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Week of October 22, 2001

Raoul Kraushaar, 1908-2001. Television and film composer Raoul Kraushaar may not have been a household name, but chances are you've heard his work. The French-born musician's career spanned over five decades, beginning with a Gene Autry film in 1937. He went on to provide music for such TV golden-age TV classics as Lassie, Bonanza, Father Knows Best, Dennis The Menace and My Three Sons, and even has at least one genre credit to his name (the original theatrical version of Invaders From Mars). He was 93. Source:

Jay Livingston, 1915-2001. The songsmith who penned the signature tunes for such classic television gems as Mr. Ed and Bonanza has died. Jay Livingston is well-known for his long partnership with fellow songwriter Ray Evans; together, they composed such songs as Buttons And Bows, Que Sera, Sera, and Mona Lisa, and they even racked up three Academy Awards out of a total seven nominations. Livingston's final musical project was a CD, due for a 2002 release, of Michael Feinstein renditions of classic Livingston & Evans songs. Source: Associated Press

Jim Francis, 1954-2001. One of the men responsible for the special effects of nearly every major BBC SF series has died. Visual effects designer Jim Francis worked on shows such as Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Red Dwarf and the television version of the late Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. After leaving the BBC, Francis founded his own special effects company, which will continue to operate in his absence. Source: Outpost Gallifrey

The feature-loaded double-disc DVD Director's Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture arrives in just two weeks! The first ever fully-decked-out Star Trek DVD release from Paramount features audio commentary from director Robert Wise, special effects gurus Doug Trumbull and John Dykstra, composer Jerry Goldsmith and actor Stephen "Decker" Collins, who took time out from 7th Heaven to offer his memories of the film. The second disc will include three retrospective documentaries on the movie, its restoration, and its place in Star Trek lore, all of the original theatrical trailers and TV promos (plus a new trailer just for this re-edited edition), outtakes, deleted scenes, and even some material on Enterprise. The movie itself has been made over with new CGI effects in several scenes, and subtly re-edited under the direct supervision of Wise.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Babylon 5 DVDs already in trouble? The hopes of Babylon 5 fans for their favorite series on shiny round things may already be dashed. In a recent online chat, a Warner Bros. Home Video representative said that no further Babylon 5 DVDs are in the pipeline until after sales from the release of the first volume - containing The Gathering and In The Beginning - have been evaluated: "If the DVD performance does not improve upon the VHS performance from a few years back, it will not continue." (As many U.S. fans have lamented, the Stateside Babylon 5 video releases ceased after the completion of seasons one and five, and only partial completion of seasons two and four on VHS; U.K. fans have access to the entire series on tape.) The first - and, if things don't go well, only Babylon 5 DVD will be released in December. staff writer Mark Holtz has already kicked off an online petition to help show Warner Home Video that fans want the entire series released this time.

Babylon 5:
The Gathering / In The Beginning

Sign the Babylon 5 DVD Petition

Strange new worlds? Extrasolar planets have been discovered before, but a couple of recent discoveries by astronomers are getting a lot of attention in scientific circles. Nearly 80 planets orbiting other stars have been identified by astronomers around the world, who usually detect them by watching the parent stars for an unusual "wobble" caused by the gravitational tug of large, Jupiter-sized (or even larger) worlds. Most of these planets have also had irregular, elliptical orbits - taking them closer to their stars for part of a given year and further away for the rest of the year - which aren't conducive to the formation and maintenance of life. But two recently-discovered worlds, also Jovian-sized, have circular orbits at distances favorable for life. Sorry - no one's booking flights just yet. Source: Washington Times submitted by Jeff Godemann

Herr Doktor (but no Daleks uber alles yet). Though it's not the first time Doctor Who mythology has rewritten the history of World War II, Big Finish Productions' latest Audio Adventure, Colditz, asks the question "What would happen if the Third Reich got their hands on the Doctor's TARDIS?" The Doctor in question is Sylvester McCoy, with the redoubtable Sophie Aldred in tow as Ace. The third installment of Big Finish Productions' Dalek Empire audio serial was also due out this month, but has been delayed for a few weeks due to circumstances beyond their control. The third episode, titled Death To The Daleks!, will instead bow in early November - which, considering that November 2001 marks the 38th anniversary of Doctor Who, works just as well, and we'll have ordering links for it as soon as possible. The fourth episode is still on track for release just before Christmas. In other news, word is starting to leak from Big Finish about another series of single-disc Doctor Who spinoff adventures, this time featuring Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith in a series of earthbound stories without K-9. Source: Big Finish Productions

NASA chief resigns after nine years. NASA chief administrator Daniel Goldin has announced his resignation from the post he first took in 1992. Having overseen the rebuilding of the post-Challenger space program, Goldin's reign has seen a return to regular shuttle flights, the construction of the International Space Station, the joint US/Russian Mir missions, and programs such as the successful Mars Surveyor mission. Goldin will be assisting in the search for his replacement. His resignation is effective November 17th. Source: Associated Press

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