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'Lost' producers reveal island secrets

April 18, 2008 |  4:16 pm

“Lost” executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse — affectionately known as “Darlton” by the TV press because they do all of their interviews together — chatted with reporters Thursday about the return of the island drama to ABC’s line-up on April 24. 

Four episodes will air consecutively at 10 p.m. on Thursdays, with an interruption on May 22 (for the “Grey’s Anatomy” two-hour finale). Then the fourth season of “Lost” will wind down on May 29 with a two-hour episode.

If you want to start figuring out what the meaning of the two-part finale is (airing May 15 and May 29), the title is "There’s No Place Like Home.” And, yes, the castaways will once again encounter Smokey the Black Monster that killed Mr. Eko, and that shadowy Jacob. For developments on the four-toed statue, Losties will have to wait for future seasons. There are 34 episodes of the drama left to air on ABC in Seasons 5 and 6.

LOSTIES: BEWARE. Read these excerpts from the news conference at your own peril — there are some spoilers. (Transcript provided by ABC).

QUESTION: Obviously everybody's very excited about the expanded two-hour finale. I'm just curious, what was the straw that broke the camel's back? What made you say, “You know what, this thing's gotta be two hours?”  Was it about the story that you wanted to tell or things that you wanted to do?

Damon Lindelof:  A little bit of both, you know.  We both, you know, sort of recalled the Season 1 experience where we had a two-part season finale. The part one was one hour and part two was two hours.  And I think at that time not a lot of people were doing two-hour season finales, but in order to sort of get the emotional gravitas of, you know, Walt being abducted or the raft launch or sort of all the epic storytelling we wanted to do, you know, essentially one hour of television just is 41 minutes, and it just didn't feel like we could get “mo.”  That being said, you know, we had an eight-hour story plan that got condensed down to five initially as a result of the strike, and in trying to sort of cram all that story in around the finale, the rubber hit the road, and we realized that it all felt very rushed and we were shortchanging our emotional moments, you know, our character moments.  So it just –- we read the 80-page, you know, first draft of hour two and looked at each other and said there's no way we're going to be able to cut this down to, you know, a 55-page script, why don't we expand it to 100 pages.

More after the jump....

--Maria Elena Fernandez

QUESTION:  OK, and then secondly now that the Oceanic 6 has been identified it obviously calls into question anybody who's not one of the Oceanic 6.  Will any of those people's fate be sealed one way or the other perhaps fatally before the season's up?

Carlton Cuse:  You know, it's always a tricky thing to –- you know, when it comes to talking about death on the show.  If we basically were to tease that there was going to be a death sort of like Shannon, when Shannon died, you know, it kind of led everybody to chase it down and spoil it.  On the other hand, you know, if we were to say everyone's safe,that would kind of really ruin the dramatic impact of the finale.  So I think, you know, we're excited about what's happening.  There are some –- definitely some very large and seismic events that will happen to our castaways between now and the –- and the end of the season.  And, you know, by the end of the season, some people's fates will be clear and others will not be so clear.

QUESTION: The show is going to run through to 2010 when you will end this run. So I was wondering, when you have that sort of date in mind what's the process?  Do you figure out what the end is and then work you way back from there?  And if that's true, do you guys know sort of what the last scene and line of "Lost" is going to be already?

Damon Lindelof:  Well, the last line of dialogue we –- with a little bit of wiggle room –- but the last scene has definitely been determined, and, you know, there would have to be some, you know, some major, you know, sort of shift in both our mind-sets to sort of back off that.  That's what we've been working toward, you know, for a couple of years now.  Even before the end date was announced now that the end date is announced we're able, you know, to determine at what speed we're working towards that. 

In answer to your question, it's a little bit of both, you know.  We know what we're working towards, but we also know where we are so we've got both pieces of bread that are eventually going to make the sandwich that is the remaining two seasons of the show, and now it's just a matter of deciding how much mayo we want to put on.

QUESTION:  You know, there's been a lot of speculation online and in, you know, certain areas that the show will have a moment where the flash forwards and the present time sort of meet in a “Memento” style, you know, fade-from-black-and-white-to-color moment.  Is that something that you guys think might happen?

Carlton Cuse:  Well, you know, I think it –- I would say two things.  One, we sort of view the show as a mosaic, and this kind of goes back to your previous question.  I mean, we're putting tiles in all over the mosaic and when the mosaic is complete, you know, "Lost" will be complete, and obviously we put tiles in in the present and in the past, and then with the flash forwards now, we're putting them in the future. 

But it's entirely possible, as we move into a future season, that that notion of what is the past, what is the future and what is the present on the show could change.  So in other words, you know, it's somewhat –- it's almost dependent on, you know, what – -from what point of view are we are telling the stories.

Carlton Cuse: And we're not, you know, I don't think we have sort of hard and fast rules about what we must or must not do.  In fact, I think, you know, we approach it and say, hey, this is the narrative we're going to be telling in this season of the show, what is the best storytelling method to tell that story.

QUESTION:   How many people other than you two and J.J. [ABRAMS] know how the show's going to end?

Damon Lindelof:  Not a lot, you know.  We conservatively say you could sort of count them all on your hand.  But if we were to get –- if we were to disclose the names of any others, they might be kidnapped and taken off to, you know, Central America and tortured.

Carlton Cuse:  We told Dick Cheney, because we were pretty sure that no one would be able to find him and get the secrets from him. 

QUESTION:  Talk about the decision to allow Locke to become so key to the storyline.

Carlton Cuse:  You know, I don't think we ever viewed Locke as a side character.  I think Locke and Jack sort of to us from right from the very beginning represented the sort of true kind of significant philosophical poles of the show.  Jack was the ultimate empiricist and Locke was the person who kind of believed his fate and destiny were all tied up in the magic and mystery of this island, and the conflict between those two guys is really the central conflict on our show and –- you know, so that's a theme we continue to explore and, you know, if there's a big –- you know, there's a big kind of culmination of that that also takes place in this season's finale.

QUESTION:  Will we be seeing Emilie de Ravin next season?

Carlton Cuse:  You know, we, you know, we just –- we don't really want to comment about any particular character's fate because, you know, we feel like that would spoil, you know, what happens on the show, you know, between now and the end of the season.  You know, I think suffice to say, that there is some very compelling events involving Claire’s character that will take place between now and the season finale.

QUESTION:  You guys have always used books as inspiration.  Would you recommend any, you know, literature prevalent to "Lost" futures?

Damon Lindelof
:  That's a good question.

Carlton Cuse:  A very good question.  I don't know.  Continue reading the Bible.

Damon Lindelof:  Yes, exactly.

QUESTION: The "Lost" storyline is very heavy with actual philosophical and scientific theories.  How did you both prepare for the creation of the "Lost" world in terms of the philosophers philosophies and the sciences that you've employed?  And are you currently continuing to learn new philosophies as you go on with the show?

Damon Lindelof:  You know, when I was in college, I took Philosophy 101 and the big joke there was that it was an easy A and everybody who had a philosophy major, you know, would never have any cause to use it out in the real world, because who's going to pay a philosopher to sit around and think.  But, you know, that class proved to be enormously, you know, bountiful creatively for the show, where, you know.  It was just a 101 class.  I never took anything beyond it but I learned all about Locke and Rousseau and, you know, the basic, you know, all the thinking that came out of Europe, you know, in the, you know, in the Age of Enlightenment.  So, you know, it's a –- it's proven to be pretty sweet.

Carlton Cuse
: You know, I think that it's –- this is a great –- this is a great kind of cautionary tale for anyone who's going to college and thinks that their classes are too obscure and won't apply to the real world.  Just like Damon, I graduated from Harvard with a degree in American history, and, you know, everybody was like, well, what value will that have in your life.  But, you know, it's amazing how many things that we both, you know, read during our college careers and that spurred, you know, kind of other reading and other interests kind of play into the show.  And, you know, we continue with our lives and our lives include, you know, kind of continuing to read and educate ourselves.  And a lot of the things that we are interested in, you know, intellectually, you know, find a way into the show.

QUESTION:  Is there anything you can share about advances in the Sawyer-Jack-and-Kate love triangle by the finale?

Damon Lindelof:  You know, all we can say is, you know, that Sawyer is not one of the Oceanic 6 and Jack and Kate are, and obviously there will be a huge focus, you know, in these final three hours of the show that, you know, comprise the finale in terms of how that series of events transpires.  And, you know, ultimately what happens to Sawyer so –- and it's all on the axis of the love triangle.  So, you know, we think that both fans of Sawyer and Kate, otherwise known as the “Skaters,” from what I'm told, and Jack and Kate, the “Jaters,” will, you know, have a bounty of interesting romantic scenes.

QUESTION:  What about Jack and Juliet? 

Damon Lindelof:  Well, Jack and Juliet obviously kissed in the sixth episode this year, and we will be sort of revisiting, you know, the emotional idea of that and their relationship in our second episode back, which is the one that airs on May 1.

QUESTION:  Something I haven't heard from you guys too much is about the use of music in the show, particularly the use of songs like Three Dog Night in association with Hurley or the Nirvana song in last year's finale in association with Jack.  How important are those songs to the –- to the scheme of the storytelling and how closely should be listening?

Damon Lindelof:  You know, especially like a show like "Grey's Anatomy" or, you know –- or David Kelley's, you know, "Ally McBeal," you know, what they’d use –- we call them needle drops which are, you know, you use an actual song in the show.  We've been very, very picky about doing it on the show, which is, you know, because these people don't really have music.  So when we use music on the show it's because the characters are hearing it as opposed to that we're playing it over a scene.  So when Hurley's Walkman died in season one, we stopped with the music.  But then obviously with the Mama Cass and the Three Dog Night and, you know, which was suggested by Eddy Kitsis, one of writers, who is a huge music fan, and then the Nirvana which was the sort of very haunting song that it was not that popular but, you know, we felt like really informed Jack's mood both lyrically and sort of sonically.  It's very, very, you know, focused and intentional.

QUESTION:  Can you, without revealing too much of course, kind of elaborate on what that means and how it might be more epic?

Carlton Cuse:  Well, I think, you know, we kind of view the, you know, the narrative of a given season.  The first half of the season is sort of setting up what the –- what the dilemmas are for the characters, and then in the second half we try to pay those off.  So, you know, the thing that was frustrating about the writers strike was we had just sort of done the setup part of the season and then we had to stop for 100 days. 

But when we came back, we got the chance to sort of fulfill all of our sort of, you know, narrative desires.  And so all of the stuff that we sort of set up in the first half of the season is going to pay off. I mean, obviously, we're missing a lot of pieces between, you know, that flash forward we saw at the end of last season and, you know, how the Oceanic Six got off the island, what connects us to that event, and, you know, we also were going to move forward from that event in time.  And so a lot of those things are pretty seismic and pretty, you know, I guess epic. 

So we just –- we just –- we're trying to give the sense of the season.  We want the season to kind of feel like it culminates and, you know, this book of "Lost" will have a beginning, a middle and now hopefully an interesting end.

QUESTION: Damon, I think you suggested in the same "Entertainment Weekly" article that we were talking about before that there's going to be, you know, another game changer and potentially a change even in the narrative as we know it in terms of the structure, and I was wondering if you'd talk a little bit more about that and, you know, maybe tell us does that mean that we're not going to see flashbacks and flash forwards anymore after this point?

Damon Lindelof:  Yes, I think what I said was there might come a time in the show where the word “flash” becomes irrelevant because if you just stop and think about what we've done this year, you know, there is –- the story on the island, which we perceive to be the present and then the story that's – of the Oceanic 6, which is happening off the island in the future, but if we were to sort of switch perspectives at any time and suddenly we were off the island, focusing on the Oceanic 6 trying to get back, that would be the present.

And what was happening back on the island would be either a parallel present, possibly a future, possibly a past.  Who knows?  So when you hear that whoosh noise, the question becomes “where does it take you.”  So, you know, hopefully, if we do our jobs right in the finale, in the eight months in between the finale and the season premiere next year the audience will once again be asking, “What the hell are they going to do in the season premiere?”  And that means, you know, we're keeping people on our toes.  That's our intention. 

QUESTION:  Fans were really disappointed when they heard that the four-toed statue was deemed too weird to be included in the show. Was it always a red herring or will we ever learn about it or any or of the other [inaudible] it seems to kind of been taken a back seat this season like Smokey or Jacob.

Carlton Cuse:  Well, you know, I don't –- first of all, I think that's, you know, if that's what you read, that's incorrect.  We haven't, you know, it hasn't been deemed too weird to be in the show. We just haven't gotten to it.  I mean, we set it up but it will definitely be back in the show at some point in the future.  And as for Smokey, you will see Smokey in the first episode back and …

Carlton Cuse:  …as for Jacob, you're also going to –- you're also going to get another healthy dose of Jacob before the end of the season.  So, you know, we sort of plant the seeds for our storytelling, and as they start to sprout, then, you know, they become –- it becomes more evident what their role is in the story and these –- those seeds and kernels are definitely all going to sprout in future storytelling.

Damon Lindelof:  Just as a clarification the four-toed statute is not too weird.  We were telling an anecdote about how in the original draft of the script it had six toes and it was deemed less weird if it had four toes, which was the compromise that we made in putting it into the show, which, you know, we're like OK, you know, it doesn't matter to us if it's six toes or four toes as long as it's not five toes.  So, you know, but we are going to be revisiting the rest of that statute, where it came from, who built it, and why it has four toes in the future of the show.

QUESTION:  You've recently filmed or rumored of filming scenes in London.  What can you tell us about that and why you couldn't fulfill the necessary requirements in Hawaii?

Carlton Cuse:  We cannot comment about that at this point in time.  It's something which we just –- we can't say anything about it right now.  We will when we can.

QUESTION:  Assuming that either way if Rousseau is dead or if she's not dead, it seems like there's still a fair a bit of back story on that character that we haven't learned yet.  Will we still learn more about her?

Carlton Cuse:  You know, the good thing about "Lost" is oftentimes, you know, being dead leads to more work on the show. Actually, you can kind of improve your standing in the cast by getting killed.  So, yes, just, you know, if in fact Rousseau does prove to be dead that really doesn't have much bearing in terms of us telling more of her story.  We, you know, we really – we think that the whole back story of Rousseau and her science team and the ship that came to the island is pretty interesting and we, you know, we loved to tell that story at some point.

QUESTION: Any chance of a "Lost" spin-off?

Carlton Cuse:  Oh -, we're just, you know, we're so focused on just trying to finish, you know, finish telling this story.  I mean, look, our hope is to, you know, you know, we're really planning that when "Lost" ends it's ended and that we're not holding something back. You know, we feel that would do a disservice to the audience.  We want – we want the conclusion at the end of season six to be the end of the story.  So that's how we're planning.

Damon Lindelof:  You know, there is something so fulfilling about reading the final "Harry Potter" book and saying this is it, you know, everybody lives happily ever after.  Some people lived, some people died and the show goes on.  But if J.K. Rowling wrote, you know, “The Adventures of Dobbie the House Elf,” you know, as a spin-off of "Harry Potter," I think that it would somehow sort of lessen, you know, the impact of the original franchise.  So it's sort of our hope to kind of, you know, nail the proverbial coffin shut with the final episode.

-- Maria Elena Fernandez