Damon Lindelof Developing ‘The Leftovers’ For HBO

Published 3 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:28 pm,

Lindelof The Leftovers HBO Damon Lindelof Developing The Leftovers For HBO

Not long ago, Lost writer and producer Damon Lindelof announced he would return to television-based projects after venturing into big screen endeavors like this summer’s Prometheus along with lending his pen to the upcoming Star Trek 2 and the beleaguered World War Z. Now, Lindelof has announced that his televison project will be to adapt Tom Perrotta’s 2011 novel The Leftovers for HBO.

As long as you overlook Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, HBO has a history of successfully transforming best-selling novels into hit television shows, and now, with the help of Lindelof, the network is hoping to make the quasi-religious mystery of The Leftovers the next program eating up an hour of your Sunday evening.

Perrotta’s novel concerns a small town dealing with the aftermath of a Rapture-like event known as the Sudden Departure, which saw people from all over the globe vanish in an instant. The main story revolves around the town’s Mayor, Kevin Garvey, and his attempt to help his community – which saw 100 people disappear in the event – as his own family deteriorates around him. Garvey’s wife has taken up with a cult known as the Guilty Remnant and his son is now following a self-proclaimed prophet going by the name Holy Wayne. Only, his daughter remains with Kevin, but the event has left her changed, too.

The basic principle may be similar to the Left Behind series, but here, the idea isn’t leading to an eventual showdown between good and evil. Instead, The Leftovers is concerned with exploring the ramifications, and seemingly unanswerable questions of what the event actually was and how regular people are expected to carry on with their lives.

The metaphysical questions posed in the novel are clearly ones familiar to Lindelof, who dealt with similarly large themes in Lost and Prometheus, so it’s easy to understand why he was drawn to the material. In an interview with Vulture, Lindelof delves into the concepts that attracted him, and how they relate to his past work.

Lindelof says of The Leftovers:

“You can’t be an atheist anymore. It takes us back in time to a place in human history where everyone’s lives were dictated by the gods of Olympus or the gods of the heavens. [The book] tries to explain the purpose of it all, and that lined up with the meta level of Lost.”

“We all look at ourselves in the mirror and think, ‘Am I good?’ The fact that there’s this reaping which occurred, and you don’t make the cut, some of us don’t feel worthy, seemed very ripe territory for a cool character drama.”

According to Lindelof, though, the series needs to be expanded beyond the story of Mayor Garvey and his family, which means new characters and additional storylines will have to be created in order to keep the series going – perhaps by digging into the consequences of the event on a global scale.

“The pilot will introduce characters and storylines not in the book. It has to. The book is so rich in characters and details…and opens so many creative doors. But it probably only has enough content for two or three episodes.”

If it sounds like Lindelof is setting himself up for another round of potential backlash from fans craving hard and fast answers, the notion has crossed his mind. Because of his passion for the subject matter, though, it’s something he’s willing to bear.

“I guess I can’t help myself. I’m sure there’s a certain subset of viewers who watched Lost until the bitter end and will say, ‘I’m just not going to put myself through that again.’ But I’m so incredibly magnetized to this concept and the people in this story. It’s firing all my creative pistons in a way they haven’t been fired since Lost. I told Tom to brace himself for people asking [about the rapture mystery] as the first question. And then I told him, ‘I don’t know if you know this, but I sort of have a reputation for not answering things.”

Perrotta, whose other works include the acclaimed novels Little Children and Election is, by now, well-acquainted with the process of his work being adapted into other mediums, and will help write the series along with Lindelof, should HBO choose to pick it up.


Follow Screen Rant for more information on The Leftovers as it is made available.

Source: Vulture

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  1. I hope David Lindelof does not listen to his critics,
    particularly that subset who disliked the ending of Lost,
    and continues to follow his instincts on what to reveal and not.

    Not all details have to be addressed, the big issues yes and Lost did that,
    and because of that beautiful moving ending to Lost I’ll check out this new show.

    • Well said Mr. Palmer…

      • What is the island? An island – pretty self explanatory. What is it that makes this island unique would be the more accurate question…

        • The answer, of course is that it rests atop a massive deposit of stored energy.

          But where did the energy come from? Well, that is where one must draw the line… like the Stephen King fiction the writers were inspired by, the energy needs no explanation. Where did Stephen Kings ‘IT’ come from, for example, or Carrie’s telekinesis? What is the Force, Mr. Lucas?

      • Renji,

        That question was answered… A thousand times throughout the seasons. Not much was left unanswered… If you pay attention.

      • Actually we know(Or at least those that paid attention do) exactly what the Island is, It is a physical place that houses the link (The Source) between creation/life and death/the afterlife.

    • Yes and lets see all of his other wonderful writing credits shall we?

      LOST decent stories but over arching storyline and ending was cruddy.

      Cowboys & Aliens…. the Box Office speaks for itself.

      Promethus again decent over arching story but when it needed to be all tied up at the end…. cruddy.

      Sorry Mr. Lindelof should not be allowed near any type of device that is able to capture a story for others to follow, typewriters, computers, pen and pencil, etc.

      Lidelof is riding on the coat tails of small little portions of greatness he helped create (or destroy) and he is probably related to M. Night Shamalama.

      • Lost = The most creative TV show of all time, With an epic conclusion…If you understood it.

        Cowboys & Aliens = Nothing ground breaking, But still fun.

        Prometheus = Great movie, first part of a potential trilogy.

        Star trek = Both very good movies.

        World war Z = A movie he rescued, after it had many failed screenplays.

        Lindelof is a very creative and talented writer, Get off the deluded bandwagon.

  2. This sounds perfect for Lindelof and if it gets picked up I’ll be watching.
    With very few exceptions (Luck wink-wink) HBO knows what it’s doing.

  3. The fact that it’s for HBO is the main reason I may tune in.

    HBO is just gold when it comes to series, well except for True Blood but I may be in the minority in that respect

  4. Mr Palmer, you’re confusing ambiguity and subtlety with poor writing. He wrote himself into a brick wall. The ending of Lost was the equivalent to ten year old finishing a story with “…And then I woke up.” You’re really reaching by implying that people just don’t understand it. I’dsuggest that you’re in fact looking for something that really isn’t there. I’m not going to get into Prometheus, but this notion that something left open to interpretation is good writing is a fallacy. It’s lazy. It’s a builder throwing bricks at a client and shouting “Make it yourself, I can’t be bothered.” Ambiguity is fine with paintings or poetry,and even film, but Lindelof doesn’t appear to be able to write a coherent, linear story. At all.

    • So Inception was a hack, open-ended conclusion?

      • or Martha Marcy Mae Marlene?

        “Something left open to interpretation is good writing is a fallacy”

        Applying a true/false assessment to the subjective ‘good writing’ is a fallacy.

    • “…and then I woke up” ==> That was the simple mistake that many viewers made – they thought they were dead the whole time – that is incorrect. It was not all a dream, or the equivalent, but if you paid attention you would already know that.

      • Anyone that says “you will loose the audience” does not have the right to call anyone a bad writer, Haha, Just because YOU don’t understand his work does not make him a bad writer, Get over yourself, There are millions that think he’s a great writer, are we all deluded?? You’re among the deluded minority that don’t understand complex ideas.

    • Sorry but you have just proven YOU did not understand the conclusion of Lost by saying it was similar to a “…And then I woke up.” ending. Lost’s ending was nothing of the sort, Again, YOU DID NOT GET IT.

  5. I think this project will definitely work best with the Rapture remaining an ambiguous element. It allows a story to unfold where the characters must debate the meaning of the event, opposing and projecting alternate beliefs.

    This ambiguity serves to mirror the real life murkiness of Theology, which to me is a more engaging premise to explore than some cliched good vs evil done-to-death linear narrative. Debate = conflict = drama, sounds good for Lindelof, at any rate.