'Lost,' Back On the Radar

End of the line? The executive producers and some cast members of
End of the line? The executive producers and some cast members of "Lost" meet with TV writers yesterday in Pasadena, where an end date for the show was discussed -- at least in theory. (By Frederick M. Brown -- Getty Images)
By Lisa de Moraes
Monday, January 15, 2007

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 14 ABC will fairly soon announce an end date to its Wednesday drama "Lost" -- which, in turn, will cure viewers of the extreme anxiety from which they are suffering because none of the important questions ever get answered on this weedy tangle of a series. The idea is to bring back viewers who have abandoned the show out of frustration, and everybody lives happily ever after, "Lost" producers told The Reporters Who Cover Television at Winter TV Press Tour 2007.

This was big news, not just for reporters but also for ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson, who conveyed a "no news here folks" quality when asked about it afterward, saying he'd had no such discussions about announcing an endgame with the show's creators.

During the "Lost" Q&A session, the producers noted that the endgame announcement thing had worked really well for "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling, who's said she will wrap up that franchise with book No. 7. But while talking up the endgame notion, the exec producers got all coy, like nice girls on a first date, when reporters asked them how many seasons they thought the show should last. That would be "disrespectful" to the process, Carlton Cuse said, while adding that "The X-Files" was "a bit of a cautionary tale . . . a great show that probably ran two seasons too long." That one ran nine seasons.

"The most honest answer we can give: 'as long as it's good,' " creator Damon Lindelof said. Yeah, we gagged a bit too.

The intrepid reporters hounded Lindelof afterward outside the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel. They surrounded him and tortured him with questions such as, "Did you know both your show and 'Grey's Anatomy' have characters on them named Dr. Burke?"

"Yes, but they spell Burke with an 'e,' " Lindelof said, panic setting in.

Finally, he could take no more. He told the mob that because, way back when "Lost" was new, he had said in interviews that he saw this show running 100 episodes, he felt had to stick with that number. Because, you see, if he now says it should run 140 episodes, he'd look like a weenie. Yes, this is how things are done in Hollywood -- the weenie test.

One reporter also asked Lindelof what "Lost" was about -- a reasonable question but not one you usually hear a reporter who's been watching faithfully ask about a show in its third season. "This is a show about people who are metaphorically lost in their lives, who get on an airplane and crash on an island and become physically lost on planet Earth, and once they are able to metaphorically find themselves in their lives again, then they will be able to physically find themselves in the world again," Lindelof responded. Yup, sounds like 46 more episodes.

Of course, ABC can announce "Lost" will end at the close of Season 6, but there's no knowing whether that actually will happen. Isn't "The Sopranos" heading into its third " final" season?

* * *

"Dancing With the Stars" is moving to Monday nights when it returns on March 19, to get it out of the way of Fox's "American Idol," ABC announced.

The performance episodes will air every Monday from 8 to 9:30, and the results shows will run Tuesdays from 9 to 10 p.m.

ABC has already announced that when "Lost" returns to the landscape, it's moving from 9 to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays to get it out of the path of "American Idol."

"We wanted people to not have to choose between 'Idol' and 'Dancing,' " McPherson said. "Our fans would have been upset; 'Idol' fans would have been upset if we just put them head-to-head. We spend a lot of time in this business -- broadcast networks -- beating up on each other. We think that both shows are good shows and there's room for them on the schedule."

Meanwhile, serialized dramas are out, thank goodness, as new ones have not done well this season because -- hang on to your seats -- there were too many of them, McPherson said.

ABC will develop more dramas that are "procedural or close-ended" for next season.

And next season's big TV trend? Escapism.

This season's freshman successes are escapist, he said, naming "Ugly Betty" and "Brothers & Sisters" -- both on ABC. We'll add NBC's "Heroes."

"I think there is a kind of escapism going on out there. I think you may see a little bit of an adjustment towards that," he promised. ABC's failed freshman series "The Nine" was a "great show, well cast, well written, well produced, but there is a dour nature to it."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company