[Wow! Those nutty aliens are back again! Strangest thing about this report is how few photos have surfaced from the video (see link below.) The full video shows bright objects flying in formation, alone and ducking behind cloud banks. I advise you all to check out the video for yourself before Reuters takes it off their site. Ed.]
MEXICO CITY May 12, 2004 (Reuters) - The Mexican Air Force has released footage of what a UFO expert said were 11 invisible unidentified flying objects picked up by an infrared camera as they whizzed around a surveillance plane.
A long-time believer in flying saucers, journalist Jaime Maussan told a news conference on Tuesday the objects were real and seemed "intelligent" after they at one point changed direction and surrounded the plane chasing them.
"They were invisible to the eye but they were there, there is no doubt about it. They had mass, they had energy and they were moving about," he said, after showing a 15-minute video he said the Defense Ministry gave him permission to publicize.
The ministry confirmed to Reuters it had provided the video, filmed by the Air Force on March 5 over the eastern coastal state of Campeche.
"We are not alone! This is so weird," one of the pilots can be heard yelling, after the plane's crew switched on an infrared camera to track the objects, first picked up by radar.
The film, recorded by a plane looking for drugs trafficking near the Gulf of Mexico, shows 11 objects as blobs of light that hover in formation or dart about, sometimes disappearing into cloud.
Mexico's most popular nightly news broadcast showed the video on Monday night.
Interviewed by Mausson on another section of the video, the pilots said they grew nervous when the objects, still invisible, turned back during a chase and surrounded the plane.
"There was a moment when ... the screens showed they were behind us, to the left and in front of us.
"It was at that point that I felt a bit tense," said Maj. Magdaleno Castanon.
Mexico has a long history of fanciful UFO sightings, most of which are dismissed by scientists as space debris, missiles, weather balloons, natural weather phenomena or hoaxes.
See for yourself! (Click the video link on the following page) - Reuters Video of UFOs
Weather May Explain Mexico UFO Stir
MEXICO CITY May 14, 2004 (Reuters) - A cluster of mysterious objects that surrounded a Mexican Air Force plane, alarming the pilots and sparking a UFO scare, could be a weather phenomenon known as ball lightning, a scientist said on Friday.
The pilots grew nervous during a routine drugs surveillance flight in March when their radar detected strange objects flying nearby and an infrared camera showed 11 blobs of light, invisible to the eye, hovering or darting about their plane.
Mexico's Air Force this week released footage from the infrared camera that was shown widely on television.
As Mexican and international media published photographs of the objects, UFO Web sites saw the case as possible evidence of a new sighting of some form of extraterrestrial life.
But nuclear science researcher Julio Herrera said the blobs of light may have been nothing more than ball lightning - glowing spheres that are little understood but often sighted near the ground during thunderstorms.
"Just as you have lightning between clouds and ground, you can also have it within the clouds and sometimes ball lightning can develop. I feel this is one of these rare events," said Herrera, based at Mexico's National Autonomous University.
"It's a very rare atmospheric phenomenon and it would be very interesting to be able to analyze all the information these pilots obtained," he told Reuters.
UFO follower Jaime Maussan said on Tuesday the objects seemed "intelligent" after they turned around to surround the plane chasing them -- but Herrera said electrical discharges in ball lightning could have been attracted to the plane as a conductor.
Expert Says Mexico UFOs May Have Been Gas
By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO
Associated Press Writer
MEXICO CITY May 13, 2004 (AP) - A series of brightly lit, rapidly moving objects filmed in the skies over Mexico could have been caused by a scientific phenomenon involving gases in the atmosphere, a scientist said Thursday.
Visible only with infrared equipment, the hauntingly fast-moving lights were captured by air force cameras on March 5 but made public only this week, sparking rampant speculation they were flying saucers.
Julio Herrera, a nuclear science researcher at the National Autonomous University, said the bright blurs could have been caused by electrical flashes emitted spontaneously by the atmosphere.
"They are very strange phenomenon and there is little information about them," Herrera said of the atmospheric flashes in a phone interview. "That's what's so interesting."
He said more data than is available on the videotape would be necessary to determine if that hypothesis was correct, including precise information on atmospheric conditions at the time the lights appeared.
The Campeche coast on the Gulf of Mexico, where the objects were filmed, is Mexico's main oil and gas producing region. Oil platforms there release or burn off some of the gas they produce.
The objects were recorded flying at more than 11,000 feet over southern Campeche state using a video camera equipped with an infrared lens. Infrared equipment can only detect heat emanating from objects; it is unable to provide an image of the objects' exact form.
"As far as public opinion goes, it's much more interesting to believe in fantasy, and for us it's the opposite," Herrera said, adding that he and other scientists are working to "try to determine a rational explanation for all this."
In the videotape, first aired publicly on national television Monday night, the objects appear to accelerate rapidly and change course suddenly.
At least one crew member testified that the objects surrounded the air force jet when they were at least two miles away.
The pilots sighted the objects as they conducted a routine drug-surveillance mission.
Defense Secretary Ricardo Vega Garcia has said the military has yet to conclude what its pilots captured on tape.
Vega Garcia gave the tape to UFO specialist Jaime Maussan, who has spent 10 years studying unidentified flying objects. Maussan immediately concluded the video was evidence of the existence of UFOs.
"This is historic news," he told reporters Tuesday. "Hundreds of videos (of UFOs) exist, but none had the backing of the armed forces of any country. ... The armed forces don't perpetuate frauds."
[Anyone who has seen the Mexican footage (link above) would have to laugh at the "ball lightning" and "gas" explanations! At least they aren't trying to pass these off as weather balloons! Ed.]
Got aliens? National UFO Reporting Center - http://www.ufocenter.com
|University of Rochester News Release |
May 13, 2004 - Evidence is mounting that 251 million years ago, long before the dinosaurs dominated the Earth, a meteor the size of Mount Everest smashed into what is now northern Australia, heaving rock halfway around the globe, triggering mass volcanic eruptions, and wiping out all but about ten percent of the species on the planet.
The "Great Dying," as it's called, was by far the most cataclysmic extinction event in Earth's history, yet scientists have been unable to finger a culprit as they have with the dinosaur extinction.
A new paper published in Science, however, claims to identify the crater made by that meteor, and it builds upon an ongoing body of evidence by researchers at the University of Rochester and the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), that points the finger for the Great Dying squarely at the heavens.
"This is very likely the impact site we've been looking for," says Robert Poreda, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester. "For years we've been observing evidence that a meteor or comet hit the southern hemisphere 251 million years ago, and this structure matches everything we've been expecting."
In 2001, Poreda and Luann Becker, research scientist in geological sciences at UCSB, announced that they had detected in 251-million-year-old strata, specific isotopes of helium and argon trapped inside buckyballs--a cage-like formation of carbon atoms--that could only have come from space.
Since they were laid down in this same strata around much of the globe, the implication was that a giant meteor had struck the Earth, vaporized, and settled around the southern hemisphere.
This past November, the same three authors--Poreda, Becker, and Asish Basu, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester--published another article in Science that found actual pieces of the meteorite that struck the Earth in the same global strata.
Many experts scoffed at the idea of a giant meteor causing the mass extinction between the Permian and Triassic periods, but Poreda points out that many also scoffed at the idea that a meteor was responsible for a later and lesser extinction at the Cretatious/Tertiary boundary that marks the end of the dinosaurs. Now, the impact theory is largely accepted.
The team knew that the chances of finding the crater, even one from an impact large enough to nearly wipe out life on Earth, would be difficult because the majority of the Earth is covered by ocean. Had the meteor struck there, its telltale crater would have long ago disappeared.
As luck would have it, an oil-drilling exploration team in 1970 found a "dome" in the area of Bedout, just off the northwestern coast of Australia. Now covered by 2 miles of sediment, this area was most likely dry land 251 million years ago.
Frequently, such domes herald large oil deposits, but in this case the drilling team found only what it labeled as "volcanic rock." The core samples were shelved and forgotten for 25 years, until in 1995 a report in a journal aimed at the oil industry mentioned that the rock might have been formed from a meteor impact.
It wasn't until Becker caught wind of the "volcanic" find in 251 million year old rock that the team members began to think they'd found their smoking gun. Poreda and Becker investigated the core samples first hand.
"They were unlike any volcanic rocks I've ever seen," says Poreda. "In a volcanic explosion you may find angular pieces of rock that are broken apart mixed with the volcanic melt. In these samples, though, the rocks were shock melted from an impact.. We left convinced Bedout was our crater."
The clincher was the presence of a feldspar glass in the shape of a feldspar crystal. Such features do not form in volcanic eruptions. Many of the plagioclase samples showed evidence of sustaining an intense shock, meaning the meteor likely hit a bed that contained feldspar crystals, shock-melted their interiors, melting their insides the way a microwave oven might bake a potato's inside while leaving the outer areas cool.
"Once we looked at Bedout with the understanding that it was likely a crater, the geophysics just fell into place," says Poreda.
Geophysical analysis shows the rock strata underlying the dome at Bedout is fractured exactly the way the team expected--showing rock strata older than 251 million years old broken apart, with younger rock above laid down without the fractures.
Simulations of a six-mile wide rock striking the area suggest a crater rim should be visible about 60 miles from the central dome, and despite the extreme age of the impact site and the rearrangement of continental plates since then, there is evidence of a rim at that distance.
The team has plans to explore the geophysical outlay of the region with more scrutiny.
Coincidentally, the Bedout crater, at 120 miles across, is almost exactly the same size as the Chicxulub crater in the Caribbean that has been identified as the impact site of the meteorite that dealt the dinosaurs their death blow. It's likely that the bodies that struck at each site were of the same size and traveling at similar speeds.
Along with both impacts correlating strongly with two of the greatest extinctions in Earth's history, the team has found that massive lava flows in two different parts of the world have similar corrolations.
Basu showed that massive lava flows in India date back precisely to the Chicxalub impact, and recently he also reported that similar giant lava flows in Siberia coincide exactly with the Bedout impact.
"There have been five mass extinctions throughout the Earth's history," says Poreda. "Now we have very strong evidence that massive meteor impacts happened precisely at two of those extinctions."
University of Rochester - http://www.rochester.edu
More Evidence Points to Meteor in Mass Extinction
By Maggie Fox
Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON May 13, 2004 (Reuters) - A recently discovered layer of glassy fragments could only have been made by a meteor slamming into Earth and helps prove such an impact nearly wiped out life on the planet 250 million years ago, scientists said on Thursday.
They outlined what they believe is an ancient crater left by the impact off the coast of what is now Australia.
"What we found is a melt sheet which is defining the top of this very large feature out in the ocean," geologist Luann Becker of the University of California Santa Barbara told a news conference.
"It is buried under a deep pile of sediment," she added.
"This is very likely the impact site we've been looking for," added Robert Poreda, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester in New York.
"For years we've been observing evidence that a meteor or comet hit the Southern Hemisphere 251 million years ago, and this structure matches everything we've been expecting.
The findings, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, are controversial and the scientists say they need much more evidence.
But they believe they have found the smoking gun that shows a meteor sparked the "Great Dying," much as an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago forming what is now the Chicxulub crater off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
During the Permian extinction, 90 percent of life in the seas and up to 70 percent of the species on land died off very quickly. No one has been able to show what caused it.
Poreda, Becker and colleagues have been gathering evidence an asteroid, comet or meteor was responsible.
DUST AND LAVA
Such an impact would have blown up a pall of dust and rock that would dim the sun's light, and leave telltale evidence globally. It would also have set off volcanic eruptions.
Evidence of those have been found. Layers of basalt dating to 250 million or so years ago have been found in Siberia.
In 2001, Poreda and Becker found specific isotopes, or varieties, of helium and argon trapped inside a 250 million-year-old layer of carbon shells called buckyballs, which could only have come from space.
They have also found larger pieces of what they believe could be the meteorite scattered in Antarctica. They include "shocked" quartz that looks like it was splattered by a powerful force -- something called impact breccia.
Now they describe a 125-mile- wide crater called Bedout off the northwestern coast of Australia.
Becker had heard oil companies drilled two cores into the Bedout structure thinking it looked like an oil dome in the 1970s and 1980s. All they found was volcanic debris and they abandoned the site.
Her team looked at the cores.
"Bob and I were absolutely flabbergasted at this core because it does look just exactly like impact brecchia," Becker told a news conference. In the cores, Becker's team found evidence for a layer of melted glass formed by an impact.
"We realized that this was no ordinary volcanic rock," Poreda added.
Critics disagree. Bevan French of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington told Science it could be explained by volcanic activity.
"I see nothing that would convince me there was an impact," agreed Christian Kolberl of the University of Vienna in Austria.
Becker and colleagues say they have to do more work to prove their theory. They say it will be much more difficult to prove Bedout is a crater than it was for Chicxulub, because it is older and underwater.
Bedout and Chicxulub look to be about the same size, suggesting they were formed by similar events, the researchers said.
|Andromeda Still Flying |
Hollywood May 15, 2004 (eXoNews) - Looking over the recent Saturn Awards winners, I realized that I rarely mention Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda on this site.
With all the bad news about Angel and Enterprise and the good news about Joss Whedon's Firefly movie, Andromeda seems to get a back seat.
Hardly fair, considering how successful the collaboration between Majel Roddenberry, Kevin Sorbo and Tribune Entertainment has become. In case you hadn't heard, Andromeda is just finishing up a triumphant fourth season and will be back for a fifth.
I guess with the Roddenberry blessing (Majel Roddenberry is one of the Executive Producers and the show is based on some ideas that Gene was kicking around way back when), I just sort of take it for granted that when the tachyon particles clear Andromeda will always be there to save the day.
Andromeda has consistently rated high amongst syndicated sci fi shows, (sometimes highest) and so much so that the USA's Sci Fi Channel has jumped on the bandwagon to carry Season Four and will be the primary launch pad for Andromeda Season Five.
The new season begins Friday September 24th at 8PM.
On the excellent Andromeda Official site, Andromeda's star and co-executive producer Kevin Sorbo is looking forward to the next round of adventures.
"I think the show is going in a great direction, and that the fans will find it interesting to see how Dylan handles the next round of challenges that come his way. It's great to be back with a cast that's so professional and fun to work with."
Andromeda features Sorbo as Captain Dylan Hunt of the starship Andromeda Ascendant. Lisa Ryder is Beka Valentine, Hunt's Number One. Lexa Doig has a triple role portraying the ship's AI, holographic and android entities.
Laura Bertram is Trance Gemini, a sort of Spock-like character who started out purple with a tail but evolved in the second season. Gordon Michael Woolvett is the Andromeda Ascendant's chief engineer and main wise guy Seamus Harper.
Newcomer Steve Bacic joined the regulars this season as Nietzschean Telemachus Rhade. Rhade replaced Nietzschean Tyr Anasazi on the bridge when Keith Hamilton Cobb left the series.
Within sometimes very complicated plots, Andromeda stays true to Roddenberry's original Star Trek simplicity. There are good guys and bad guys and good guys never zap anybody unless they have to save the Universe.
Rest assured that this is no talkfest like some space operas become. Dylan Hunt and his crew are there to serve and protect the tri-galactic area, so battles are frequent.
Andromeda also taps some of the best genre actors around for guest slots. Kristin Lehman, James Marsters, Michael Shanks, Christopher Judge, Tony Todd, John de Lancie, William B. Davis, Maury Chaykin, Jane Heitmeyer, Michael Ironside, Sarah Jane Redmond and Peter DeLuise have all shown up from time to time.
DeLuise, who as a writer-director-producer is a major player for Stargate SG-1, has also directed for Andromeda.
Andromeda begins a two-part Season Four finale this week. Check your local listings for syndicated stations or tune in Sci Fi Channel Fridays at 8 PM.
Andromeda Official - http://www.andromedatv.com
Roddenberry Official - http://www.roddenberry.com
Angel Ends With Vampire Fans in Mourning
By ANTHONY BREZNICAN
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES May 13, 2004 (AP) - Just because the wry vampire drama "Angel" is over doesn't mean it's the end of the world ... even if the final episode does include an appearance by the Apocalypse.
"Angel" creator Joss Whedon_ whose efforts to remake the show this year boosted ratings and garnered continued critical acclaim, only to see it canceled by the WB network regardless — says the theme of the closing installment is "keep on fighting."
That goes for the title hero himself, a youthful-looking 250-year-old vampire, played by David Boreanaz, who is trying to redeem past decades of undead wickedness by helping the hopeless amid the supernatural evildoers of Los Angeles.
"Redemption is something you have to fight for in a very personal down dirty way," Whedon told The Associated Press. "Some of our characters lose that, some stray from that, and some regain it."
"Keep on fighting" also applies, Whedon added, to the thousands of fervent fans who, in a desperate bid to keep "Angel" around for one more season, protested, petitioned, wrote letters and even mailed out free chocolate bars to anyone remotely associated with the fate of the program.
They want more, more, more and are bitterly angry at the WB for dropping the show, which lagged in repeats. The WB, which in the meantime is exploring a different vampire drama with a remake of the supernatural soap opera "Dark Shadows," has responded to "Angel" fan lobbying by proposing a return to the show with occasional TV movies or a miniseries.
Nothing is on the slate yet, according to Whedon. It's up to fans to maintain the pressure.
"Part of me is still thinking about TV movies," he said. "The WB did propose the idea of doing something ... but it was kind of offhand. There was interest in that, but I haven't heard anybody really pursuing it."
One of the people the fans will have to persuade is Boreanaz. "As far as returning to the show for a reunion, I could probably put that to bed now: I have no interest in doing that," he said, adding that he would, however, be open to a theatrical movie.
"It would have to be a bigger challenge rather than going back to something."
After the cancellation, there were some hurt feelings among the cast and crew that manifested itself in the finale.
"We put a lot of that heartbreak into the script, into the show, so it would hurt as much to watch as it did to have it taken away from us," Whedon said. "I would not have been as brutal about the ending had we had another season."
The last episode of "Angel," titled "Not Fade Away," is considerably less upbeat than the conclusion to its sister show, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which ended last year with the heroine and her friends successfully closing a major gateway to Hell.
"Angel" finishes with a less victorious tone, and the show's admirers may be surprised by its brutality.
At least one major character meets a grisly death. Another decides fighting the good fight is no longer worth it. By the time the show is broadcast on May 19, fans may find there aren't enough survivors for a reunion special.
The show's admirers developed a special relationship with the cast of supernatural-fighting misfits: Wesley, a bookwormish occult expert whose comic-relief role devolved into tragedy and betrayal; Lorne (Andy Hallett), a green-skinned, two-horned do-gooder demon who can read minds by listening to a person sing; Gunn (J. August Richards), a streetfighter who sold some of his righteousness for mystical intelligence; and Spike (James Marsters) a rival vampire-with-a-soul whose bad attitude brought a welcome dose of pragmatism.
Marsters, who was brought over in this fifth and final season after being a regular on "Buffy," said the closing scenes of "Angel" represent a dark moral: "Being a hero doesn't mean you succeed in saving the day. It just means you tried."
Already this past season, they saw two major characters meet their deaths. Charisma Carpenter, who played Angel's sarcastic sometimes-love-interest Cordelia, returned from the dead in spirit form to guide her friends on a final quest. Then Fred, the winsome scientist played by Amy Acker, died when her body became possessed by an ancient malevolent spirit.
There remain a lot of loose ends to tie up, but they all come down to one thing: the end of the world. All through the show, evil powers have conspired to manipulate Angel into triggering Armageddon, clearing the way for ghouls, ghosts and other creatures to reclaim the Earth.
Angel's immortal soul — the thing that makes him ache over past wrongs, unlike his soulless vampire brethren — hangs in the balance, and he could find himself cursed through eternity.
If his character survives the finale for a return to the "Angel" universe, Marsters said he'd be game to revisit the bloodsucker Spike.
"I have no idea what's in the future — but what I do know is that I play a vampire and the clock is ticking on how long this face can be believably exactly the same as when we met him (seven years ago on `Buffy')," Marsters said, laughing. "If they want to do something, let's not wait too long."
See Kate O'Hare's Angel Cast Interview (some spoilers) - http://tv.zap2it.com/tveditorial/tve_main/1,1002,274|87907|1|,00.html
Last chance to vote in the eXoNews Angel Poll before the finale! http://richlabonte.net/angel
Star Trek: New Voyages - Come What May
Review by FLAtRich
Planet Earth May 15, 2004 (eXoNews) - Safe to say that "Come What May", the first episode of Star Trek: New Voyages, is a must for all Trek fans.
Series producers James Marshall and James Cawley have assembled a die-hard crew and young cast with a stated intention to continue Gene (Eugene Wesley) Roddenberry's vision of what we know as Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS).
The new mission has impressed producer Rod Roddenberry enough to sign on for future voyages.
"Come What May" is available in Windows Media Player format as a free five-part download from selected servers. (Dial-up users should expect a minimum six-hour investment for all 100 megabytes.)
You can optionally pay homage to the Creators by contributing some cash to the project through PayPal. Check out the New Voyages homepage for details.
TOS fans will definitely get a kick out of New Voyages' strict adherence to the Star Trek bible and even post-TOS fans may find some cheer in the idea of reworking Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the original Enterprise for a 21st Century audience.
The opening episode has very impressive special effects for an inexpensive, non-Franchise Star Trek entry, good costumes and a reasonably pre-STTNG plot.
Fans not steeped in TOS lore may have a harder time sitting through "Come What May". Compared to the rather non-Roddenberry universe of the current Star Trek: Enterprise and taken as a work of fans, Star Trek: New Voyages serves a greater good, but there are awkward moments.
I suppose I'm almost a hardcore Trek fan. I watched TOS when it was new. Never missed an episode of STTNG. Danced for joy when Spike TV recently resurrected DS9. I gave Star Trek: Nemesis not one, but two good reviews. I also thought that Michael Piller's script and Jonathan Frakes' direction made Insurrection one of the best Star Trek movies ever.
On the other hand, I don't have full collections of the TV shows or any Spock dolls. I've only been to two Star Trek conventions - one in 1976 and one in this century - and I've never dressed up as a Klingon.
This puts my credentials as a critic somewhere in the Neutral Zone, so I hope I don't hurt anybody's feelings.
"Come What May" suffers in direction and editing, both credited to Mr. Marshall, who also wrote the episode. I'd add individual actors to the bad list, but a good director can make any actor better, so I'll shut up about the cast except to note that some were good and some were not. James Cawley was admirable as Kirk, keeping in mind that John Belushi is the only other actor other than William Shatner that I can remember in the part.
Advice to the Captain - a good officer learns to delineate responsibility.
That said, maybe the direction would have been better with the help of a seasoned director of photography. "Come What May" is rather static and stiff visually (minus the cutaways to special effects.) If the TOS look to the sets and budget restricted his camera, Mr. Marshall the director could have used more imaginative angles and more extreme close-ups, the latter being a trademark of the TOS era of television.
A seasoned editor might have helped too. The editing in "Come What May" is downright frustrating. Scenes begin too slowly and linger too long. TOS was always snappy and quick. "Come What May" lacks pace.
Attempts at humor were far too "Trek". Shatner and the rest of the original cast were casually funny, but not because they were originating their now classic quips and asides. Keep in mind that they didn't think that they were creating anything monumental back in the mid-60s. They were just having fun with their parts. Loosen the reins and New Voyages will find its own humor.
There are some excellent TOS-style "flash forwards" where Cawley and his crew reenact scenes from TOS and various Star Trek movies, but the bows to the past are over the top. "Come What May" is so heavily TOS that it sometimes seems more like a forgotten rerun than a New Voyage. I could have done without recasting Vina the green dancing gal made immortal by the late Susan Oliver, repeated references to the Tribble episode, Spock playing an instrument, and that awful pink backlighting.
Thankfully, Marshall did not write Bones saying "He's dead, Jim."
One nice scene where Kirk complimented Yeoman Janice Rand made up for a lot of pandering to the past. I don't know if Shatner's Kirk ever thanked Grace Lee Whitney's Rand, but he should have. This scene indicates a direction New Voyages should take - moving beyond what has come before while maintaining the original timeline.
Make no mistake: there is great promise here. The entire cast and crew deserve a standing ovation for what they have begun.
I think Gene Roddenberry would have liked the idea of New Voyages and Rod Roddenberry's involvement certainly gives us hope that Kirk, Spock and the rest of TOS may indeed be reborn in the future.
Star Trek: New Voyages - http://www.5yearmission.com
UPDATE 051904 - The STNV Official site was down for a while, but now appears to be alive and well. If you try in the future and can't get in, one of the mirror download sites is LCARSCOM.NET - http://lcarscom.net/5yearmission.htm
Note from Mr. Stephen King
By Stephen King via email
May 15, 2004 - ABC will run the final 4 episodes of Kingdom Hospital as three one-hour episodes and one 2-hour episode.
Episode 10 is called "The Passion of Reverend Jimmy" by Tabitha King and Stephen King. Episode 11 is called "Seizure Day" by Richard Dooling. Episode 12 is called "Shoulda' Stood in Bed" by Stephen King and the last episode which is 2 hours is called "Finale" by Stephen King.
All are directed by Craig Baxley and they will run on consecutive Thursdays beginning June 24th.
Stephen King Official - http://www.stephenking.com
Nip/Tuck Premiere Commercial-Free
LOS ANGELES May 11, 2004 (Zap2it.com) - The second-season premiere of "Nip/Tuck" will air commercial-free, thanks to XM Satellite Radio.
The sponsorship deal will allow the show to air uninterrupted when it returns to FX in June. The network says the episode will be the first basic-cable series to air ad-free thanks to a sponsorship deal.
"It's refreshing to partner with a progressive marketer like XM Satellite Radio who understands the value of finding new ways to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace," says Bruce Lefkowitz, head of sales for Fox Cable Entertainment.
Lefkowitz and XM's Gary Hahn also note that since XM offers most of its content commercial-free, it makes sense for the company to sponsor an ad-free episode of television.
That's not to say that XM won't make its presence known on "Nip/Tuck." Through the magic of product placement, the satellite-radio service will be featured on the show -- "in an organic way," FX assures. XM will also be highlighted in promotional materials for the premiere.
"Nip/Tuck," which stars Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon as partners in a Miami plastic-surgery practice, begins its second season at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday, June 22. FX has ordered 16 episodes, up from 13 last year.
Peacock Medical Mystery
LOS ANGELES May 13, 2004 (Zap2it.com) - Inching closer to its upfront presentation to advertisers next week, NBC executives have apparently turned their attention to the network's crop of drama pilots.
A medical mystery drama is looking like a good bet for a pickup, according to the Hollywood trade papers. The show stars Neal McDonough ("Boomtown"), Christopher Gorham ("Jake 2.0") and Kelli Williams ("The Practice") as part of a team of doctors who diagnose baffling medical cases.
The still-untitled show comes from Paramount TV and NBC Universal Television Studios (formerly NBC Studios). Bob Cooper, Scott Vila, Jason Horwitch ("The Pentagon Papers") and Michelle Ashford ("Boomtown") are the exec producers.
"HUB," an ensemble drama about the operations of a major airport, and the cop show "Hawaii" also have a shot at landing on the network's schedule.
NBC doesn't appear to have too many drama spots to fill after the massive deal it signed with "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf this week, which will eventually put four versions of the enduring franchise on the air. "ER," "Crossing Jordan," "Las Vegas," "American Dreams" and "The West Wing" are all coming back; there's no word yet on the fate of "Third Watch."
TV's Bubble Shows
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES May 14, 2004 (Reuters) - Will "Arrested Development" come to a premature end? Can "8 Simple Rules" live on for another season without its original star, John Ritter? And just what will become of "Whoopi?"
Those are but a few of the more high-profile question marks floating over the heads of network executives as they decide which of this season's ratings misfires deserves one more chance and which ends up on the prime-time chopping block.
Their fate will be sealed next week as NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox -- in that order -- unveil their fall 2004 schedules in a series of presentations launching their "upfront" sales of commercial time to advertisers.
The upfront market typically accounts for 70 to 80 percent of all ad sales by the networks. And Randy Falco, president of NBC Universal Television Networks Group, has said he expects the entire upfront to reap "a couple of percentage points" above last year's roughly $9 billion total for prime time.
Besides deciding which existing shows will be renewed for the upcoming season, the Big Four broadcasters must choose from dozens of new pilots competing to fill the gaps left by current shows that get the ax.
This year's crop of likely newcomers is especially heavy on spinoffs, including "Friends" progeny "Joey" and a fourth variation of "Law & Order" on NBC, a new edition to the "CSI" crime drama franchise on CBS and a successor to departing legal drama "The Practice" on ABC.
"Anything that has any kind of a built-in audience or comes from a known entity feels like it has a leg up against a brand new show," said Cynthia Littleton, deputy editor at entertainment trade paper The Hollywood Reporter.
Reality shows likewise are expected to figure more prominently in prime time this fall than in the past, thanks to the success of such shows as CBS' "Survivor," Fox's "American Idol," NBC's "The Apprentice" and ABC's "The Bachelor," leaving less room on the schedule for scripted dramas and comedies.
PERCHED ON THE BUBBLE
But in the dog-eat-dog world of network TV, the number of brand new entries making the cut hinges on the fate of numerous existing series that hover somewhere between a hit and a flop -- perched precariously, in TV parlance, "on the bubble."
Most are freshmen or sophomore series that have shown some promise but nonetheless have failed to quite catch on.
Chief among these is the quirky new Fox comedy "Arrested Development," which emerged as the biggest critical darling of the 2003-2004 season while struggling in the ratings. The show centers on a level-headed widower who struggles to keep his dysfunctional family together once his father lands in prison.
"I'm hoping that show will make it over the hump," TV Guide senior correspondent Bruce Fretts said, adding that the show would likely gain new awareness at the Emmy Awards in the fall.
At NBC, which leads off the upfront announcements on Monday, executives are said to be on the fence about a handful of shows, most notably "Whoopi," the freshman comedy starring actress-comedian Whoopi Goldberg as a New York hotel owner.
And ABC's "8 Simple Rules" faces an uncertain future as it winds up its second season on the air, following a major overhaul prompted by the death last fall of its original star, John Ritter.
The show's audience surged briefly as viewers tuned in to see the last few episodes filmed with Ritter and the first episode without him, but ratings then sputtered.
The show has since added TV veterans James Garner and David Spade to the cast and recently introduced Adam Arkin as a possible future love interest for Katey Sagal.
On the bubble at CBS are three dramas -- "The Guardian," "Hack" and "The District."
Other questionable programs for the upcoming season include "Less Than Perfect" and "It's All Relative" on ABC, "Tru Calling" and "Oliver Beene" on Fox and "Happy Family" on NBC.
NBC is controlled by General Electric Co. . CBS is a division of Viacom Inc. . ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Co. . And Fox, part of the Fox Entertainment Group, is owned by News Corp. Ltd.
[Tru Update 051904 - Variety has now reported that Tru Calling has been renewed and will return to Fox in the fall. Ed.]
Congress to Probe Nielsen System
By DAVID BAUDER
AP Television Writer
NEW YORK May 13, 2004 (AP) - A congressional audit has been ordered on a new system for measuring TV viewership in big cities, which some critics contend will undercount blacks and Latinos.
In asking the General Accounting Office to look into Nielsen Media Research's methodology, Congress wants Nielsen to delay full implementation of its new system in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, said Jon Tripp, spokesman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The move is being spearheaded by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House telecommunications subcommittee.
Nielsen, which has a monopoly on counting TV viewers, is switching to an electronic system for measuring local habits that it contends will be far more accurate. Currently, 500 households in a city are asked to record their TV viewing in a diary kept during four "sweeps" months. Nielsen is increasing its sample to 800 homes per city and measuring viewing every day through a "people meter" device attached to televisions.
Some critics say dry runs of the new system have shown sharply lower ratings for some programs popular in black and Latino homes.
That's significant, because lower ratings mean lower advertising revenues, and an increased chance that TV networks will cancel these programs.
Congress isn't interested in taking sides, but wants an independent look into the dispute, Tripp said. Nielsen should run its old and new systems side by side until the dispute is settled, he said.
"We haven't heard anything from Congress with respect to an audit or anything else," Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus said. "I assume when we get a letter, we'll look at it."
Nielsen plans to start its new "people meter" system in New York City on June 3. The new system will be in place in Los Angeles in July and Chicago in August, he said. Boston is the only city where it's currently being used.
Nielsen had planned to start in New York in April, but agreed to a delay and the appointment of a task force to study the issue at the request by U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.
A task force hasn't met yet, Loftus said.
A group called the Don't Count Us Out Coalition has been actively fighting the changes. Loftus said the opposition is largely bankrolled by News Corp., owner of the Fox network and several local television stations it believes will be hurt by the switch.
News Corp. supports the coalition, but spokesman Gary Ginsberg would not say how much it contributes.
"It's no one's business but the coalition's," he said. "It's an insult to the coalition that (Nielsen) describes them as pawns or stooges of News Corp."
Another group, the National Latino Media Council, issued a study last winter that charged the new system would underrepresent the growing Latino market. The study found, for instance, that Nielsen did not include enough U.S.-born Latinos in its sample.
This week, Nielsen said it had contracted with the University of Southern California's Tomas Rivera Policy Institute to look into the media council's study, which Nielsen says is flawed.
"It is long overdue and I'm very pleased that Congress has taken such a strong step because Nielsen has been getting away with this monopolistic attitude in research for too many years," said Alex Nogales, spokesman for the National Latino Media Council.
[About time! Ed.]
Elvis on CBS
By Josef Adalian
Hollywood May 13, 2004 (Variety) - CBS can't help falling in love with Elvis.
Eye is developing a four-hour movie about the king of rock 'n' roll, and has the blessing of the Elvis Presley estate for the project.
As a result, the movie -- tentatively dubbed "Elvis" -- will be the first TV project to use master recordings of some of Presley's biggest hits, CBS said.
Jaffe/Braunstein Films is producing, with Robert Greenblatt and David Janollari ("Six Feet Under") on board as exec producers along with Howard Braunstein and Michael Jaffe ("10.5"). Patrick Sheane Duncan ("Courage Under Fire," "Mr. Holland's Opus") is attached to write the pic, which is targeted for next season. Braunstein said getting the Presley estate on board was key to the decision to pursue "Elvis."
"We thought that if you're going to do this right, you just can't do it without their co-operation," Braunstein said. "They're going to open their archives for us, and that means we really get first-hand information about his life rather than just some biography."
Idea for the project was first hatched more than 18 months ago, with the producers working to secure the OK from Presley's estate.
"I just thought this story had never been told in a complete and classy way," said Greenblatt, who first approached Elvis Presley Enterprises with the idea. "The closest thing was the Kurt Russell project (in 1979), and that was only two hours."
Previous telepics about Presley have used sound-alikes to record Presley's songs, Braunstein said. Individual Elvis songs have been licensed for feature soundtracks. Using the original master recordings will give the CBS project an authenticity other projects lacked, the producer said.
"When our Elvis actor opens his mouth, it'll be Elvis' voice that comes out," Greenblatt said.
Despite the cooperation of the Presley estate, "Elvis" won't offer a whitewashed version of history.
"We told the estate from the beginning that we want to do warts and all," Braunstein said. "The estate understands that you need to tell the true version of his story. And hopefully, with access to the archives, we can learn all sorts of new and provocative things."
Added Greenblatt: "The estate is not afraid of doing the darker side (of Presley). It just wants it done with class and integrity, like Craig (Zadan) and Neil (Meron) did with their Judy Garland movie."
"Elvis" won't be a birth-to-death biopic of the king, but Braunstein's not sure yet which parts of Presley's life will be included in the movie.
Greenblatt said snagging Duncan to write the project is also a coup. "We had no idea when we first talked to him, but he is a complete Elvis nut -- and I say that in the most positive way," he said. "He's the perfect expert and a great writer, rolled into one."
Numerous telepics and features have been made about Presley, but Braunstein thinks the public's appetite for all things King remains strong. "The CD collections released a couple years ago went to the top of the charts," he said.
"This man still has an enormous fan base."
Braunstein/Jaffe's "Brooke Ellison" was greenlit to production at A&E two weeks ago with Christopher Reeve on board to helm the tale of a quadriplegic youth who graduates with honors from Harvard.
Over at TNT, the original movie "Evel Knievel" will premiere in July.
Greenblatt and Janollari are awaiting word on a pickup of their "One on One" spinoff, "Splitting Hairs," which is said to be a strong contender for UPN's fall sked. Greenblatt is now prexy of Showtime.
Networks Finalizing New Lineups
By Nellie Andreeva
LOS ANGELES May 14, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - As the broadcast networks gear up for next week's parade of presentations to advertisers in New York, the pieces of next season's primetime schedule are starting to fall into place.
NBC, which kicks off the schedule-unveiling presentations Monday, is believed to be picking up five series for the fall: the comedies "Hooked" and "The Men's Room," and dramas "HUB," "Hawaii" and "Medical Mystery."
In addition to "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," midseason hopefuls are said to include the comedies "Nevermind Nirvana" and "My 11:30," and the drama "Revelations."
Fox drama pilots "The Inside" and "House" and ABC's comedy "Savages" moved a step closer to a formal pickup Thursday as sources said producers on all three shows were instructed to start lining up staff writers and producers.
Industry buzz centered on cop show "Hawaii" joining NBC's Monday lineup, while the airport-based ensemble "HUB" might get a Wednesday berth.
Reality stalwart "Fear Factor" is expected to continue to anchor Mondays at 8 p.m., followed by "Las Vegas" at 9 p.m. and "Hawaii" at 10 p.m. - or "Vegas" could slide back to 10 p.m., with "Hawaii" getting the 9 p.m. slot.
The animated comedy "Father of the Pride" is expected to open Tuesday night, followed by "Hooked." Returning comedy "Scrubs" will likely shift from 9:30 p.m. this season to 9 p.m., followed by newcomer "Men's Room." "Law & Order: SVU" is expected to remain on duty at 10 p.m.
Wednesday is rumored to feature one new addition, either "HUB" or "Hawaii," while "The West Wing" and "Law & Order" stay put from 9-11 p.m. However, there was speculation about a move to Friday for the veteran White House drama, which has struggled ratings-wise this season.
NBC's Thursday's lineup is hardly a secret: "Friends" spinoff "Joey," followed at 8:30 p.m. by "Will & Grace," the return of "The Apprentice" at 9 p.m. and "ER" at 10 p.m.
On Friday, sources said "Medical Mystery" will be sandwiched between 8 p.m.'s "Dateline NBC" and "Third Watch" at 10 p.m.
NBC is believed to be keeping its Saturday and Sunday schedules intact with a movie or repeats on Saturday and "Dateline NBC," "American Dreams," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and "Crossing Jordan" on Sunday.
At ABC, hot comedy projects include "We Are Family" and the untitled John Stamos, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Rodney Carrington projects, while network brass' early enthusiasm for an untitled comedy featuring pop starlet Jessica Simpson is believed to have cooled.
Sources said ABC is mulling dropping the modified "Thank God It's Funny" logo for the Friday comedy block in favor of the original "Thank God It's Friday" to herald the return of kid- and family-friendly shows that were a staple for ABC on the night during the 1980s and early '90s.
On the drama side, "Desperate Housewives" still looks like a slam-dunk at ABC. "Eyes," "Blind Justice," "Life as We Know It" (formerly "Doing It") and "Grey's Anatomy" are all said to be in the running.
"Alias" creator J.J. Abrams' "Lost" is rumored for midseason, possibly as a limited series, as a potential fill-in for "Alias" in the Sunday 9 p.m. slot when the latter show would normally head into repeats in the midseason period.
Following "Alias," David E. Kelley's new legal drama featuring James Spader is expected to inherit "The Practice's" 10 p.m. slot.
At CBS, "The Amazing Westermans" looks like a sure thing on the comedy side. The John Goodman starrer "Center of the Universe" and Jason Alexander's untitled project are also in the mix. Dramas "Clubhouse," "The Webster Report," "Dr. Vegas" and "Colderon" are said to all have a shot to join "CSI: N.Y." as new additions to CBS' drama roster.
At Fox, the comedy "Related by Family" emerged as a new favorite, along with the animated "American Dad." On the drama side, "Point Pleasant" and "Jonny Zero" are said to have the best chance of joining "House" on the fast track to a series order.
[Described as "The Omen meets Peyton Place", Point Pleasant will be the one to watch, genre fans! Created and Executive produced by Marti Noxon, who was Joss Whedon's cohort on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Marti gave us Leather Willow and Buffy Meets Dracula. Pray Fox will give us Point Pleasant! Ed.]
Freddy Versus Jason Versus... Ash?
Hollywood May 14, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - Bruce Campbell, who played Ash in the Evil Dead horror films, told SCI FI Wire that there is "some validity" to the rampant rumors about the possibility of a movie that would pit his character against Freddy of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jason from the Friday the 13th franchise.
But Campbell added that nothing is imminent.
"As I've been explaining to people, this wouldn't be a movie where you could just make a phone call and go, 'Let's do it,' and then it all happens," Campbell said in an interview.
"You've got three franchises."
Campbell added, "[That] means you have 17 lawyers, each going, 'Yeah, look at my franchise. Yeah, look at my franchise.' So you have to get past that. Then you have to get past the question of 'how will the characters be treated?' What would you do with Ash?
"There's no way I'd be in it if I lost. No way. The good guy has to win, especially in that movie. You couldn't kill two whole franchises, but we could sure maim them."