The fifth season of “Lost” is still a few weeks from starting shooting, but executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse didn’t let that stop them from having fun while not giving too much away to the packed crowed in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con. They began their panel with a brief video clip promoting the September release of the show’s fourth season on DVD that featured a flash-forward to four years from now in which Cuse wore a T-shirt that read “Obama: Four More Years” and Lindelof lamented having to wear an eye patch after a fan attacked him over upcoming events on the show. They also said the DVDs would allow fans to watch that season’s many flash-forwards in linear form, in the order in which they occur in the narrative.They then talked about the show’s participation in a benefit event for 'Stand Up for Cancer', in which the Cuse, Lindelof, and actors including Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Terry O’Quinn, Josh Holloway, and Michael Emerson would sign memorabilia to be auctioned off online. The event was being run through the site LiveAuctions.com, with more info available to standuptocancer.org. Cuse and Carlton immediately went to questions, mentioning the panel was sponsored this year by The Dharma Initiative — both men were drinking from Dharma cups and mentioned they felt like the judges on American Idol. Lindelof said the org even has a booth on the floor and they introduced a special guest, Hans Van Egan, head of recruiting for the group. Van Egan came out and explained the Dharma Initiative had been testing people at the convention looking for recruits. They administered 1,100 tests looking for suitable candidates, calling the results “abysmal.” A short clip of people answering questions — including “a tortoise is on its back in the desert. Why are you not helping it?” Van Egan then brought out the top five recruits, who were to be taken back to the org’s booth. Others wishing to work with the group can visit the site www.dharmawantsyou.com, starting Monday. Finally getting to questions, Cuse opened a box next to him and said they’d give question-appropriate gifts to each person who asked a question. The first question was whether the island had moved. Lindelof said no, but it was an excellent question. A question about the fates of Jin and Locke was a bit more reassuring. “Jin will still be on the show in some form,” Cuse says, adding that both characters will be seen in some form. Asked about when the show will end, Lindelof said plans call for a 17-episode fifth season to start airing in February, followed by another 17-episode final season beginning in February 2010. “And what more appropriate gift for you than a Lost Calendar,” said Cuse, pulling one from the box. Cuse says his favorite episode of the series was “The Constant,” and that the adrenaline rush of launching the show in its first season really stands out for him. Lindelof agreed the first season was great, but said his favorite season is the fourth. “It turned out really well,” he says. Other questions included whether Danielle Rousseau would be seen again — the answer was yes — and how much the writing staff knew about how the season ends — Lindelof says they know a lot, but not everything. Lindelof says they couldn’t have footage to show because they haven’t started shooting the next season yet and the entire cast was scattered all over and difficult to assemble. But one cast member was there, and Fox, who plays Jack Shephard, joined the panel and signed an action figure gift for a questioner. The proceedings were kept light and quirky, with questioners appearing in odd costumes or looking like characters from the show. Cuse pulled some funny gifts from his box, including a toy polar bear, a “Heroes” DVD set, and a giant jar of Dharma ranch dressing that Lindelof says “never goes bad.” Questions also got into the arcane minutia of the show, with one asking about the fate of Vincent — Walt’s pet dog on the show. Lindelof says he’s happy to report that Vincent will be seen in season 5 and he makes it to the end of the series. The status of the Jack-Kate-Sawyer relationship came up next. “That romantic triangle is very integral to the show,” says Cuse. “There will be some interesting permutations what will play out the last two seasons of the show.” Another question concerned the fate of the background characters last seen on the boat, to which Lindelof says having no lines is dangerous to the health of any character. Lindelof says there will be some changes in the way the show uses flash forwards and flash backs in season five. “When season five starts, you’re not going to know when and where you are.” “We will be telling stories on and off the island at different periods of time,” Cuse added. The next fan asked straight up how the show ends. “It ends well, we hope,” Cuse said. While they have the main beats for the show set, the writers have a lot of fun trying to write the characters into corners they have to figure a way out of. Another questioner sought to nail down the age of Richard Alpert, as well as how many toes he had. “That is hopefully an enjoyable mystery that will keep you watching through the fifth season,” Cuse says, with Lindelof adding we will see the character without shoes. At this point, Dan Bronson, one of the successful Dharma recruits, burst on stage and “forcibly” showed footage he had just recorded of a video presentation he was shown at the Dharma booth. It included a message from 30 years in the past that predicted several events and demanded the reconstitution of the Dharma project so it could be completed. The footage was cut short and Van Egan returned to the stage, revoking Dharma’s sponsorship of the panel, which after an hour came to an end.
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