Archive for the ‘Lost’ Category

POP CULTURE HIGHLIGHTS OF 2011

December 28, 2011

Here’s my annual list of what excited and entertained me in the world of show biz this year:

10. What was my most exciting surprise star sighting of 2011? Was it running into Mark Pellegrino in the hallway of the Convention Center at the San Diego Comic Con and asking him to sign my “Lost” DVD (if I had known then how much I would enjoy his work on “The Closer” this year, I would have embarrassed him with praise!)? Was it standing in the buffet line at the after-screening party for “Take Me Home Tonight” and slowly realizing that the guy in front of me in line was Zac Efron (hey, he had a buzzcut, so he wasn’t that recognizable)? No, the most exciting surprise sighting was exploring the huge ballrooms at the Rio in Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker, walking along aisle after aisle and not spotting anyone famous, only to stop at a table and realize I was staring at Phil Hellmuth, the bad boy of poker! I didn’t see any tantrums though, as Phil seemed to be in a good mood, talking and laughing with his fellow players. Must have been the lack of TV cameras…

9. I have long wished that Barry Manilow would put out one more great album with the kind of varied music of his classic seventies albums. I had to wait through five straight CD’s of covers, but on his latest album, “15 Minutes,” Barry did just that, and included a soaring ballad that belongs with his best called “Bring On Tomorrow.” And let’s give an honorable mention to Richard Marx, who also released some great new songs on his “Stories To Tell” album, “When You Loved Me” and “Loved.”

8. This year I was hired to write a TV show, “The Greatest Duets: It Takes Two,” for PBS. The show was hosted by Kenny Loggins and I got to have lunch with Kenny, an artist whose music I have enjoyed for years.

7. Another artist whose work I have enjoyed for years is that of my friend Ernie Halter. It was great fun this year watching as Ernie added to his fanbase, thanks to Justin Bieber! First Justin covered Ernie’s song, “Come Home To Me,” at a concert and then he attended one of Ernie’s shows and sang it with him. And thanks to the spotlight Justin gave Ernie, Ernie gained a lot of new fans, including just under half a million followers on Twitter. Pay it forward, indeed!

6. I was very happy to see USA bring one of my favorite authors’ books to TV with the movie, “John Sandford’s Certain Prey.” More please!

5. While I always enjoy attending the finale of “American Idol” each year, this year had special significance, even though no one knew it at the time. It was the final performance by saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who was featured on Lady Gaga’s “The Edge Of Glory.” I listen constantly to my Springsteen CD’s and Clarence was a huge part of making Bruce’s music come alive. RIP, Big Man!

4. Another one of my musical heroes is Elton John. While I have never interviewed him, I did get a chance this year to ask him a question at a press conference promoting a film he produced, “Gnomeo And Juliet.” And I was rewarded with a long thoughtful answer about Elton’s influences and his constant search for great new music.

3. Another big Comic-Con highlight came at a panel hosted by Entertainment Weekly’s “Lost” writers Dan Snierson and Jeff Jensen. They were interrupted by a guy in a stormtrooper’s uniform, who was revealed to be “Lost” producer Carlton Cuse, who was soon joined by the second half of the Darlton team, Damon Lindelof. Between a long Q&A and the reveal of a hilarious “lost” “Lost” scene, it was a grand goodbye to a great show.

2. While I may never see another show I love as much as “Lost,” I have to give props to all the great series on FX I discovered this year. First I got into the second season of “Justified,” which was full of great acting and engrossing plots. Then a few months later while on vacation, I was up late and saw a few episodes of “Louie” and instantly loved the show’s surrealistic brand of comedy and drama. Truly amazing. And just a few months ago, I saw “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” for the first time and thanks to reruns on FX, Comedy Central and syndication, I’m already caught up with every episode. “Seinfeld” but with even worst people? I love it! Now if FX would only greenlight “Powers”…

1. I took my annual trip to Las Vegas to work on the Academy Of Country Music Awards as well as the special “Girls Night Out” and was wowed by Carrie Underwood’s one-two punch. First she did a surprise duet with Steven Tyler at the ACMA’s on “Walk This Way” that was the highlight of the show and then turned around and topped that performance the next night with her stunning rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” I also have a few more personal highlights from working on the shows, including meeting the great John Fogerty (okay, he just thanked me when I got him some water, but still!) and getting to speak to another of my favorites, the shockingly tall Vince Gill, when I happened upon him sitting outside the rehearsal room. Do I now have some Vince Gill autographed CD’s? Of course!

Advertisements

My Comic Con 2011

July 25, 2011

Once again I headed down to San Diego for the extravaganza known as Comic Con. While movies like “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Immortals” were getting the big push from the studios (judging from the wraps done on the sides of the big hotels), I was more focused on the TV shows being promoted.

 

We arrived too late on Wednesday night to do little more than a walk through of the exhibit hall, which followed the layout of the previous year. Thursday I spent haunting the DC Comics booth, where writers and artists show up to meet fans, autograph books and sketch for free. I always hang around the DC booth much more than Marvel’s because while Marvel will have just one line featuring a few of their stars each hour, DC will have three or four going at once, keeping the lines manageable. My thanks to Dan Jurgens, Jeff Lemire, Norm Rapmund and Rafael Albuquerque for the additions to my sketchbook.

 

Of course, my number one priority at the Con was adding autographs to my various books. For instance, I have a book on the history of DC Comics signed by over 130 writers and artists that have worked for the company. I also have books on Marvel Comics, television and Batman, my favorite as I started with the signature of Batman creator Bob Kane 25 years ago and have been adding to the book with the autographs of people that have worked on Batman in comics, TV and movies ever since. Somehow though, one autograph has always eluded me… the signature of comics legend Frank Miller! Once again, I tried and failed, as they capped the line for Frank before I arrived at his signing. Oh well, there’s always next year…

 

But any sadness over that missing signature was washed away by my success at adding autographs to my “Lost” Season One DVD box. I was in time for the signing by Nestor Carbonell, who’s in the new CW show, “Ringer.” It’s a good thing for me Sarah Michelle Gellar didn’t sign, as I’m sure the line would have been around the block! Then Saturday, I added three more “Lost” actors to the box. To participate in Warner Brothers signings, you had to draw a winning ticket from a bag. If you did, they gave you a wristband, which got you into their booth at the appropriate time. I was lucky and got a ticket for “Person Of Interest,” enabling me to get Michael Emerson’s autograph and say a few words to him. I felt bad though, as I was planning to have the other stars of the show sign my TV book, but the security at the booth insisted I only have one item signed, even though it meant I would only have one actor sign for me. Well, the “Lost” DVD came first, of course. When I left the booth, the two guys in front of me in line commented on how badly the security guy had treated me and added that another actor from “Lost,” Mark Pellegrino, was standing near the booth. Unfortunately he had moved away by the time I looked around, but I later saw him in one of the upstairs hallways and he was happy to sign the box right then and there. Finally I had noticed that Daniel Roebuck, who portrayed the not long for this world science teacher Doc Artz on the show, was scheduled to sign free autographs at a booth, so I hightailed it there and added signature number four to the “Lost” box. Dan also gave me an autographed photo of himself (on which he wrote “Kaboom!” which I made me laugh) and spoke of a family film he has coming out called “That’s What I Am.” He’ll also be seen in an episode of “The Mentalist” next season.

 

Of course, my “Lostapalooza” didn’t end there, as I attended the  “Lost: One Year Later” panel and enjoyed the surprise appearance of “Lost” producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. Kudos to EW writers Jeff Jensen and Dan Snierson for turning over their panel to Darlton for the duration. Of course, the highlight was the showing of a never before seen “Lost” scene they code named The Marbled Rye. Check it out online if you were a fan of the show. Very funny!

 

Still, the one thing about Comic Con is making choices. Did I err by attending that “Lost” panel and skipping the “Green Lantern” animated series panel hijacked by Conan O’Brien, who answered questions and told jokes for 45 minutes? Should I have attempted to attend a panel in the gigantic but usually packed Hall H, which this year may have had a few empty seats, for the chance to see Steven Spielberg? Maybe, but it doesn’t matter. Because the truth is the thing that keeps me going back to Comic Con year after year is the chance to hang out with my friends in a city that’s full to bursting of people who love the same things I do!

POP CULTURE HIGHLIGHTS OF 2010

December 25, 2010

Here’s my year end wrap-up of what I really enjoyed this year:

1.  “NCIS”:  Back in March, I helped out my friend Chuck The Movie Guy by filming a few of his interviews on the red carpet at the Paley Television Festival. I joined him to cover “Flash Forward,” “Cougar Town” and “NCIS,” and I never would have imagined that a few months later the latter show would become my biggest pop culture obsession of 2010 (which is another way of saying my biggest obsession).

My friend Brad had gotten obsessed with the show a few months before me and had soon seen every episode, a goal made easy by the fact they constantly show old episodes on USA Network. Based on Brad’s recommendation, I caught a few shows while visiting my hometown, and just like Brad, I soon devoted my free time to seeing every episode. Well, almost every episode. I have two more to see. I should have known this would happen. From “Magnum P.I.” to “Quantum Leap” to “JAG,” there hasn’t been one long running show created by Donald Bellisario that I haven’t loved.

2.  “LOST”:  Many were disappointed at the way the show wrapped up, but I liked it just fine all the way to the end. Maybe “Lost” was never as complicated as we viewers thought while trying to puzzle out it’s mysteries through the years, but the revelation of the meaning of the alternate universe still packed a punch. I never thought there would be another show as important to me as “The X-Files,” but this was it.

3.  “BROOKS & DUNN: THE LAST RODEO”:  So many reasons this is on the list. My annual week in Las Vegas working on the show that tapes the night after the Academy Of Country Music Awards is always a joy. The week included such highlights as sitting in on an interview with Carrie Underwood, my first look at City Center and hanging out just a few feet away from great performers like Keith Urban and Jennifer Hudson as they ran through their songs. Then there was the ACMA show itself, the always fun after-party where act after act goes onstage and does a song or two (I loved Laura Bell Bundy singing Tina Turner’s version of “Proud Mary” exactly like Tina Turner, complete with choreography and backup dancers) and “The Last Rodeo” itself, enlivened considerably by the hilarious Kix Brooks.

4.  COMIC-CON:  I only decided to go the week of the show and I’m glad I did, as I got to meet some of my favorite stars, including Pauley Perrette of “NCIS” and Elizabeth Mitchell of “V,” which allowed me to add another signature to my “Lost” DVD box.  Sure, I had to wait in some long lines, but it was totally worth it. And then there was the moment Saturday night as I was packing to leave and suddenly fireworks started lighting up the sky across the street over the convention center. Magic…

5.  The “American Idol” Finale:  While I have to admit I wasn’t too excited by Lee DeWyze’s win, I did enjoy the parade of guest stars like the Bee Gees, Chicago and Hall & Oates and was amazed by Bret Michaels’ appearance so soon after his hospital stay. The show was followed by the always enjoyable after-party, highlighted by Siobahn Magnus’ joy at meeting her idols, the brothers Hanson, as well as catching up with some of my Idol favorites from past seasons.

6.  “Mad Men”:  This was the year I finally really got into the show. “The Suitcase” was the best hour of TV I saw this year.

7.  “The King’s Speech”:  My favorite movie of the year. I was into it right from the very beginning. Funny and touching in equal measure.

8.  Gary Oldman:  My favorite interview of the year came during the junket for “The Book Of Eli,” as Gary admitted he chooses his roles these days around his life as a single father, explained how he turns on the emotion for his angry scenes and admitted he was having such a good time, he didn’t want to leave the room.  We didn’t want him to leave either.

9.  “Inception”:  The only movie this year I couldn’t wait to see. I vote the top keeps spinning!

10. “Sherlock”:  A superb BBC miniseries shown on public TV here in America. Not that I didn’t enjoy the Robert Downey, Jr. version, but this was the Sherlock I grew up knowing.

11.  “Heartbreaker”:  The French show the Americans how it’s done. A great premise and likable leads remind us that a great romantic comedy need not be just a flick for chicks.

MY BIG “LOST” DISCOVERY!

February 10, 2010

Season 6 of “Lost” has just begun, and fans everywhere are trying to get a handle on this year’s new story-telling device, referred to the producers as the “Flash Sideways.” How will the Flash Sideways world intersect with the timeline we’ve come to know? Well, I think I’ve made a discovery that holds the key to this season…

Like a lot of fans, I enjoy reading the recaps posted by such “Lost” experts as Jeff “Doc” Jensen at Ew.com, Jo Garfein at Jopionated and fishbiscuit of fishbiscuitland and docartz.com. In his latest column,  Doc Jensen mentioned a supporting character from Season One, a psychic named Richard Malkin, who lived in Australia. That reminded me that many fans have always thought that Australia was the key to “Lost.” And it well may be, because look what I found when I looked up the definition of “Dreamtime,” an important component of Australian Aboriginal mythology, on Wikipedia:

“Aboriginals believe in two forms of time; two parallel streams of activity. One is the daily objective activity, the other is an infinite spiritual cycle called the ‘dreamtime’, more real than reality itself. Whatever happens in the dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of Aboriginal society. It was believed that some people of unusual spiritual powers had contact with the dreamtime.”‘

If that doesn’t describe the relationship of the two worlds, I don’t know what does…

TOP TV SHOWS OF 2009

December 25, 2009

While I see a lot of movies thanks to my job covering movie junkets for the Interview Factory, the truth is I enjoy the TV shows I watch more than all but just  two or three of the movie I see each year. Here’s what I loved in 2009 (and you’ll notice I loved so many shows, I made the list a Top Twelve):

12. “PSYCH” – I just started watching this show in the last year. It has a lot of things going for it, with the fast talking chemistry between stars James Roday and Dule Hill first and foremost. I first got hooked thanks to a terrific tribute to slasher movies, and have since been impressed by some of the mystery plots, which are actually a challenge to solve.

11.  “CRIMINAL MINDS” – I stopped watching this show early on during the first season and only recently tried it again… if by try, you mean watching it non-stop thanks to the omnipresent re-runs on Ion and A&E. The show is the television equivalent of the thriller books I read, and does a good job of coming up with varied plots week after week. This is the kind of show where the actors could easily get bored and you have to admire the way they bring their A game every epiosde. And one more thing: producer Edward Allen Bernero is the Joss Whedon of serial killer thrillers. Whenever he writes and directs an episode, the show is at it’s best.

10.  “AMERICAN DAD” – As much as I love “Family Guy,” “American Dad” pays more attention to each week’s plots, making the show more reliably funny. The fact that I can actually remember the plots (including a hilarious satire of “Apocalypse Now” set at a golf course recreation of Vietnam) proves it.

9.  “FRINGE” – Here’s a show that’s really improved in it’s second season, thanks to making Joshua Jackson’s Peter a full partner to Anna Torv’s Olivia. With John Noble’s Walter Bishop the most enjoyable to watch eccentric genius on TV and a new focus on the show’s mythology driving the action, “Fringe” should keep rising up this list in the years to come.

8.  “HOUSE” – While some critics and viewers haven’t enjoyed the revolving door changes of House’s staff, I haven’t minded it, as it gives House a different cast each week to bounce ideas off of and bother. Add in more time for fave characters Wilson and Cuddy and the continued great writing of House’s quips and you’ve got a show that continues to be a lot of fun every week.

7.  “MONK” – In recent seasons, the mysteries may have gotten easier to solve, but the writers continued to find interesting situations that forced Monk to battle his phobias. But this is on the list for the perfect way “Monk” ended, giving closure to one of the most likable casts on TV. Seeing Adrian wear something different  in the final scene warmed my heart.

6.  “CSI” – Thursday night at 9 is TV’s biggest battleground. I watch three shows at that time, so I’m glad that “CSI” is on Hulu. Yes, I miss Gil Grissom as much as the next fan, but every week the show serves up an intriguing mystery with great production values.

5.  “AMERICAN IDOL” – This year’s exciting duel between Kris Allen and Adam Lambert made “Idol” more exciting than ever, but the real surprise was Paula Abdul’s final year as a judge had her making the most sense on the panel.

4.  “24” – “24” tried a new format this year. Rather than trying to string a threat along through too many episodes, the show became almost a series of mini-movies (my favorite: “Die Hard” in the White House). “24” also seemed to have fewer stupid plot points with even the White House intrigue and the coming of Kim Bauer adding to the fun.

3.  “BURN NOTICE” – While this is one of USA’s top rated show, I often run into people that have never heard of it, and that’s a shame. “Burn Notice” has a retro feel in that it mixes the plotting of “Mission Impossible” with the likable cast and tropical feel of “Magnum P.I.” Just pure fun…

2.  “SUPERNATURAL” – Here’s my nominee for most improved show. While it’s always mixed exciting horror movie type plots with outstanding comedic episodes, the past two seasons have seen the show raising it’s game with the rising of Lucifer and subsequent battle against the devil. And in the midst of all the end of the world seriousness, they haven’t stinted on the comedy with recent episodes showing the Winchester brothers visiting a “Supernatural” fan convention and surviving being trapped inside various hellish TV shows.

1.  “LOST” – Not just my favorite show of the year, but perhaps my favorite show of all time (oh “X-Files,” what could have been!). I probably spend more time reading about “Lost” on the internet than I spend watching other shows! Let’s just see if they can stick the landing this coming year.

I’ll admit the fifth season brought us some illogical plot turns like why Juliet, Sawyer and Kate got off the sub or the method the 815’ers used to get back to the island, but it also brought us the usual great acting from Terry O’Quinn, Michael Emerson and company, interesting time travel conundrums and yes, answers! But while I think I finally have a handle on what’s been going on these past five seasons, I don’t think the surprises are over yet. Bring it on, Darlton!

TOP TEN POP CULTURE MEMORIES OF 2009

December 21, 2009

Credit where credit is due: Whitney Matheson of USA Today’s Pop Candy blog put together a list of her Top Ten Pop Culture Memories of the past year, which included parties, screenings and concerts.  Loved the idea,  so I copied the idea. Here we go…

10.  “THE AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS”:

Not quite as fun as the 2008 version, when I hung out during the show with friends who were hunting autographs and photos to impress their kids in the dressing room hallway. We  spotted such stars as Mariah Carey, the Jonas Brothers and Coldplay, who were more than happy to pose.

Still, the AMA’s make the list because this is the year I realized that with a Production Pass, you could just take an empty seat in the back of the hall during the show. But that wasn’t good enough for one of my friends who used to help coordinate the audiences for big events like this. He asked one of the staff to sit us in the front row for a while, and while we only made it to the third row (they were saving the empty front row seats for Marc Anthony as his wife Jennifer Lopez was about to perform), we still were darn close for J. Lo and Whitney Houston…

9.  “THE AMAZING RACE”:

I had the chance to spend a week in Dubai this year, so I loved seeing the two episodes of the Race that were shot in the Emirates. Like the contestants, I visited the Burj Dubai, the Gold Souk, the indoor ski resort Ski Dubai and the Madinat Jumeriah resort. I didn’t make it to that fateful water slide, but unlike Mika, I would have went down it if I had…

8.  “THE ACM ALL STAR JAM”:

While I was in Las Vegas to work on the event you’ll read about at  # 2, I got a chance to attend “The Academy Of Country Music Awards.” And while it was a great show, the real winner was the one that wasn’t on TV. Every year the ACM hosts an informal concert right after the Awards in a ballroom at the MGM Grand. And while I missed an appearance by Kenny Chesney because of a late dinner, I really enjoyed what I did see, including John Rich, the Zac Brown Band and best of all, the newly crowned Entertainer Of The Year, Carrie Underwood in the most no holds barred performance I’ve ever seen her give…

7.  THE “TERMINATOR SALVATION” PRESS DAY:

For years, I’ve been filling a copy of “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told” with the autographs of everyone who has added to the legend of the Dark Knight, whether in comics, movies or television. So far I have fifty autographs (including the late Bob Kane, the creator of Batman who was the first person to sign the book) and not one person has personalized it by writing “Thanks, Brian” or anything like that. I’d like to keep the book pristine in that way, but it bothers me that I might have to skip getting someone’s signature for that reason. Which brings me to Christian Bale…

I’ve never seen Christian Bale sign anything without asking for a person’s name to personalize it. I brought my “Batman” book to two previous interviews with Mr. Bale, yet never brought it out for that reason. But there I was sitting beside him at the “Terminator Salvation” roundtables and I decided to chance it. Sure enough, he asked who he should make it out to. I said, “If you wouldn’t mind, could you just put your name?” Christian said, “How do I know you won’t put this on E-Bay?” Fortunately, one of the other interviewers piped up and said that would never happen, as I’ve been getting the book signed for years now. So Christian actually signed it and I breathed a sigh of relief. Now let me point you to my auction on E-Bay… Never!

6. THE “AMERICAN IDOL” FINALE:

This was just a great day, starting with lunch with Neil Sedaka and my friend Fred Bronson, great seats for the finale at the Nokia Theater (with the Kiss appearance and the announcement of the winner being the highlights) and ending with the “19” party which featured appearances by not just this year’s contestants, but many from past years. I especially enjoyed the moment when Kris Allen’s father was telling us about how people were already leaving messages on their porch for Kris and David Archuleta piped in and said, “That’s nothing. We have people walking right into our house!”

5.  TERRY FATOR AT THE MIRAGE:

This year I went to my first Cirque Du Soleil show, “O,” at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. In spite of all the raves I’ve heard over the years, I certainly wasn’t bowled over. I found the show unfocused, meandering and not all that exciting. But that same week, I did see a show I loved, Terry Fator at the Mirage. I had never seen Terry during his winning season on “America’s Got Talent,” so I was amazed by his ability to sing without opening his mouth. Terry proved to be a master impressionist and a great singer all at the same time, combining great music with plenty of laughs…

4.  “STAR TREK”:

I have been a “Star Trek” fan since high school, and while I wasn’t too worried that J.J. Abrams would screw up the reboot as I really liked his work on “Mission Impossible III,” I never imagined this new “Trek” would be so well done, so exciting and respectful to what came before. I literally had tears in my eyes watching it, because I was so happy the movie was so good…

3.  THE “LOST” SEASON FIVE FINALE:

I love “Lost” more than anything else in pop culture right now. The Season Five finale was a true game changer, with answers revealed in the opening scene, and one of the biggest “Lost” shockers ever when we learned John Locke wasn’t quite John Locke. I can’t wait for Season Six to start…

2.  “GEORGE STRAIT: ACM ARTIST OF THE DECADE ALL STAR CONCERT”:

I was the researcher on this show and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed working on a project so much. First I got to stay a week in one of my favorite places, Las Vegas. Then I got to attend the rehearsals by each performer as they worked out their songs with the house band. It was like having a private concert by the greats of country music, including Brooks & Dunn (Ronnie Dunn’s voice in person is amazing!), Alan Jackson and Keith Urban.

I was especially pleased when Taylor Swift arrived at the rehearsals and read her script for the show. She was extremely happy with it, and after she learned it was because I had done a phone interview with her about how George Strait had changed her life, she came over and gave me a hug.

But as nice as that was, it was nothing compared to sitting in the audience at the concert and watching performer after performer show their love for the man known as King George. They did it through their words and they did it through their music.  Truly an unforgettable evening…

1.  THE “LOST” PANEL AT COMIC-CON:

It was exciting enough that I actually made it into the “Lost” panel without staying overnight in line, but I never would have guessed how entertaining it would be. Kudos to the “Lost” production staff for working so hard to make this a special occasion for the fans, complete with funny videos, revealing videos and great guest appearances by the actors. Michael Emerson’s interruption of Jorge Garcia was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen all year, and it may have been topped by Nestor Carbonell’s Christian Slater impression. And it bears repeating: I can’t wait for Season 6! I wonder if anything will be able to beat out the “Lost” season finale for number one on this list come next year…

THE SDCC EXPERIENCE 2009

July 28, 2009

Just back from San Diego and five days at Comic-Con International. As always, there was fun to be had, although I’m never sure if I would have had more fun spending the same money on a real vacation somewhere else.

The show started out on Wednesday night with Preview Night, giving me a few hours on the convention floor to check out the layout, followed by dinner at the Bayfront Hilton beside the Convention Center. I had two friends staying there and they were very happy with the laidback quiet atmosphere. Meanwhile, I was staying at party central at the Hard Rock Hotel (which at night had crowds outside begging to get into the parties inside) and wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

Thursday I learned an important lesson. If you’re really interested in going to a panel, you need to get in line more than ten minutes before it starts. Thus I missed the “Burn Notice” panel, which I might have minded if star Jeffrey Donovan was scheduled to appear. Sadly, that meant I never got one of the cool “Burn Notice” bags people were walking around with.

But it did mean I got into the only panel that really mattered to me (and no, I’m not talking about “Twilight: New Moon”!). Friday morning, I rolled out of my sleeping bag at 7:30 and was in line for the final “Lost” panel of Comic-Con by 8:30. The time went by fast considering the panel was starting at 11:00 and it was worth every second of waiting. Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof went all out, spicing up the proceedings with plenty of specially made videos and live guest appearances. You can see it all at docartz.com, so check it out. Just as exciting was the afternoon panel for “Totally Lost,” hosted by Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen and Dan Snierson. I was sitting near the door and every time someone opened it, I couldn’t hear what was being said. I was getting a little peeved, when suddenly right beside me, I heard someone yell out, “What are you doing?” It was Carlton and Damon making a surprise appearance to kidnap co-producer Greg Nations before he could give up any secrets about the show. That was soon topped by acting genius Michael Emerson walking right by me to go up to the dais to answer questions for ten minutes. Sadly, they ran out of time before I got to ask a question. I also loved seeing the display of “Lost” props on the main convention floor. They had everything, and it will all be auctioned off next year.

Those were the only two panels I attended though. Still I found plenty to do, constantly scouring the DC and Marvel booths as well as Artist’s Alley for comic stars to sign my various books and draw some sketches. I especially appreciated Jill Thompson’s take on her signature character Scary Godmother, “Air” artist M.K. Perker’s detailed rendering of a demon and Ryan Kelly’s head sketch of a character from “The New York Four.” Final total: 13 free sketches and 67 new autographs. Sadly, I just didn’t think it was worth it to pay Adam West $ 40 to autograph my “Greatest Batman Stories” book after 46 people had already signed it for free…

Made it to EW’s TV columnist Michael Ausiello’s meet and greet party on Thursday night (he says he gets the most mail about “Grey’s Anatomy”), although I didn’t get into any other big parties or screenings, including a concert by Daughtry that I could see from the window on my floor when I was waiting for the elevator. Probably had the most fun just hanging out in the Hard Rock’s lobby at night, watching the girls go by as well as the stray star, including “Chuck”’s Adam Baldwin and “Buffy”’s Seth Green. Of course, the biggest star sighting was Marvel’s Stan Lee, whose co-creation of such icons as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four put him far in front in importance of any appearances by Johnny Depp or Robert Pattinson in my mind.

I also spent some time at the outdoor carnival “Heroes” sponsored to promote their upcoming season, especially enjoying the free snow cones. Didn’t grab too many promotional items, although I was wowed by a copy of Detective Comics # 854 given to me and autographed by writer Greg Rucka. Beautiful artwork by JH Williams.

So another Comic-Con gone. Time to get reservations and tickets for next year!

LOST NO MORE!

May 15, 2009

First off, if you haven’t seen the Season Finale of “Lost” Season 5, stop reading now! Spoilers ahead!

So for the past two days, I’ve been reading everyone’s analysis on the web of Wednesday night’s rather revealing episode, in addition to exploring some of the myths and legends evoked by what we saw. And I believe I’ve figured out some things beyond the obvious… including the identity of the Smoke Monster! Here are some ideas and theories to chew on during the long hiatus:

I think most “Lost” watchers will agree that Jacob is really the Jacob of the Bible, which would make his mysterious adversary his brother Esau. I found it interesting when reading about Jacob and Esau, I discovered that Jacob was a simple man, a dweller in tents (like the Others), while Esau was a hunter (no wonder he could kill a boar while impersonating Locke). Also, while known for living in Canaan, the brothers also spent time in Egypt. Of course, having identified Jacob and Esau doesn’t preclude them from having taken other names throughout history or having different myths spring up about them. The story of Cain and Abel comes to mind.

While I’m sure that Doc Jensen, the “Lost” guru of “Entertainment Weekly,” is correct in his assumption that the touch of Jacob will enable the souls of the 815’ers to live on in the new timeline created by The Incident, which is why Jacob muttered the words, “They’re coming,” as he died, I’ve discovered another possible explanation for Jacob’s words. It seems that during the End Of Days, Jacob’s descendants will come to Mount Seir and deliver judgement upon Esau’s descendants. That could also be who’s coming… Oh, and don’t forget that Jacob had twelve sons and one of them was Benjamin. That’s quite in keeping with the “Lost” theme of sons killing their fathers!

Ah, but what you really want to know is who or what is the smoke monster? Well, I’ve decided it’s an Egyptian deity called Nehebkau. This was a benevolent snake god who was the guardian of the underworld and in fact was responsible for judging those that arrived in the afterlife. Nehebkau’s name comes from an ancient Egyptian word meaning “Yoke together” or “Unite.” Rather reminiscent of the “Lost” mantra, “Live together, die alone,” isn’t it?

Nehebkau had another power, that of joining the ka, a part of the soul, with a physical body. The ancient Egyptians believed the ka could manifest itself like a ghost, whether a person was dead or alive. That would explain how the smoke monster could appear as various people.

The big question in my mind: Is Esau also the Smoke Monster? While many fans are assuming they’re one and the same, I don’t think so. I thought that when Ben told Esau (while he was in the guise of Locke) that he was told by Smokey to obey Locke, Esau was surprised. Also, if indeed Esau was a prisoner in what we thought previously was Jacob’s cabin, how did the Smoke Monster operate on the island during that time?

Of course, many “Lost” fans are assuming we’ve seen the last of Juliet, as Elizabeth Mitchell will have a fulltime job come fall on the new show, “V.” But I think I’ll hold out hope that she’ll make a cameo in the final episode, something like that scene at the end of “Heaven Can Wait” where Julie Christie and Warren Beatty’s character meet once again and are immediately attracted to each other. We can only hope for that happy ending between Juliet and Sawyer.

Which brings up one final observation… online, some viewers were disappointed in the Season 5 finale because so many of the characters took the actions they did out of love. But I believe that will turn out to be the ultimate moral of “Lost”: that love is the most important thing in our lives, that love comes first. I think it’s what Jacob is hoping for… unless he turns out to be the devil, of course. What, just because a guy wears white, you assume he’s the good guy? Either way, we’ll find out in eight months!

THE LOST WORLD

May 13, 2009

There’s little doubt I’m a pop culture fanatic. My entire life revolves around movies, music and TV. Yet there is one icon of pop culture that stands alone in my personal pantheon, above “American Idol,” the Lakers, Bruce Springsteen and the latest superhero movie, and that is “Lost.”

In just a few hours, the Season Five finale of “Lost” will be broadcast and I can’t wait! Producer Damon Lindelof has said that after tonight’s episode, fans will finally have enough information to start putting the pieces together and figure out what’s going on in the show. That’s great, but not that important. I have no idea if “Lost” will answer every mystery it’s introduced but I trust the producers to wrap the show up in a satisfying way when the show ends next season and I’ve been enjoying the answers as they come along. Unlike one of my previous favorite shows, “The X-Files,” which lost control of their mythology in an attempt to strech out the story for nine seasons, the powers that be at “Lost” made the decision to stop at six seasons, which has made every show count.

Of course, what hooked me on “Lost” wasn’t just the storytelling, but the mysteries. I’m a sucker for trying to figure out what’s going on, whether you’re talking about “The X-Files,” comic books like “Planetary” and “100 Bullets,” and “Lost.” But even while doling out the mythology, “Lost” has always kept the focus on the characters. For instance, while we’ve spent time with the Dharma Initiative this season, we really don’t know that much about its workings. We have learned about the personalities of the members of the Initiative though, from Dr. Chang’s no nonsense manner to Radzinsky’s paranoia.

The other area in which “Lost” has excelled is with the addition of new characters. What other show has added characters after the first season that have become some of the most popular on the show? “Lost” did it over and over with Ben, Desmond, Juliet and Daniel.

“Lost” is the one show I’ve bought every season of on DVD. It’s always fun to go back and look at earlier episodes with the knowledge you’ve gained from more recent episodes, plus it’s nice to be able to share the show with friends. As the shows promos have insisted, it’s never too late to get “Lost.”

Oh, and if you hear a scream about 10:59 tonight, don’t worry. It’s just my reaction to the latest way “Lost” has once again pulled the rug right out from under its viewers, as well as my terror at the fact I’ve gotta wait eight months to see how it all turns out!