Lloyd Braun was the chairman of ABC from 2002 to November 2004. He is credited for having the initial idea for a concept of a new television show which, after many revisions, eventually ended up as Lost. Despite many rumors of Braun being fired over the production costs of the LOST pilot, Braun wasn't fired as he quit over many arguments with Michael Eisner and Robert Iger.
ABC executives assumed Lost would fail.
Braun's role in the creation of Lost
During the time Braun was chairman of ABC, the network had seen a steady decline to the number four spot in ratings, behind NBC, CBS, and Fox. ABC was desperate for new hits. In the summer of 2003, about 50 ABC executives met at a retreat in Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim, California. During a banquet, people were supposed to suggest various concepts for new television shows. Lloyd Braun himself pitched the idea for what he described as "Cast Away - The Series", after the movie starring Tom Hanks. (The Genesis of Lost)
Even though a lot of people initially laughed at Braun's idea (some comparing it to Gilligan's Island), Thom Sherman, then former senior vice president at ABC, liked the idea. Jeffrey Lieber was hired to write a story for what was pitched to him as a "hyperrealistic portrayal of life on a deserted island", and he came up with a setting similar to Lord of the Flies. In September 2003, Lieber pitched his premise, then named Nowhere, to ABC, but even though he was originally told that his script for the pilot was good and just needed a few rewrites, he eventually ended up heavily rewriting his script. Ultimately, Lloyd Braun, still not satisfied with Lieber's script, fired him. Lieber recalled that he had never been specifically told what exactly the problem was.
At that point, it was very late in the 2003/2004 season, but Braun was desperate to get his idea turned into a television series. He approached J.J. Abrams to rewrite the script. Abrams then teamed up with Damon Lindelof, and together they took the concept into more of a "mystery" direction, making the Island itself a "character", an idea Braun liked. After Abrams and Lindelof had finished a rough outline, Braun greenlit the project—even though they had no actual script yet—and granted it a budget of nearly $12 million. This was the final straw for Disney, who had been dissatisfied with Braun's performance as ABC's chairman for quite a while. Considering the concept of the show "a crazy project that's never going to work" (Michael Eisner, chairman and chief executive of Disney) and "a waste of time" (Bob Iger, Eisner's deputy), they decided to fire Braun. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse later referred to Braun's decision to greenlight the pilot's budget as a "final f**k you" to Disney and ABC, who he knew intended to fire him anyway.
Shortly after leaving ABC, Braun was asked by J.J. Abrams to do a voiceover to open the show every week. Abrams and Damon Lindelof felt that some sort of homage was due Braun for his role in the making of the show, and Braun agreed on the condition of anonymity. Braun, Abrams and a sound man met in a conference room at the Beverly Hills Hotel and recorded the opening line,"Previously, on Lost." Several years later, Howard Stern, a close friend of Braun, would figure out who the mystery voice was and Braun credits him with the revelation to the public.
After leaving ABC, Lloyd Braun joined Yahoo!, but left on December 5, 2006, after two years working for the search company.
- Previously envisioned the concept for The Sopranos, along with David Chase.
- Additionally, oversaw the development of programs such as My Wife and Kids, According to Jim, Alias (which was created by J.J. Abrams), The Bachelor, Extreme Makeover, and 8 Simple Rules.
- The character Lloyd Braun on the sitcom Seinfeld is named after Braun, who was the manager and lawyer of that show's creator, Larry David.
- The man who discovered 'Lost' - and found himself out of a job. - Daily Telegraph article on Braun.
- Former ABC Exec Lloyd Braun, the Voice of ‘Previously, on Lost,’ Says, ‘I Know What the Smoke Monster Was ... - New York Magazine.
- Lloyd Braun - Wikipedia