Carlton Cuse

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Carlton Cuse
Born Arthur Carlton Cuse
(1959-03-22) March 22, 1959 (age 56)
Mexico City, Mexico
Nationality American
  • Producer
  • showrunner
  • screenwriter
Years active 1984–present

Arthur Carlton Cuse[1][2] (born March 22, 1959) is an American screenwriter, showrunner and producer, best known as an executive producer and screenwriter for the American television series Lost, for which he made the Time magazine list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010.[3] Cuse is considered a pioneer in transmedia storytelling.[4]

Early life[edit]

Cuse was born in Mexico City, Mexico on March 22, 1959. His parents were American. His father was working in Mexico for Cuse's grandfather, who had a machine tool manufacturing business.[5][6][7][8] Cuse's paternal grandparents were Latvians, of Baltic German heritage.[9][10] After a few years in Mexico City, his parents moved to Boston, where as a boy, he instantly bonded with the Boston Red Sox and began a lifelong love for the team. A few years after the move to Boston, his dad took a job in Tustin, California. Cuse was raised a Roman Catholic.[11] Cuse went off to boarding school in 10th grade to The Putney School in Putney, Vermont. The school was on a working dairy farm, and placed a strong emphasis on an education in the arts, music and the outdoors. It was at The Putney School, Cuse said, that he realized he wanted to be a writer.[5]

Cuse attended Harvard University (class of 1981) and was recruited at freshmen registration by the freshman crew coach, Ted Washburn, and became part of the rowing team. In his words, he became "a hardcore athlete". Cuse's original plan was to attend medical school but he instead majored in American history.[12] During his junior year at Harvard, Cuse organized a test screening for the makers of the Paramount film Airplane!. The producers wanted to record the audience reaction to time the final cut of the jokes in the movie. Cuse said that was when he started thinking about a career in film.[13]

Career beginnings[edit]

Cuse teamed up with a Harvard classmate, Hans Tobeason, and made a documentary about rowing at Harvard called Power Ten. He convinced actor, writer and fellow Harvard graduate George Plimpton to narrate the film. After graduating, Cuse headed for Hollywood, and worked as an assistant to a studio head, then as a script reader. By working as a reader, he said, he learned screenwriting.

In 1984, Cuse took a job working as an assistant producer for Bernard Schwartz and then spent a year and a half working on Sweet Dreams, directed by Karel Reisz, starring Jessica Lange and Ed Harris. He described the experience as his version of film school.[5] Through a friend, David J. Burke, Cuse was hired as a writer on the Michael Mann series Crime Story. In 1986, Cuse wrote two teleplays for the series.[14]


Cuse formed a partnership with feature writer Jeffrey Boam. Working with Boam, Cuse helped develop the films Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Cuse wrote the screenplay for the 2015 disaster film San Andreas. The film was directed by Brad Peyton, starred Dwayne Johnson, and was released in the United States on May 29, 2015.[15] The film opened with a dominant $53.2 million in the U.S., with a worldwide total of $113.2 million.[16] With a global box office total of $468.7 million, San Andreas was the fourth highest grossing film of Summer 2015, beating out Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation. It was the second highest grossing film, for that period, based on an original story.[17] The film was also Warner Bros. second highest grossing film of 2015.[18]

Television series[edit]

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993–94)[edit]

Because of his involvement with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, an executive at Fox, Bob Greenblatt, asked Cuse and Boam if they would be interested in doing a television version of the old movie serials. Cuse said yes and wrote The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., about a Harvard-educated bounty hunter who wants to avenge the death of his father, the most famous lawman in the Old West. Fox gave the go ahead for the series. Brisco also had a science fiction element, in the form of a mysterious orb which appears in several episodes. Boam went back to making features, leaving Cuse to co-create and executive produce the critically acclaimed series. Afterwards, Cuse gave much of the credit for the show's success to actor Bruce Campbell who played Brisco County Jr., the lead character.[5]

Nash Bridges (1996–2001)[edit]

After Brisco, Cuse met Don Johnson, who had a commitment from CBS to make a new series. With Johnson's blessing, Cuse went off and wrote the pilot for Nash Bridges. Johnson liked it and CBS did too, ordering 14 episodes off the script without making a pilot. Nash Bridges was the first series that Les Moonves greenlit as the head of CBS. It ran for six seasons and 121 episodes.[19]

Martial Law (1998)[edit]

Cuse created and executive produced the CBS series Martial Law, starring Arsenio Hall and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, one of martial arts legend Jackie Chan's closest friends and collaborators. Cuse adapted the world of Hong Kong cinema to American television in a story about a Shanghai cop who comes to the LAPD on an exchange program. A team of eight top Chinese stuntmen and coordinators out of Hong Kong were hired. Stanley Tong, who had directed many of Jackie Chan's biggest Hong Kong features, directed the pilot. Sammo Hung became the first Chinese actor to star as the lead in an American TV series.[5] Cuse was running both Martial Law and Nash Bridges simultaneously. The workload became creatively and physically difficult, which led to him leaving Martial Law, and focus exclusively on Nash Bridges. Another factor, Cuse said, were creative differences with Sammo Hung about the future direction of Martial Law.[5]

Lost (2004–10)[edit]

Cuse was an executive producer and joint showrunner on Lost with Damon Lindelof. They met in the sixth season of Nash Bridges. Cuse hired Lindelof, giving him his first staff writer job on a television series. A few years later Lindelof and J. J. Abrams wrote the pilot for Lost. Shortly after the Lost pilot was shot, Abrams left the show to do Mission Impossible 3 with Tom Cruise. Lindelof had no experience as a showrunner and called Cuse for showrunning advice on the side. He then asked Cuse to come work on the show.[20]

The Cuse/Lindelof partnership was very productive. They wrote roughly a third of the episodes together as well as showrunning the series in tandem overseeing all the creative work on the series, including all story construction, rewrites, casting, production, editing, music and marketing. Cuse said, "A great partnership can lead to great TV. In the case of Lost it worked out great; I could not have had a better partner than Damon."[5]

Reaction to the Lost finale

"The End" was watched by 13.5 million Americans[21] and received a strongly polarized response from both fans and critics. Reviewers from the Chicago Tribune and IGN called it the best episode of the season and praised its emotion and character. Negative reviews from the Los Angeles Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer criticized the finale for answering so few of the series' questions. Website Metacritic gave "The End" a score of 74 out of 100, suggesting "mostly positive reviews", while The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph reported mostly negative reviews.

The Future of Lost

Cuse told Digital Spy, "Disney owns the franchise, it made them a lot of money, it's hard to imagine it will just sit there idly forever. Damon (Lindelof) and I told our story in that world and I assume someone will come along, hopefully having been inspired by our story, or our version of the story, and want to tell their own story. It's like the Narnia chronicles. There are seven books, they were all written by C.S. Lewis, but they all visit Narnia at different times and different configurations and different ways. Someone is going to come up with a way to tell another Lost story. I think it's inevitable. I don't know what it is or how it would work, but I can't imagine something else won't be done with the franchise."[22]

Bates Motel (2013–present)[edit]

Cuse is showrunner, co-developer, writer and executive producer of the A&E series Bates Motel, along with Kerry Ehrin (a producer and writer for NBC's "Parenthood" and Friday Night Lights). Bates Motel is "a contemporary prequel to Psycho, exploring the formative years of Norman Bates as well as his relationship with his mother, Norma, and the world they inhabit. The first season received critical praise, with Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates) being nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2013. Season 2 premiered on March 3, 2014, with 4.6 million total viewers and delivered 2.6 million adults 18–49 and 2.2 million adults 25–54 (based on Live+7 viewing). The third season premiered on March 9, 2015.[23] The series continues to be A&E's number one drama series of all time among adults in the 18–49 demographic.[24] Cuse and Ehrin have stated they will end the series after five seasons. In April 2015, Cuse said, "I defy anyone to watch this show and not really be completely connected to Norma and Norman. And now that bond you have with these characters is going to completely inform the rollercoaster ride of the last two seasons."[25]

The Strain (2014–present)[edit]

Cuse is showrunner, executive producer, developer and writer of The Strain, an FX drama series based on the vampire novel trilogy by coauthors Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Del Toro co-wrote, directed and produced the pilot episode. Hogan also helped write the screenplay for the first episode. The Strain premiered on July 13, 2014.[26] In the first book, "The Strain", a Boeing 777 lands in Washington D.C. with all the passengers dead and signs that a strange being had been aboard the plane. Then it is discovered that all this is the work of vampires out to put an end to civilization. FX ordered a 13-episode second season, which premiered on July 12, 2015.[27][28] On August 7, 2015, FX Network renewed The Strain for a third season.[29] Cuse and del Toro also announced a five year plan for The Strain. "From the very beginning, we...talked about the first book being the first season, the second book being the next two seasons and the third book the last two seasons," Cuse also said that the last three seasons would be 10-episodes each. "We see [The Strain] as a closed tale, and [we'd] very much like to keep it that way."[30]

The Returned (2015)[edit]

Cuse was showrunner, co-developer, writer and executive producer of The Returned, based on the popular and International Emmy Award winning French suspense series Les Revenants, adapted by Fabrice Gobert and inspired by the feature film, They Came Back, directed by Robin Campillo. Raelle Tucker also served as showrunner and executive producer. The 10-episode first season premiered on March 9, 2015.[31] It is filmed in Squamish, British Columbia Canada.[32] The series focused on a small town that is turned upside down when several local people, who have been long presumed dead suddenly reappear. The Returned was co-produced by A+E Studios and FremantleMedia North America in association with Haut et Court TV SAS, the producer of the French series, for A&E Network. FremantleMedia distributes the series internationally, excluding the U.S. and Canada, distributed by A+E Studios.[33] The show was cancelled after one season on June 2015.

Colony (2015)[edit]

Cuse and Ryan Condal are showrunners, co-creators and executive producers of Colony for the USA Network, a co-production between Legendary Television and Universal Cable Prods. Colony "is a family drama/thriller about life in Los Angeles after a mysterious 'foreign' occupation, and the efforts by the proxy government to crush the growing resistance movement". Argentinian director Juan José Campanella, directed the pilot. Colony stars Josh Holloway, who became good friends with Cuse during the filming of Lost. It also stars Sarah Wayne Callies of The Walking Dead.[34]

Current work[edit]

Year Title Network Type Role Source
2013–present Bates Motel A&E Series Showrunner, executive producer, writer Contemporary story based on characters from the Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho
2014–present The Strain FX Based on their vampire horror novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
2015–present Colony USA Network Co-creator, showrunner, executive producer Original story by Cuse and Ryan Condall

Awards and nominations[edit]

Cuse has been nominated for ten Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on Lost and has won twice: first in 2005 for Outstanding Drama Series, then in 2009 for Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. Cuse, along with Lindelof received three nominations for the Golden Globe Award including a win for Best Television Series – Drama in 2005; five nominations at Producers Guild of America Awards, with a win in 2006 for Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Drama; three nominations and wins from the American Film Institute; twelve nominations at the Television Critics Association, including three wins in for Outstanding Achievement in Drama in 2005, 2006 and 2010, and a win for Outstanding New Program in 2005. Cuse received four nominations from the Writers Guild of America Awards, including a win in 2006 for Best Dramatic Series, and five Saturn Award nominations with four wins in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009 for Best Network Television Series. Cuse also received nominations from the NAACP Image Awards, the Hugo Awards and the People’s Choice Awards. In 2007, Cuse shared the British Academy Television Award for Best International Series for Lost. In 2009, he won the Peabody Award, The Jules Verne Festival Award, The Roma Fiction Fest Special Award, and a GQ 2009 Men of the Year Award. In 2010, he was voted one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World". He has also won the TV Guide Award for Martial Law, which was voted the Favorite New Series in 1999.[35]


  1. ^ Amistad: Magazine of American Society of Mexico - Google Books
  2. ^ Carlton Cuse | News | The Harvard Crimson
  3. ^ Poniewozik, James (April 29, 2010). "Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof". The 2010 TIME 100—Artists (TIME). Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ Fox TV joins US networks to block Google TV By Maggie Shiels (2010). BBC.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Interview with Carlton Cuse By Gregg Sutter (2010).
  6. ^ Anglo-American directory of Mexico - Google Books
  7. ^ "Nuptials In August For Nancy' Shumway". The New York Times. May 2, 1954. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "The Vilcek Foundation Celebrates Lost" (PDF). The Vilcek Foundation. p. 22. ISBN 9780615369174. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  10. ^ Five Down, No Glory: Frank G. Tinker, Merenary Ace in the Spanish Civil - R. Hall - Google Books
  11. ^ I"LOST" AND FOUND By Tony Rossi (2008).
  12. ^ Carlton Cuse By Reed B. Rayman, The Harvard Crimson (6/5/2006).
  13. ^ 15 Questions with A. Carlton Cuse ’81 By TOBIAS S. STEIN and LOGAN R. URY. The Harvard Crimson, 3/4/2010.
  14. ^ Carlton Cuse - Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ Bettinger, Brendan (July 18, 2012). "LOST Showrunner Carlton Cuse to Write SAN ANDREAS: 3D". 
  16. ^ 'San Andreas' Shakes Up International Box Office With $60 Million
  17. ^ [2] Highest Grossing Summer 2015 Movies
  18. ^ ‘'San Andreas' Director Brad Peyton to Helm Military Adventure Film for Sony (Exclusive)
  19. ^ The long 'Lost' interview with Lindelof and Cuse, Part 2: The Squeakquel The Chicago Tribune, January 24, 2010
  20. ^ 'Lost' soul mates By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY April 10, 2006.
  21. ^ Gorman, Bill (May 21, 2010). "Nielsen TV Ratings Sunday: 60 Minutes ratings, Lost finale ratings, The Simpsons finale Ratings, 'Til Death ratings, Family Guy finale ratings, Cleveland Show finale Ratings, Celebrity Apprentice finale ratings, CSI ratings, Brooks & Dunn The Last Rodeo ratings, Minute To Win It ratings – TV Ratings, Nielsen Ratings, Television Show Ratings". Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  22. ^ [3] Lost return is inevitable: Carlton Cuse compares show to Narnia novels
  23. ^ [4] Bates Motel Gets Season 3 Premiere Date at A&E
  24. ^ [5] A&E Greenlights Hit Original Series 'Bates Motel' For A Third Season
  25. ^ [6] 'Bates Motel's' buckle up: First three seasons were the setup, last two will be a 'rollercoaster ride'
  26. ^ [7] FX Orders Guillermo del Toro's 'The Strain' to Series
  27. ^ [8] FX's 'The Strain' Casts 'Harry Potter's' David Bradley to Replace John Hurt
  28. ^ [9] The Strain Season 2 Release date.
  29. ^ [10] FX Renews 'The Strain' for Third Season
  30. ^ [11]'The Strain': Carlton Cuse, Guillermo del Toro Reveal Five-Season Plan
  31. ^ [12] "A&E sets premiere date for 'Bates Motel,' 'The Returned'"
  32. ^ [13] Zombie TV series takes over town
  33. ^ [14] A&E Orders 'The Returned' To Series
  34. ^ [15] Josh Holloway To Topline Carlton Cuse's USA Pilot 'Colony', Juan José Campanella To Direct
  35. ^ TV Guide Awards Internet Movie Database.

External links[edit]