Lost in emotions For John Bartley, it's all about 'painting with light'
BY Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
Of course they cried.
When the final scene of "Lost" was completed in April, the emotions behind a bittersweet last season found a release on the set of the popular ABC drama.
Even Jean Higgins, the show's executive producer, couldn't help herself. She looked around at the cast and crew and discovered she wasn't alone.
"I did not expect to be as affected as I was," she said. "I cried. I don't cry, and I got a tear. I definitely got wet in the eyes."
The series, a global success since it first aired in September 2004, will end tonight when ABC airs a 2 1/4-hour finale. Whether the extra-long ending provides answers to the show's many convoluted mysteries is anyone's guess, but it's surely among the most anticipated finales in TV history.
Higgins called the ending "very satisfying."
"The acting was brilliant," she said. "And the writing was everything it should be. Some people will say, 'Oh they didn't answer that question,' but that's all right, because the big picture is there. It wouldn't be 'Lost' if you weren't left to speculate on certain things and discuss it forever."
The opportunity to be part of a series finale is both rare and special, she said.
Higgins joined the show when it filmed the pilot and is one of the few people outside the cast to have been involved in every episode.
In her nearly 40 years in film and television, "Lost" will stand out for many reasons.
It's one of the last shows that shot on film, had an orchestral score and maintained a diverse ensemble cast of 14 regulars — from good actors to "very unknown actors."
"I will treasure the entire 'Lost' experience," Higgins said. "Absolutely."
But the final season, which began shooting episodes last August, was harder to complete than any that came before it. Higgins has been living on five hours of sleep a night.
"I think it was harder than the first season when we were starting up," Higgins said. "Everyone knew it was ending, so emotionally it was a bit more difficult."
Throughout the filming, cast and crew would note things they knew they would never do again.
"There were all these emotional tugs and on top of it, the shows themselves were just huge," Higgins said.
"You were dealing with the emotional part of wrapping it up but at the same time, you were being challenged to tell this great story."
Higgins is confident that the finale will live up to expectations and she isn't modest about it, either. The finale won't have "leaden feet," she said.
"It never crossed my mind that it would be not good," she said. "It would be, 'Where would they take it?' ... With 'Lost' it's just sort of a given that it's great."
And there was a lot of it, too. So much, in fact, that ABC added 30 minutes to the two-hour finale.
"You always shoot more than you are going to use," Higgins said. "You are constantly massaging to make it better and better. The script was long originally and being the finale of all finales, obviously there were spee- ches that were long."
Whenever she called the writers on a lengthy scene, they would just shrug, she said. Now they have possibly the longest finale ever produced.
Now, Higgins is one of a handful of people who already know what millions of viewers around the world want to find out: The fate of the mysterious "Lost" island and the remaining survivors of Oceanic Air Flight 815.
"At first it's like, 'Wow, this is cool,' but then you set it aside because you know you can't discuss it," she said.
No one involved in the show's finale has leaked its precious information. Even on a show that prizes its secrecy like the CIA, everyone seems to have held true to a directive Higgins gave them when it all began: She told them the show was their livelihood — and if they gave away the secrets, no one would have any reason to watch.
"That's the family jewels, the family secret," she said. "I think it says amazing and wonderful things about this amazing cast and crew that this answer is not out there. These people have become so tight and so connected, and they truly get it. It's part of the family."