POSTED BY STUART LEVINE

LostgroupPutting the exec session brouhaha aside, there were some actual news about "Lost" to report.

As noted previously, Harold Perrineau will return as Michael. We haven’t seen him on the island since the end of season two, when he betrayed Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley. They were captured by the Others while Michael and his son Walt were allowed to leave the island.

And then last season concluded in grand fashion, with a flash-forward sequence where we see Jack and Kate in the present in a major American city. Jack is distraught over the death of someone he has read about in an obituary.

So where do we go from here? McPherson said exec producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse haven’t let on what happens next when the series premieres in February for 16 consecutive episodes.

"They haven’t released any news about whether we go flash-forward or flashback," McPherson said.

"Lost" has been one of the most buzzworthy series since it launched three years with an expensive pilot — simulated plane crashes don’t come cheap — that proved worth every penny. And now Lindelof and Cuse have the luxury of knowing when the series will wrap and can write 48 storylines storylines that build up to the finale in 2008.

"Since the show began, Damon and I have talked about how does it end," McPherson said "We’ve asked is this a traditional series (and should it end) in a traditional way?"

Unlike many shows that start strong and struggle to the finish, the bet here is that there will be plenty of viewers still around when Lindelof and his writing staff wrap up the plight of the Others, castaways and the mysterious Jacob. McPherson is smart to realize Lindelof needed to stay on board and continue the tone he has set forth.

It was imperative to "keep Damon attached until the end of the series," McPherson said.

That being said, the show took some hits in midseason from critics and fans who felt the the plot wasn’t moving forward fast enough and seemed to be going through the motions. And ratings fell from year’s past as well, but McPherson said the numbers were misleading.

He stated that while the show gets a 4.2 rating in Los Angeles, if you include Live Plus Seven ratings (those who watch on DVRs within seven days of the original airing), the number jumps much higher to 7.2.

Yet, the legacy of "Lost" will never be about viewer totals or demos, but "Can you believe last night’s episode"-type discussion often heard among devotees at the office on Thursday morning. In the Variety newsroom, the show probably accounts for about 50-plus "Lost" geek-out what does it all mean emails, and always a few from people begging for no spoilers because they haven’t picked it up on TiVo yet or via streaming on ABC.com.

– Stuart Levine

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