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Lost Party: Secrets at the Beach

[Originally published on a now defunct web magazine in April 2005]

On April 16, 2005, a hundred and fifty well-dressed fans congregated at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel to schmooze, talk, and dance with some of the producers, writers, and actors from the television series, Lost. (There was some begging for photos and autographs, too.)

As a deejay played dance music and the Island's resident polar bear graciously made himself available for photo ops, a number of highly desirable items were silent auctioned by the organizers, Destination L.A., and $5,200 was raised for a very worthy charity, Children's Defense Fund. Auction items included autographed scripts and TV Guides, Oceanic Airlines tote bags and such diverse items as lunch with Lost writer/producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach. My favorite auction item was a grungy-looking plastic water bottle, guaranteed to have come directly from the set with genuine DNA from one of the cast members, although they couldn't tell us whose DNA it actually was.

Secrecy was the order of the day, and discipline was absolute: no one said a word (to me, anyway) about the three-hour season finale, plans for season two, or even the contents of the special features on the season one DVD. It was also difficult to hear anyone clearly over the din, which added to the general confusion. Plus, I need to get a better tape recorder, because mine sucks.

What did I learn? Let's see. Filming of the finale is now wrapping up. We knew that. They film everything, even the flashbacks, in Hawaii because, duh, the crew is there; I hadn't realized that before. The writers will start working on season two this week. They can't tell us anything. Ah, well.

I may not have learned much, but I met a lot of wonderful people, including Harold Perrineau, Daniel Dae Kim, and Greg Grunberg. Can't be bad. Executive producers J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof were there, as were many of the other writers and producers. Yes, I didn't get all of their names.

I asked Lindelof the obvious question: Did he have any idea whatsoever that Lost would take off like it did? "I had no idea," he responded, smiling. "We're still in continuous awe that people love the show as much as they do. We're very flattered and honored that it's sustaining, because there were a lot of concerns about the pilot. How is it going to sustain? How can they spend the money? How can they have a cast this big? Won't we get bored with the island?"

Lindelof told me that the writers start work on season two next week, but (surprise!) gave me no specifics. "Obviously, when planning the finale this year, we had to start planning where we go next, with some things specific, other things not so specific. I think it's going to be great, season two, very surprising." Any comment on the finale, I asked. "No comment," he said. Big smile.

Greg Grunberg, the Alias star who played the pilot in the pilot episode of Lost, is waiting to hear if his series The Catch, a comedy/drama series about bounty hunters, is picked up. I told him I was a huge fan of Alias, and he graciously gave me his undivided attention. I asked: "What's up with Eric's romance with Nadia? How come we haven't seen more of it?"

Greg told me, "Yeah, it was like what's up? Are we a couple? Are we married?" Grunberg, with no show of resentment whatsoever, told me, "There were just too many other big stories to do. But they actually filmed this [Eric/Nadia] kiss. It was in that long hallway at APO. Everyone was watching, Sloane was staring at us... and they cut it!" It's too bad, too, because I would have loved seeing that.

Lost stars Harold Perrineau (Michael) and Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) came late and were so mobbed that I had little chance to talk with them. At one point, I yelled a question about their working conditions, "What's it like working on the beach? Sand in your clothes? Fleas?" Perrineau, who indeed looked like he just came from the beach, said, "It's cool! Except for the heat; sometimes I feel like I'm melting." Kim, whose hair was getting a bit long, was also positive about his current job. "Where else can you work in eighty degree weather in January?"

Perrineau and Kim are no strangers to sci-fi fandom. Perrineau is probably best known for playing Link in the second and third Matrix movies; Kim was a regular on the short-lived Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade, and had recurring roles on Angel and 24. Although he was born in Korea, Kim is still learning his birth language, with help of bilingual Yunjin Kim (Sun).

Zack Ward may be best known as the villainous, yellow-eyed bully Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story. He has been in the business for twenty-five years and has appeared in dozens of movies as well as television shows, including Crossing Jordan, Charmed, and NYPD Blue.

In the Lost episode "Do No Harm," which aired just two weeks ago, Ward played Jack Shephard's best man, Marc. I asked Ward if he knew who "Marc" really was in relationship to main character Jack Shephard (he didn't) and if his character would be coming back (he doesn't know). Ward talked about his extensive experience with the vagaries of Hollywood, and said he certainly wasn't counting on returning. "Although, mathematically, the odds are good that I'll come back because they're going to follow these relationships in the past, and establish an individual for the part."

Ward said many good things about the professionalism and talent of the cast and crew of Lost, and in particular praised Julie Bowen, who played Jack's bride-to-be in the flashbacks. "She did a great job, take after take after take." Ward also said a few things that were unprintable that made me laugh out loud. His parting shot into my tape recorder was, "Everyone on the set is gay, and sleeping with each other's wives!" Is it me, or is that somehow a contradictory statement?

Andrea Gabriel, who played the key role of Nadia in the Sayid-centric episode "Solitary," has to her credit a long list of appearances in plays and on television. She is originally from New York; accents are one of her particular acting strengths.

I asked her to tell me about her experience working on Lost. She responded enthusiastically, "It was awesome. Everything about it was really amazing, working with Naveen [Andrews], working with the director, Greg Yaitanes, with David Fury, who wrote it. He wasn't there, unfortunately. But creating Nadia was great. And Hawaii was not bad," she said, laughing. Gabriel didn't see any of the other shooting. "Not that I'm complaining, because I was with Naveen all day," she added.

David Fury, former Buffy/Angel writer and actor, was modest and gracious when I praised his scripts. I asked him, "How did you make the decision to leave the writing staff?"

Fury responded, "It was more accurately a mutual decision. It was getting into the change in the environment, mid-season, that I was unhappy with. We tried to work it out, but it became obvious that the best thing for me to do was leave. J.J. very graciously wanted me to stay on and do Alias." Instead, Fury has taken on other writing jobs. "I'm doing The Inside, and on Tuesday I start [working on] 24, for next season."

Veteran actor John Terry, who has already appeared four times as Jack's alcoholic father, Dr. Christian Shephard on Lost, has also appeared in recurring roles on Las Vegas, 24, and ER. In keeping with our beachcomber theme, Terry showed up sporting a new beard. Terry told me that he hasn't had a chance to see all of the Lost episodes; he's just been too busy.

Before the presentation of the check, the cast who couldn't attend gave us a present: they said hello to us, on tape. Many of the cast simply said hello and told us how much they appreciated the support, and sorry they couldn't come. Jorge Garcia said he was sorry he couldn't attend, but he had to be there to film "the creepy, scary finale that you all demand." Dominic Monaghan told us to grab the nearest person and give them a big kiss. Josh Holloway said he was sorry he couldn't be there because "god knows I love a good party," and told us to "have a cocktail on me." And Vincent the dog did a lot of on-camera barking, with subtitles.

During the presentation of the check, J.J. Abrams talked about the Children's Defense Fund, his favorite charity, and what it meant to himself and his wife, Katie McGrath. "There are young people who are desperate for help. When you hear their specific stories, it's an amazing thing... these children and the conditions in which they live. Give them a chance, and they succeed."

J.J. Abrams told the fans about how quickly they wrote the pilot. "When we were doing it, it was like this weird little thing that we were amused by, and definitely something that probably wouldn't see the light of day... but the way you embraced it and allowed it to live was just an extraordinary gift to us... we're having a good time doing it, but it wouldn't exist without the fans. Doing a TV show is not a one-way street. It's not a monologue. It's very much a dialogue. It's organic. So in doing the show, especially with the internet now which I guess the kids are using [laughter], it's awesome... I log on, and you guys are so nice! ... The energy that we get from you guys, it truly is the thing that allows us to keep going."

Damon Lindelof talked about how he had gotten to this particular place. "A year ago, I was [one of] you guys. I was a fan of Alias and Buffy and Angel... posting on these sites, and nitpicking episodes, picking favorite characters and coming to events like this, going to Comic Con. Now to be up on this stage and still feeling like I'm a part of this community... is probably the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me, on a professional level as well as a personal one."

Lindelof continued, "Lost is so much bigger than J.J. and I. We wrote a pilot and at that point, it just became massive. And the amazing cast on the show, I can't talk enough about how great they are. And Carlton Cuse, who literally runs the show... hearing what you guys think of the episodes... I appreciate it tremendously. Keep watching the show. We really think you're going to like what's coming."

Which means they really do know, and they're just keeping it a secret.

As I was leaving, I ran into William Mapother (which, according to imdb.com, is pronounced MAY-pather), who played the villainous kidnapper Ethan Rom. I introduced myself, shook his hand, and asked, "Is your character really dead?"

Big smile. "That's a question for the writers," he responded.

Good thing I hate spoilers.
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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