The ‘Lost’ leak scandal: like Plame-gate, kind of

An unknown leaker within a secretive organization feeds information to the press. Journalists scramble to put together disparate pieces. Oh, and someone dies, but only on a television show. The NYT looks at the frenzied attempts by the Hollywood press to deduce which character on ‘Lost’ is dying on tonight’s episode. Well, ‘frenzied’ is probably an overstatement since it’s not that hard to ask around at talent agencies and find out which actor’s contract is getting abruptly re-negotiated. Then, a leaker (or leakers?) involved with the show is (are?) apparently more than happy to fill in the blanks:

It was whispers about the actor’s negotiations that tipped off Kristin Veitch, who delivers television scoops on E! and is also a columnist on the cable channel’s Web site. If this rumor were a virus, Ms. Veitch would be its Patient Zero: on April 18, she broke the news of the Season 2 death. “Keeping a secret in this town on a show like that is next to impossible,” Ms. Veitch said recently on the telephone from Los Angeles.

With months to milk this plot development, she has doled out minute hints along the way. In June, she leaked the character’s sex; she also has written opaquely about how the person will die. “I never spill the whole enchilada,” Ms. Veitch said. “It’s this weird balancing act.”

Michael Ausiello, a columnist for TVGuide.com, credited Ms. Veitch with breaking this story. He then learned the details himself, and has since trafficked in the deathwatch in his “Ask Ausiello” chats.

Says ‘Lost’ executive producer Damon Lindelof about his relationship with Veitch, “I don’t leak her anything, and I don’t know the source of her leaks… If I want her to take down something that I think is going to harm the show, I’ll give her a piece of information that is less harmful. It’s just like the White House in that sense.”

Wow, so being in the Hollywood press corps is just like being in the White House press corps! Except nothing you’re reporting on really matters, and you have to dress better.