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A Taste For Everything: 'Lost' Showrunners Pick DVDs

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A Taste For Everything: 'Lost' Showrunners Pick DVDs

Movie Interviews

A Taste For Everything: 'Lost' Showrunners Pick DVDs

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Our series on DVD recommendations, video you can watch at home, continues today with a pair of Hollywood insiders, the minds behind one of the most popular shows on television.

DAMON LINDELOF: I'm Damon Lindelof. I'm the co-creator and executive producer of "Lost."

CARLTON CUSE: And I am Carlton Cuse. And I'm a writer and executive producer of "Lost."

INSKEEP: So you have each sent us some films here. I'm must start with Carlton Cuse. You've got a film called "Children of Men" from 2006.

CUSE: "Children of Men" is a - it's a terrific movie with a terrible title. You know, "Blade Runner" - that's a good title for a science-fiction movie, and I think that that's one of the reasons it was sort of under appreciated. Basically, it stars Clive Owen as this sort of ex-activist who is drawn into a plan to transport an illegal who is eight months pregnant to the English coast. Now the thing about this futuristic world is that nobody can have children. The human species has lost the ability to reproduce. So this one pregnant woman sort of represents the future of all humanity.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CHILDREN OF MEN")

MISHAL HUSAIN: (As Newsreader) The world was stunned today by the death of Diego Ricardo, the youngest person on the planet. Baby Diego was stabbed outside a bar in Buenos Aires after refusing to sign an autograph.

ROB CURLING: (As Newsreader) Born in 2009, he struggled all his life with the celebrity status thrust upon him as the world's youngest person.

INSKEEP: Because you feel that the title alone may have prevented a great movie from getting the attention it deserved, I'm curious if you guys considered a bunch of other titles before you settled on "Lost."

LINDELOF: The provenance of the title was basically ABC had a script that they had been developing with Aaron Spelling, producer of all those great night time soaps and...

CUSE: "Charlie's Angels."

LINDELOF: ..."Melrose Place" and "90210." It was basically about people crashing on an island, and they took their shirts off and had copious sex with each other and - but the show kind of didn't go anywhere from there, and that show was called "Nowhere." And I think everybody basically agreed, at ABC, that "Nowhere" was sort of a very bad title but...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LINDELOF: ...that you're opening yourself up to the slings and arrows of the critics.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CUSE: Yes.

LINDELOF: So after slightly kicking around "Somewhere," we basically ended up with "Lost."

INSKEEP: Well, okay, so we're on one word titles here, maybe are better. What, Damon, caused you to list the film "Timecrimes" on your DVD recommendations here?

LINDELOF: This is a Spanish film made by a guy named Nacho Vigalondo. It's the kind of storytelling that we happen to love, which is you drop into the middle of the story and you have no idea what's going on until about midway through. There are only four characters in the entire movie. And it basically starts with a guy who is at home with his wife, and he sees this dude in the woods whose face is wrapped up in these very bloody bandages, and the guy basically goes in pursuit of this man and thus begins the story.

And the filmmaker actually plays sort of a key role in the movie. He plays the sort of Johnny the Explainer role. This is another phrase we used in "Lost" which is every once in a while Johnny the Explainer needs to sort of come strolling out of the jungle and tell you what the hell is going on.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LINDELOF: But in this case, in "Timecrimes" - not to spoil it too much - what we love is when Johnny the Explainer is completely unreliable and this is something that is used in the "The Usual Suspects," another one of my favorite movies. But when the person who is narrating the movie is sometimes lying to you, it can make for a very interesting story.

INSKEEP: Another thing on your list here. This is Carlton Cuse's list - "The Prisoner." What's that about?

CUSE: "The Prisoner" is one of the great, kind of, classic television shows of all times. It was made in 1968. It's a British series, and it basically stars Patrick McGoohan as a spy who resigns his job with the British Intelligence Service. And he goes home and he's basically gassed and when he comes to, he is in this mysterious seaside village, just referred to as the village. And he's a prisoner there and everyone in this village is referred to by a number. And the village is led by Number Two and you don't know who Number One is.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE PRISONER")

PATRICK MCGOOHAN: (As Number Six) Who are you?

PATRICK CARGILL: (As Number Two) The new Number Two.

MCGOOHAN: (As Number Six) Who is number one?

CARGILL: (As Number Two) You are number six.

MCGOOHAN: (As Number Six) I am not a number. I'm a free man.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CUSE: I saw this as a kid and it was so different from any other television shows. Because television shows, you know, that the, kind of, goal always is to make everything explicit - to make sure that you really understand everything. And this show was incredibly mysterious and very purposefully ambiguous.

INSKEEP: Now when you talk about a sprawling and complex mystery - that gets us to the final choice that we have on our list here - Damon's choice. "This is Spinal Tap."

LINDELOF: I think the movie came out in 1984 or 1985, because I was around 11 or 12 when it came out, and I went to go see it in the theater with my Dad. And when I saw it, I was like, this is a real band. They actually make music. I've never really heard of them, but they are very funny guys.

Then the second time that I saw it, you know, in college at NYU, when I was talking about this documentary that I had seen and really liked, and everyone was looking at me like I was the hugest idiot of all time.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LINDELOF: They said, you know, that that's not real. Those guys were like on Saturday Night Live. That's Michael McKean and Harry Shearer and Rob Reiner directed it. And I go, oh yeah, I know he directed it. He's talking to the camera. But he said his name is Marty something. And the great thing about the "Spinal Tap" DVD is those guys do the commentary in character. They're so committed to the reality of this world...

INSKEEP: Let's listen to a little bit of "This is Spinal Tap." We hear here, Christopher Guest who is playing a rock musician, and he's showing his roomful of guitars to Rob Reiner who's playing the director of this film. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

CHRISTOPHER GUEST: (As Nigel Tufnel) This one is just - it's perfect, 1959, you know, just - you cannot - listen.

ROBERT REINER: (As Marty DiBergi) How much does this...

GUEST: (As Nigel Tufnel) Just listen for a minute.

REINER: (As Marty DiBergi) I'm not...

GUEST: (As Nigel Tufnel) This sustain.

REINER: (As Marty DiBergi) I'm not hearing anything.

GUEST: (As Nigel Tufnel) You would though if it were playing. Really it's famous for its sustain.

REINER: (As Marty DiBergi) Yeah.

GUEST: (As Nigel Tufnel) I mean you can just hold it - ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh(ph).

And you could go and have a bite an' you'd still be hearin' that one.

REINER: (As Marty DiBergi) Yeah.

INSKEEP: You talked about them being really committed to the role in the commentary alongside. Isn't that the key to something like this? You can never wink at the audience or the film dies. You have to be totally sincere, seeming, all the way through.

LINDELOF: That's it and what's amazing about the movie is they don't always go for the joke. There's real emotion there and that only is derived from the fact that they're completely committed to the reality of their world. And again, to kind of bring it back around to "Lost," because we look at each other all the time and the writers, all the writers and go, this is the most ridiculous show in the history of television shows. What the hell do we think we're doing? But I think in our writing, we have to be so committed to the fact that it's not ridiculous.

CUSE: But thank God for a brilliant actors who basically takes these crazy premises and - premisi?

LINDELOF: Premises?

CUSE: Premises. And they're fully committed, and it is a lot like "Spinal Tap." I mean they actually give everything to every scene no matter how ridiculous the concept is behind it. And that's what sells it. And I think, if - you know, story telling is a lot about conviction, and we feel like if you're committed as a writer and the actors are committed, then the audience will go along for the ride.

INSKEEP: Well, Carlton and Damon thanks very much to both of you.

CUSE: Thank you.

LINDELOF: Thank you, sir.

INSKEEP: Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, executive producers of the TV series "Lost" which is about to sustain one more season. You can get clues about the finale by checking out the extended version of our conversation at npr.org.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

ARI SHAPIRO, Host:

And I'm Ari Shapiro.

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