"Lost" changed Cliff Ravenscraft's life.
The insurance agent and his wife began dissecting the mind-bending ABC drama in a weekly podcast as a hobby in 2005. Ravenscraft loved the medium so much, he ditched his career in 2008 and now makes a living from podcasting and consulting. When the show's creators announced the series finale would air May 23, Ravenscraft knew he needed to plan something huge.
"I recognized early on that this was going to be something bigger than my living room," he said.
Ravenscraft reserved the entire restaurant at the Hilton Cincinnati Airport hotel in Florence, Ky., for the one-time-only occasion. He expects over 75 visitors from as far away as The Netherlands to attend the finale fete and nosh on a buffet dinner -- no boar meat, he promised -- while watching the final "Lost" spectacle from a high-definition projector.
"You don't want to watch something as big as this by yourself," said Ravenscraft. "My wife and I are die-hard 'Lost' fans. We have a community of over 50,0000 subscribers. These people want to get together with each other. There is no doubt in my mind that on that evening, we're going to need some Kleenex on hand. My wife has already shed tears over this."
Jay Glatfelter, who co-hosts "The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack" with his father, Jack, is planning something even bigger. He enlisted a sponsor, Global Cash Card, and rented out the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles to watch the final exploits of Jack, Hurley, Kate, Sawyer and company. Glatfelter said the nearly 2,000 tickets have already sold out.
"I don't know what to expect," he said. "I hope that it's going to be exciting and scary all at the same time, just like the show. If nobody likes the finale, there may be a riot. It's downtown Los Angeles after all, but I hope it's going to be a lot of fun. The 'Lost' community is like one big family. We can laugh together, and we can cry together."
Along with studying the finale, the event boasts a question-and-answer session with actor Michael Emerson (who plays Benjamin Linus), panel discussions from "Lost" bloggers and podcasters and a live edition of Glatfelter's podcast immediately following the finale. The event will also feature the winner of a video contest receiving a replica Dharma Initiative van.
Some fans are keeping it simple. Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts, who assays "Lost" with partner Cort Webber on their podcast, "The Cort and Fatboy Show," has been organizing "Lost" viewing parties for 600 like-minded fans at Portland's historic Baghdad Theater since the final season began airing Feb. 2. The duo are planning a similar soiree for the series finale.
"Cort and I will get up, say hello, thank everyone for coming on the ride with us, then get out of the way so we can endure the two hours of show and 30 minutes of commercials," said Roberts. "If Matthew Fox wants to drop by and watch it with us, since he apparently lives in our neck of the woods now, we're certainly not against him appearing and saying hi."
No matter where "Lost" fans plan to watch the finale, the entire conclusion will require a colossal time commitment. Preceding the two-and-a-half-hour finale is a two-hour retrospective special looking back at the past six seasons. Afterward, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and "Lost" cast members will bid the series farewell on his hourlong talk show.
By Derrik J. Lang, AP Entertainment Writer