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Week of March 12, 2001

Wang turned down for director training on Voyager. A recent SFX Magazine interview quotes Garrett Wang - who has played Harry Kim since the first season of Star Trek: Voyager - as being upset over executive producer Rick Berman's refusal to let him train as a director for the series. Though Wang admits he had problems getting to work on time in the second and third seasons of the show, he also points out that everyone from Next Generation alumnus LeVar Burton to former Deep Space Nine cast members such as Andrew Robinson have gotten their turn behind the camera on Voyager, to say nothing of Voyager cast members Robert Duncan McNeill, Tim Russ and Roxann Dawson. According to Wang in the article, Berman told him that he's "not running a directing school here," even though Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frankes - who helmed the two most recent Next Generation movies - got their starts by similarly lobbying the Trek executive producer. Wang says he will take one more shot at trying to become a director for the new spinoff series once production on Voyager wraps this month. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

Mystery illness no match for the power of the dark side? Mere weeks after it was reported that Star Wars actor David "Darth Vader" Prowse was suffering from an unknown paralyzing condition, he now seems to be recovering and is looking forward to resuming his speaking schedule at SF conventions around the world. Doctors still don't know what hit him, and are monitoring his recovery closely. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

The new Bush Administration: biggest threat ever to space exploration? It's starting to look that way. Not only is the Bush administration demanding cutbacks on the International Space Station, nixing such in-development projects as a new emergency escape vehicle, but the sweeping NASA budget cuts are also in danger of ending the development of technology that will be needed to eventually launch manned missions to Mars. The Mars Society is asking everyone interested in colonizing other worlds to help them convince Congress to prevent these cutbacks from killing NASA's far-reaching future programs.

The Mars Society

Hasbro going off the deep end with new Star Wars toys? Of course, it's all a matter of opinion, but Hasbro is venturing well outside the usual boundaries with some of their upcoming toys based on characters from the Star Wars universe. Figures such as "Obi-Wan Kenobi in Jedi Cold Training Gear" (a Hoth-like suit of winter clothing), "Qui-Gon Jinn in Jedi Training Gear," and "Darth Maul Sith Apprentice" (based on an early design sketch of the character) have been announced as upcoming items in Hasbro's renamed "Power Of The Jedi" series of Star Wars toys. The current wave hitting store shelves features such characters as Jedi Masters Plo Koon and Saesee Tiin, bounty hunter Aurra Sing (all from Episode I), and classic trilogy characters such as damaged Rebel protocol droid K-3PO and a Mon Calamari soldier. But whereas non-film characters or toys based on pre-production designs were featured in the Expanded Universe line, some of these new, distinctly non-film variations bear no such indication that they're not from any past or upcoming movie. (See's ToyBox review of the previous wave of Power Of The Jedi figures.)

Salvatore tapped for Episode II novelization. Author R.A. Salvatore, whose controversial Vector Prime kicked off the New Jedi Order series of Star Wars novels, has been picked by George Lucas to novelize Star Wars Episode II (whose subtitle has yet to be revealed publicly). The book, along with the movie and all of that other merchandise we know and love, is due in May 2002 - coincidentally, the 25th anniversary of the original Star Wars. Source: official Star Wars web site

So is death coming to time or not? The aborted attempt at launching a new series of Doctor Who on BBC Radio, Death Comes To Time, has hit yet another snag - and this time, it could be a snag that prevents the much-anticipated story from ever being heard by fans. The radio pilot, starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, has been turned down even by the BBC Radio Collection, which currently releases numerous CDs of classic Who episodes which have been lost on film but still exist as sound recordings (often taped by fans during the first broadcast). Producer Dan Freedman has also touted the possibility of a webcast, but considering the bad luck which has plagued Doctor Who: Death Comes To Time thus far, we're not holding our breath. Perhaps he should approach Big Finish, the company which already produces a Doctor Who audio adventure every month. Source: Outpost Gallifrey

Don't Zoom just yet. The new album by Electric Light Orchestra - originally scheduled for April - has been delayed until June. However, more interesting information has emerged about the first new ELO project in 15 years to feature bandleader Jeff Lynne. According to a press release, May will see the arrival of the first single, Alright, from the album, and Lynne and whatever live incarnation of the band he manages to assemble (a touring lineup has yet to be announced) will be making TV appearances, and there's still talk of at least a small tour, though nothing on the order of the stadium-filling path ELO used to cleave across the U.S. and Europe in its heyday in the late 1970s. Source: Rob Caiger

You have been assimilated. Activision is preparing another Star Trek real-time strategy/resource management game for this year's Christmas shopping season, but this time you're not a mere Starfleet officer or Klingon warrior - you are the Borg. Star Trek: Borg Assimilator will put players in charge of the Collective, deciding how best to use existing resources to assimilate new species and add their unique abilities and technologies to the Borg. The preview screenshots from this game look particularly promising, and the gameplay will be a cross between Command & Conquer-style strategic warfare and SimCity-style world-building. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

Killer DVD of the Week: get those guys outta my Pentium! You've seen them in Intel's recent Pentium III and Pentium 4 ad campaigns on TV, but let me be the first (well, probably not even the first) to tell you that Blue Man Group is much more than an Intel advertising gimmick. The three blue guys have been performing their unique brand of post-modern percussive mayhem off-broadway since the late 1980s, and their first-ever recorded project, Audio, is now available both on CD and on DVD. The DVD particularly is unique, with one side being geared toward traditional DVD-Video players, and the other side featuring the DVD-Audio version of Audio (which won't necessarily be accessible by many existing DVD players) with a mind-blowing Dolby 5.1 Surround sound mix. And yes, it does sound better than a Pentium commercial. Expect a review of the CD edition of Audio soon in SongBook.

Blue Man Group: Audio

When Reality TV Burns. The sequel to CBS's summer smash hit, Survivor, promised a different show. In some respects, it had delivered. Instead of a tropical island, it was the harsh unforgiving Australian outback in the late spring/early summer. The contestants were a bit nastier too, making it harder to pick out favorites. Little did we know how different - or how controversial - it would be.

Some of the twists and turns surprised even me. The three consecutive appearances to tribal council by the Ogakor tribe was unexpected, with the third tribal council vote ending in a deadlock. The intra-tribal council bickering and backstabbing had me dubbing this series "Lord Of The Backstabbing Fireflies." How little did I know...

The series was also more controversial, with Michael killing a pig on camera. Prior to the scene, there was a disclaimer warning viewing of what was about to happen. CBS had requested some additional edits for that scene. Still, the PETA people were up in arms over the entire event. But the trailer for last Thursday's episode partially hinted at something terrible happening with the words, "There has been an accident at the Kuncha Camp, and one of their members have been evacuated."

Apparently, while off-camera, Michael was tending the camp's fire when he inhaled the smoke and collapsed on the fire, severely burning his hands (later to be determined to be third-degree burns), plus other burns on his body. He dashed to the nearby river for relief from the burns. Close-ups showed Michael's hands with skin pealing off, and the intensive pain that he was going through. Injuries so serious that he had to be flown out for surgery, and thus off the series. When news of the accident arrived, it even shocked the Ogakor tribe.

PETA, are you happy now that Michael received his just deserts?

There are some who say that Michael, despite his injuries, should have kept on playing. They obviously have no idea how bad those injuries were. Even though I am not a medical doctor, a third degree burn is an extremely serious injury with infection extremely likely. The river water, no doubt, has it own set of microbes, complicating matters. It would have been irresponsible for the producers not to take the actions that they did.

Each participant in these reality series, whether it be Survivor, Big Brother, The Mole, or Boot Camp, is well aware of risks and dangers of the series. Every one had to undergo both physical and mental examinations, and sign a waiver acknowledging the dangers. They went into this with their eyes fully open of what could happen, but none realized exactly what that meant...until then. The freak accident that occurred to Michael could also have easily happened to a family gone camping.

Welcome to reality TV, people. There are ordinary everyday people whose lives have changed forever. There are no actors, no scripts, no stunt doubles, no special makeup, and no second takes. You face the consequences. No doubt, the accident will probably be a question that will be posed on the next Survivor questionnaire.

Several months have elapsed since the event occurred. Surgery had to be performed to fix the second and third degree burns. While skin grafts were initially, the quick healing of his hands precluded that. Michael was hospitalized for two weeks with an additional week of out-patient case. Since then, Michael has since regained the use of both of his hands. The experience changed Michael, making him spiritual, and brought him closer to his family, and spends more time with them. Although his hands are probably permanently scarred in some ways from the experience, Mike has no regrets about participating on Survivor.

The Other Shows

  • The Mole - The reality spin-off needs some tweaking to make it work, but is fixable. What went wrong: The publicity was badly handled, with Good Morning America refusing to interview the executed contestants. What went right: The mole played her role perfectly, leaving me completely duped. Well done. The series will be returning.
  • Temptation Island - Uhhhh...when did Fox become the Playboy Channel? What went wrong: Some of the publicity for the show ended up in the wrong areas. What went right: Sex brings ratings. Expect second series.

  • Big Brother - The house is still standing, just in case of a series due to a writers/actor's strike. Why? The web site is still operational.

  • Waiting in the wings - Combat Missions hosted by Survivor's Rudy Boesch, Boot Camp, and Eco-Challange - where there are plenty of nasty injuries and exhaustion.

Mark Holtz
Deep Space Franchise webmaster

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