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The Off-Topic Interview: Damon Lindelof

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Damon Lindelof served as producer and co-writer of the 2009 Star Trek reboot. He's also the award-winning co-creator, executive producer and showrunner of Lost, one of the most original and influential series in television history. We recently sat down to discuss Lost's legacy, the future of serialized dramas, and surprises planned for the upcoming Trek sequel. Then things got a bit off topic. My bad.

STEVEN SHEHORI: First off, I have a beef with you about the series finale of Lost.

DAMON LINDELOF: Okay, let's hear it.

SS: It made me cry. In front of chicks. So thanks for that, asshole.

DL: The way I see it, only real men cry, and even 'realer' men tell other men that they cry. So you're double macho in my book.

SS: The upcoming Star Trek flick you're writing: it's a sequel to a hit film that's based on an iconic TV series. Which, if you think about it, kind of makes it your Sex and the City 2.

DL: I hadn't thought of it that way. I actually haven't seen Sex and the City 2.

SS: Me neither. I caught the tail end of a commercial for it one time, where the girls were on camels for some reason. Mind you, being writers, something tells me we could take a stab at guessing the basic storyline.

DL: Very true.

SS: Let's give it a shot. Hmm... Well, I figure Act I opens with Carrie, Samantha, the redhead and the other one; they're on their camels, hopelessly lost in the desert. Probably outside of Bahrain. The viewer thinks, "What? They're not in the city, and they're certainly not having sex. How'd they get into this crazy mess?" Then, we use the ol' Battlestar Galactica narrative device: a title card comes up that reads, "One week earlier..."

DL: Right, and now they're back in NYC.

SS: Where we need some sort of inciting incident that gets them on a flight to Bahrain.

DL: And my instincts tell me if we're going to put these irreverent ladies in the Middle East, we really want some sort of fatwa situation to occur. My thinking is that Carrie writes a column that calls into question the beauty and nobility of Middle Eastern female fashion choices.

SS: The Satanic Purses, so to speak.

DL: Yeah. I figure she ends up offending the wife of a high-ranking cleric, and she has to go and apologize in person to avoid the potential fatwa. And this leads to a series of comic misunderstandings.

SS: Her friends come along for moral support and, let's face it, for some primo cross-Atlantic shopping as well.

DL: Absolutely.

SS: And then somewhere in Act II they're trying to respectfully appropriate the Middle Eastern culture, but their sensibilities kind of lead them astray. Where maybe Samantha's wearing a burqa, but it's tricked out a bit too much because she feels black is so drab.

DL: Probably a midriff-revealing burqa.

SS: Yeah, which pretty much defies the purpose of the burqa, some might say.

DL: And maybe that gets Samantha imprisoned, and they're going to cut off her hands. But her concerns are less about grievous bodily injury and more about, "What would the fashion implications be?" Which elicits an, "Oh my God, she'll never be able to wear gloves with her evening gown again," response from the girls.

SS: Which brings us to the Act III turning point, where the girls try and use their feminine wiles to free her.

DL: Yeah, a couple of them flirt with the local constabulary to try and get Samantha out. When that fails, Carrie gives a very lengthy, earnest monologue that ends with her crying, which has this halo effect on everyone else in the room. It's like a superpower she has to make men feel really, really bad about themselves.

SS: Right, which convinces one of the men to say, "All right, I'm going to sneak you ladies out the back, and you're gonna have to ride off on these camels to get away." And now we're back where the movie began, with the girls bickering and lost in the desert like they're starring in a stylish Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

DL: And they're very, very thirsty. So we get the oasis montage. "What is each lady hallucinating?" One of them sees a giant cosmo martini glass, for instance.

SS: Which really wouldn't hydrate her very well at all, being alcohol and such.

DL: Ultimately, it would be a dehydrant, yes.

SS: Then Samantha -- instead of seeing a waterfall or whatever -- hallucinates a Saks Fifth Avenue outlet. And when the other girls say, "A clothing store isn't going to save you from dehydration!" she replies, "No, but at least I'll look good when I'm dead."

DL: This is also the requisite point in the movie where Charlotte finally speaks. She freaks out and spins completely out of control, and kinda goes on a tirade about how selfishly everybody is acting. And that unites the gang, where they say, "If we're gonna die, at least we're dying with each other." And right at that moment, they probably get saved.

SS: Yeah, courtesy of some sort of deus ex machina. Maybe a nearby helicopter pilot had picked up the intense flip-out on his equipment, and decides to track the source. But it should be a callback to something set up earlier on. Like maybe the pilot was flirting with Samantha in Act I, but she wouldn't go out on a date with him. So now, he recognizes her in the desert, and says, "I'm happy to save all of you... So long as we finally get to go on that date, pretty lady!" And she's all like, "Forget it! Get lost, creep!" and the other girls are all like, "Samantha!" and she's all like, "Okay, fine!" but she's quite disproportionately pissed off about the whole thing.

DL: And this life-changing adventure gives Carrie the insight to finally understand how horribly she offended the cleric's wife with her column. So she finally meets her and delivers another speech. This one's twice as long and heartfelt as the one she used to free Samantha. It works, and she ends up avoiding the fatwa. Then she goes on a huge shopping spree with her new Middle Eastern friend.

SS: Capitalism being the great cultural unifier.

DL: And right before the closing credits, Samantha blurts out something completely "I can't believe she said that!" in nature. Probably about Muhammad. Which would set up an, "Oh no, here we go again!" response from the girls.

SS: I think you've just written a solid ending to the franchise... Albeit an ending that might polarize the fan base.

DL: True.

SS: Something you're not used to doing, obviously.

DL: I have no idea of what you speak.

The next installment in the Star Trek film franchise hits theaters in 2012.