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Live Together, Die Alone: "Lost" Executive Producers Want an Endgame for the Series

Maybe the castaways will get off that haunted island, after all. At least around Episode 100, anyway.

At the Television Critics Association tour in Pasadena, Lost's executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof made it clear that they are more than ready to nail down an end date for the series that launched a thousand theories, even if that means committing to another few seasons.

"We're in discussions [with ABC] about picking an end point to the show,'' said Lindelof. ''The underlying anxiety is that this is not going to end well. None of us wants to be on the show that's the stalling show: 'We're building sand castles this week.'"

Part of the problem is the series' particularly dense mythology which is currently being parcelled out to the audience in small doses. Many viewers have complained that they have no idea when (if ever) their questions will ever be answered. "If we had an endpoint," said Cuse, "then we could figure out where everything goes."

Both Lindelof and Cuse pointed to The X-Files as a cautionary tale of what happens when the studio and network's needs overtake that of the story. "That was a great show that probably ran two seasons too long," said Cuse. "Lost has a much shorter shelf life.''

To that end, the series' producers would like to see Jack and Co spin their final flashbacks around episode 100 (which would mean another two seasons of Lost, as we're currently at episode 62), allowing the series' writers to devise an endgame that would be ultimately satisfying to the series' fervent fans and allow some careful planning now, rather than down the line.

"'J.K. Rowling acknowledged that there would be seven Harry Potter books, so she was certainly driving to a conclusion,'' said Cuse. ''It's time for us to find an end point so a lot of concerns will go away.''

One of those concerns is, to be honest, that Lost's producers (i.e., Cuse, Lindelof, and J.J. Abrams) are making up the plot as they go along. With an end date in sight, they'd be better equipped to structure the remaining seasons, story arcs, and character beats more effectively, creating a tighter show and eliminate those conspiracy theories.

One thing is certain, however. No matter how many more seasons Lost will run, ABC programming execs learned their lesson from this past season and put the final nail in the coffin of the brutal 13-weeks-too-long hiatus for Lost.

Next season, ABC will instead run back to back episodes of Lost in either the fall or midseason. Which means, ladies and gentlemen, 22 episodes of Lost straight through instead of this 6 on and 13 weeks off nonsense from this season (hey, it's worked for 24). A lesson that's proven particularly invaluable considering that ABC launched Lost this past fall as a springboard for new drama The Nine (pulled after a handful of airings) and subbed in new drama Day Break (itself also canned) during Lost's disappearance from the schedule.
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Meanwhile, over at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' An Evening with Lost event on Saturday night, attendees were treated to a clip package of upcoming scenes and a few hints about upcoming storylines.

It was pretty impressive to see nearly the entire cast (save a noticeably absent Terry O'Quinn) on stage together and, apparently, it was the first time that all of these people have been in the same room together since the shooting of the pilot. (Yes, the PILOT.)

Host Jimmy Kimmel used the opportunity to needle the cast and crew about a particular dislike of his. "I wasn't sorry to see Michelle Rodriguez go," said Kimmel, "and clearly you guys weren't either." (Silence, except for Dominic Monaghan's reply of "Ouch. It just got cold in here.")

Damon Lindelof, J.J. Abrams, and Carlton Cuse acknowledged we would learn how Locke got into that wheelchair (and, no, the answer isn't that he climbed in), how Jack got his tattoos (see: Bai Ling), and if they Others have contact with the outside world, why they didn't just call in a surgeon from the mainland... all in the next batch of episodes. And we will be seeing several dead characters in an upcoming installment, according to Cuse.

The show's producers again stressed their desire for an end date for the series. They do know the answer to the mystery behind the island and, while a TV series is an organic thing, they do know how they want Lost to end... even if they stressed that there isn't a single unifying theory to neatly tie up all of the series' mysteries.

"The island is a big spaceship," joked Lindelof.

Among the clip package highlights (beware SPOILERS lurk here!) for those that didn't see enough of them during the Lost Moments clips:

-Kate and Sawyer manage to make it to the shore of the island, but discover that they need to commandeer a boat.
-Juliet orders the Others to capture Kate and Sawyer and kill them if they have to.
-Juliet's treachery is discovered and she awaits a "judgment" from the Others, who have a very strict "eye for an eye" policy when it comes to murder.
-Alex confronts Ben about Karl's whereabouts and learns that he's not dead after all; Ben tells her that she shouldn't call him Ben, leading Alex to spit out the word "Dad" at Ben. (Aha, so I was right: he did raise her as a daughter.) And obviously, Ben survives the operation. (Duh)
-Jack and Bai Ling have a roll in the hay and get some pretty intense (and intensely pretty) tattoos.
-Desmond has a vision of Claire drowning and swims out into the ocean to rescue her.
-Jack ends up in one of the bear cages and comes face-to-face with the missing Cindy (the flight attendant from Oceanic Flight 815), still very much alive and now one of the Others.

Oh, and apparently Sawyer finds some Dharma brand beer in an upcoming episode.

If that wasn't enough Lost excitement for you, here's the ABC promo for the February 7th launch of the winter season of Lost... a Juliet-oriented episode entitled "Not in Portland":

See you February 7th when Lost return in its new timeslot of 10 pm ET/PT!

What's On Tonight

8 pm: How I Met Your Mother/The Class (CBS); The 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards (NBC; 8-11 pm); Everybody Hates Chris/All of Us (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); 24 (FOX; 8-10 pm); Wicked Wicked Games (MyNet)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS); Girlfriends/The Game (CW); Supernanny (ABC); Watch Over Me (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); What About Brian (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8-10 pm: 24.

It's the second night of a two-night, four-hour jumpstarting event for Day Six of 24. While FOX doesn't give us much in the way of previews, President Palmer (D.B. Woodside) and his advisers are trying to cope with the unthinkable events that are unfolding around the country, while a shellshocked Jack jumps into action.

9:30 pm: Old Christine.

I can't tell you why I like watching this traditional sitcom, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus is like a warm blanket of coziness after a long Monday. On tonight's episode ("Endless Shrimp, Endless Night"), Christine attempts to reignite a love connection between Matthew and a shrill ex-girlfriend, while Richard tries his hardest to make son Ritchie interested in his job.

10 pm: Anthony Bourdain: No Reseverations on the Travel Channel.

It's the launch of new episodes of No Reservations, just in time for 2007. On tonight's episode, Tony travels to the Pacific Northwest, where he scores a maple doughnut with bacon (yum!), goes digging for geoduck outside Seattle, and attends a shadowy dining club for those enamored with verboten delicacies. And, yes, that secret ingredient WAS pop rocks. (You'll know what I mean.)


I think it's smart to set an end date for a show such as "Lost." I love the show and don't want to see it end but I think that both "X-Files" and "Twin Peaks" have taught us that sometimes you have to know when to stop.
Anonymous said…
I was confused at first about Lost running for 22 episodes straight through in the fall or spring.

You mean they could launch Season Four in October and have it end before May?

I think it would be great if they did that. Or like 24 started in January.
Anonymous said…
Damn! I wish I had known you were going to be at the TV Academy event! Kimmel was pretty good but I was hoping he would try to get more out of Damon and Carlton...

And boy did you hit the nail on the head with Michelle R. Ouch.

But what was with Emilie de Raven???
Jace Lacob said…

Yep, I was there... along with what seemed like 400 other people, all of whom must have arrived HOURS in advance.

As for Emilie, she didn't utter a single word (not one!) the entire evening... but then again, she IS going through a divorce at the moment, so you can't really blame her.

I was more disappointed by Terry O'Quinn's absence.

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