Sunday, May 07, 2006

Television Smidgeons

What's In Store For The Third Season of LOST?


Ausiello: Back by popular demand, this week's Ask Ausiello is essentially one big Lostapalooza, starring executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

Not only is the duo answering all of our burning Season 2 questions, but they're also offering up tantalizing clues and spoilers about the final four episodes.

Ausiello: Aside from why the plane crashed, what other questions will be answered in these last four episodes?
Carlton Cuse: Well, obviously, the resolution of the Michael-Walt story. We're going to answer the question of where Michael has been and resolve the story of him and Walt. That's been hanging over us since the finale of last year.

Damon Lindelof: By the way, we want to preface all of these answers by saying that we feel we are giving definitive answers to some of these mysteries, but often times it blows up in our faces because fans don't feel like we entirely answered that mystery.

Ausiello: Will Malcolm David Kelley's growth spurt be addressed when he returns?
Damon: Did you see him on My Name Is Earl?

Ausiello: Yeah, he looked about the same.
Damon: There's no growth spurt.

Ausiello: But eventually he's going to grow.
Damon: That's something we'll be dealing with in the third season. But in terms of these four episodes, it wasn't an issue. He looks like the same kid who was abducted off the raft [in May 2005], which was a month ago [in Lost time].

Ausiello: What about the Dharma Initiative? Will we get more answers?
Damon: We will learn more about them.

Carlton: Answers in the sense of more information about it. But we'd have to write a 300-page book to give you all the answers about the Dharma Initiative.

Damon: And, Desmond is coming back [in the May 24 finale]. And obviously he ran away before we had a chance to sit him down and ask him a lot of questions about his experience in the hatch. He'll shed some more light on his experience on the island in the three years prior to when Locke came down into that hatch.

Ausiello: Might he have something to do with why the plane went down?
Damon: I saw that you speculated exactly that in no uncertain terms, and, you know, we're not commenting on it.

Ausiello: Will the episode titled "?" explain what the... I think you know where I'm going with this....
Carlton: It would be a fair inference to say the question-mark episode is about finding out what that question mark on that map means.

Damon: That episode is a great opportunity for us to finally put Locke and Mr. Eko together, sort of a philosophical battle of faith and will that we've been hinting at all season long. [It started] back when Eko gave Locke that film that he brought across in that hollowed-out Bible, [and] this is sort of the next step in their relationship. Just as a side note, the "?" episode was originally going to be the episode that Darren Aronofsky would direct prior to Rachel Weisz's pregnancy. We thought it would be a cool shout-out to him since he made the movie Pi, which was just the symbol for pi.

Carlton: It ended up being directed by a guy named Deran Sarafian. It was hard to find another Darren to direct the episode, but we managed.

Ausiello: Will there be any dramatic developments in the Sawyer/Kate/Jack triangle?
Carlton: I guess it depends what you mean by the word "dramatic." There is more stuff between them, but the focus is not on the romance between those characters. There are bigger fish to fry.

Ausiello: What about the intended romance with Ana Lucia and Jack? Did you change your mind about that?
Carlton: Yes. Sometimes we tell the show what to do and sometimes the show tells us what to do. And as we started to try to work on it, we never really got to a place where it made sense. Those characters were not in a place where we felt it was believable for them to have a romance. We had intentions of doing that, but as we started telling the stories and started writing the scripts, it just didn't feel right to us.

Ausiello: I thought you guys said we'd find out this season how Locke became paralyzed.
Damon: I don't remember saying that.

Carlton: If we did...

Damon: We apologize. We're not going to comment on whether or not you're going to get that by the end of this year.

Ausiello: Claire and Charlie have been on the back burner of late. Are they going to come back into play?
Carlton: They are definitely going to figure back into things. They've been on a break and there's definitely some advancement in their relationship as part of the finale.

Ausiello: What happened to the army that Jack and Ana Lucia were going to train?
Damon: Well, obviously, Jack and Ana Lucia had a longer-range goal, which is, "Now we know about the existence of these people, they told us not to cross this line, so let's start preliminarily figuring out how we're going to do that." And that entire plan was wildly sidetracked by Sawyer taking control of all the guns, not to mention Henry Gale's capture. When Henry was captured, that became Jack and Ana Lucia's new focus. So, although the perception might be that we dropped the idea of forming an army, what actually happened was that more significant things replaced the need to develop an army. But that concept is indeed coming back for the finale.

Ausiello: For as long as Lost has been on the air, there have been rumors of a Vincent-centric flashback episode. Is that going to happen?
Damon: One of the inherent problems of doing any kind of Vincent-centric flashback is that, you know, Vincent is a dog. [Laughs] And he was owned by Walt in Australia, which would have been a younger version of Malcolm David Kelley than exists now.

Carlton: And he's also very unprofessional as an actor so we don't really want to reward him with a flashback.

Ausiello: What about an episode told from Vincent's POV on the island?
Damon: We're not entirely closed off to that idea. One of the fake endings for Season 1 that we were floating out there as part of our misinformation campaign was that Vincent's flashback was going to end the season and we were going to see what he saw in the cargo hold of the plane. I think that's where that rumor started.

Ausiello: The Henry Gale-Wizard of Oz connection — intentional?
Damon: Wildly intentional. You have a guy who says he landed on the island in a balloon, but in fact he's not that guy. What's so interesting about The Wizard of Oz is that thematically it plays with so many of the same things that we play with on the show. When Dorothy wakes up at the end, it's like, you know, did she ever really leave Kansas? Is Oz a real place? All those things that people talk about concerning Lost.

Ausiello: Will we ever get a Rousseau flashback?
Damon: You can expect to see more of Rousseau next year, but the story of the wrecked research vessel... it will be coming at some point but we can't guarantee it'll be in Season 3. EDITOR'S NOTE: YAY! MORE B5 DELENN!

Ausiello: Will there be a flashback component to every episode next season? Eventually, it would seem, you're going to run out of back stories.
Carlton: The flashbacks are very central to the concept of the series, and we have no intention of abandoning them as a concept.

Damon: And we'll be introducing new characters in Season 3, so you'll be getting fresh flashbacks. You'll probably see fewer flashbacks of our original characters as we begin to move toward certain inevitabilities, but, you know....

Carlton: The flashback where Jack learns how to shave is still enormously compelling to us.

Damon: And the one where he loses his keys.

Ausiello: Will we see some of those mysterious background survivors move to the forefront next season?
Carlton: Yeah, we've been so busy telling other stories that we haven't gotten around to talking that much about some of the other survivors. So yes, you will learn more about some of the other survivors next year.

Damon: Also, where the new characters come from in Season 3 is going be part of the fun and anticipation over the summer, and hopefully by the end of the finale you'll be getting some sense of who those characters might be.

Ausiello: Speaking of which, can you give me any hints about the top-secret cliff-hanger that you're referring to by the code name "The Challah"?
Damon: You're obviously not a Jew.

Ausiello: How do you pronounce it?
Damon: Gchh-hallah.

Carlton: I'm not Jewish and I can say it. You're a good Italian boy.

Ausiello: And I even practiced right before this interview! OK, can you tell me anything about The Challah?
Carlton: No.

Damon: We are not talking about it.

Carlton: Do you know what The Challah is?

Ausiello: It's some kind of Jewish bread.
Damon: Last year we had "The Bagel" and this year we have "The Challah."

Carlton: We just decided that we're sticking with Jewish bakery products. Next year will probably be "The Matzoh."

Ausiello: Damon, it was just announced that you're producing the next Star Trek movie and J.J. Abrams is directing it. Does that mean Carlton is running Lost by himself next season?Carlton: [Laughs] Rumors about the extent to which Star Trek is going to influence Lost are wildly exaggerated. Damon and I are fully committed to running Lost together next year.

Damon: Lost continues to be my full-time job next year and any involvement I have in Star Trek will obviously be secondary to my day job. I have no intention whatsoever of stepping back. Carlton and I have been running the show since the seventh episode of the first season together. We have essentially produced 42 hours of Lost and, you know, we are going to produce the next 22 hours of Lost in Season 3 in exactly the same way.

Ausiello: Is J.J. coming back into the fold?
Damon: He's been talking about getting involved again. Our fingers are crossed hoping that he will, but obviously that will be a byproduct of his own availability. We've both seen Mission: Impossible 3; it's breathtaking and awesome. It's going to make gazonks of money.

Ausiello: I know you guys, like me, are big Veronica Mars fans, so I'm going to ask this under the heading of, "I hope to God this never happens." But if by some tragedy CW doesn't pick up the show, might Kristen Bell wash ashore next season?
Carlton: Gosh, she's awesome, but… I don't think Veronica Mars is going to get canceled.

Damon: As fans of the show, we're really hoping that does not happen.


What's the fate of Veronica Mars?

I haven’t let out a sigh this loud since, well, the bottle-shop decided to stay open five minutes longer than usual on my 18th birthday.

“Veronica Mars”. It/she/the show will be back.

Or so says my friend Kristin over at E! Online. Ms Veitch got the down-and-dirty from some of the show’s troops who announced that the show looks like – despite reports to the contrary – it’s coming back.

"Don't worry. It's coming back”, says an insider. EDITOR'S NOTE: YIPPEE!! (THIS SHOW IS SO VERY FINE!)

Phew. My Bell will ring for another season. Hopefully. Looks like It.

Earlier rumours had “Mars” pegged for a soil-ridden hole. Apparently the ratings haven’t been too good for the show and as the show will moving to the CW network soon, some predicted it’ll be pushed aside in favour of some new product.

"I believe we're going to be back," VM executive producer Rob Thomas tells E!. "Everyone knows I put a $4,000 shower in my office, but I also kept the Veronica Mars writers an extra three weeks, and we actually have episodes one, two and three broken for next year. I'm that confident we'll be back, and we need to hit the ground running next year."

There’s a big change of direction planned for next season, says Thomas. "We're going to do away with the season-long mystery and, instead, go with three long mysteries. Our first mystery would be eight episodes long, and the nice thing about it is that we give the audience more jumping-in points."

Another change planned for next season involves making guest-star Tina Majorino (also currently co-starring on the funktastic HBO show “Big Love”) a series regular. EDITOR'S NOTE: OH SHE'S WONDERFUL. YAY, AGAIN! Says Thomas, “We just adore her, and we're already planning episodes with her. We're going to try to make that happen, and if we don't, it's just because we don't have the money, because we love her."

The CW announces their line-up on May 18, and hopefully, if this news is anything to go by, “Veronica Mars” – which, by the way, airs its finale next week – will definitely be on it.

Fox Greenlights 'Primary,' 'American Crime'
Net Adds Dramas to Fall Lineup

Fox gave the green light Friday to two additional drama series for the 2006-07 season, picking up 20th Century Fox's FBI thriller "Primary" and the Warner Bros./Jerry Bruckheimer TV legal drama "American Crime."

"Primary" stars Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt as FBI hostage negotiators balancing their careers and their romantic relationship. Craig Silverstein and Tim Story are executive producing.

"Crime" profiles a high-profile law firm that specializes in criminal defense cases. Victor Garber EDITOR'S NOTE: OOOO...ANOTHER YIPPEE!, Kerr Smith, Eamonn Walker and Rebecca Marder star. Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and Jonathan Shapiro are executive producing.

Fox announced earlier this week it has ordered comedy "'Til Death" and drama "Vanished" for next season.

CBS unveils summer slate
CBS has announced the premiere dates of some of its original summer programming, which will include a celebrity game show hosted by Ricki Lake, a one-hour reality series which follows the lives of a group of real suburban women, and the return of music competition "Rock Star" and reality series "Big Brother." EDITOR'S NOTE: FINALLY I CAN CATCH UP ON MY READING!

"Gameshow Marathon," hosted by Lake, will premiere on Wed., May 31, at 8 p.m. and also air the following night at 8. It will then air the following week at 8 p.m on June 7 and 8, before airing once a week in its regular time period on Thurs., June 15 at 8 p.m. Based on a British game show, "Marathon" is produced by FreemantleMedia North America and Granada Entertainment USA. It will feature six celebrity contestants competing in a weekly elimination-style tournament in which they play against one another in different classic game show formats.

NBC OKs 'Studio' for Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin is heading back to NBC next season. Ten days before his White House drama "The West Wing" is set to end its seven-year run on the peacock, the network has given the green light to his latest drama series, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," for the 2006-07 season.

Meanwhile, HBO ordered to series its drama pilot "SexLife," from Gavin Polone's Pariah.

"Studio 60," from Sorkin and fellow "West Wing" alum Thomas Schlamme, is a drama set behind the scenes at a popular late-night sketch comedy show in the vein of NBC's own "Saturday Night Live." Warner Bros. TV is producing the show, which is said to have received a 13-episode order. "Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme's work is TV at its best, and 'Studio 60' lives up to that standard," NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said

Trio crowned for 'Tudors' cast
Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam and Henry Cavill have been tapped to star opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the Showtime period series "The Tudors." EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. HOW WILL WE KNOW WHO TO DROOL AT FIRST? WE WILL BE COMPLETELY WITHOUT BODILY FLUID BY THE TIME THE SHOW IS OVER!

The project, which has a 10-episode order, is a serialized drama about the reign and marriages of England's King Henry VIII (Meyers). Neill will play Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII's most important government minister, who possessed great power until he failed to secure for Henry a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

ABC eyes Fremantle 'Con' game
Another U.K. game-show format could be making its way to American audiences as ABC is in negotiations with FremantleMedia North America for a series titled "The Con Test," sources said.

The project is described as a question-and-answer game show with a twist: The players don't know how well their opponents are doing in the game, which allows those who are not doing so well to bluff their way to a big prize. Sources said the network is considering giving the show a five-episode order. ABC declined comment.

Britain's ITV recently announced the format as part of its spring/summer schedule. "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" presenters Ant and Dec, who are hosting ITV's show, created the project through their production company, Gallowgate Prods., which is co-producing with Talkback Thames, part of FremantleMedia. In the U.K., contestants will compete for a £1 million ($1.8 million) jackpot.

The Hunt For a New Superhero Is ON!
Eleven wannabe superheros are set to compete in a show set to air on the Sci-Fi channel starting July 26, 2006. The winning superhero will find him or herself the star of a new Stan "The Man" Lee comic book. Lee has previously created such characters as Spider-Man, The Hulk and the X-Men.

The contestants originally numbered over 200 and have been weened down to only 11 wannabe superheros. Each contestant will supposedly dress up in the fashion of their hero and act out their respective skills. Stan Lee will be judging the ensuing madness.

"I've never lived in a world of reality," said Lee. With a concept this wacky, that doesn't to appear be changing any time soon.

The show was originally planned for the WB, but has since made the jump to Sci-Fi channel.
It seems only fitting that each departing contestant will be asked to turn in their tights. EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS JUST HURTS IN PLACES I CAN'T TALK ABOUT.....

'Dog Whisperer' Cesar Millan sued by TV producer
A television producer is suing dog trainer Cesar Millan, star of TV's "The Dog Whisperer," claiming that his Labrador retriever was injured at Millan's training facility after being suffocated by a choke collar and forced to run on a treadmill. EDITOR'S NOTE: OK, THIS IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE. I DON'T MIND WHEN FOOLISH HUMANS ARE INJURED OR HUMILIATED DOING REALITY SHOWS; IN FACT, I AM USUALLY GLAD. (KIND OF SERVES THEM RIGHT). BUT WHEN YOU START ABUSING FUZZY FRIENDS ON TV, THEN WE HAVE TO BEAT PEOPLE WITH STICKS.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Superior Court, "8 Simple Rules" producer Flody Suarez says he took 5-year-old Gator to the Dog Psychology Center on Feb. 27 to deal with fears of other dogs and strangers. Hours after dropping the dog off at the facility, Suarez claimed a worker called to inform him the animal had been rushed to a veterinarian. He later found the dog "bleeding from his mouth and nose, in an oxygen tent gasping for breath and with severe bruising to his back inner thighs," the lawsuit claims.

Lifetime puts Allen at helm of 'Idol's' bio
Debbie Allen is set to direct and Viola Davis, Loretta Devine, Kadeem Hardison and newcomer Jamia Simone Nash have been cast in the Lifetime original movie tentatively titled "Life Is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story." EDITOR'S NOTE: OH DEAR GOD. JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I MIGHT NOT HAVE LIFETIME REMOVED FROM MY CABLE BOX, THEY START DOING BIO-PICS ON 5-MINUTE CELEBS?



The telefilm is inspired by the story of Fantasia Barrino, a teenage single mother who overcame poverty, sexual abuse and illiteracy to be voted as the winner of Fox's singing competition show "American Idol" in 2004. Barrino is set to play herself in the movie, which will premiere in August on Lifetime. Davis and Hardison will portray Fantasia's parents, Diane and JoJo Barrino, while Devine has been cast as her grandmother Addie Collins. Nash will play the young Fantasia.

ABC affiliates join online test
ABC is getting some of its affiliated stations on board its two-month trial of streaming hits online, including "Lost."

Disney-ABC Television Group said Friday that four station groups have agreed to promote the venture on the Web sites of one of its local affiliates. Belo Corp.'s WFAA in Dallas, Cox Broadcasting's WFTV in Orlando, Hearst-Argyle Television's WISN in Milwaukee and Young Broadcasting's WATE in Knoxville, Tenn., have begun linking to, which is making free advertising-supported episodes of such series as "Desperate Housewives" and "Commander in Chief" available online from May 1-June 30.

A fifth station, ABC O&O station KABC in Los Angeles, also is participating

Pardon the interruptions: Primetime ads increasing
NEW YORK -- Commercial clutter on primetime TV is on the rise, with cable networks for the first time passing broadcasters, according to a new study by New York-based ad buyer MindShare.

Using data from TNS, MindShare tracked every minute of primetime in 2005 and found that every broadcaster except CBS and UPN had more than 15 nonprogram minutes per hour.

Nonprogram minutes include network commercial time, local spots, promos and PSAs. The 10 cable networks included in the study had 5% more nonprogram minutes in 2005 than in 2004, while broadcast clutter was up only 2% in some cases and down in others. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO YOU WEREN'T IMAGINING IT. YES, YOU CAN NOW GO TO THE BATHROOM, FIX A SNACK, AND CHECK YOUR EMAIL....AND ALL IN ONE COMMERCIAL BREAK!


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