This was a nice idea: get the show runners for ABC’s returning dramas on one panel, and let the critics pummel all of them with questions at one time. It kinda worked…but it also kinda didn’t, with the biggest issue being that the panel ended up being dominated by the producers who also had panels for their own shows. Obviously, I would’ve liked to hear a lot more from Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (“Lost”), but I guess it really wouldn’t have mattered a whole lot even if they hadn’t had Marc “Chatterbox” Cherry, producer of “Desperate Housewives,” off to their left, since those guys aren’t exactly known for their loose lips.

Here’s some of the info we managed to gleam from the various show runners…


* We were given no answers as to when the Oceanic Six will return to the island, nor when the two timelines of the show might merge. “Season 5, obviously we’re not going to talk too in depth about,” admitted Lindelof, “but suffice to say, it’s very exciting for us to be 86 hours into the show. We’re going into Season 5, and the fact that people are still asking us, ‘What is the show going to be next year? How are you guys going to tell stories?’ It’s enormously cool. All we can say is it will take place in some time.” (This was the most illuminating thing offered by Lindelof during the entire panel, just so you know.)

* When someone pressed the issue and asked if the Oceanic Six and those remaining on the island would spend any quality time on screen…perhaps a visitation, perhaps a dream sequence, Cuse responded, “Obviously, the turn that’s happening with the characters off the island is that the island does seem to be drawing them back, and Ben makes it kind of clear at the very end of the finale that it’s important that they go back to the island. So that, hopefully, is going to be something that you see a lot of in Season 5, and that’s something we are excited about: the journey about how those six kind of return to the island…or contemplate returning to the island.”

* Lastly, Cuse provided the only actual fact about the upcoming season: “There will be more of Daniel Dae Kim in the series in some form.”

Grey’s Anatomy:

* Shonda Rhimes was – shocker! – tight-lipped about the reported major plotline for Izzie (Katherine Heigl’s character), saying only, “Storywise, we have a really great story worked out that we’re all very excited about.” The end. Ugh.

* She did, however, open up a bit about the lesbian storyline that was introduced last season. “We have a really interesting, wonderful, funny way of laying out the story of Callie and Erica that I’m pretty excited about,” she said, “that I feel like is not necessarily your typical — if there can be a typical — way of dealing with the storyline. What I love is we sort of sat down with GLAAD and talked about women who figure out that they’re lesbians later in life and what that means, and we really were able to find some really great, humorous, and serious emotional stuff to play that’s going to feel really interesting and also affect their lives in the hospital.”

Private Practice:

* Rhimes really only offered one thing for her other show: “Our medical cases this season are really laid out in terms of having real medical and ethical dilemmas and the problems that doctors sort of face every day: what do you tell a patient? What don’t you tell a patient? I don’t think that we’re talking about less soap per se, in that word, but I think that we are talking about sort of making the medical cases stronger so that the soap is supported.”

Desperate Housewives:

God love Marc Cherry. If you looked up “hoot” in your Funk and Wagnalls, there’d be a picture of him. But he spent more time talking about how there should be less sports metaphors in conversation and more Broadway musical metaphors, and that ate up a sizable amount of time during the panel. Funny stuff, but not illuminating from a show standpoint. But we still managed to glean a few items of interest…

* As already leaked by Marcia Cross, the show has jumped ahead in time by five years, thereby inspiring accusations that the series is pulling a “One Tree Hill.” (Actually, no-one even remotely said this, but I’m trying to popularize it, so don’t be afraid to say it to someone yourself.) Of the primary cast members, Eva Longoria has apparently suffered the worst as far as how her character looks.

* Carlos will still be blind…for a little while, anyway.

Ugly Betty:

* Silvio Horta was asked if he’d always intended to get rid of Henry or his departure was to do with Chris Gorham, the actor who played the character. “You know, it was neither,” said Horta. “Part of it was going into the strike and having that time to really think where this was going. I think we kept rushing it and thinking we were going to continue the relationship. We had no end point in sight. And thinking about it and where we could go, I just didn’t see where there was a place that was exciting that I wanted to write about and where I thought the audience wanted to watch it. So it just made the most sense to part ways. Chris is great – this is the second show I did with him – and hopefully he’ll be a part of this at some point. It doesn’t mean that the door is closed to him being a part of this at any point. But it just felt like it was time to move on.” It is perhaps telling…or, okay, perhaps not…that, when asked if Henry would be back at all in the new season, Silvio replied, “I can’t tell you.”

Brothers & Sisters:

* Greg Berlanti only got one question about this show, too, and that was when someone asked if he was repeating himself by having a missing sibling in the last season. “Hopefully, as it plays out, people won’t feel that way,” he said, “and we certainly aren’t designing the story in the same way. I mean, I definitely, toward the end of the year…I think it was a byproduct a little bit of the strike in terms of we had wanted to lay out the story a little bit better initially, and we wanted to dismount from the story a little bit better. And everything was sort of abbreviated. So I don’t think we quite pulled it off entirely. But I’m looking forward to this year. I think people will enjoy the way it plays out.”

Dirty Sexy Money:

Not a word. Maybe Berlanti was saving his strength for later in the afternoon, when the show got its own panel.