Wednesday, May 13th 2009, 8:39 AM
By this time Thursday, you will know as many of the secrets of ABC's "Lost" as the enigmatic Ben – or at least, as much as Michael Emerson, the actor who plays the sociopathic former leader of the Others.
"At the beginning of each season when we have eight or ten episodes in the can, I know a lot more of the storyline than the audience," said Emerson, "By the end of the season, like right now, I know two more hours than you know….the script of what airs on Wednesday night and that's it."
He's as curious as everybody else.
And that's just the way that executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof like it heading into Wednesday's Season 5 finale. Short of building a bunker on a remote, deserted island, they've taken steps to protect their closely-guarded secrets from the hordes of spoiler seekers that regularly float around the show's Oahu set.
"We write fake sides when we cast guest actors since those scenes have to be faxed all over town to actor's agents," Cuse told the News by email. "Actors are cast never actually having read or having auditioned doing the real scenes they will be doing in the show."
Emerson knows that full well, having debuted on the show in what was originally intended as a guest spot. He flew to Hawaii, and in his words, "and the next morning I was hanging from a tree.
"I had sort of reached the point where I thought where I was now beyond the world of action, so that what ever heavy lifting I was going to do from now on would be cigarettes and martinis," said Emerson. "Now, I'm handling more weapons than I ever dreamt."
A number of Web sites are dedicated to showcasing photos uploaded from cellphone cameras that show scenes being filmed in Honolulu – which doubles for a number of far flung city exteriors on the show, The show's brain-trust has been accused of leaking "foilers" – fake spoilers like doctored script pages – to throw nosy fans off the scent of major developments.
Their greatest success was hiding one of the biggest plot twists in TV history: the flash forward at the end of Season 3, said TV Guide Magazine reporter Rob Moynihan, who covers the show. Lindelof and Cuse had teased reporters in the weeks before, calling it "the snake in the mailbox," because they bragged it was going to shock everybody. "It absolutely took me by surprise," said Moynihan.
Actor Matthew Fox told Entertainment Weekly in 2007 that most of the cast and crew didn't see that episode's script until their scenes were being filmed.
Often the fear of igniting fans' ire keeps journalists in line, said Moynihan.
"People are purists and they don't want anything to ruin it for them," said Moynihan. "There are viewers who turn off the television before the teaser for next week's episode is shown."
Even co-creator J.J. Abrams professed to be kept in the dark where the show is going during an interview for his new movie, "Star Trek."
"My role on that job is to watch in amazement at what they're able to do," Abrams said.
Just like Emerson and the rest of us.