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Lost in Hawaii - August 16, 2005

Introduction


"Welcome aboard Oceanic Airlines Flight #815. Please make sure your seatbacks and tray tables are in their full upright and locked position ... we do expect some turbulence." Through her handheld megaphone, the flight attendant warned us of potential dangers during our journey. It was your standard airline greeting, or so it seemed. "Although air crashes are incredibly random, destructive events that tend to kill everyone on board regardless of seatback positioning, should we spin out of control and burst into flames, we would like you to be as uncomfortable and alert as possible." Clearly, this was no ordinary transport. "Oceanic Airlines" -- for the purposes of the evening's festivities -- was actually a series of motorized trams, and on board were representatives of numerous media outlets invited to Hawaii's North Shore to celebrate the upcoming first season DVD release of television's Lost.

Inspired by the events from the breakout television hit about stranded survivors of an Oceanic plane crash, Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) left no stone unturned as they cleverly simulated the flight experience for their guests. The night before, realistic boarding passes mysteriously showed up in our hotel rooms, and upon arriving at the "gate", passengers were greeted by an airline-style ticket counter and flight attendants who guided us to our destination. Along the journey, we were assured that the heavy turbulence (a very rocky road) was probably just air pockets, and we were even treated to the loud and creepy sounds of a potential "monster" lurking in the forest. It was an impressive simulation, and every possible detail was covered. Unlike the ill-fated passengers from the show, however, we arrived quite safely at our destination, and as the sun began to set on the beautiful Hawaiian night, we approached the remote jungle setting for a kickass celebration of one of the year's most anticipated DVD releases. But I'll get to that later (cue Lost-inspired flashback sequence) ...

USAGE NOTE: Headers and images are hotlinked to their relevant section of the Photo Gallery. As you read this document, feel free to click on any photo for more detail from that location. When you're done browsing, simply click "Return to Report" or press the "Back" button on your browser to return.


Shooting Locations


Kualoa Ranch


Hurley's Golf Course

Jin's Father's Fishing Locale

For many of us, the day actually began some 12 hours earlier as Joel Binder and Karen Winpenny invited us to join the international journalist group on a tour of some of Oahu's more interesting sights, including numerous shooting locations used during the first season of Lost. At 8:00 am, everyone who wanted to partake in the adventure boarded a charter bus (driven by charismatic local tour guide, Keao), and we headed off to the Kualoa Ranch where we were given a private tour by the ranch's president and general manager, John Morgan. Nestled between the Koolau Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean, Kualoa is a 4000-acre working cattle ranch whose majestic landscapes have been used as shooting locations for numerous films and television series (e.g. Jurassic Park, Godzilla (1998), Windtalkers, and of course, Magnum, P.I.). After a brief introduction to the ranch and a tour of a World War II military bunker, our group took in the sights of the ranch's most recognizable shooting location and home to Hurley's golf course from Episode #9, "Solitary".

The view was spectacular, and it's no wonder Steven Spielberg used the same spot as the backdrop for the famous Gallimus stampede in Jurassic Park. Attentive tourists that we were, we all stopped to get photos of ourselves swinging invisible golf clubs and admiring our remarkable shots. Climbing down the hill a bit, we also took more than a few photos of one another standing within the ginormous footprints left behind by Godzilla himself. It was great fun, and after some time at the site, we boarded the deathtrap that was our tour bus and continued on throughout the ranch. The scenery was gorgeous, and our guide relayed many stories not only of the various films that were shot here but the history of the ranch as well. Finally, we settled at the Molii Fishpond, a serene location that was constructed over 800 years ago (in a single night, according to legend) and was also the shooting location for the scenes between Jin and his father in Episode #17, "... In Translation". Here we paused for quiet reflection and enjoyed the gentle peace while John relayed even more history of the area. Cleary, there were numerous activities to experience at the ranch, but time was short, and we had much more to see, so we bid our host a fond farewell and continued on our journey.

Waimea Valley Audubon Center


Location of the Suitcase

Banyan Tree and Caves

Our second stop was at the Waimea Valley Audubon Center where we were treated to a surprisingly fantastic meal and a walking tour of the center's lush trails and gardens. While the primary path led straight from the entrance to a waterfall atop a hill, there were numerous branching trails, and I took some time to experience as many of them as I could. It was a unique place with all kinds of flora and fauna to examine, and before too long I had arrived at the ultimate destination: Waimea Falls. While nowhere near the size of, say, Akaka Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii, Waimea Falls holds the unique distinction as the shooting location for Kate and Sawyer's scenes in Episode #12, "Whatever the Case May Be". Visitors are invited to take a swim underneath the falls, and many from the Australian contingent happily took them up on the offer. I was unprepared for a swim, however, and content to remain dry. Besides, mysterious suitcase or not, I recall quite a few corpses being found in there.

With time winding down and a full evening of activities planned, it was time to move on from Waimea and make our way back to the resort. On the way out, however, we stopped at the site of a few more shooting locations before departing for good. First was a lush patch of greenery where Sawyer and Kate tracked a boar in Episode #16, "Outlaws", and just down the road a bit were the original cave and banyan tree that inspired the sets which were eventually built for the second half of the season. The cave itself was not accessible to tourists, and it was explained to us by our guide that crew had to be lifted in there by crane for the few shots that were filmed before the set was completed. Exhausted from a long day of wandering around Kualoa and Waimea, we boarded the charter one final time, returning to the resort to prepare for the night's premiere festivities.

Byodo-In Temple

Numerous Scenes in "House of the Rising Sun"

Because of time constraints (and as I learned later, some unfortunate attempts at price gouging), there was one disappointing omission from our tour: the Byodo-In Temple. Shooting location for multiple Jin and Sun flashback sequences in Episode #6, "House of the Rising Sun", the Byodo-In Temple is a replica of the 900-year-old Buddhist temple from Uji, Japan. Located within the Valley of the Temples and set against the backdrop of the majestic Koolau Mountains, this serene and peaceful destination defies description and is in my opinion the most beautiful sight on the entire island of Oahu. Needless to say, while the official tour did not make the journey, I stubbornly went anyway, and it was the best decision I made on my trip. While I did take plenty of decent pictures, none of them comes close to doing justice to this amazing place. It was an awe-inspiring experience, and I couldn't help but laugh when the guard requested a nominal admission fee of $2.00. The word "bargain" seems laughably inadequate.


Season One DVD Launch Party


A note on the audio recordings: there was a very loud band playing in the background throughout this process, and some of the interviewers (and interviewees) were either quite far away or frustratingly soft-spoken. I have done everything possible to remove low bass response from the audio and boost/normalize the volume to add as much clarity as possible to the questions and responses. Consequently, you may notice the audio flips from stereo to dual-channel mono from time to time, and you'll probably notice some small fluctuations in the volume, but I felt it was important to provide you with every ounce of audible dialogue I was able to capture even if some of it is not as crisp as the rest. I hope you are pleased with the results.

USAGE NOTE: Click on the speaker icons on the left to launch a popup mp3 player, or if your browser supports inline ActiveX content, simply press the "play" button on the inline players to the right. To hear all the interviews in a single playlist, click the DVD Talk microphone in the upper left-hand corner of this section.

Red Carpet Interviews

With the sightseeing out of the way, it was time for a party, and as previously explained, Buena Vista Home Entertainment spared no creative expense making this a unique experience for everyone involved. Once departing Flight 815's non-stop service into the jungle, passengers made their way down a path adorned with tiki torches and arrived at the red carpet entrance to the extravaganza. Here, nearly everyone from the cast stopped by before entering the party (Ian Somerhalder and Malcolm David Kelley were unavailable) to share insight into their first season experience, the DVD release, and what we can expect to see in the upcoming season. You want pictures? I got pictures. You want audio? I got audio. You want video? Buy the DVD on September 6th.

N.B. The text portions of this feature are sanitized to avoid spoiling anything significant from the first season, but if you will be watching the show for the first time on DVD and do not wish to learn key events from the first season, do NOT listen to the audio segments as they proceed from the assumption you have seen the first season in its entirety.


Daniel Dae Kim (08:34)
First up was Daniel Dae Kim (Jin Kwon), a veteran actor who has built a strong television career playing generically American characters that are not based on his ethnicity. With Lost, however, he is embarking into new territory, portraying a distinctly Korean character who speaks no English at all, something that is difficult for him as an actor since he grew up in the States and speaks only a little bit of conversational Korean. "It's pretty challenging, you know, but in a good way. There's a little bit of added pressure, because I want to do justice to the character, and I want to represent Koreans fairly and in a positive way. So I'm taking a little extra time to make sure the Korean is down and that, you know, I'm representin' (laughs)." On the feedback he's received from the Korean community, Kim admitted, "It's been a mixed bag", noting that people from his hometown are "really ecstatic" to hear his Southern accent, but others from the North and in Seoul are a little less enthusiastic.

A jovial presence and seemingly at ease in front of the cameras and microphones, Daniel joked around quite a bit. When asked, "What was your contribution to the DVD?", he responded sarcastically, "Well, I acted in some of the episodes." On the topic of TV-on-DVD in general, Kim said, "I think the experience of sitting down when you're ready to watch, with some popcorn in front of you or whatever, and sitting around with your friends and being able to stop and start and watch as much as you want or as little as you want is pretty unique to DVD. I think DVD kind of rewards people who watch actively, because if you get a chance to watch in a way that you can see the little clues the writers are dropping every episode, you'll get more out of the series."

Translation Note: Near the end of the track, at the request of a reporter, Daniel says a few phrases in Korean. In short, he speaks a basic Korean greeting and then says something to the effect of, "Have fun watching."

Yunjin Kim (07:17)
Appropriately following Daniel was his costar Yunjin Kim (Sun Kwon), who is not only fluent in Korean but gained a significant amount of exposure in her homeland after costarring in 1999's Shiri. She spoke about how important it is for her to keep her acting career alive in Korea while she's working on Lost and noted how Koreans are very intrigued that there's an American television show devoting so much time to Korean characters, going so far as to dedicate half an episode to a subtitled storyline. She also relayed an interesting ritual among the cast where the actor who is the focus of each Wednesday's episode hosts a dinner party at their house. Not surprisingly, on her night, she served Korean food.

Translation Note: Near the end of the track, Yunjin is asked in Korean, "Can you please say something in Korean to the Korean fans?" Her response is essentially, "Thank you for loving Lost so much, and I ask for your deep interest in Season 2 as well."

Emilie de Ravin (06:01)
Quite a bit of time went by as we awaited the next cast member, but eventually the soft-spoken and graceful Emilie de Ravin (Claire Littleton) passed by and addressed why she felt the show was so unique. "There's nothing else like it on air. They can be so creative with their storylines. They've opened up this door of having an island that's a little bit mythical, and things go on here that wouldn't normally go on, so they can do anything." She was distracted by her purse and her water and the band, but she was very friendly and down-to-earth and noted how relaxed and calming it can be to work in Hawaii.


Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Terry O'Quinn (06:00)
Emilie was quickly followed by Terry O'Quinn (John Locke), who carried with him some of the persona we see from Locke on the show. There was a duality to his presence, as he was polite and responsive to our questions, and yet I got the feeling that if I looked at him the wrong way, he'd snap my neck in a heartbeat. When asked whether he had picked up any survival skills since working on Lost, he joked, "I can throw knives a little bit. If you stand the proper distance from me, I can hurt you. Other than that, no." Upon hearing this, I took two steps back just in case. What struck me the most about O'Quinn is how grounded he is with his position as an actor on a television series, appreciating the transient nature of the business and treating this experience as just another stop, albeit a very positive one, on a long career path. He also seemed to have a very good handle on his character, probably in large part due to the fact that they're not that dissimilar from one another. Addressing the everpresent questions of the first season's cliffhanging conclusion and how it will be resolved when the show returns, "I can say that I don't think the fans will be disappointed. I think it answers some questions, but it creates more."

Matthew Fox (08:48)
Suavely dressed and nursing a martini, Matthew Fox (Jack Shephard) was very engaging and animated as he made his way down the red carpet, taking time to look everyone in the eye when he spoke to them. "It's a show about the human species, not a show about any particular country or any nationality or any religious background," he said when discussing Lost's broad audience appeal. "It's a show about us." He was repeatedly asked about a particularly unique (and incredibly cool) special feature on the DVD release -- "The Art of Matthew Fox" (6:01) -- that involves his personal photography, and he was very enthusiastic when it came to answering those questions and appreciative of the outpouring of positive feedback. Regarding the security and status of various characters on the show, "I think everybody's at risk on this show, and the minute the audience starts suspecting there are certain people that are untouchable, we lose a certain element of the show that we need."

Jorge Garcia (04:29)
It was at this point in the evening that I really began to understand why each of these actors was cast for the specific roles they play. Not only did they have a firm grasp on the characters they were trying to portray, but you could see those character traits in their own personalities. This was especially true for Jorge Garcia (Hugo "Hurley" Reyes), whose character on Lost was created specifically for him, essentially because the writers saw him on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm and loved him so much that they had to have him on the show. He addressed this unique aspect of the series. "I think the way the cast was put together, where essentially they chose actors they wanted to work with and didn't worry about whether they fit whatever shape they had characters in already, and certain characters were created just because they wanted to work with people, I thought that was a great way to cast a show."


Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Maggie Grace (02:13)
Maggie Grace (Shannon Rutherford) stopped by briefly but was quickly pulled away for pictures and did not return. However, DVD Talkers will be pleased to hear that she is a big fan of the HBO series Deadwood. Although I've boosted the signal on the recording, her voice was incredibly soft, and consequently, perceptive listeners will be able to hear Evangeline Lilly (Kate Austin) almost as clearly as she talks about the timing of this DVD release. The interesting thing here is that Lilly was a good 10 yards away, and the DVD Talk microphone was less than six inches from Grace's mouth.

Evangeline Lilly (06:50)

Photo courtesy of BVHE
As expected, Evangeline Lilly was the next to take time to answer our brilliantly insightful and hardball questions, and our neighbors to the North will be unhappy to hear that she did nothing to shatter the stereotype that all Canadians are polite and friendly. She was delightfully ebullient and pleasant to talk with, and she really seemed like she was genuinely happy to be there. Considering how reserved Kate's character is, it was a welcome surprise to see how animated and energetic Lilly is in person. Commenting on how her life is different since joining the show: "Lost has changed my life in way too many ways to count. I still have a family that adore me; I still have friends who I count on back home; and I still have brown hair. Other than that ... (laughs)"

Naveen Andrews (06:08)
Naveen Andrews (Sayid Jarrah) was next, and like Daniel Dae Kim, he spoke at length about trying to do justice to a character representing another country. Born in London and of Indian descent, portraying an Iraqi character has been an interesting, yet rewarding, challenge for him. "I felt a great deal of responsibility, not just to the Iraqi community, but to the entire Arab world. I think it was very important how this character was going to be perceived and how they were going to write for him, just because of the situation we're in at the moment, and the fact that you've got a fully-rounded, complex, human being is unprecedented." He also had some fun insight into the way stress affects personal relationships, noting quite succinctly, "Human beings in very stressful situations will shag." Like nearly everyone we spoke with, he had a visible passion for his work and a strong appreciation for what makes Lost a unique piece of the television landscape. "This show reflects our common humanity. It reflects the society we live in today, the world that we live in. It's not Friends for Christ's sake."


Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Dominic Monaghan (00:42)
At this point in the evening, the dust floating in the air triggered an involuntary blinking reaction in my eyes, and I missed Dominic Monaghan (Charlie Pace). I was warned that this could happen, but I thought it was just an expression. Fortunately, the DVD Talk microphone picked up a short snippet of Dom joking that had he been cast in the role of Sawyer (referencing audition footage from the DVDs), he would have done a much better job than Josh Holloway. Setting the record straight, though, he pointed out that he wasn't actually auditioning for that character. "There wasn't really a part for me, so I went in with these pages that were just for someone generic, and it happened to be Sawyer, but I was never going to read for Sawyer." And with that, Dominic was gone as quickly as he had arrived, disappearing stealthily into the night like the caped crusader whose logo adorned his clothing. OK, so he just walked off, but it sounds better the other way.

Harold Perrineau, Jr. (05:09)
Fortunately Harold Perrineau, Jr. (Michael Dawson) was right on his heels, and he was as animated and enthusiastic as anyone we talked to the entire night. Interestingly, while he was joking around and having a good time, he also brought a great perspective and depth to his method of portraying Walt's father on the show. "The one thing that I found really interesting in my own life was when I finally realized that my father was just a man and not like this (makes angelic sound) holy thing, so then when I got this job as a father, what I thought would be really, really interesting to do was to find out who this man was, because the 'man' is before the 'father'." Talking with him was a great experience, and if you've seen the first season already, I highly recommend listening to his comments in their entirety.


Photo courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Damon Lindelof (05:28)
Unfortunately, after spending so much time talking with all the faces in front of the camera, there was very little left for creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof, whom they tried to shuffle past us as quickly as possible. While J.J. Abrams is the big "name" attached to Lost, the series is largely the creation of Lindelof, who maintains a writing credit on 10 of the first season's 25 episodes, including the pilot and 3-part season finale. While they were clearly trying to move him past us, he was kind enough to stop and give his thoughts on how marketing departments have a nasty habit of giving away key plot points for arc-based television series. "Marketing's job is to get people to tune in, and our job is to not give it away, and that sort of puts us at odds. We don't get to see those promos until they've actually run, so I'm seeing them the same time you're seeing them, and I'm picking up my phone and going, 'why did you do that?' But they're not approaching it the same way we are as fans, so inherently I have to respect what they do, and I put my frustration aside, because the way that they marketed the show and sold the show, I am so grateful for. So, every once in a while they will do it in a way that maybe I don't approve of, but at the end of the day, lots of people are watching, and that's in no small part to the fact that they made awareness of it." Fans of the series will be please to hear, however, that according to Damon, he and his team of writers have been heavily involved with the promotion campaign for the second season and have made a conscious effort not to spoil anything for the viewer.

What struck me the most about listening to him speak was that he had a firm grasp of how the television world works, and while he may want to plan a story that takes, say, 4 seasons to tell, the network may only order a couple of seasons or perhaps demand many more. Referencing the slow and painful death of The X-Files, he stated that he does in fact have the conclusion to the series planned out, and he hopes that ABC will not make the same mistakes FOX did running a great show into the ground. "Hopefully we will be able to dig our heels in, because we have an ending of the show. We know when it is, we know how many episodes it is, but we have to talk with the Powers That Be, the people that pay for the show, in order to sort of execute that. And I think it would be very hard if we did our ending for anyone to come in after and continue the show."

Addressing the frustration many fans felt about the way the first season concluded, he indicated that it will take 3 full episodes to answer the ubiquitous "what's in the hatch" question, and while people may be frustrated now, he is positive they would be even more unhappy had they only partially answered those questions before leaving for the summer break. He assured us that the wait will be worth it, and that the third episode of the second season will knock our socks off. Like most other fans of this show, I patiently wait with cautious optimism. It took a long time to finally get to hear from the man behind the pen, but it was worth it.

Josh Holloway (09:14)

Photo courtesy of BVHE
The final contributor to the show to make his way down the red carpet was Josh Holloway (Sawyer), who showed up late after a long day of shooting scenes for the second season, which is currently in production. Most everyone else had given up on waiting for him and made their way into the party, but I hung around on the off chance that my fellow Atlantan would arrive. The wait was well rewarded, as Holloway displayed an intensity and passion about his work that was unrivalled by the other cast members. He was engaging and introspective and took care to look everyone directly in the eye when he spoke. On the topic of his ascending celebrity: "I'm a private person, and my wife [and I] love our private time, and it's hard. I'd be lying to say that that is not a transition for me. I mean, no one cared before; now everyone cares, and it's a little overwhelming. But it's mostly positive, and I feel like later, when I'm able to use it for something positive, it will change what it is right now. Right now, all I have time to do is work, and be bombarded, and adjust." Mostly he spoke about trying to create substance with the character of Sawyer and avoid becoming a cliché, and while I could summarize those comments here, I recommend you just listen to them yourself. Of all the actors who spent time with us during the event, I was most impressed with Josh Holloway and the true depth of understanding he had for the different layers of the character he portrays on the show. Of course, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that his final cry of "Atlanta!" before disappearing into the night earned him a few points from me.

Release Party

With the interviews largely completed, it was time to close the evening with a kickass party, and BVHE really did a fantastic job. Given the nearly perfect Hawaiian weather, there were no problems hosting an outdoor party in the woods. In fact, considering how much of my skin was devoured by mosquitoes at the botanical gardens a few days earlier, I was a bit shocked at how friendly the insect population was to all of us. On one end of the event was Slug, a local Hawaiian cover band who performed against the backdrop of a damaged airplane fuselage. While I wasn't particularly enjoying their volume and bass as I tried to record audio interviews, once inside the party, I recognized that they were doing a good job. Spread around the outskirts of our jungle setting were various eating stations, and each one had a decidedly Hawaiian flair to it. My two favorite stations were the sushi bar and the coconut drinks, both of which were some of the best food and drink I have ever tasted. Forget about the small sections of pre-cut sushi you may find at the local supermarket; when I saw the plate of food the friendly server had made for me, the first thing I thought was, "a sandwich is just a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal!" The spicy tuna I had requested was most definitely a meal, and it was a damn tasty one at that. Over at the coconut stand, I found two massive Hawaiians conspicuously grinning and brandishing large machete. As I approached, one of them enthusiastically removed an oversized coconut from a cooler, smacked it a few times with his machete, stuck a straw in the top and handed me my drink. Spicy tuna and coconut juice: it wasn't what I expected I'd be eating for dinner when I awoke that morning, but after a long day of seeing the sights and talking with the cast, it was exactly what I needed.

The party as a whole seemed to be a glowing success for everyone involved. Family and friends of those involved with the show were having a great time as were the cast members and press who had showed up for the event. It was very informal, and some people continued to talk about the show, while others discussed current events. I strangely found myself embroiled in a debate over the current state of hockey, which -- while we may technically have a hockey team here in the ATL -- is not a topic of discussion in which a Southerner like myself should be involved. Nonetheless, I participated, and discussion ranged from the best way to kill and eat a pig to the impending format war over the next generation of DVD. The evening began to wind down, and it was clear that the event was a huge success, and everyone had had a great time. As we departed, we were presented a Lost tote bag, complete with The WORST-CASE SCENARIO Survival Handbook, Hawaiian Host chocolate covered macadamia nuts, a sample blend from the Maui Coffee Co., Hpnotiq liqueur, and a preview set of Lost trading cards. On the tram ride back, I spoke at length with executive producer Bryan Burk's parents, and they were predictably proud of their son's accomplishments and were very pleased with the way the event turned out. The party continued late into the night at the hotel bar, and I hung around for every minute of it -- getting owned in a game of pool by DVD producer David Naylor -- but for all intents and purposes, this was the end of Buena Vista Home Entertainment's entertaining and successful launch party for the upcoming DVD release of the first season of Lost.


Concluding Thoughts


Now, I know what you're thinking: "That's all well and great, but should I buy the DVD set?" That's a topic for another time, and I assure you that once Buena Vista gives the go-ahead to officially review the set, I will be posting a comprehensive review complete with all the gory details. Until that time, though, it shouldn't take a rocket scientist, or even a Regional Collections Supervisor for a box company, to figure out that BVHE went to all this trouble for a reason (as did I). Along with Desperate Housewives, Lost was not only a major breakout hit of the 2004-2005 television season, but its DVD release is easily one of the most anticipated of the year. While I won't discuss an official recommendation until I have had time to thoroughly review the set in its entirety, an initial glance reveals high production values and a strong slate of special features. Much like the promotional party itself, it appears that every effort has been made to present a DVD release worthy of all this attention, and from what I have seen so far, the fans are going to be very pleased with the results. "Lost - The Complete First Season" will be released on September 6, 2005, and I suggest you mark your calendar.


- das Monkey (e-Mail)


Acknowledgements: While there are countless people who made this event possible, I must take time to thank three specific individuals: Mac McLean for being a patient host and guide in unfamiliar territory; and Gord Lacey (TVShowsOnDVD.com) and Luaine Lee (Knight/Ridder), who graciously took the DVD Talk microphones further than I could physically follow and without whom significant portions of these audio recordings would not be possible. Mahalo nui loa.


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