Weekend Update: No, not THAT One (& a Chat With 'Lost's' Ben)

Today's cuppa: Stash Christmas Morning tea

Off in a bit to a hotel in the beautiful San Fernando Valley to drop in on the cable-TV portion of the biannual Television Critics Association Press Tour. As I said in an earlier post, one of my colleagues is on the ground there right now; he hands off to me for the broadcast-network presentations next week (which include several cable networks, like FX, that are corporate siblings of broadcast nets).

Fox_08kieferjefferson_1955abrf But before that, I have a plan for this weekend, starting with liveblogs of all four hours of the "24" seventh-season premiere.

If you don't know what I mean by a liveblog -- I first did them during the political conventions last summer, ending with this one for "House" -- in advance of the show's airing, I pop in the DVD and give a stream-of-consciousness account of what I'm watching.

"Spoilers!" you may say. Au contraire. I endeavor to be as entertaining yet obscure as possible. If you can guess exactly what's happening in the show from the liveblog, good on ya, but I don't aim to make it easy. I also recommend you refer back to the liveblog when you actually see the show, to judge just how well I did.

And I will be sharing portions of a conversation I had in the writers' room at "24"Carlosbernard_0042_djrv1f with Carlos Bernard, who plays the not-as-dead-as-we-thought Tony Almeida.

Also, I have two syndicated feature stories that will be highlighted here next week, on the season premieres of "Battlestar Galactica" and "Friday Night Lights," in addition to blogging and Twittering from tour. Much salty goodness to come!

And just because you were kind enough to stop by here today, here are some bonus quotes from Michael Emerson, who plays the enigmatic Ben Linus on ABC's "Lost," returning for a new season on Jan. 21.

(FYI, Ben was one of the subjects of a intriguing examination of the supposed political bent of some "Lost" characters, courtesy of the new website Big Hollywood. Didn't think there was a fresh take on "Lost" at this point, but whether you agree or disagree, I think this qualifies as one.)

Michaelemerson Without further ado, Emerson speaks...

On the character of the mysterious island: "The island is the partial location of some long-standing contest or experiment that has to do with time and space. From the beginning of the show, we took the island at face value -- just an island like other islands, just sort of an uncharted one.

"But maybe it is different in nature or in character than other islands. Maybe it's not an island like we understand the word, or maybe it's an island in some other understanding of the word 'island'"

On Ben's literary side: "I feel very at home in the language scheme of 'Lost,' and in the philosophical scheme of it. I like that my character seems to be, not only ambiguous, but also kind of literary. He seems to be a reader. He seems to be a philosopher. It seems like those are the issues he'd rather be discussing if he didn't have to spend so much time being a man of action."

On the acting challenge of being in a long-running series: "I'm always looking for a way to challenge myself, to find another tone, another color, another way to deliver the same goods, because there is inevitable thematic and dramatic repetition in a serial show like ours. Some of the situations are the same.

"How many times on 'Lost' do I slip into a room quietly and say, 'Hello, so-and-so,' and they turn around to see me, and they're shocked to see me? I do that. It's almost a trope in the writing of my character. I have to find ways to keep that fresh and yet enjoy the sort of trope-ness of it, the thing-i-ness of it."

On why he's happy not to have Matthew Fox's lead role of the perpetually stressed-out Dr. Jack Shephard: "(What he does) it is hard work. In a way, it's the curse of being a lead. You're, by definition, restricted to a narrower range of emotion. I'm happy to be a character player and be all over the place and allowed to have big changes in tone."

On his relationship with Terry O'Quinn, who plays the mystical yet dangerous John Locke: "Terry O'Quinn continues to be my favorite scene partner. I've been admiring him for a long, long time myself. He and I are of a shared generation. We have similar theatrical backgrounds, and our work habits are similar.

"We get together, we have crackerjack scenes. We tend to knock them out quickly, with a light touch. The work is easy and pleasurable. We're a good pair. We're a good acting team, he and I."

On whether he might like Ben if he met him: "It would depend on the circumstances. It would depend on whether I had anything he needed or not. If it was purely casual, if we were whiling away the time on a park bench or on an airliner, God forbid, he might be a good conversationalist. He's certainly a man who's well-read and possessed of many interests and talents.

"But if I was engaged in any contest or battle of life or death with him, I would not want to meet him. He's ruthless and part of him is underdeveloped. There is a carelessness that is sociopathic. It must be both terrifying and freeing to not care what you do to people, and there would be a surge of power that came with that, that's for sure."