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Mysterious freighter guy Miles Straume (Ken Leung, formerly of "The Sopranos"), left, makes camp with Sawyer (Josh Holloway) in what looks like a prelude to trouble.

Cast and crew endure rain, mud and aggressive insects to create the compelling ABC drama in the jungles of Oahu

By Katherine Nichols

Working on a hit television show sounds glamorous. Until you actually do it. On this day in a jungle in Heeia, on

Michael Emerson, shows that 'Lost' life is not so glamorous.

Oahu's Windward side, slate-colored skies threaten rain. On the set -- a brief yet bumpy off-road drive from base camp, where trailers and a rudimentary buffet are stationed -- the crew erects two canopies. But humans don't warrant shelter. Cameras and monitors do. A communal can of bug spray and canvas chairs provide the only respite from mud, wild foliage and aggressive insects. 

In those chairs sit actors Michael Emerson, Terry O'Quinn and Jorge Garcia, dutifully subjecting themselves to makeup artists who proceed to worsen their appearance. An artist dips a brush into a painter's palette to add more purple blotches under Emerson's eyes. Another tends to O'Quinn's scar. Garcia tilts his head to accommodate a hair specialist who fiddles with his long locks. Next up? Faux dirt on arms and neck. 

It's all part of the much-anticipated return of "Lost" on Thursday, which signals the beginning of what the crew calls "Season 4.5." The episode features Michael Emerson (Ben Linus) in a pivotal role involving strenuous work (horses! fighting!) that launches the furious ride to the May 29 finale. 
 The writers strike interrupted what began as a stellar year, with the first eight episodes landing solidly in Nielsen's Top 10. Everyone returned to work last month, and a mighty scramble to finish five of the eight remaining episodes ensued (subsequent seasons will compensate with extra episodes). Everything must be completed before the hiatus begins next month. So multiple units shoot scenes from several episodes in various locations simultaneously, not necessarily in chronological order, leaving the actors moderately confused about continuity and their characters' state of mind at any given moment. 

During the alfresco makeup session, Emerson consults director Paul Edwards about Ben. The word "sociopath" floats in the air. One moment Ben is charging about, shouting orders. The next he mopes and whines. "I'm just curious about the change of character," says Emerson. Next to him, Terry O'Quinn plants a yellow straw hat on his head between scenes, strums his ukulele and sings in a soft, melodic voice, letting his large hunting knife dangle at his side. 

After a brief lunch break at 4 p.m., the night session begins. Along the way, there's a campfire to monitor, and someone with arms the size of a cyclist's thighs must move rocks. Nearby, a crew member practices his steady cam shots by running alongside anyone who appears in his path. Another tinkers with a fake shotgun. 

The actors don't sit for long before it's time to do it all again. Repetitive performances must stay fresh. Several rehearsals take place before any film is shot. Each scene finishes with directions to the camera operators about extreme close-ups and angles, as well as discussion among the actors about the mood or timing of lines and movements. Before the director shouts "Action!" trucks, vans, cranes and dozens of people must fall silent. And they do this again and again, reminding any observer just how many hours of work necessitate every 30 seconds of compelling television drama. 


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Locke (Terry O'Quinn) indulges in psychological battle with Ben (Michael Emerson) in the Others' homestead. Both earned Emmy nominations last year in the category of Best Supporting Actor.

Few will argue the depth of Michael Emerson's talent. Read more... )

SOURCE:  Star Bulletin
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I have the video showing Michael playing the piano. It is a bit of spoiler. Don't watch if that's a concern. Or just watch the first few seconds. As soon as he stops playing the piano, go away.

You can see it here. Click on the "Lost 4X09 Spoiler" square to view it.
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Dangers! Strangers! Game changers! The Island inhabitants are in for a rough ride. Here's everything you need to know about season 4's final five episodes. Plus: Video of Doc Jensen in Ben's house and with Josh Holloway and Michael Emerson

HURLEY AND BABY AARON Question: Will Jorge Garcia's character babysit the tyke in the future, too?
Mario Perez

Life on the Oahu set of Lost isn't always a day at the beach. On this sweltering March afternoon, for example, ABC's cult hit about castaways on a time-warped tropical isle has chosen to shoot in...a rock quarry. Amount of fun currently being had: Zero. The horses are jumpy from machine-gun fire. Executive producer Jack Bender is directing with an ice pack to his face after walking into a crane. And Michael Emerson — a.k.a. Benjamin Linus, the show's villainous über-Other — is broiled, thanks to his curious wardrobe requirement: a woolly winter parka.
''Definitely a no-glamour zone,'' says Emerson during a brief respite from shooting Lost's first episode since the writers' strike interrupted production last November. ''I thought we would ease into things. Instead, I get this all-Ben extravaganza: combat, riding horses, foreign languages. And piano playing! All waaaay outside my comfort zone. How can you work two weeks and feel like you need a vacation already?'' 

Some sympathy for Lost's biggest devil? Not a polar bear's chance in Tunisia. Besides, there's crucial work to be done. You'll start seeing it on April 24, when Lost returns with the first of five fresh episodes that will wrap up its buzzy, strike-abbreviated fourth season. EW spent three days on the set of the drama, and judging from the looks of things — like the corpse that washes up on the sandy shores of Camp Jack and the raging gunfight that will decimate Camp Locke — the first episode back, ominously titled ''The Shape of Things to Come,'' will launch the endgame with downright apocalyptic thunder. The ensuing four installments will answer some of the season's biggest questions: How did the much-vaunted Oceanic 6 leave the Island? What happened to those left behind? Why is Sayid (Naveen Andrews) killing people for Ben in the future? And who's rotting inside that darn coffin? ''It's big and epic,'' promises Matthew Fox (Jack). ''Our first eight episodes, by design, were all set up for these episodes to come. That we're doing just five instead of eight means they're even more packed with plot. It's payoff time.'' More momentously, the finale — whose Big Twist is code-named ''Frozen Donkey Wheel'' — will set the stage for another series reinvention. Citing the seventh Harry Potter book, in which J.K. Rowling broke her usual year-at-Hogwarts template, executive producer Damon Lindelof says, ''We're taking the same approach. You think the show is, 'Okay, they're on the Island, and then — whoosh — you're in the past or the future.' By the end of season 4, I think the audience is going to go, 'How can the show continue to be that?' And they are absolutely right.'' 

KATE AND JACK Question: Will the pair (Evangeline Lilly and Matthew Fox) save their friends — and the Island — from the fiendish freighter folk?
Mario Perez
Camp Locke is actually Camp Erdman in real life, a YMCA facility on Oahu's North Shore. On this rain-splashed afternoon, a couple dozen day campers sit on the grass, waiting to watch Lost blow up one of their cabins. As the explosives get rigged, the man who plays con-artist bad boy Sawyer, Josh Holloway, gamely takes questions. One boy shares how his mother, a big Lost fan, talks about the show so incessantly that he has to cover his ears and beg her to stop. The kids laugh, and so does Holloway, but the camp counselor is embarrassed. ''Now, remember,'' she scolds. ''Respectful questions.''

The stars of Lost have heard worse, especially last year when they were put in the awkward position of answering harsh criticism about how Lost had lost its way. ''When you came out here last season, I remember I didn't talk to you,'' Andrews tells an EW writer, ''because if all you have to say is something negative, why talk at all?'' Asked where he thought season 3 went wrong, Andrews smiles. ''Well, I wasn't in it much, so that's flaw number one, without sounding ridiculously arrogant,'' laughs the actor, whose Sayid was truly underutilized. ''A lot of us didn't know which way the show was going, and I'm not sure the writers did, either. They seemed to be meandering in the dark. But it's good now. We're on track.''

So how did they find the light? By negotiating the death of Lost itself. Last May, the show's guiding hands, Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, reached a deal with ABC to end the series in 2010 after three 16-episode seasons; as a result, Lost's storytellers have been able to bring structure and focus to their saga. It began with last year's bravura finale, which brought the promise of rescue and introduced ''flash-forward'' storytelling into the mix. Fox — who was the only actor besides Evangeline Lilly (Kate) privy to the episode's it's-not-a-flashback twist — recalls barely being able to keep the secret from the rest of the cast. ''I knew it would take Lost to the next level,'' he says.

Season 4 has gone even further with new twists, new characters, and a new forward-moving, future-revealing mythology. Front and center are the Oceanic 6, a privileged clutch of castaways — Jack, Kate, Sayid, Sun (Yunjin Kim), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), and baby Aaron — who have somehow, someway escaped the Island. ''I think this flash-forward business is a stroke of genius,'' says Emerson. ''I think everybody here feels that we are now a more mature show, that we are now a show for grown-ups, because we're going to see that like in life, there may not be happy endings for many of us on this Island.''

At the very least, Lost has become a show no longer dogged by skepticism that its producers lack a master plan.

SAWYER Question: Who's gunning to put the con-artist bad boy (Josh Holloway) in a body bag?
Mario Perez
''The question of 'Do you guys know where you're going?' kind of evaporated,'' says Cuse. ''People are no longer fearful that they're going to be led like lemmings to a cliff edge and plunge off.'' Nobody is more thrilled than the cast; across the board, their enthusiasm — and, in some cases, relief — is palpable. ''Now, the story carries everything and we're just players in it, which I like,'' says Holloway. ''The writers can be concise. I like that, too.'' Adds Fox: ''Our writers have always said we needed an end in order to start ripping. Now, we're ripping.''

This isn't to say that season 4 has been perfect. After hitting a high-water mark with ''The Constant,'' a deftly plotted, unabashedly romantic time-travel yarn that ended with Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) finally making contact with soul mate Penelope Widmore (Sonya Walger), Lost slowed the pace and muffed some plays. A trick ending — She's in the future! He's in the past! — to an otherwise powerful episode featuring Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun alienated some perplexed fans. And the hyped-up return of castaway traitor Michael (Harold Perrineau) defied continuity logic and generally failed to meet expectations. Still, these are minor concerns compared with past infractions such as a guest turn by Bai Ling and last year's awkward introductions of — we hesitate to even bring up their names — Nikki and Paulo.

Ironically, season 4's overall strength and sophistication may have renewed Lost's creative mojo, but it has also sealed the show's rep as an intimidating weekly TV commitment. Viewership has steadily declined throughout the season, from 17.8 million for the season 4 premiere to 13.4 for episode 8. When the show returns April 24, it will air after Grey's Anatomy, at 10 p.m., and while it may get some draft from the hospital hit, it's a less-than-McDreamy hour for a series that demands maximum alertness. But ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson says that even though he'd ''love to see the show grow...the reality is that the numbers are pretty good.'' And he's as excited as anyone about the new direction. ''Lost has established itself as one of the great shows of all time. I'm proud that by agreeing to end the show, we have freed them up to do what they want to do.''

LOCKE Question: Will Terry O'Quinn's character (pictured, right, with Michael Emerson) be the subject of an anticipated ''mythically significant outing''?
Mario Perez
And what they'll be doing is kicking things off with a meaty sweep of story. In addition to being a flash-forward adventure for globe-trotting Ben, in which his war with British billionaire Charles Widmore (Alan Dale) over control of the Island will intensify, episode 9 revisits a long-simmering subplot: Sayid's romance with Iraqi love Nadia (Andrea Gabriel). According to Lindelof, a new dimension of Smokey the monster's mercurial nature will also be revealed, per the Lost rule that ''you learn something new about the monster whenever it appears.'' And Cuse says a major story line will begin for Claire (Emilie de Ravin), Aaron's Aussie mommy, who lost boyfriend Charlie in last year's finale: ''Mysterious things are happening to Claire that set up the next few episodes — and the next few years, too.''

''The Shape of Things to Come'' will be followed by a flash-forward installment for Jack. ''We're starting to close the loop on the end of last season,'' says Fox. ''Jack in the future is a man marked by weakness, but the Jack of the present is strong. You're going to understand how he made that transition.'' The last three episodes include only one flashback, which the producers say will be a mythically significant outing for...someone. The rumor: Locke (Terry O'Quinn). Fans will also see a new Dharma station called the Orchid — all three levels of it — that might shed more light on the Island's time-warping properties. Peripheral faves like Penelope, ageless Other Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell), and off-Island mystery man Matthew Abaddon (Lance Reddick) will pop up. But due to the strike, two breakout freighter newbies — frazzled physicist Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) and ghost-whispering hustler Miles Straume (Ken Leung) — won't be getting their spotlights until next year. The May 22 finale will complicate the Jack-Kate-Sawyer love triangle by featuring ''a spectacular kiss'' and elaborate on Jack's flash-forward ambition to journey back to the Island. ''This year's finale will sum up exactly how difficult it may be to accomplish that,'' says Lindelof, who adds this cryptic response to speculation that flash-forwards will vanish once Island present meets off-Island future: ''There could easily be a time when the word flash becomes irrelevant.''

While fans wait to see what form Lost's future takes, the cast waits to see whether they'll be part of it: Peril abounds for the castaways in the next five episodes. During EW's stay on the set, Garcia prepared for an encounter with Smokey, and Holloway was spritzed with fake sweat and a touch of blood in advance of a raging gunfight. After fishing that mystery corpse from the surf, Daniel Dae Kim addressed a reporter's question about Jin's uncertain flash-forward fate (he seemingly died in the March 13 episode) with a mock-frantic cry: ''I don't know!'' As it was at the start, Lost is once more the show where anything can happen. Drying out in the sun after scurrying away from a big wave that washed out the scene, Yunjin Kim sits in the tall grass of the beach and sums it up: ''It feels like season 1. And I love it.''

Here's the link to the video to watch: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1488655083/bctid1491695709

Video will be embeded at about 8pm EDT.

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Carrie Preston, Michael Emerson's wife, to play his mother on LOST  
Actress Carrie Preston, above, will play the mother of Ben, her real-life husband's character on the show 'Lost.'
Well, it's official Carrie Preston will play Ben's mother in "The Man behind the Curtain,"  the Bencentric episode of LOST.

Posted on Fri, May. 04, 2007
 Macon native to guest star on 'Lost'

By Phillip Ramati - pramati@macontel.com

Actress Carrie Preston, above, will play the mother of Ben, her real-life husband's character on the show 'Lost.'

Once, while hanging out with her husband, actor Michael Emerson of the hit TV series "Lost," Carrie Preston joked that a good part for her would be playing his character's mother.

The Macon-born actress got her chance and will appear in Wednesday's episode.

Emerson said Preston's "Lost" appearance came from an off-the-cuff suggestion.

"Carrie sent a wish to the universe, and like so many of her wishes, it came true," Emerson said. "She joked that she wanted to play the part of my mother in a flashback. There was never a formal pitch or anything. I might have mentioned it at a party or something, and maybe a keen producer heard it, and lo and behold, it was something they already had on their mind."

Because of the nature of "Lost," which features episodes full of plot twists and big revelations, Preston is close-mouthed about details of her appearance.

"I'm sworn to secrecy," she said.

Wednesday's episode revolves around Emerson's character, Ben, the leader of the mysterious "Others" who live on the island with the show's castaways. One of the series' hallmarks is flashback sequences that provide background information about the show's characters.

Preston appears as Ben's mother, Emily, but didn't have scenes with her husband. Instead, she's in scenes with another actor who is playing the part of the young Ben.

Preston said although they don't share any scenes in next week's "Lost" episode, they've shared them before.

"We shot a movie called 'Journey' and one called 'Straight-Jacket,' we did a commercial, we've done two productions of 'Hamlet,' " she said. "It's fun being on the same call sheet as him."

It was playing Ophelia in "Hamlet" 12 years ago at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival where Preston, a Central High School graduate, met Emerson, who was playing Guildenstern. Preston went to work with the festival after attending Juilliard because her brother, actor John Preston, also was in the cast.

Since then, Preston has worked on a wide range of theater shows and television series, including guest-star roles on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Arrested Development" and "Numb3rs." She also has worked in movies such as "The Stepford Wives," "Transamerica" and "The Legend of Bagger Vance."

For an actor, the difference between a guest-star role and a regular role in a TV series can be a mixed bag. On one hand, as a guest-star, Preston can work on a variety of projects. But being a series regular means steady work, which is what Emerson now enjoys with his "Lost" role that grew out of a guest appearance.

"We're gypsies," Preston said. "We go where the work is."

Emerson won an Emmy in 2001 for his guest-starring work on "The Practice." That led to his work on "Lost."

Emerson's character initially was only supposed to appear in a few episodes, but he grew to be very popular among "Lost" fans, and his contract was extended. Finally, Emerson became a cast regular this season.

Preston spends a lot of time at airports these days, commuting among three residences in New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii.

She's currently at the Miami Film Festival, where she will show her short film "Feet of Clay."

Preston said she's been living in Los Angeles to be closer to Emerson, even though she considers New York her home.

"We see each other every two or three weeks," she said.

During the next few months, Preston is preparing to shoot a movie in San Diego called "Ready? OK" about a boy who wants to become a cheerleader, and she has a part in a still-untitled Woody Allen film to be shot in Barcelona this summer. Preston said she visits her family in Macon on a regular basis, including her parents, Pam and Ray Preston.

When she isn't acting, Preston also works as a director. Her film "29th & Gay" was shown at the Macon Film Festival last year, and she is hoping to adapt a play called "Girl Talk" into a movie.

Preston remains coy about whether she will have another "Lost" appearance.

"Anything's possible on that show," she said with a chuckle. "It'd be really fun if I could."

SORCE: Macom.com


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