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New Q&A Session With Damon and Carlton from WSJ

Here is a new interview of Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse that was conducted by the Wall Street Journal

Thanks to Ronald for the heads up.

The Wall Street Journal: Is there such a thing as a satisfying ending when people are so attached to a show and its characters?

Damon Lindelof: That paradox is the operative question. As soon as we said we were pushing for an end date three years ago, we knew the fans would get behind that and now that we're here, we're looking down the barrel of the gun. How can you wrap it up not just for the characters but wrapping up a very intricate mythology which will essentially tell people their theories are wrong? People don't want to hear that. We resigned that we won't satisfy everybody so it became about satisfying ourselves.

Carlton Cuse: Our focus has always been on the characters and we spend 80% or 90% of the time talking [in the writer's room] about characters and 10% talking about mythology. So our main concern is to have satisfying resolutions to the characters. We can't answer every last question about the show. If we did that, the show would be so pedantic that it would be uninteresting. Take "Star Wars," for example. When the Force was a more ambiguous notion, it was more satisfying than when George Lucas tried to explain it as particles in the blood stream of a Jedi.

WSJ: Did you study any other shows' series finales to help inform how you wrote the "Lost" finale?

Mr. Lindelof: A series finale we talk a lot about is "Battlestar Galactica." That's the one we hear about the most in terms of comparisons to "Lost." For us, "The Sopranos" finale, like the Harry Potter books, was a binary question: Will Tony Soprano live or will he die? "The Sopranos" [finale] gave us neither. Harry Potter was the same way. For "Lost," it's not a binary question. Are we going to just cut to black? No. We are presenting a definitive ending to a show, an ending we've been working towards and talking about for at least the past three years.

WSJ: A lot of people said "The Sopranos" had an ending that appealed to writers and critics but didn't really satisfy viewers.

Mr. Lindelof: We don't think we have what would be considered a writer-ly ending but it's not a populist ending either. Some would say having [Bob] Newhart [star of the series "Newhart"] wake up and remember his life as an innkeeper in Vermont is a cop out [as an ending]. But it wasn't a cop out; it was one of the most brilliant series endings in the history of shows. By the way, we do have an offer out to Mr. Newhart.

WSJ: Is it a luxury to be able to end "Lost" after six seasons, rather than just keep it going until ratings drop off?

Mr. Cuse: It's not only a luxury, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience in our careers. That's how special it is. There are opportunities on cable: If David Chase [creator of "The Sopranos"] says "I'm done," the network ends the show. But usually if creators choose to leave a show and the show is still performing, those creators will be replaced. ["Harry Potter" author] J.K. Rowling was our inspiration for this. The idea of being in control of your own franchise in a business, when you don't own your own franchise… It's counter-intuitive to everything broadcast is about.

WSJ: Do you think "Lost" will spark a shift in the broadcast model? Will networks be more willing to end a show at its prime or take a chance on new concepts?

Mr. Cuse: "Lost" opened the gates for science fiction on network television. But there hasn't been a great track record. It's so hard to mount a successful series that there will be enormous pressure and resistance to grant those creators a chance to definitively end it.

WSJ: You've said you don't want to do any spinoffs or sequels of "Lost." Have you changed your mind as the finale approaches?

Mr. Cuse: We are ending this story with these characters and that's all we have planned. We're not setting up a sequel. We're not planting elements for future shows. We certainly understand and absolutely respect that ABC and Disney has an incredibly valuable franchise and they want to do more things with "Lost," but the story we're telling ends in May.

WSJ: "Lost" has always had such an avid online following. Did you think about that in creating the show?

Mr. Lindelof: One of the things we've always enjoyed as storytellers is the intentional ambiguity. There are areas that are not worth exploring and as a result, you're asking the audience: What do you think? We want people to turn to the person next to them on the couch and engage them in a conversation. We're not going to tell you exactly what we intended, so the ball is in your court. We've encouraged this type of behavior, courting super fans on the Internet [with material] that they don't get on the mother ship [the televised hour-long show].

We talked about the idea of having a "Bachelor: After the Final Rose" [type of episode], like a [televised] Town Hall meeting when we'd answer questions about what our intentions were. We'd always felt like that defeats the purpose of ending the show….We've constructed this massive iceberg and what you see above the water is what you see on air on ABC. Below the water are all these back stories and character biographies that we can tell on other platforms [like the Internet and DVD extras].

Are people going to write comic books or do radio plays [about "Lost" after it ends]? Look at "The Terminator." Jim Cameron put Arnold [Schwarzenegger] in molten lava and said they saved the world — and low and behold there were two more movies and a TV series. So our ending for the story doesn't mean that those things aren't going to happen.

Full Interview Here: WSJ