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‘Lost,’ ‘Mad Men’ editor up for the challenge

Surprises don't faze veteran Chris Nelson

As an editor on two acclaimed series — “Lost” and “Mad Men” — Chris Nelson has cut some of the most avidly watched shows around.

Yet more than 35 years after his first TV editor’s credit, he still enjoys the challenges and surprises of his work.

Anyone who has done this long enough has had the experience of putting two things together that you would have never guessed would cut together well and then being completely surprised how great they work,” he says.

Nelson gave up a job making surfboards to start his showbiz career in the Universal mail room. “I was young, dumb and newly married, and I needed a steady income,” he says with a laugh.

Next was a job in the film library that eventually led to work as an assistant editor and then editor. Nelson first cut ’70s copshows like “Kojak” and “Baretta.”

While he’s worked on some landmark series, inlcuing “Lost” — kicking off its final season next month — Nelson feels he developed many of his skills laboring on shows that weren’t as well crafted, lacked coverage or just didn’t cut together as well as he’d hoped.

He’ll be the keynote speaker Wednesday at the fifth annual Editors Retreat in Miami Beach. He’ll aim to encourage other editors to try unexpected solutions . He says he’ll allow plenty of time afterward for a Q&A with his fellow editors — hoping they’ll ask him about something he’s not expecting.

Being surprised,” he says, “is also part of the joy of what we do.”

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