urx unit loader 'Lost': A Few Final Questions
Lost_FLIGHT_815.jpgStarting Saturday, May 22, ABC’s epic castaway drama “Lost’ goes out in a finale-o-rama planned to last two days and into the wee hours of the night.

The festivities begin with an enhanced version of the show’s pilot from Sept. 22, 2004, on Saturday night from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT.

Then on Sunday, May 23, a retrospective special, “Lost: The Final Journey,” starts things off from 7-9 p.m. ET/PT, including messages from fans. The final episode then follows from 9-11:30 p.m. ET/PT.

And if that isn’t enough, Jimmy Kimmel pops in from 12:05-1:05 a.m. ET/PT, with “Jimmy Kimmel Live: Aloha to Lost.” His in-studio guests include Naveen Andrews, Nestor Carbonell, Alan Dale, Jeremy Davies, Emilie de Ravin, Michael Emerson, Michael Fox, Daniel Dae Kim, Terry O’Quinn and Harold Perrineau, with guest appearances by Jorge Garcia, Josh Holloway and Evangeline Lilly.

There’s also a look at three alternative final scenes, as envisioned by executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

Of course, along with the show’s fans, cast and crew, “Lost” has also had a huge effect on ABC, which has seen its fortunes dramatically improve since the show’s premiere. As part of a syndicated feature story this week, I emailed questions to Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs, executive vice president, network scripted programming, for ABC Entertainment Group.

An edited version of her answers appears in print, but my Cuppers get the full Monty. Enjoy! (Questions in bold italics) …

Of course the ending
hasn’t aired yet, but the reaction to the episodes leading up to the
predetermined finale has been positive. In retrospect, did setting an end date
accomplish its intended purpose?


Yes. This
decision helped crystallize things for the creators, who at the time felt like
they were being forced to swim in place. Every episode since has really
forwarded the storyline, driving towards a very specific, and hopefully very
satisfying, conclusion.


extremely painful to even think about saying goodbye to an iconic show that
helped redefine our network, but it was ultimately the right creative choice
and I think (ABC entertainment chief) Steve McPherson was very courageous in agreeing to the end date.


In the future, might
you create a series with an end point in mind from or near the beginning – and
what are the arguments for and against that?


We have
entertained this idea before and certainly would again. The UK does it all the
time.  It’s certainly liberating from an artistic perspective. When you
let go of the idea of producing a hundred plus episodes, the creative possibilities
expand exponentially. But the financial model has to make sense for both us and
the studio involved, and figuring that out is no easy feat.


the model doesn’t really make sense for shows that do not have a built in end
point, something you can escalate to and promote towards. Obviously, most shows
on the air today don’t follow this model.


Any plans that can be
announced at ABC for any of the “Lost” cast or producers?


Other than
Daniel Dae Kim’s role in “Hawaii
Five-0″ (at CBS), not at this time.


Everyone looks for the
new iteration of a hit series. Are there specific elements from “Lost” that
could be incorporated into a new series or is this a nonreproducible


At its
core, “Lost” is and always has been a nuanced character drama, and we are a
character-oriented network, so the creation of iconic new characters that are
flawed but charismatic/compelling will continue to be a focus for us in


The mystery
has been a huge driver. The sense of romance. The juxtaposition of danger
and wish fulfillment/escapism. The fusion of soap opera and sci fi. We
would like to tap into elements of all of these in future shows. But we do
believe it is extremely difficult to manufacture a “phenomenon.” This show is
unique. There is no formula to replicate. It succeeded precisely because no one
had seen anything quite like it. It inspires us to continue to think
outside the box, search for writers with vision and swing for the fence posts
now and again.


We don’t
have specific plans at this time for any “Lost” off-shoots/spin-offs.


How do you think “Lost” helped change
the image of ABC in viewers’ minds?


It bought
us a lot in the way of respect from the creative community and the world at
large. ABC once again became the network for appointment television, and also a
network that dares to take risks with new and innovative programming that
engages viewers on many different levels.


How did “Lost” change
the thinking at ABC?


It changed
our thinking in so many ways, big and small. It opened our minds to the upside
of serialized drama.  It expanded our palette in terms of tone. We used to
be afraid of “dark.”  Well there is some REALLY screwed up stuff that has
happened during the course of this show, but the lows make the highs, like Sun
and Jin declaring their love for one another at the end of season two, THAT much
more satisfying.


We used to
regard sci-fi with trepidation.  Now we are more open to it when it comes
from a more emotionally grounded place. We learned a lot about audience limits
with regards to teasing versus providing answers. We learned the importance of
including an element of comedy, romance and hope amidst the danger and the
value of leaning into the wish fulfillment of reinventing oneself and the
exploring the road not taken.


The show
also broke so many TV taboos that were prevalent at the time across the
board.  At that juncture, serialization was frowned upon. So were soap
opera, subtitles, flashbacks. All of which Damon and Carlton employed with abandon, liberating
other shows to do the same.


Thanks to “Lost”
and the fantastic team behind the scenes, we take more daring risks in our
programming choices and also nurture them to give them time to grow the


What have the studio
and network learned from developing all of the ancillary “Lost” elements,
including those on the Web?


with all of its twists and turns, is the perfect show to experiment with on
this platform, and the audience just eats it up. It enhances the viewing
experience. Since “Lost” has been such a successful and exciting project on and
beyond what’s on the screen, applying those tools to the next franchise series
will be less daunting.