By Michael Ausiello
Updated February 28, 2010 at 01:59 PM EST


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Entertainment Weekly intern Vlada Gelman is covering the Paley Fest for The Ausiello Files. Here’s her report from last night’s sold-out Lost panel.

Status Check: The Lost writers are in the process of breaking the series finale, which will be penned by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and directed by Jack Bender. The penultimate episode will be written by producer/writers (and fellow panelists) Elizabeth Sarnoff, Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Meanwhile, on the island, Bender has just wrapped episode 14 and is currently shooting 15.

It’s like Top Chef: No, seriously. Lindelof, who said they’re big fans of the Bravo reality series, likened writing the show to the Top Chef contestants having to figure out what to use after they’ve grabbed a bunch of ingredients in a hurry. He also described Lost as “the iceberg above the water.” Sometimes the writers want to explore the iceberg below the water, but aside from leaving room to discover small character moments, there are no big changes to the overall game.

Greatest hits: “The younger the actor, the more inflamed their performance,” said Michael Emerson, who’s been on the receiving end of many punches as Ben.

It’s a wonderful world: Should Disney someday replace Tom Sawyer Island with a Lost Island, what ride would the cast and crew like to see? Emerson suggested a wild ride on a VW bus with a distracted Hurley behind the wheel. Lindelof went with something more visceral: a dark room in which you spin around repeatedly before getting hit in the face. “You’ve just had the Lost experience!” Lindelof joked. All the joking about replacing Tom Sawyer Island led to…

Biggest epiphany/coincidence?: “Didn’t my dad call himself Tom Sawyer?” O’Quinn said after a long, revelatory pause.

Faux spin-off: Kitsis has constructed a character named Chester, who sells real estate on the island and complains about how hard it is to unload a piece of property that’s Black Rock adjacent.

No laughing matter: “We don’t have a gag reel,” Bender said. “People come to the set prepared,” O’Quinn added before pointing to Emerson. “You can’t shake this guy.”

The answer is “yes” to the following: Will Richard and Ilana exchange some words soon? Will we see another painting by Bender? Do some of the characters’ last names have significance, particularly Jack’s? Is Jack married to someone we’ve met before? Was Jacob telling the truth when he said someone was coming to the island? Will we learn more about Hurley and Libby’s connection? Will we see Vincent and Charlie again? Will we learn if Desmond was really on the plane?

The answer is “no” to the following: Will we get a conclusion to the story of Ben’s love, Annie? Do the purple circles in Bender’s mural mean anything? Did Juliet’s ex-husband get killed by a smoke bus? Will there be a DVD release of the show in chronological order?

The answer is “maybe” to the following: Will the Hurley bird be explained? Will we see Walt again?

The answer is “no comment” to the following: Will we learn why women can’t have babies on the island?

Radio silence: After being bombarded with questions about the show for six years, Cuse said they do not plan on commenting on the series finale after it airs.

Final spoiler from Lindelof: “Water.”

What does it all mean?! Hit the comments with your theories!

Image credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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