July 22, 2006 - An absolutely packed to capacity audience gathered this morning for one of the earliest panels of the day, to see some of the creators and cast of ABC's Lost. In attendance were co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof, executive producers Bryan Burk and Carlton Cuse and two cast members; Daniel Dae Kim and Jorge Garcia.
Preview footage was shown from the upcoming Lost mobisodes -- in which Hurley was seen filming Kate and Sawyer with a video camera he found -- and also some footage from the upcoming Lost Season 2 DVD. After that, the panelists took questions from the audience, which covered a broad range of topics.
Asked the strangest theory they've heard, Cuse said it was that the entire story was taking place in the head of the dog, Vincent, while Garcia said it was that, "Hurley was Claire's baby grown up, that was on the island ahead of time." Some critics and fans had grown concerned that Lost was making up too much of the story as they go, but Cuse remarked that, "We have an endpoint for the show, we have an overarching mythology for the show," though within that "there's a lot of room for improvisation, to try to keep it organic and reacting to what we see on screen." Lindelof insisted, "We never ask a question on the show if we don't have an answer for it," but pointed out the Michael/Jin storyline as an example of altering something due to the actors; in this case, they had originally intended Michael and Jin to remain enemies all first season, but the chemistry between the actors led them to change the storyline so that they became friends. However, Lindelof added, "When it comes to Dharma and the Others, you have to write to that and hope that you don't f**k up."
Asked about fans and if they have any influence on the show, Cuse replied that they do to some degree, saying that, for instance, after there was so much criticism that the season 1 finale didn't have enough revelations, they attempted to remedy that with the season 2 finale.
Lindelof talked about the show having what he saw as a logical endpoint, and balancing that with the network likely wanting the show to go on for several years, saying, "We have four, maybe five awesome seasons planned out, and after that we'd have to start tap dancing, which is something we don't want to do," and pondered telling the network, "Fine, you can do more episodes of Lost, but we won't have anything to do with that." Ultimately, Lindelof observed, "The reality of ending it on our own terms is unrealistic, so we have to work around that."
An amusing bit of live theater broke out when the panel was "interrupted" by a woman spouting off about the Hanso Foundation, insisting they were a real organization with corrupt business dealings and that Lost was helping endorse them. In fact, this was all a tie-in with the "Lost Experience" online companion to the show, and eventually "security" escorted "Rachel Blake" (actually actress Jamie Silberhartz) away.
While it was difficult to get many specifics from the panel on upcoming plot points, there were some intriguing things mentioned:
# Asked about the fact that each season only seems to cover just a few weeks of time, Lindelof responded with, "You're making a basic assumption that they've been there as long as [the characters] think they've been there," and hinted that perception may be changed in season 3.
# Cuse promised "more romance on the show this season," leading to a joke that, "there's a reason that Jorge and Daniel are sitting next to each other." Asked if Kate will finally "get with" someone this season, Cuse replied, "Very soon, very soon. We promise," with Lindelof elaborating that, "Within the first six episodes, she will officially be making her selection."
# The producers spoke of writing the characters with the actors in mind, and how Terry O'Quinn's dissatisfaction with Locke's role last season became reflected as Locke became increasingly frustrated pushing the button in the hatch. Lindelof recounted O'Quinn saying, "I want a knife in my hand, and to kill stuff!," and then added, "Oh, you'll get your knife back John Locke."
# In response to a question about what an audience member saw as several wealthy and/or powerful fathers the show has portrayed, Cuse replied, "Father issues are very much a part of the show; something we deal with extensively. All the characters have daddy issues as a common thread." More specifically, though, Lindelof remarked, "There are connections between Mr. Paik and various other parties," referencing Sun's father.
# Cuse said that the fact that they finally revealed the outside world on the season finale is, "Very significant for laying the seeds for a whole new element that is going to come into the show," and that Desmond and Penny are setting up big things. The producers also confirmed that Desmond will indeed be back this season, despite his apparent death in the finale. Burke said there will be some "new regulars" too, but they are still casting.
# It was revealed that JJ Abrams will be co-writing the season premiere with Lindelof, which is titled "A Tale of Two Cities". Abrams will also very likely direct episode seven this season, which will be the show's return in February, following the extended break the series will have after its first six episodes. The producers said they were happy with this new scheduling, as they believed it answered fan complaint about reruns, and allowed the first six episodes to tell a miniseries of sorts.
# Near the middle of the season, Lindelof promised, "something will happen that will effectively fry peoples brains," joking that he was sure it would be another time some would claim the show jumped the shark, but that those were the moments they strive for.