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Why David Lynch Left Twin Peaks: The Return and Then Came Back, In His Own Words

David Lynch. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

We all know the story by now: Auteur goes to Showtime to revive one of the most seminal television shows of all time. Auteur leaves Showtime due to money disputes. Auteur triumphantly returns to Showtime when the monetary disputes are miraculously solved. So was the case of David Lynch’s quest to bring Twin Peaks back to the small screen with the 18-part series The Return. Lynch has talked a few times about the tumultuous path to bringing back his and Mark Frost’s Northwestern dream world, which mostly consisted of tweets to his “Twitter friends” about Showtime’s indecisive behavior. But in Lynch’s new memoir, Room to Dream, he is a lot more candid about the circumstances surrounding the revival’s journey.

“Mark and I met with Showtime about Twin Peaks, then Sabrina came up with the numbers and everybody freaked out. They were realistic numbers, but Showtime thought the budget was stupid high,” Lynch wrote, referring to Sabrina Sutherland, Twin Peaks’ longtime executive producer. “I hadn’t made anything since Inland Empire and nobody went to see that, and you could tell they were a little bit like, ‘Yeah, we want to do this, but we don’t know if we can go with the money you’re asking for. And this business of more than nine episodes? We definitely don’t know about that.’ Then, when I saw the budget they were offering, I said, ‘Fuck this.’ I said, ‘I’m fuckin’ out! If they want to do it without me I’ll probably let them, but I’m out,’ and I felt a tremendous sense of freedom mixed with sadness when I made the decision.”

Lynch’s departure happened on a Friday — he tweeted to his million-plus Twitter followers shortly thereafter, saying “not enough money was offered to do the script the way I felt it needed to be done” — but two days later, Showtime executives David Nevins and Gary Levine paid Lynch a visit at his Los Angeles home in the hopes of working out a new deal. “Gary brought cookies and they were here for about forty-five minutes,” Lynch wrote in the memoir. “By the end it wasn’t happening at all, then when they stood up to leave and David said, ‘I’m going to work up an offer for you.’ I said, ‘Well, maybe I’ll work up an offer for you.’” These offers, as we now know, were fruitful.

“With not a fuckin’ thing to lose, Sabrina and I drew up a list of everything we’d need and I said, ‘Okay, Sabrina, you’re gonna go in there in say, ‘This is not a negotiation. If you want to do it, this is what it takes.’ If they start quibbling about stuff, say thank you very much and stand up and leave.’” Lynch wrote. “But David Nevins said, ‘We can make this work,’ and that was it — I’m back in the thing.”

The result? Eighteen episodes, 217 cast members, and one of the greatest episodes of television ever made.

Why David Lynch Left Twin Peaks: The Return, Then Came Back