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3:44 p.m. - And so we're back for another year of Comic-Con craziness. This year the show has reached critical mass in terms of the number of attendees and celebrity guests. It's only Thursday and it feels like Saturday last year. Panel lines are astonishingly long - your friendly neighborhood Futon Critic had to get in line at 1:30 p.m. for this panel, which doesn't start until, wait for it - 5:00 p.m. I had hoped to get into the Paramount panel (featuring the "Star Trek" and "Indiana Jones" news you've undoubtedly read elsewhere) earlier today but the line literally went around the building.
This should make Saturday a perfect storm of craziness - "Heroes" and "Battlestar Galactica" are literally back-to-back in the same room so I guess I need to be in line at 5:00 a.m. or something. Thankfully the studios are holding several private press events (well, for the shows mentioned on the home page at least) so I can hopefully get you more than one or two panel's worth of info in one day.
Anyway, this year I'll do a quick "live" run through and then go back and post relevant quote transcripts tonight. Unless it kills me - which it might. So for now forgive any gratuitous spelling and/or grammatical errors. So basically I should stop using fancy words like gratuitous.
5:00 p.m. - Damon and Carlton are running late it seems. Maybe they had to wait in line to get in too.
5:06 p.m. - Hey, people are clapping - the brain trust is in the house. Yes, I just used the phrase "in the house." This is what happens when I don't get to edit things.
5:10 p.m. - Or not. Instead we get four minutes of "instructions" from the security people. Basically no asking for hugs or asking them to read your fan fiction.
5:11 p.m. - Clip time. It looks like making-of-footage for the upcoming DVD entitled "The World of the Others." Among the highlights: a tribute to the fallen, lesser known Others.
5:14 p.m. - Hey, real people! And there's microphone problems, doh!
5:15 p.m. - Carlton says they have some early footage to show us from the Lost video game, due in stores this February.
5:16 p.m. - It's got Jack, Locke, Sawyer, puzzles, running, Hurley and the smoke monster!
5:17 p.m. - Carlton jokes the actors haven't recorded their dialogue so it's currently filmed with various French Canadian voices from UbiSoft. Damon notes it'll feature some flashbacks, which are "quickly going the way of the dodo" on the actual show.
5:19 p.m. - Carlton explains they've brought bells with them that they'll use to cut each other off if they say too much.
5:20 p.m. - Damon thanks the fans for allowing them to have an end date - three more seasons of 16 episodes.
5:22 p.m. - Q&A time. Someone asks about the rise in violence this season. "I think what we wanted to do... most of all was we wanted to make this tell a complete story," Carlton explains. "And the story of the season was the story of the Others... And we really felt that the conflict the Others brought to our guys, we had to resolve. We didn't really want to dodge that. We really wanted there to be a kind of final summation, a showdown, a real conflict between them. And that involves a body count." Damon chimes in, "I would actually argue though, were you to go back and look at season one you would find more acts of violence that our guys committed on each other than the violence that the Others committed upon them or each other. But our guys are just a lot prettier. So when like Sawyer is punching you in the face, you're kind of like, 'More please? You're just so attractive. Do you want to take your shirt off while the beating continues?' [But] when it's Pickett or Friendly beating you up, it's kind of like, 'Oh, this is brutal violence! It's not the kind of violence we subscribe to!' So we promise that as the show moves forward, if the violence [continues] it will be perpetrated by catastrophically good looking people."
5:25 p.m. - Carlton talks about the process of writing the show: "It's a real collective process. We break the stories in the writers' room which is this conference room and it's got white boards on it, on all the walls. We all sit in there. This year there are eight writers, including ourselves, and we work the stories out beat by beat, detail by detail so a lot of those kinds of questions - like 'should Hurley run somebody over with a bus?' - are debated back and forth and you know, I think really the best kind of ideas come out at the end. The process of breaking the stories is very collective. And then we break off a couple of writers and they go write the outline of the script to that episode, sort of overseen by Damon and me... Really we try to view the writing process as very kind of collective and inclusive, so [the other writers] can pitch their ideas at any point in the process."
Damon adds: "What's really kind of interesting is every writer on the staff... has kind of their own favorite characters. They're a lot like you guys. You know, Eddie and Adam are two guys who... have been on the show since the first season and they love Hurley and they love Charlie... But essentially those guys, Eddie pitched the VW van idea in the first place and that connected to an idea we already had for Ben having killed his own father. And he said, 'What if it was in that van? And set up that van in the middle of the season and you can go back to it later.' So the coolest thing about the show is the way sort of big plot ideas that we have going forward begin to fit in with sort of the cooler, more character driven ideas that come along."
5:28 p.m. - Someone asks the million dollar question - where's Michael? Carlton confirms Harold Perrineau will be back. Damon notes they had hoped to make that announcement here but the TCA got in the way. "We got spoiled," Damon jokes.
5:30 p.m. - More million dollar questions - will there be more flashforwards? "The answer is yes," Carlton says. "There's been a lot of speculation about what the show's going to be going forward. Certain people have speculated the show's going to take place in the future but then we will flashback to the island. But the truth is going forward the show is going to flashbacks and flashforwards." "The operative question becomes how forward are we going to go and with whom," Damon chimes in. "So I think if you continue to watch the show, you're going to pleasantly surprised and we'll just leave it at that for now."
5:32 p.m. - Will Jack and Claire find out if they're brother and sister? Carlton dings Damon before he can answer.
5:33 p.m. - We'll learn more about the Dharma Iniviative sooner than "we can imagine." Carlton mentions 5:58. "What's going to happen at 5:58 Carlton?" Damon asks. Both proceed to ding each other out.
5:34 p.m. - "Lost: Season 3" will be released on December 11. "Carlton also sells [DVDs of the show] out of the back of his car," Damon quips. "It's a 1969 Chevy Impala."
5:35 p.m. - The pair get kudos from a fan for their writing Emmy nomination. He then proceeds to ask about how Ben became Henry Gale. "We will be revealing exactly why Ben was headed across the island when he accidentally got caught [by Rousseau's trap]," Damon reveals.
5:37 p.m. - Damon on planning the show now that they have an end date: "Basically, we've talked about the show and what the island is and certain major plot turns, like when the Others would reveal themselves, when Penny would become aware of the island, etc. So we have all these things in play but as long as we were proceeding without knowing what the finish line was we had to delay stuff that we would have liked to have done sooner and push it off later because it became about tap dancing. I think when the general audience and the critics and everybody else became aware of the fact that, alright there's a little too much tap dancing and not enough storytelling going on here, this sort of critical mass began to build... and then it was announced, okay, they're going to let us do it."
"So one of the things that we had wanted to do for, probably since the very end of season one, Carlton and I sat down and said... this flashback device is not going to work forever. The minute that we stop showing the audience relevatory moments from these people's lives and the minute they start squealing like we're making it up as we go along, because when you're dealing with the past you can't make it up as you go along. You [can't] be like, 'Oh, suddenly like Jin has a second wife.' We knew that we were going to have to switch gears and the way that we were going to be switching gears was in the flashforwards."
"We sort of view the show as a mosaic," Carlton adds. "And going forward you'll be seeing pieces of the show that take place in each of those different time zones. And what you saw with Kate and Jack was not the end of the show." Damon follows up with, "That's the big thing... which is we wanted to communicate to the audience that the show has never really been about getting off the island. And people have been asking us all along, 'Is there going to be an 'After Lost?' Like if the show ends with them getting rescued, will we see what their lives are like? And were kind of sitting on this knowledge of knowing there's this whole chapter of our story that takes place off the island. [But] we can't start telling it until we tell the audience that the show is going to end. Because if you'd seen the Kate/Jack scene and it was just the end of season three and it was another episode as a opposed to one less episode, I think you probably would have throw up your hands and said, 'They are fucking stalling again!' Because it was in the context of 'we're really moving towards the end now people.' We need to do something radical in an effort to basically say to everybody, 'Come with us all the way to the end. It won't be a waste of time.'"
5:41 p.m. - A fan gets very uppity about when exactly Michael will return. Very uppity. And so they BRING OUT HAROLD HIMSELF. Okay, maybe the caps weren't necessary there. But basically people are going apeshit right now. Gee, I wonder if the questioner was a plant.
5:43 p.m. - Damon says it was part of their grand design to let Harold go and eventually bring him back. "We can confirm that Harold is not coming back for, you know, a quick pop in an episode," Damon reveals. "He is a series regular. He'll be joining the cast." As for exactly when, all they'll say is early on in the fourth season.
5:46 p.m. - Someone asks if the "Lost Experience" will resume so they can get their "fix" between the seasons. The short answer: no. The long answer from Damon: "That stuff has to be in canon. We can't say like, 'Oh, that had nothing to do with us and therefore you wasted your time going through that 'Lost Experience.' So as Carlton said, it requires us to kind of be in full creative control of that, and not at the expense of the mothership. One of the good, positive benefits I think of doing just 16 [episodes] a year is that we will be able to refocus our time and energy into creating separate medias - mobisodes, another 'Lost Experience,' we have a couple cool book ideas that tie in with the show - really supervise that stuff so it's awesome and worth your money."
5:48 p.m. - A fan asks about the guys post-"Lost" plans. In short - it's too all consuming to think beyond the show right now. Damon says he doubts it'll be something along the lines of "Lost" again.
5:51 p.m. - A question about Richard Alpert, the guy who doesn't age. Carlton talks about the difficulty in scheduling their recurring players - such as Nestor Carbonell, who's a regular on CBS's new drama "Cane" - as they're often in high demand as a result of the show.
5:52 p.m. - Someone begs for the title of season four's first episode. Carlton confesses they honestly don't know the title yet. The script is written but it hasn't been titled.
5:53 p.m. - A fan cleverly asks what questions they ought to be asking. "Who's in the coffin?" Carlton jokes. Everybody dings. Damon asks Harold who he thinks is in the coffin. Harold says he thinks it's Locke. More questions "we" should be asking: "Who's on that freighter out there? What do they want out of the island?" "Did anyone else [besides Jack and Kate] get off the island?" "What about those skeletons from season 1?" "And what about Nikki and Pauolo, are they really dead?"
5:56 p.m. - Someone asks when Hurley saw a man fall off a building in season 2 - was that Locke? The answer - no. Damon jokes that somebody must have just lost a bet.
5:57 p.m. - Damon on if we'll see Libby again: "Baring unforeseen circumstances, we will be seeing that story within the next season or two."
5:58 p.m. - Will Russeau get her own flashback episode? It probably won't be this year or next year, they note. Damon adds that there are important things that need to be revealed before her backstory makes sense.
6:00 p.m. - Overtime. Damon adds that they'll be writing episode 14 or 15 this season before the season premiere even airs. In other words, if "we" don't like the premiere - they're screwed in terms of being able to change anything. Damon adds that he knows that the first 10 episodes will probably be spoiled online before the premiere because of this.
6:01 p.m. - Someone asks if the name of the smoke monster is Cerebus. "[On the door map] there are these things referred to as the CV vents, Cerebus vents, so yes, the person who drew that map - Radzinsky first, then Kelvin - did refer to it as Cerebus although that may have just been the Dharma Initiative's name for it." Carlton adds, "It's one of its names." Damon follows up with, "What the monster is, who made it - if anyone did, what motivates it to do the things that it does it hopefully going to be definitively answered, at least in our minds we think it's a really satisfying answer but I think it's one of those things where, it's like Kate's plane. We've talked about it at the Con before - you give the most definitive answer in the world and still people were like, 'But there's still microfilm inside it, right?'" Carlton adds, "Ultimately there will be some things about the world of the show that will always remain a mystery. That's the nature of life, that's the nature of the world... that we live in, of the world that we've created on our show. We will obviously be trying to have a satisfying ending. It's not going to be 10 seconds of tape." Damon jokes, "It's going to be 20 seconds! It'll be twice as mysterious!"
6:04 p.m. - As a special treat (to make up for the Michael spoilage), Carlton says they're going to show us something that's never been seen before. Apparently it's a piece of film from "a vault in a bulding in Norvik, Norway that was scheduled for demolition and it got send to us." I have a feeling my description won't do it justice.
6:06 p.m. (or what apparently was planned for 5:58 p.m.) - And so it's another Dharma film. A candid Marvin Candle complains about the makeup being applied to him. "Who cares about shine? I'm a scientist, I'm not a..." We cut to him holding a bunny with the number 15 painted on it. "I'm Dr. Edward Halowax (sp?) and this is the orientation film for Station Six of the Dharma Initiative... Station Six or 'The Orchid' is not a botanical research... we apologize the... this is of course in the interest of their own security... the unique properties of this island creates a kind of Kashmir effect allowing us to... [cuts briefly to "Jacob loves you" in red letters on a black screen] highly volitile, potentially dangerous... [cut to a gorilla riding a bicycle with the film shown upside down] for the next few minutes we will demonstrate our safety measures that are in place..." An alarm goes off [a la the hatch] and someone screams, "What is that? What's going on?" The camera pans to another bunny on a shelf (also numbered 15). Marvin/Edward says "Fuck!" followed by "...get the temperature." Someone offscreen says "negative 20." He responds, "Now what?" The other person says "..maybe join with a [unintelligable] of somebody?" Marvin/Edward says, "Turn it off!" Cut back to Marvin/Edward saying, "I'm Dr. Edward Halowax and this is the orientation film for Station Six of the Dharma Initiative. As you've no doubt surmised, Station Six or 'The Orchid' is not a botanical research..." Cut to black. Again, my description doesn't do it justice.
6:09 p.m. - Hey I've survived day one!