Ain’t It Cool News has the story on this, but what it boils down to is two things:
1. The writer’s strike is expected to end today. (This has been widely rumored for a while but now, with the way some actual writers are talking, it might be true. Note that if it doesn’t happen today, the next expected negotiation isn’t until June. Argle bargle.)
2. “Lost” producers have stated that, assuming the strike does end, they will be able to do no more than 5 new episodes following the 8 they shot before the strike started. They expect to condense the story so that we still get the full expected plot arc, but only in 13 episodes instead of the planned 16. What this means for future seasons is uncertain, but my guess is that they will go unchanged – we’ll get 13 eps this year and 16 for the following two, as they announced at the end of last season.
My reaction to this? Cautiously enthused. More “Lost” is a good thing, finishing out season 4 is a good thing, and frankly, condensing the storyline a bit may even be a good thing. I’m one of the people who has felt all along that “Lost” seems like it has a sense of purpose and a pre-planned storyline (unlike, say, “The X-Files”), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t occasionally guilty of wandering and dilly-dallying en route to the inevitable end. Certainly a few episodes along the way have been basically a redundant flashback and two minutes of new continuity. I don’t know if they were going to do anything like that this season – sixteen episodes is already a short season compared to most, and compared to “Lost”‘s previous three – but it may benefit the show to increase its pacing and pack the surprises into fewer TV hours.