuable actors as they dangle from a crane on location, or from a hoist on the stage.

For "Hollow Victory," many of the safety issues concerned the balloon basket and the precautions required to film the cast in it. When it was shot on location, the basket was actually suspended from a large crane which could simultaneously lift and swing it. But the real drama for the safety crew came during the launch and landing sequences, when the actors had to jump on and off while the basket was in motion. In these shots no one could wear the hidden safety harnesses that are usually used whenever an actor is put into a position from which he or she might fall.

Because safety is always an overriding concern on TLW (that is, for everyone on the production except for the actors themselves - they're fearless), the initial concept meeting for each episode always includes the safety supervisor, and careful planning goes into every action that might present the slightest degree of risk. When an episode's shooting breakdown is issued, the breakdown also includes a detailed report of all the safety measures to be taken in each scene. Basic safety measures include being sure there are enough mats and pads to protect all the actors and "stunties" (as they're called Downunder), for any action that requires anyone to hit the ground, during fights, chases, and dinosaur attacks.

Weapons, in particular, are treated with exceptional care. Most weapons in the series have soft rubber duplicates—used whenever there's a chance an actor might come into close contact with the weapon, especially by accident. (In one of the new episodes to come, there is a spectacular fight involving bladed weapons. Though the fight's prop weapons are not really metal, they are rigid so they'll look believable when they make contact—which means that the slightest miscalculation on the part of the actors engaged in battle could definitely have serious consequences.)

Safety notices also appear regularly on the call sheets for each day's planned shooting, often warning the crew of dangerous flora and fauna in the location area, even, at times, reminding the crew when to tuck their pants into their boots. And while on location, safety officers call attention to any particular plants and insect infestations to avoid. (During the production of Episode 320, just as action was about to be called for an on-location scene, one of the lighting team politely asked for a brief delay because a snake was attacking his boot! All held their positions, the snake eventually gave up, and the show went on.)

NEXT WEEK: More news, and Behind-the-Scenes for "Witch's Calling."



Half of the remaining six episodes have now been completed, with the last three not far behind. For this final set of new episodes for the season, it's safe to say that everyone involved with TLW really pulled out all the stops. So, as Marguerite says to Roxton in Episode 322, "Hold onto your hat," and enjoy the rest of the season as much as everyone on the show did.

As a regular update beginning with this week's posting, Treehouse News will list the next four episodes scheduled to air in the U.S. The current schedule is:

04/01/02 - 04/07/02 Episode 309:"A Witch's Calling"

New episodes begin
04 08 02 - 04 14 02 Episode 317:"The Imposters"
04 15 02 - 04 21 02 Episode 318:"The Elixir"
04 22 02 - 04 28 02 Episode 319:"Tapestry"

Three more new episodes will follow before summer repeats begin.

Completely unofficial and subject to change, Season Four is currently expected to begin the week of September 30.

Thanks for posting details of the convention plans. We've passed them along to Jeff Hayes's office, and though he expects we'll all be back in production on July 20, his team is going to try to arrange a surprise or two for the TLW gathering. The promotional merchandise mentioned in last week's posting, however, will definitely be made available for a charity auction or charity raffle. More details to come.

In the world of television production, schedule is everything, and TLW is no exception.

A typical TLW script runs between 56 to 58 pages. A typical shooting schedule is six days of Main Unit shooting with two overlapping days for Second Unit. Main Unit has the biggest lighting and sound crews, is usually run by the episode's director, and covers the main cast. Second Unit is a leaner operation with its own director, and usually concentrates on inserts, blue/green elements, and pick-ups and reshoots. Inserts include quick close-ups of books and journals. Blue/green-screen elements include filming props or characters in front of a large green or blue backdrop so digital effects can be added. Pick-ups and reshoots include shots left over from the previous episode and shots that have to be redone for technical reasons.

When you combine the days for Main and Second Unit, that means 58 pages of script must be shot in about 8 days—about 7 1/4 pages a day. And since no two episodes of TLW are alike, no two schedules are alike. Some episodes have taken longer than 8 shooting days. Some have been shot in as few as five.

Seven-and-a-quarter pages works out, on average, to about five minutes of completed screen time. While that might not sound too demanding for the typical twelve-hour television workday, on a movie shoot, as little as a half a page a day can be an acceptable schedule. That means a television crew has to work almost 14 times faster than a movie crew! This is where scheduling of a weekly series becomes extremely critical, and the producers in charge of organizing all of TLW's departments and keeping them on schedule (and under budget!) are some of the hardest and most unflappable workers on the team.

And that brings us to this week's episode, "A Witch's Calling," whose scheduling required all our team's talents and more.

One of the key sets for this episode is Dame Alice's castle, and usually a castle isn't a difficult order for TLW's art department. For castle exteriors, Photon, the company that produces the show's digital effects, can create a CGI matte painting placing any type of castle anywhere on the Plateau. For castle interiors, TLW has a good collection of previously built sets that the art department and the construction team can transform into any new set needed. But this is where schedule—and schedule-juggling—comes in.

As originally planned, Dame Alice's castle courtyard was going to be a reuse of part of the London street built for Episode 305, "The Knife." False stone walls would be set up to enclose the cobblestones, and the footbridge would become a battlement. However, to accommodate the schedules of two of our directors, the two episodes following Episode 309, "A Witch's Calling," were set to shoot out of order. That is, Episode 310, "Brothers in Arms," was set to shoot before Episode 311, "Ice Age." Thus, when the schedules of these three episodes were being planned, a conflict arose—not for the actual filming of the episodes, but for the construction of the sets.

There was enough time to build everything required for the three episodes, but not in the locations first planned. That's because the London street set is right beside the main cave set, and if the construction crew is working in one of the two locations, the noise makes it difficult to film at the other. And the construction crew faced not only turning Episode 305's London street into Episode 309's castle courtyard, they would also have to first take down the existing modifications that had turned the footbridge into Episode 306's dungeon. At the same time, the main cave had to be stripped of all the elements that had transformed it into Arjax's mine for Episode 308,"Hollow Victory," so it could be turned into the interior of the ice hive for Episode 309,"Ice Age." You get the idea.

In the end, the solution was a mixture of the three basic building blocks of television production—hard work, creativity, and money. To take the pressure off the London/main cave location, the show built a brand-new cave set some distance away. This cave set made its first appearance as Episode 309's ice hive, then was later repainted and reddressed to become Episode 315's cave ("Finn") in which Challenger attempted to tap into the Plateau's energy lines.

Meanwhile, the art department and construction crew concentrated on the main cave to turn it into Episode 309's dungeon grotto for "A Witch's Calling" (replacing the castle courtyard) to be later repainted and redressed as Episode 312's Death Domain in "End Game," leaving lots of time in the schedule for the dungeon to be removed from the London street, which was then repainted and redressed as a German village street for Episode 313, "Phantoms," only to once again be transformed back into yet another London street for… but that would be telling…

NEXT WEEK: More news, and A First Look at "The Imposters." (Behind the Scenes will return when repeats resume.)



The lonely Lost World outpost of post-production will close in Australia in just a few weeks with the delivery of the final episodes of Season Three. (On a positive note, last week's e-mail update for TLW's production team referred to the next few months as a "break" in production.)

Each week, Treehouse News lists the next four episodes to air in the U.S.

A run of six all-new episodes begins this week.
04/08/02–04/14/02 Episode 317 "The Imposters"
04/15/02–04/21/02 Episode 318 "The Elixir"
04/22/02–04/28/02 Episode 319 "Tapestry" (Veronica returns.)
04/29/02–05/05/02 Episode 320 "Legacy"

Two more new episodes will follow before summer repeats begin.

The status of Season Four remains the same: Still completely unofficial and subject to change—Season Four is currently expected to begin the week of September 30.

As mentioned last week, Jeff Hayes is working on ways to support the first Lost World convention. Details re the involvement of Coote/Hayes and New Line will be posted as they become available. In the meantime, is there any consensus on what Lost World fans are called, and on what the name of the very first convention will be?

Over the Northern hemisphere's summer, Treehouse News will continue to post behind-the-scenes background pieces for previously-run episodes. But the First-Look comments for the new episodes will be much briefer, so as not to spoil the fun by giving too much away (especially concerning the symbol on Summerlee's mask and what it means to Veronica!).

In a perfect world, in which everything is done on schedule, a TLW script begins life as an "unnumbered first draft." This simply means it's the writer's first draft, based on an approved and detailed outline, and that the script's scenes have not yet been given the production numbers necessary for scheduling.
—A scene is typically an extended piece of continuous action which takes place in one location. The term includes everything from a quick establishing shot of the Treehouse, over which we hear the gramophone playing, to an extended dinosaur chase through the jungle.

—In a script, scenes are indicated as being interior or exterior, written as "EXT. TREEHOUSE–DAY," and "INT. TREEHOUSE–NIGHT."

—A TLW scene number is three to four digits long. The first one or two digits indicate the episode number; the last two digits indicate the scene number. For example, the scene numbers for Episode 314, "The Secret," ran from Scene 1401 to 1439.

—When scenes change after a script has been "locked" (meaning that, for ease of scheduling, no scenes or page numbers will be allowed to change from this stage onward), deleted scenes will appear in subsequent drafts of the script as "OMITTED." New inserted scenes will be numbered 1410A, 1410B, and so on.

The first step in the long journey to final script is when the unnumbered first draft is circulated to the cast, department heads, key production personnel, and everyone else on the show who's interested to know what's going to happen next (especially to Arthur the Beetle). This is when the Story Department receives its first set of reactions to the story's structure and requirements. These reactions usually deal with broad issues such as casting possibilities, scheduling and budget concerns, and, of course, overall story logic.

Sometimes the schedule is such that the Story Department has a chance to address these initial concerns before the first formal production meeting–the Concept Meeting. If this is the case, the Story Department replaces the unnumbered first draft script with the "numbered white production draft." (This script is called a "white" draft because it's printed on white paper.)

More often than not, it is this numbered white draft that is the focus of the Concept Meeting.

The TLW Concept Meeting takes place at the show's production offices, right beside the open kitchen, where four or five large conference tables have been pushed together into a square to make room for between twenty to thirty people. Attendees include the episode's director and assistant director (the A.D,, who usually runs the meeting), along with all department heads–make-up, hair, wardrobe, stunts, locations, casting, special effects, digital effects, continuity, art, props, writers–and the key producers, including Executive Producer Jeff Hayes, and those who're responsible for the budget, logistics, and post-production.

The meeting starts with everyone opening his or her copy of the white-draft script to page one, scene one. And then an intensive production analysis begins. (Interestingly enough, story content is rarely, if ever, discussed at the Concept Meeting. That occurs at smaller, follow-up meetings with the Story Department, the producers, and the director.)

What follows next is a big brainstorming session. The art and prop people have read the script using highlighters to mark every prop, set, and scenic element. Make-up has begun tracking the characters' physical conditions through the story. Wardrobe has made notes about any new costumes that have to be designed and sewn for guest characters, and at the same time has begun to calculate how many versions of the regular casts' costumes will have to be sacrificed for bullet hits, knife wounds, or other specified mayhem.

Meanwhile, the stunt coordinator has marked every physical interaction in the script, from Roxton having an all-out fight with one of his abductors in Episode 315 ("Finn") to Marguerite being pushed aside in Episode 316 ("Suspicion"). The stunt and safety coordinators mark the script for action the cast can safely accomplish, noting any shenanigans that will have to be assigned (usually over the casts' objections) to stunt doubles. (The number of stunt doubles and the type of action they'll have to perform will directly affect the plans of wardrobe and make-up, as well. The messier the stunt, the more frequent the make-up applications, and the greater the number of duplicate costumes.)

At this first discussion of the script, the special effects and digital effects coordinators often speak with the director about the best way to achieve what the script has called for. For example, in an upcoming episode, there was a long discussion about whether to present a massive explosion by actually firing off explosives in a set (looks great, is potentially dangerous, can only be done once), or by using a CGI flame effect (can also look extremely realistic with the proper editing and sound effects provided by post-production). In the end, several techniques were combined: The CGI element was used at the apparent source of ignition, while large air cannons were used to blast debris into the air. The final arrangement involved input from special effects, digital effects, the stunt and safety coordinators, and the construction team, as well as careful planning regarding cost and schedule.

At the end of the Concept Meeting, which can last anywhere from just under an hour to more than two hours, depending on a script's technical complexity, everyone usually walks away with areas to investigate.

Another example: After the Concept Meeting for Episode 305 ("The Knife"), the props department began work on a prototype "soft" knife that could be treated with a new finishing compound so it would gleam like polished steel, yet still be completely safe during fights. The director, Michael Offer, set off to film some test transition sequences to see how to get into and out of Malone's visions. Casting had to come up with a selection of actors who would be suitable for the guest roles of Gull and Anderson (and who would be available at the time the episode was scheduled to be shot). And wardrobe had the fun assignment of researching Victorian clothing to create new costumes for actors Rachel Blakely and Jennifer O'Dell in their dual roles.

Meanwhile, the episode's writer–in this case, Executive Producer Guy Mullally–headed back to the keyboard to expand some scenes and decrease others to address technical issues. (When a writer revises a script, the resulting revised draft will have an asterisk in the margin to the right of any lines that have changed. The asterisks are used to alert readers to a change between the new script and the one that preceded it.)
If only a few pages of the revised white draft have changes, then these pages are printed out as "pink" pages (on pink paper) and are placed in the white script. The changed white pages are pulled out and replaced by the new pink ones, so at a glance, the readers can tell which pages have changed.

However, at this first stage of reworking the script, there are usually so many changed pages that often the next script that is distributed for review is not a pink and white script but a "full pink" with changes on virtually every page.

For subsequent revisions of the script, many times only the changed pages (each new revision having its own particular color) are printed and distributed. So when a set of changed pages comes in, everyone takes apart his/her script, tosses out the old pages, and slips in the new ones. By the time a script is actually in production, it is a veritable rainbow.

On TLW, the script order of revisions runs: white, pink, blue, green, yellow, then repeats with 2nd white, 2nd pink, and so on, occasionally reaching even into triples. It's no wonder that scripts are bound with easy-to-remove brads or other removable connectors.

But, before that colorful bunch of pages goes into production, it must first survive the Production Meeting. More on that next week.

"For two days each year, two different worlds are brought together by a freak of nature. But when the earth has moved just a little, and the sun no longer hits that cluster of sparkling rocks, everything returns to normal…. Last year it was a frozen wasteland. The year before, a desert. Every year, it's something different."–EDGAR GRAY, in "THE OUTLAW" (Episode 216)

Which brings us to Episode 317: Even when things looked darkest last summer, Jeff Hayes thought positively and asked the Story Department to start thinking of Season Three stories. And one of the first story areas to be considered was: What if the Explorers returned one year later to the "Outlaw" cave to see if the strange phenomenon would repeat?

And the answer? Well, let's just say that this year, with Finn around, it's not the landscape that does the changing…

NEXT WEEK: More news, and A First Look at "The Elixir."