- It's not just the
nobodies who believe in flying saucers.
From filmmakers to astronauts,
Hollywood to Silicon Valley, an upcoming
documentary surveys the UFO
beliefs of the distinguished, rich and famous.
- For "Celebrity Close
Encounters," an hour-length
original production of the Arts &
Entertainment channel, documentarian
Kevin Barry interviewed actors
Dennis Weaver and Patricia Neal, Mercury
astronaut Gordon Cooper,
Internet millionaire Joe Firmage and veteran director
Robert Wise about
their UFO experiences and beliefs.
- The Day the Earth
- The centerpiece of the project is a discussion of the
somber, groundbreaking 1951 film "The Day the Earth Stood
which Barry describes as a "jewel ... beautifully
- In the film, director Robert Wise introduced the general
public to the theme of the "benevolent space brothers" who
warn humanity that we must escape the cold-war traps of fear and hatred
or risk destruction. By stilling our machines, gentle alien Klaatu
by the late Michael Rennie) compels the people of Earth to
listen to his
message of galactic peace, but the message goes unheeded.
Klaatu is ultimately
martyred by the people he came to help.
- Barry quite rightly
points to the film as being "a
real impetus for the saucer
scare" of the 1950s, but notes that viewers
should "watch the
documentary" -- especially interviews with
Seth Shostak of the
Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and
Haisch -- for the full story.
- Meanwhile, Barry says Wise -- who directed such films
as "The Sound of Music" and "The Andromeda Strain,"
and was the uncredited director of "The Magnificent Ambersons"
-- "is a believer" who thinks many people are very interested
in "the possibilities about making contact."
- Barry also interviewed Patricia
Neal, who played the
romantic lead in the film.
- Firmage and
- Other celebrity highlights of the documentary include
interviews with <http://www.space.com/area51/joe_firmage_990923.htmlJoe
Firmage and <http://www.space.com/area51/cooper.htmlGordon Cooper.
says he "for the most part" applauds Firmage's
push the envelope of scientific and cultural thought,
while he promises
that the Cooper interview is, to his knowledge, the
only time the astronaut
discusses his 1951 encounter with a UFO
"fleet" over Germany.
- Commentary from "historians, experts, storytellers,
skeptics and interesting points of view," including parasychologists
Brad and Sherry Steiger, round out the hour. Although Barry would have
liked to interview Jimmy Carter about his own report of a UFO sighting,
he says the ex-president's office "politely turned down" the
- The Power of UFO Stories
- As a member of the
mainstream media doing work in the
UFO field, Barry is careful to
caution the more cautious wing of the paranormal
subculture that his
work was not manipulated to serve conservative -- or
- "Many people believe that the media is manipulating
these alien-themed commercials and documentaries in recent years....
find that laughable. Nobody influenced me, nor could they, regarding
who or what gets covered in my shows. It's really sad that a lot of
truly think the media -- or the government, for that matter
-- has that
- Rather, he is explicit in stating that the real source
of the UFO saga's power over contemporary resides in the people who find
the story enthralling.
- "Before I started doing this kind of documentary,
I had no interest in the subject," he says. "Now I do, big time.
I think these are great stories ... we care about these stories because
they hold the key to the future, the past, why we are here, and the
- "Ninety-seven percent of sightings can be explained
But that [unexplained] three percent fascinates me, and I intend
more documentaries exploring the possibilities."
- Celebrity Close Encounters, a
special presentation of
A&E's "Investigative Reports"
series, airs Monday, October
18, at 9 p.m. ET, and then again at 1 a.m.
ET. It will be repeated on Saturday,