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Masters of SciFi – Star Trek and Lost Producer Damon Lindelof on Entertaining the Masses

Star Trek and Lost Producer Damon Lindelof on Entertaining the Masses” width=”560″/>

The Executive Producer for Lost and the upcoming Star Trek film talks to about fanboy fiction and why the Trek franchise needed a reboot.

Q: You’ve said the episode of Lost where Desmond travels through time is an homage to Star Trek. Did you approach the upcoming film as a fanboy?

A: I had a real reverence for the material, but more importantly, for the world and how special that world is, and how long it’s persevered. I watched a fair amount of the original and I really watched a lot of Next Generation. The first series of meetings we had were along the lines of: What is the State of the Union of Trek, and has it been brought to a place where people will resent our involvement because we’re coming from the outside? I think it’s like how with Batman, it got to the point where there was more press about the nipples on the Batsuit than there was about the characters, and the franchise needed a reboot.

Q: William Shatner has been very vocal about his displeasure in not having a place in the film. How did you react?

A: Mr. Shatner created Kirk, so I understand and sympathize with his feelings about what his role — or lack of a role — in our movie was. That being said, Kirk died; he fell down a cliff face. That made it incredibly challenging for us to tell the story we wanted to tell and figure out a way for William Shatner, who is now several years older than Kirk was when he died, to be in the movie. It’s an incredibly ambitious movie on a technical scale. I can say with confidence that we achieved what we set out to achieve, and that’s all you can ask for.

Q: When it comes to Lost, you seem very willing to respond to audience demands about what we want to see. Why?

A: We’re writing a television show that’s supposed to be consumed by the masses. In the same way that a gladiator in the Roman arena lived or died based on whether or not he was entertaining, we feel like an instantaneous thumbs up, thumbs down response is huge for us. More importantly, the majority of the writers on Lost are fanboys. There’s a ripple effect that occurs where we say, “Nikki and Paolo are not working. We don’t like them, the audience isn’t going to like them.” By the time the audience starts complaining about Nikki and Paolo, we’ve already written a script where they get buried alive.

Q: Is it difficult to change course midstream when so much of the show is plotted from the beginning?

A: The uber-mythology has to stay the same because there’s stuff we’ve set up that has to pay off. But there is wiggle room in terms of the way the characters experience that story. In our minds, Mr. Eko was going to be a character who made it to close to the end of the show, but because Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was so unhappy being on the show, we had to say, “Alright, life intervenes. Who else can we tell the story with? Can we re-jigger Locke to have it be him, or can we make Benjamin Linus a little bit more of a man of faith?” You adapt the characters as you go.

Q: Have there been any developments with your rumored adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series?

A: The Dark Tower is to me every bit as daunting an adaptation as the Lord of the Rings trilogy must have been for Peter Jackson, except we’ve got seven books we’re looking at. And the idea of doing that at the same time Carlton and I are bringing Lost to a close is simply not viable. There are always Dark Tower conversations, but the figuring out of what this will look like as a movie has not begun. If The Dark Tower were in the right hands, I would love to see seven movies executed just right. But you have to get people to see the first one to get them to come and see the second one.

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