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Lost writers found in Madison

Post by Jesse Russell on 3/7/2006 12:20am

dharma030606.jpgSo let me get this straight: Hurley's boss at Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack was John Locke's boss at the box factory in an earlier episode, but Hurley now owns that factory because he won the lottery and Hurley once drank out of a milk carton with Walt's picture on it? How did I miss all that? And seriously, is there really a master plan or are the writers of the Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning television show Lost just milking it until the fad runs out?

Two of those writers, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, spoke at the Hillel Foundation on the University of Wisconsin campus last night and they insist that a "larger plan is laid out." However, any attempt to trick the writers into revealing those plans were deflected with wit and sarcasm. Horowitz explained "we're here to answer nothing in a very creative way."

The two UW-Madison alums returned to campus as part of the Jewish Entertainment Spotlight Series. Horowitz and Kitsis said they met in their “introduction to film class" and when they finished school decided that they had “conquered Madison, how hard could Hollywood be?"

Upon their arrival to Los Angeles they spent their days fetching coffee, umbrellas and driving studio execs girlfriends to airports. At night they worked diligently at what all fresh writers in L.A. set out to create, "a small personal thing that you hope cares about." They shopped it around and it became an opportunity to show off their writing style. Kitsis said that they were confident that no one could direct it but them. Horowitz added "and no one did direct it, not even us."

Eventually they cut their teeth on the remake of Fantasy Island. They said that just because the show was cancelled after 13 episodes, doesn't mean it was bad. Horowitz said that every good show eventually gets canceled "except for Law and Order."

They then went on to write for both Felicity and Popular before eventually wading to the shores of Lost half way through the first season.

Horowitz and Kitsis said the important thing to remember about Lost is that the show isn't about the island, it is about the characters. They said that in many cases they already know the back stories of the important characters. For example, the character Eko doesn't appear until the second season, however the writers say they knew they would be introducing him well before they had finished writing the first season (that knowledge combined with what happens at the end of episode 2.15 suggests Eko will be playing a major role before season two wraps in May).

One character that has had a hard time winning the love of fans is Ana Lucia-Cortez, played by Michelle Rodriguez. An ex-cop, Ana Lucia is both abrasive and headstrong. The first time we meet her on the island she assaults and throws a rock at the character "Sawyer," played by Josh Holloway. By the end of season one Sawyer had become a favorite for many fans of Lost who saw him as misunderstood con artist who had a heart of gold under that brash exterior. Subsequent season two episodes have suggested otherwise, but at the start of season two, there was still hope for him.

When asked what they thought of the backlash towards Ana Lucia, Kitsis replied that viewers sometimes need to go through an “adjustment period" when new characters are introduced - especially when the new character is tough on the old characters we have developed a relationship with.

Kitsis jokingly mocked viewers that were mad at the Ana Lucia character saying, “I know Sawyer is a con artist and killed someone, but you don’t throw a rock at him, new person!"

The writers added that in addition to knowing the back story of most of the characters in advance, they also know when someone is going to die. Horowitz said, "One thing we learned here in Madison, killing is not easy."

They said that characters never die because of audience response to them and some people have to die to exemplify an aspect of the storyline. Boone's death toward the end of season one, for example, was important for moving forward Locke's struggle with faith and his relationship with the island.

What of that audience response? Do the writers of the show ever go on-line and read the feverish dialogues of Losties? Kitsis said its fun to see how dedicated fans are and usually after a few beers he will go online and read what they have to say.

As for the impact of those forums? Let's just be thankful there are eight writers working on the show, otherwise HanSolo418 would have more impact on the show than any fanboy really deserves.

As for those numbers - 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 - they don't know where producer Damon Lindelof dreamt them up and contrary to one theory on the internet "they aren't the numbers of former Yankees players."

For the record: Local livejournaler Nikitangel does a great job capturing the evening and has more details.

And now, for those of you who aren't HanSolo418 and know everything about the show, some fun facts about Lost:

There are websites for many of the businesses and organizations referenced on the show - some of these are run by the studios, others are suspected to be fan hoax sites:
Oceanic Airlines - the airline that crashed on the Island
The Hanso Foundation - founders of the Dharma Initiative
Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack- Where Hurley worked before winning the lottery
Drive Shaft - Charlie's band

The numbers correspond to the latitude and longitude of Kosrae Island in the Pacific Ocean. This may or may not be a coincidence.

Many of the charcters have fan made MySpace pages, for example Mr Eko.

The guy they have locked up in the bunker and is suspected of being an "Other"? He claims to have arrived on the island by a hot air balloon. He also claims that his name is Henry Gale, a name shared by Dorthy's uncle in the film version of The Wizard of Oz.

In the Feb. 8 episode Hurley is seen reading a book called Bad Twin. This book was "written" by passenger Gary Troup and delivered to Hyperion days before he boarded the flight. Hyperion will actually be publishing this book on May 2. You can read about and order the book here.

Here are some other sites where you can confuse yourself by trying to figure out what the writers have in mind:
Land of Lost

Jesse Russell


Jesse was born and raised in Connecticut, began blogging in 1997, and moved to Madison in 2003. In 2005, he co-founded dane101 along with Kristian Knutson and Shane Wealti. In addition to helping nearly a dozen contributors run this website he's helped launch various events in the city including What's Your Damage?!, the MadPubQuiz of Awesomeness, the Fire Ball Masquerade, Dane101's Freakin' Halloweekend, and more.