This is named the "business-as-usual" scenario. In the top panel
a much cleaner space environment can be observed, if the
number of explosions is reduced drastically and if no mission-
related objects are ejected. However, to stop the ever increasing
amount of debris more ambitious mitigation measures need to
be taken. In the long run, spacecraft and rocket stages will have
to be returned to Earth after completion of their mission. (ESA)
European Space Agency News Release
April 15, 2005 - There is a lot of junk orbiting the Earth and the problem will worsen unless there are changes in how spacecraft operators operate. But it is not all doom and gloom. The first steps toward a comprehensive solution are already well underway including a European code of conduct for space debris mitigation.
According to Dr Ruediger Jehn, a space debris specialist working at ESA's Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, there are several relatively simple measures that will help reduce the amount of debris in space. Some are already being implemented by spacecraft operators at little or no cost.
"These steps," he explains, "are based on common sense and include measures that should be acceptable to any spacecraft operator."
The basic concept is simple: do not make the existing problem worse; reduce or prevent the creation of any new debris; and, in particular, strive to protect the commercially valuable low Earth and geostationary orbits.
The amount of debris created during normal operations can be reduced by not discarding, ejecting or detaching anything that does not have to be discarded, ejected or detached. This includes payload covers, Yo-Yo despinners and instrument covers such as those used to protect the highly sensitive optical windows of sensors during launch. Lastly, minimize break-ups, a major source of small but deadly debris.
Explosions in space
It may be surprising to anyone outside the space community to learn that spacecraft (occasionally) and launch vehicles (frequently) do in fact break up in orbit.
Launch vehicle lower stages generally fall back into the atmosphere and completely burn up, providing a tidy, if fiery, solution but the typical fate of rocket upper stages, which are usually cast off after launch, is to blow up.
Why does this happen?
The explosions are mainly caused by onboard
energy sources, either due to a pressure build-
up in propellant tanks, battery explosions, or
the ignition of hypergolic fuels. Each explosion
creates thousands of small debris objects. (ESA)
Spacecraft engineers have traditionally ensured a good margin of launch success by carrying extra fuel onboard, as this comes in handy if the engine has to burn a little longer than planned.
However, that spare fuel mostly remains inside pressurized tanks once the rocket stage is discarded into Earth orbit. Over time, and in the harsh environment of space, the mechanical integrity of the booster's internal components breaks down; lines leak, corrosive fuel seeps into nooks and crevices, micro and not-so-micro meteoroids strike and penetrate. A sudden release of pressure often results, causing an explosion and spewing hard-to-track fragments, large and small, into orbit, adding to the debris field.
Other onboard power sources serve as latent explosion triggers, including batteries, other pressurized systems, fuel cells and hypergolic fuels. "Just stopping launch boosters from exploding is a big first step," says Dr Jehn, "and we are already seeing improvements."
The solution to latent explosions caused by onboard fuel is astoundingly simple: once the upper stage is discarded, simply run the engine until the fuel is depleted. The US Delta launch vehicle upper stage now performs such a burn to depletion.
Another fix is simply to vent any remaining fuel to space. This is called passivation, and both the Ariane upper stage and Japan's H-1 second stage now dump their residual fuel in this manner.
Batteries and other onboard energy sources can be similarly passivated, although this is not quite so simple and adds more cost.
These and other measures have been widely adopted by most, but not all, mission operators in the past decade but even so, debris continue to grow as older vehicles, launched 10, 20 or more years ago -- before mitigation requirements were understood -- continue to generate debris.
Parking hulks in graveyard orbits
Spent launch vehicles and expired satellites are themselves debris, even if they do not break up. Thus, another important mitigation step is to maneuver these out of the commercially and scientifically valuable low Earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbit (GEO) zones upon mission completion. Of course, this requires carrying extra fuel specifically for this, adding to cost, but the effort is well worth it.
According to the 2002 draft Mitigation Guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), a grouping that includes ESA and 10 national space agencies, spacecraft in LEO should be deorbited, i.e. allowed to fall into the atmosphere and burn up, within 25 years of mission end while craft in GEO should be boosted to at least 300 km above the geosynchronous orbital ring and parked in a graveyard orbit. Why 300 km? "Solar radiation pressure and other small forces would eventually push any craft back into the GEO ring unless they're high enough," says Dr Jehn.
Up to now more than 180 explosions and 1 collision
in space have been recorded. Further explosions
and collisions are most likely. (ESA)
Both measures require fuel: the former to slow and lower craft from LEO and the latter to raise and park craft from GEO. It is too expensive to bring a spent craft all the way down from GEO to burn up, but graveyard parking is an adequate alternative.
In LEO, the solution is even more straightforward. For example, ESA's ERS satellite orbits at about 800 km altitude. Ideally, if it were slowed and lowered at mission end to 200 km altitude it would naturally deorbit and burn up in about 24 hours; but this would take a lot of fuel.
"For a craft the size of ERS, however, it will deorbit naturally within 25 years if we merely bring it down to 600 km," says Dr Jehn, "so this [altitude] is a fuel-saving compromise."
He cites research conducted at ESA and other institutions showing that merely deorbiting craft after 25 years would help cut the amount of new debris created by half. Obviously, low-cost mitigation measures can contribute significantly to debris reduction.
High-tech debris clearance
There are other, more high-tech, methods under research. These include using space-based lasers to slow then deorbit existing junk, deploying tethers to drag craft back down into the atmosphere or grabbing objects with a huge sling. "Tethers are a valid idea," says Dr Jehn, "but are not yet practical; they're too expensive." The other ideas remain on the drawing board, meaning that debris reduction will have to rely on mitigation, at least for the near future.
How is the global space community doing in implementing these well-known mitigation measures? "Not too good," says Dr Jehn, referring specifically to placing GEO craft into graveyard orbit. He cites a recent study which found that about 1/3 of satellite operators did boost their GEO craft at least 300 km out of the way, about 1/3 boosted them insufficiently to only 100-200 km and 1/3 just left them cluttering up the GEO ring. "Some operators fly their satellites until the last drop of fuel is used up and then just abandon them," he says.
Given the level of discussion and research on debris within the space community, it is becoming harder for any spacecraft operator to feign ignorance. Debris mitigation guidelines, draft or otherwise, and codes of conduct have been issued by several respected bodies, including NASA and Japan's JAXA, in addition to the IADC. Space debris is a regular agenda item at meetings of UNCOPUOS (UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space) and the IAA (International Academy of Astronautics) and ESA's own quadrennial space debris conference has become the world's largest forum dedicated solely to debris.
Europe's own code of conduct
Smokey says: Only you can prevent space disasters!
Europe's Network of Centres on Space Debris, a grouping of the Italian, British, French and German space agencies plus ESA, has prepared its own "European Code of Conduct for Space Debris Mitigation". While the document is still being studied for final approval, France's space agency CNES (Centre National d'Etudes spatiales) took the lead last October by becoming the first to sign off Europe's Code of Conduct (CoC).
However, implementing specific mitigation measures and codes of conduct remains at least somewhat controversial within the industry since their adoption as formal policy will invariably raise mission costs, but today almost everyone recognizes that there is a problem. In the future, there may be ways to cut the fuel requirements for deorbiting substantially.
ESA's SMART-1 (Small Mission for Advanced Research in Technology - 1) spacecraft, now orbiting the Moon, arrived there by using a new ion-thrusting electric propulsion (EP) engine. Engineers describe EP thrust as "similar to the weight of a sheet of paper on your hand". The engine, however, requires very little fuel compared to a conventional rocket motor.
Could EP serve as an auxiliary engine onboard future satellites to be fired and left to slowly bring a craft down from GEO into the atmosphere? "Using EP only takes about 5% of your fuel; I think in the long run we should figure out how to bring down satellites even from GEO," says Dr Jehn.
While technology will likely provide many solutions and many nations are now serious about following a code of behavior, Dr Jehn and others in ESA's space debris community argue that, ultimately, what is needed is a CoC negotiated at the UN level to push everyone to adhere to standards.
In the meantime, how can the average person become involved?
"Call your space agency," says Dr Jehn, "tell them: 'My kids want to travel in space in 30 years and I don't want you guys spoiling it'. Pressure from the public could help. Once space is polluted it's too late and I wouldn't dare go up there."
4th European Conference on Space Debris - http://www.congrex.nl/05a10
European Space Agency - http://www.esrin.esa.it
The ISS (NASA)
Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare News Report
April 14, 2005 - Lazio-Sirad is ready to gather data. The experiment is installed on the International Space Station and its aim is to trace the slight variations of the so-called Van Allen belts that seem to occur before earthquakes.
At the same time the experiment will gather data that will make possible the development of techniques of protection from radiation for astronauts. The astronaut Roberto Vittori will carry out measures. He will leave for the International Space Station tomorrow April 15th and he will reach it after about 2 days.
Lazio-Sirad was developed by the Infn sections and by the Universities of Perugia, Rome "Tor Vergata" and Rome Tre, in collaboration with the Infn National Laboratories of Frascati, the Serms University Laboratory of Terni, the MePhi Institute of Moscow, the Ferrari Bsn, Nergal and Airtec with the participation of Filas (Lazio Region).
Our planet is incessantly bombarded with a rain of cosmic rays, charged stable particles, such as protons and electrons. This flux is partly prevented by the Earth magnetic field, that traps a part of it out of atmosphere, to a height of hundred up to thousand kilometers.
Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov (C) and
U.S. ISS commander Leroy Chiao (R) after the
docking between the Soyuz spacecraft and the
International Space Station on April 17, 2005.
In the back row are L-R: Russian cosmonaut
Sergei Krikalev, U.S. flight engineer John
Phillips and European Space Agency astronaut
Roberto Vittori of Italy.
The distribution of these particles is not though homogeneous: they place themselves in areas called Van Allen belts, after the name of the American physicist that discovered their existence in 1958. In whole, the Van Allen belts behave like a huge antenna, sensitive to the slightest variation of the Earth magnetic field.
The surprising aspect is that preliminary measures gathered by Russian and American researchers in more than 15 years and analyzed in details by Russian and Italian researchers, indicate that this natural antenna is able to reveal precursory phenomena of intense earthquakes four or five hours in advance.
The Lazio-Sirad experiment is the first sensor planned with the aim of verifying such a hypothesis in the Space, and it is clear the interest of such researches in a country exposed to seismic risk like Italy.
In which way can the Earth's crust tensions reflect on the cosmic particles trapped out of atmosphere?
It was observed, through measures realized at earth, that from the area of a future earthquake, electromagnetic waves of different frequency are generated in the underground: among these, low-frequency waves can reach atmosphere, cross it and interact with the particles trapped in the Van Allen belts.
In this way, it is possible to produce rapid variations of the charged particles flux: measuring these variations it would be possible to state the area in which the emission of low-frequency waves occurred and so state where an earthquake is taking place.
"In order to study the interaction between the Van Allen belts and geophysics phenomena as the seismic events, Lazio-Sirad uses sophisticated and innovative particles detectors based on the use of silica and scintillating plastics. The measure of the particles trapped in the Van Allen belts will be related to the magnetic field measurements made through a precision magnetometer, called Egle, part itself of Lazio-Sirad program.
"Once the physics principal of the instrumentation and its functioning in orbit will be verified, it will possible to open way to new Earth monitoring methods using not expensive micro-satellites", explains Roberto Battiston, director of the Infn section in Perugia, who coordinated the realization of Lazio-Sirad project, in close collaboration with Piergiorgio Picozza, director of the Infn section of Roma Tor Vergata, and with Vittorio Sgrigna, physics professor at the University of Roma Tre and spokesman of the Egle magnetometer.
In this circumstance the experiment Sileye3/Alteino, brought on board of the International Space Station just by Roberto Vittori during his previous mission "Marco Polo", will be put back into service.
"The experiment Sileye3/Alteino is particularly important to develop new materials and new technologies to protect man from bombing of cosmic particles during future lunar and interplanetary missions", explains Piergiorgio Picozza, who participated in Lazio-Sirad coordination and is also spokesman of the Sileye3/ Alteino experiment.
"The Lazio-Sirad experiment has another important goal: to improve the study on the phenomenon of the light flashes, observed by the astronauts on board of the Mir and of the International Space Station, by analyzing, in particular, the interaction between the different kinds of cosmic rays and the astronauts' visual apparatus", explains Marco Casolino of the Infn section of Roma Tor Vergata, spokesman for the Lazio-Sirad part dedicated to the study of the light flashes.
Earth's magnetic fields (BBC)
Lazio-Sirad will work at least for six months since the beginning of the operations of data acquisition. The first results of the data analysis are foreseen by the end of 2005. Lazio-Sirad has involved about 30 persons, among these: physicists, geophysicists, engineers and technicians from the different institutes that have participated. The instrument has been realized in a very short time (less than 6 months since the beginning of the project to the delivery to the Russian Space Agency on January the 25th) respecting all the complex security procedures, verification and space qualification required by the European Space Agency (ESA) and by the Russian Space Agency (Energia).
The project takes place in the context of the European mission Eneide, born from the collaboration between the Italian region Lazio, the Military Aeronautics, Alenia Spazio, the Chamber of Commerce of Rome, Esa, and Asi.
The Eneide mission will start April the 15th from the space polygon in Baikonur, in Kazakhistan, and it will travel on board of the Russian capsule Soyuz Tma, directed to the International Space Station. All the scientific experiments of Eneide mission will be managed from the control centre "Lazio user Centre", already working and settled in the Infn section of Roma Tor Vergata.
Lazio-Sirad - http://people.roma2.infn.it/~lazio
Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare - http://www.infn.it
Vote for The SPACEYS!
Canada April 17, 2005 (eXoNews) - Arm your mice and make it so! Canada's enviable SPACE television channel is currently accepting votes from fans in Viewer's Choice categories for the 2005 SPACEY Awards.
Online voting began April 1st and continues to May 15th. Viewer's Choice categories include favorite movies, TV shows, actors, and games.
To vote for the 2005 SPACEYS, go to http://www.spacecast.com/spaceys05/index.asp
and click on Viewer's Choice. (You'll need the Macromedia Flash plug-in to vote, but most of you already have that.)
Michael Rosenbaum as
Smallville's Lex. (WB)
This year's Favorite TV Show nominees include Alias, Enterprise, Lost, Smallville and Stargate SG-1. Favorite Limited Series include Battlestar Galactica, Kingdom Hospital, The 4400 and Regenesis (we don't get that last one in the US.)
In the Favorite Male Character category, you can choose between Commander Adama, Captain Archer, Lex Luthor, General Jack O'Neill and Morgan Pym (from The Collector, another one American audiences don't get.)
Favorite Lady choices are Sydney from Alias, Kate from Lost, Lana from Smallville, Number 6 from Battlestar and T'Pol from Enterprise.
You can also vote for favorite Movie, Movie Hero, Movie Villain, Video Game and Canadian TV Series. (American viewers may be surprised to see how many of their current favs are actually produced in Canada.)
Number 6 (Sci Fi)
SPACE is Canada's all-in-one science fiction, fantasy and horror channel, featuring most everything Americans see on Sci Fi Channel along with current genre shows from other US networks and a multitude of favorite reruns and Canadian shows.
The 2005 SPACEYS will be presented on SPACE Sunday May 29th at 9 PM ET.
eXoNews has a list of last year's SPACEY winners here.
SPACE - http://www.spacecast.com
Arthur Dent On Hitchhiker Sequel
Martin Freeman (center) as Arthur in
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
April 15, 2005 (Sci Fi Wire) - Martin Freeman, who plays Arthur Dent in the upcoming film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, told SCI FI Wire that he's open to a sequel if one is made, with conditions.
In the movie based on Douglas Adams' beloved SF book and radio series, Freeman plays Dent, a human whisked off Earth moments before its destruction, who then embarks on a bizarre adventure through space. He is accompanied by his alien best pal (Mos Def), a depressed robot (Warwick Davis), the president of the galaxy (Sam Rockwell) and a pretty alien female, Trillian (Zooey Deschanel).
Marvin the robot and HHG pals.
"I'd be interested if the same team was interested," Freeman said in an interview, referring to director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith. "I'd be interested if Spielberg or someone else I could really trust was going to do it. Then we could talk."
Freeman added: "But if Garth and Nick were going to do it I'd be immediately interested. The next book [in the Hitchhiker's book series] is Restaurant at the End of the Universe. So I'm presuming that they'd probably make that if they do a sequel.
"But it took 20 years to get a Hitchhiker's script into a film. So I don't think you could just rush into another one of these."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy opens April 29th.
Porn Star Screwed By Reality TV
Jenna at work.
LOS ANGELES April 15, 2005 (Zap2it.com) Porn Queen Jenna Jameson thinks she's been screwed. The adult film star and her publisher Judith Regan have exchanged law suits over any financial rewards from an A&E reality show that has yet to air.
Regan claims that she has a stake in an unscripted A&E series following Jameson's day-to-day life through a contract the thespian signed with Regan Media last April. According to the New York Daily News, Jameson's contract with Regan covered a one-hour special on Jameson's life as well as a vaguely described reality show and "any similar projects." Regan is suing for breach of that contract.
She's seeking a piece of the show and damages of some sort.
For her part, Jameson claims that her husband, John Grdina, had begun negotiating the deal with A&E long before last April. Jameson's complaint alleges that Regan knew about the A&E project before hand and understood that it existed outside of the contract, saying that only a pitched show for FOX had any relationship with Regan.
ReganBooks published Jameson's memoir "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale," last summer to strong sales.
Viewers wanting more information on Jameson's turn-ons and turn-offs can play "VirtuallyJenna," a new game released by XStream3D Multimedia. PC users are invited to, um, satisfy Jameson using a variety of sexual techniques. A Phoenix Federal Court will attempt to, um, satisfy either Jameson or Regan when their complaints are heard.
James Dean Fest
James Dean never dies.
MARION Indiana April 13, 2005 (AP) - Martin Sheen and Dennis Hopper will be among the celebrities visiting Indiana to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of James Dean.
The James Dean Fest is scheduled June 3-5 at the airport in Marion, about 60 miles northeast of Indianapolis.
Included on the festival schedule, released by organizers Tuesday, is the American premiere of a documentary on Dean's life, "James Dean: Forever Young," narrated by Sheen.
Sheen, who stars in NBC's "The West Wing," has said he was inspired to become an actor after watching Dean's performance in the film "East of Eden." He will introduce the new documentary, which will be shown on June 4.
Organizers had wanted to show Dean's movies on the Fairmount farm where he grew up, but the plans outgrew the farm. Warner Bros. moved the event to Marion, where Dean was born.
Dean died Sept. 30, 1955, in a car crash in Cholame, Calif. He was 24. Dean's three movies, "Giant," "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause," also will be shown during the three-day festival. The films will be introduced by actors who co-starred with Dean.
"They're going to talk about the movies, they're going to be in the VIP tent, they're going to be doing some signatures," said Israel Baron, one of the event's organizers. "They're going to have different venues they will be attending."
James Dean Official - http://www.jamesdean.com
Morgan & Wong Return for Final 3
A.J. Cook (left) and Michael Landes
in 'Final Destination 2' (New Line)
Vancouver April 15, 2005 (Sci Fi Wire) - Glen Morgan — who with partner James Wong is returning to the Final Destination franchise by writing and producing the upcoming third installment — showed SCI FI Wire a glimpse of the sequel's opening disaster, which takes place on a roller coaster and will be shot in a way that hasn't been seen before.
"It's not necessarily groundbreaking, but it hasn't been done before, you know, in this way," Morgan said in an interview during a break in filming on the sequel's Vancouver, B.C., set on April 13. (Production started this month and will run through June.)
Like the previous two films, the movie begins with the main character—in this case, high school senior Wendy, played by newcomer Mary Elizabeth Winstead—experiencing a horrific disaster in which she and her friends all die—then realizing it's only a premonition of death.
In the first film the disaster was a plane crash. In the second, a multi-vehicle pileup on a freeway. In Final Destination 3, it's a disaster on a roller coaster, Morgan said. It all fits, he added.
"I don't know if we ever successfully pull it off, but Jim and I like to have themes," Morgan said. "And this one, for the Wendy character, is about loss of control. ... You got a roller coaster, [and] psychologists will tell you that's why people hate 'em. Why you're afraid of them. Or why you're afraid to fly. Because you have no control. And for me, ... when I'm going up any roller coaster, I just say, 'I want out.' But I'm not getting out. That's just torture. ... It's unbearable. I'm nervous talking about it. ... If you look at death, that's [the same thing]. ... All of a sudden. I feel that if it wants us, [it's going to get us]. I think that's why the franchise kind of works."
SCI FI Wire viewed a "pre-visualization" of the sequence, or animated storyboard, which takes place on a fictional roller coaster with a 200-foot drop, corkscrews and a high loop. The speeding coaster loses hydraulic pressure, causing restraining harnesses to relax and wheels to fall off. As the coaster accelerates into its various turns and whirls, high school students fly out, fall, get run over and wind up hanging upside down by their fingers. Some die gruesome deaths.
Final Destination - Goodie! More disasters!
To shoot the scene, the filmmakers will use a combination of an actual roller coaster (at a Vancouver amusement park), computer-generated extensions, wire stunts, computer animation and actual actors in simulated cars shot against a green screen.
"It's complicated," Morgan said. "We're going to have two weeks of green screen on hydraulic things, and CGI."
Added producer Craig Perry: "Actors being hung upside down, being yanked out of cars, cars falling, flipping. It's good times."
Final Destination 3, which Wong will direct, is slated for a 2006 release.
Time Tunnel, Shirley Jackson and Heroes Anonymous on Sci Fi
By Paul J. Gough
NEW YORK April 14, 2005 (Hollywood Reporter) - Looking to capitalize on its momentum with original series, Sci Fi Channel on Wednesday unveiled development plans for a slew of new scripted projects, including one inspired by the life and work of author Shirley Jackson to be executive produced by Michael Douglas.
Mark Stern, Sci Fi Channel executive vp original programming, described the still-untitled Jackson project during Sci Fi's development overview presentation to reporters as " 'Desperate Housewives' meets 'The Twilight Zone.' " It will blend supernatural themes from such famed Jackson stories as "The Lottery" and "The Haunting of Hill House" with the late author's real-life story of making the transition from being an urban mother to small-town matriarch.
Douglas is on board to exec produce; "Stargate Atlantis" writer Alan Brennert will pen the script.
James Darren and Robert Colbert
in the original Time Tunnel
Another new project detailed during the presentation at Sci Fi's New York headquarters were "Heroes Anonymous," a live-action drama that focuses on twentysomething superheroes who form a support group.
Based on the comic book series by Scott Gimpel and Bill Morrison, "Heroes" will be executive produced by Lawrence Bender ("Pulp Fiction"), Kevin Brown ("Roswell") and Karl Schaefer ("The Dead Zone").
Other projects include: "Those Who Walk in Darkness," an adaptation of the novel of the same name by John Ridley, who will write the script and executive produce for NBC Universal TV Studio; "Time Tunnel," an update of Irwin Allen's 1960s TV series from Fox TV Studios; and "3:52," focusing on life in a small Maryland town after 2 billion people mysteriously vanish from Earth, from writer/exec producer John Tinker.
Sci Fi also stays active on the alternative front, with development including animated series "Barbarian Chronicles" from David Letterman's Worldwide Pants and Brendon Small ("Home Movies").
Sci Fi gave a glimpse of one pilot, "Painkiller Jane," starring Emmanuelle Vaugier, Tate Donovan and Richard Roundtree. Production of another, "Eureka" starring Colin Ferguson, is slated to begin in two weeks. Sci Fi brass also announced the return in July of three hit dramas that have fueled the channel's solid ratings performance in recent months: "Battlestar Galactica," "Stargate SG 1" and "Stargate Atlantis."
Dave Howe, Sci Fi executive VP and general manager, said that Sci Fi would have 28 original movies next year for its Saturday franchise, up five from this year. Among the ones scheduled for the 2005-06 season are: "The Man With the Screaming Brain," written and directed by Bruce Campbell; "Heat Stroke," with "Farscape" executive producer David Kemper; and "Black Hole Terror," starring Judd Nelson and Kristy Swanson.
Franny Is Back!
Fran Drescher - Hey, laaaady!
LOS ANGELES April 11, 2005 (Zap2it.com) The WB gave its new sitcom "Living with Fran" two chances to find an audience last week, and the second one worked out a lot better. As a result, the show will settle into that second spot - 9:30 p.m. ET Fridays - for the remainder of the season.
"Fran," which marks "The Nanny" star Fran Drescher's return to sitcoms, debuted to about 3 million viewers at 8:30 p.m. Friday (April 8), a little better than what "Grounded for Life" averaged in the timeslot earlier this season. The second episode, however, jumped to 4.4 million viewers.
It also did a very good job of holding onto the audience from its lead-in, "Reba." In total viewers and The WB's core demographics of people 12-34 and adults 18-34, "Fran" retained more than 90 percent of "Reba's" audience. The network had been airing repeats of "Reba" at 9:30 Fridays; those will likely move to 8:30 for the rest of the spring.
[You either love her or hate her - kinda like Jerry Lewis, in more ways than one. Me? I love them both. Hey, laaaady! Welcome back! Ed.]
Dorothy's dress - operators are
standing by. (AP Photo/ Jeff Chiu)
SAN FRANCISCO April 12, 2005 (AP) - "Wizard of Oz" fanatics hoping to own the dress worn by Judy Garland in the iconic film might need to appeal to the "Great and Powerful Oz" for financial support.
The blue and white gingham dress worn by Garland when she played Dorothy Gale in 1939 is on display at Bonhams & Butterfields here, and is set to be auctioned April 26 in London. Bonhams said the dress could fetch from $50,000 to $70,000.
"This dress represents the quintessential magic of childhood in the most beloved film of the 20th century," said Jon Baddeley, group head of Bonhams collector's department. "It has become a cherished memory for millions of fans worldwide and was worn by one of the most talented and respected stars in Hollywood."
The dress was custom made for Garland, who was 17 in 1939. It has a 27-inch waist and Garland's name on an inside hem label.
The dress will also be displayed in Los Angeles in mid-April. The auction house didn't identify the previous owner.
John Lennon's handwritten lyrics for "Revolution," and a Mick Jagger jacket are also on display at Bonhams in San Francisco in advance of the auction of rock, pop and film memorabilia.
Bonhams - http://www.bonhams.com
3 Hour Lost Finale
Hollywood April 11, 2005 (Sci Fi Wire) - Javier Grillo-Marxuach, a writer and supervising producer on ABC's hit series Lost, told SCI FI Wire that the much-anticipated season finale will clock in at three hours and give fans everything they love about the show.
"In terms of epic storytelling and shocking destiny, you ain't seen nothing yet!" Grillo-Marxuach said in an interview. "We were going to do a two-hour finale [over two weeks], and then ABC asked if we could do 90 minutes [the second week] so they could schedule it against American Idol.
The second season is strictly top secret. (ABC)
"Carlton [Cuse] and Damon [Lindelof, who co-created the show with J.J. Abrams,] did an amazing job on the finale script, and their first draft came in a little long anyway. [ABC] looked at it and decided to do a two-hour. So 'Exodus Part 1' will air on May 18th, and the epic saga that is 'Exodus Part 2' will air May 25th.
"The final two hours is so full of incident and character and shocks and scares and drama, all the things that people love about Lost, that it would have been silly to cut things out. So we've got a 25-hour first season! We busted our butts on it, but it's not going to feel like it's been padded. We are very proud of it."
Grillo-Marxuach wrote five episodes in the freshman season and confirmed that he would return for the second season, which begins production in July. Reflecting on his efforts this year, he said, "'... In Translation,' which I wrote with Leonard Dick, is my favorite episode this season." The episode revealed the troubled backstory to Jin, played by Daniel Dae Kim.
"It was such a great character piece for Jin. Daniel's performance was fantastic. I don't think it's our flashiest episode. There are episodes that have more incidents in them, but it was so emotional and was so much a closure for me, because I wrote the first episode ['House of the Rising Sun'] about Jin and Sun. My dad even wrote me an e-mail after that episode telling me he was proud of me."
As to what the castaways will have to endure next season, Grillo-Marxuach said: "The second season is strictly top secret right now. Damon has alluded to his ideas about what the second season is going to be like, and once the first season is over, we are going to begin secret summit meetings to start bashing out how it will lay out over the course of the season.
"Come May, we'll have a lot more information about what's going to be happening. But our masterminds are very much at work on what that second season will be about."
Lost airs on Wednesdays at 8 PM ET/PT on ABC.
Nostalgia TV in Europe
By Mimi Turner
The cast of Magnum, PI (CBS)
LONDON April 15, 2005 (Hollywood Reporter) - It's official: Nostalgia television is back. Many of the most-watched TV shows of the '70s and '80s are being dusted off, revamped and funneled back onscreen for a new generation of viewers in Europe.
All over Europe, slots are opening up for such evergreens as "Dynasty," "Magnum, P.I.," "The A-Team" and "Knight Rider."
Whereas a decade ago library shows were shorthand for television filler, they now are playing across a slew of digital channels and slots in a much more sophisticated and evolved market.
"Gone are the days when any channel could bang out filler; the market has gone through that stage, and now every part of the schedule is much more competitive," says David Clarke, channel controller of U.K. digital net Bravo, a young-male-skewing channel that airs "Knight Rider" and in the past has aired such shows as "Airwolf" and "The Fall Guy."
"We did some focus groups with young male viewers and found that people have a real affinity with these shows because they already have a relationship with them," he said. "Viewers get more excited about nostalgic shows."
Book 'em, cable!
Added SBS Broadcasting Netherlands channel head Patrice Tillieux: "There's a lot of emotion and affection about these programs. The audience already has a familiarity with them and has already built a relationship with them, and that makes a difference."
SBS is in the process of rolling out the Netherlands-based I Love channel across satellite, cable and DTH platforms in the region. The channel will air a solid flow of evergreen shows including "Hawaii Five-O," "Dallas," "The A-Team" and "Magnum, P.I."
With a budget of less than $5 million a year and programming already covered by the broadcast group's existing contracts, there is an economic rationale to the project, as well, at a time when SBS is making the transition from a free television group to a multirevenue broadcaster.
"We could see the launch of I Love in other territories, perhaps Belgium," Tillieux said.
Jeffrey Schlesinger, president of Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, said that some of the start-up stations are "going to be hard pressed to establish an identity for themselves -- you can only have so many general entertainment channels." But programming with name recognition can help a new channel stand out from the crowd. "From that point of view there will be a growing opportunity to sell more library programming that the main stations may not be too interested in," he added.
The success of such boxoffice remakes as "Charlie's Angels" and "Starsky & Hutch" has itself triggered a slew of retro reinventions, including an upcoming theatrical version of "Dallas," a new NBC Universal formatting of "Kojak" and the forthcoming Joss Whedon-directed project "Wonder Woman."
There's a sense that television has been caught up in the tailwind as well, with programers taking a new look at their catalogs for projects to reconceive.
"As a business we tend to focus on new product development, and it's right that we should do so, but when you're in the licensing business we also started to think about how we could reinvigorate some of our most treasured assets and bring them back to a new audience," Buena Vista International Television managing director Tom Toumazis said.
BVITV recently unearthed "Moonlighting" from its archives and digitally remastered the original Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis starrer.
"I don't think 'Moonlighting' could have been broadcast as it is from a quality point of view," Toumazis added.
"It needed digitalization, the visual was too rough for the digital television world, and the audio needed some cleaning as well."
"We restored it visually frame by frame and cleaned up the audio; it was quite a long process, but we sold it to Paramount Comedy Channel, Kirch in Germany and ABC1 in the U.K."
Buena Vista now is working on the reinvigoration of '70s lovebug show "Herbie" in advance of the upcoming movie starring Lindsay Lohan.
Rereleasing a television show on the coattails of a theatrical revamp is one way of generating an initial audience for a program, but it's not always a guarantee of success, Bravo's Clarke cautioned.
"DVD releases or a movie remake always add to the mix, but first and foremost it has to be a good show in itself," he said. "It has to be something that a viewer will commit to spending time watching again and again."
The cast of Due South
Added Clarke: "We had a look at 'Starsky and Hutch' when the remake was out, but we thought it wasn't perhaps as good as we remember it. You can ride the wave of interest, but it's short-term and quite limited."
Elsewhere across Europe, nostalgia television is finding a place as part of a more mixed schedule.
Despite several new channels launching in France at the end of this month as the first wave of the digital terrestrial rollout, few are making classic U.S. reruns a central plank of their programming.
NT1, a startup channel from AB Groupe, has "Street Legal," "Due South," "Adrenaline" and "Bad Girls" on its schedule.
W9, the new digital channel from commercial network M6, has a show called "Funky Cops" that is '70s-inspired but not considered an evergreen. The channel also will air the 1998 sci-fi series "Chameleon," the Gena Lee Nolin action series "Sheena" and "From the Earth to the Moon," directed by Tom Hanks.
One solid buyer of vintage U.S. series is TMC, until now a cable and satellite channel that is migrating to digital terrestrial.
Co-owned by AB Groupe and TF1, TMC ranks eighth among French thematic channels, with an audience share of 1% among those French households that subscribe to at least one pay TV option.
Channel chiefs are hoping this share will increase significantly with the passage to free terrestrial broadcast, but with only 35% of the French territory initially covered, no one is prepared to make ratings forecasts.
TMC is inaugurating a new early-evening block every weekday called the Gold Trilogy, which will comprise three classic U.S. shows: "Kojak," "Ironside" and "The Wild Wild West." The channels also screen "Mission: Impossible" and Canadian show "Halifax."
"These are quality series which have proved themselves," TMC's Gregoire Lebouc said. "They don't age, they're well written and well acted. There's a strong demand -- we know from viewers' letters."
There are likely to be further outlets for vintage U.S. shows when the second phase of digital terrestrial bows in the fall, with some 15 pay channels becoming available. These have not yet been selected by France's broadcasting authority, so it's too early to know which channel proposals will make it.
As Germany's digital rollout picks up the pace, the big unanswered question is the potential demand for niche channels packed with evergreen product.
Universal Studio Networks, Disney Channel Deutschland, Sony Pictures Television International, MGM and German indie Kinowelt operate niche digital channels that rely heavily on library product, mainly feature films.
On the series side, USN's Sci Fi Channel has scored small but significant audience numbers with reruns of "Battlestar Galactica," "Buck Rodgers" and "Star Trek," while the group's action and suspense label 13th Street fills its schedule with "Law & Order" repeats.