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TOUR TALK

Someday soon, an end might be found

`Lost' producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse don't plan to drag ABC's hit on too long.

January 15, 2007|Maria Elena Fernandez | Times Staff Writer

In the beginning, the producers of "Lost," the team that created the popular drama, cast it and shot it in a record 12 weeks, wondered if their show would make it past 13 episodes. Now, in its third season, "Lost" is a hit on television and the Web, and executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are talking about (gasp) ending it all.

Relax, Losties, they are not talking about this season, but relatively soon. Sooner, in fact than most hit shows go off the air, as the broadcast networks tend to turn what might be a happy ending in the fifth season into miserable endings in the ninth.

With "Lost" especially, because of its ever-growing ensemble cast and complex island mythology, there seems to be pervasive anxiety among fans that the writers don't know what they're doing.

So, "it's time for us to find an end point for this show," Cuse explained Sunday during a panel session at the midseason press tour. "When we discuss when that is going to be, a lot of that will go away."

Lindelof and Cuse have always felt that their island mystery would best be told in about 100 episodes, which would be about the beginning of the fifth season. They recently began talks with Steve McPherson, ABC president of prime-time entertainment, and Mark Pedowitz, president of Touchstone Television, which produces the show, to determine a finite ending for the popular series.

"We all looked at each other at the very beginning and said by the grace of God would this show ever survive 13 episodes," Lindelof said after the session. "So you know Carlton and I are able to now sit down with them and say, remember in the very beginning when you were having us convince you that this thing could go on for years and years and years? And we all agreed it couldn't. Well, now just because it's successful doesn't mean that that's changed."

Lindelof said he and Cuse would not continue to run the show if ABC and Touchstone decide to extend it. The network and the studio are open to the idea of ending the show sooner than later, with its creators still at the helm, he said.

As for fans who are feeling a little lost by the show's recent direction, Lindelof offered this thematic description of the series:

"This show is about people who are metaphorically lost in their lives, who get on an airplane and crash on an island and become physically lost on the planet Earth. And once they are able to metaphorically find themselves again, they will be able to physically find themselves in the world again. When you look at the entire show, that's what it's always been about."

"Lost" returns Feb. 7 in its new 10 p.m. slot.

Maher speaks his mind, naturally

HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" returns for its fifth season Feb. 16. On Friday, the liberal comic stopped by the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa to talk with the TV press and share his political views.

His advice to the electorate for the 2008 presidential election: "Vote for the guy who reads instead of the guy who prays."

On the last election: "Democrats got votes in places they never got them before. Like America."

On his favorite guests: "Ben Affleck: He's always gold. That kid really does his homework. He could run."

D.L. Hughley: "It's very rare when a comic can be funny in the service of making a point."

Robin Williams: "I am always impressed with the way Robin Williams can go from being crazy, kooky, Robin Williams ... and dial it right back and be serious on the panel. He's really matured a lot, that boy, since ... rehab."

maria.elena.fernandez@ latimes.com

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