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CNI News 19.6

CNI News - Volume 19.6
June 20, 1996
Published by the ISCNI News Center
Editor: Michael Lindemann

       X Files Creator's New Series Explores Millennial Chaos
       Alien Invasion Plot Blurs Line Between Fantasy & Reality
       After 45 Years, "Behind the Flying Saucers" Rings True

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The subject matter of CNI News is inherently controversial, and the views and
opinions reported in the news are not necessarily those of ISCNI or its

The next edition of CNI News will appear on Monday, June 23.


    X Files Creator's New Series Explores Millennial Chaos

[This is an edited version of an article by Mark Schwed that appeared in TV

Without a doubt, Millennium, which will air in The X-Files' old Friday slot
on Fox, is the most anticipated new drama of the fall season. It may also be
the most disturbing. As other producers busy themselves with copycatting The
X-Files' dark themes, Chris Carter is focusing his sights on his new project.
The idea is simple: As we approach the year 2000 -- the end of the millennium
-- psychopaths around the world emerge to create chaos and horror. It is a
story of good versus evil, redemption and damnation, heaven and hell. Ex-FBI
agent Frank Black (played by Lance Henriksen of "Aliens") and a secret group
of former law enforcement officers known as the Millennium Group have taken
on the task of saving the world. As Black says, "The Millennium Group
believes we can't sit back and hope for a happy ending."

As in The X-Files, which is shooting new episodes just two blocks away,
Carter has focused on fear, paranoia, and pure evil. "My feeling of life, and
this is a rather grim outlook, is that everything gets worse," says Carter.
Still, he insists the heart and soul of the show is more hopeful. "This isn't
a serial-killer-of-the-week show. Actually, the things I am really interested
in are hope, heroism, faith, spirituality, and selflessness. That is what I
hope for. Discipline. Order. Goodness."

Still, some scenes may shock viewers. "We are taking it to the absolute max,"
says supervising producer John Kousakis. "And Fox is allowing us to do it."
There are disturbing characters and scenes. There is a serial killer who
quotes poetry by William Butler Yeats and recites doomsday predictions from
Nostradamus and the Book of Revelations. A stripper grinds her hips as the
wall behind her oozes blood and fire. People are buried alive.

"One thing that The X-Files has proved is that dark is good," says Millennium
director David Nutter. "You can go very dark and people will respond. But
with this show, it's not chasing the paranormal. It's chasing the hell that
is right outside our window. So it's even more scary. And I look at Frank
Black as our candle in a dark wind that stays lit, you know?" After 10 years
hunting homicidal psychopaths for the FBI, Black has retired to Seattle,
where he lives with his wife, Catherine, a social psychologist played by
Megan Gallagher, and their little girl, Jordan. He has found a
picture-perfect yellow house in a picture-perfect neighborhood -- a safe
haven for his family. But the world outside his door is falling to pieces. He
has no choice but to step into the fray.

"This is a simple morality tale," Carter says, "in that people who are the
perpetrators of evil deeds are caught and punished for them. They are clearly
bad people and we have good people chasing them. People who provide us with

In Henriksen's view, the undercurrent of doom that accompanies the
approaching millennium is real. Humankind is on the verge of catastrophe, he
believes, and people have a choice to make. "So the millennium to me is the
moment in history when people say, 'Wait a minute! What is it all about?' We
are all suddenly going to wake up. We've got to come out of the trance or
there isn't going to be anything left." To help convey this feeling, Carter
has hired Gary Wissner, the art director for the gruesome Brad Pitt-Morgan
Freeman movie "Seven," to serve as production designer. Even without
lighting, the sets are a study in contrasts: Frank's world is luminous
yellow, heavenly. "He is, after all, playing God," says Wissner. The walls of
the strip club are purple flecked with blood red.
"When you walk in there, you are in the heart of the devil," he says.

Carter, who in the past has been a surfer, a potter, a carpenter, and a
journalist, knows that the pressure is intense for his second project. But he
says he can't resist a challenge. "I remember on The X-Files I said to David
and Gillian that I wanted to make this five great years of television. And I
want it always to get better. It is the same thing with this," he says. "It
is essentially going to be a murder mystery show, which is what X-Files is,
in the end. I am just trying to make it fresh, original, interesting, tight,
and as unpredictable as possible."


    Alien Invasion Plot Blurs Line Between Fantasy & Reality

[CNI News notes that the new fall series "Dark Skies" on NBC is yet another
vision of Alien Invasion, following the lead of such shows as Babylon 5 and
Space: Above and Beyond, not to mention the summer big-screen films "The
Arrival" and "Independence Day." But Dark Skies goes further by introducing
many historical figures into the plot, blurring the line between fiction and
reality. As with the online saga currently unfolding at the EON-4 website,
many viewers might begin to wonder if they're watching "entertainment" or
news. The following article appeared in the July 96 issue of "Cinescape"
magazine, written by Edward Gross.]

Was Lee Harvey Oswald an alien dupe? Did Nelson Rockefeller cover up an E.T.
invasion? NBC's fall series "Dark Skies" offers a take on real events that
you won't find in your old high-school history books.

Fox Mulder's better half isn't Dana Scully -- it's John Loengard, chief alien
hunter on NBC's soon-to-be-launched Dark Skies, a challenging sci-fi series
in which Loengard serves more or less as Mulder's predecessor. He's a
government employee in the early '60s who battles to bring the truth about
space aliens to the public.  And along the way he interacts, in a twist that
makes the network rather nervous, with a variety of historical figures, from
Robert Kennedy and Nelson Rockefeller to Jack Ruby.

"Our concept," says co-creator and executive producer Bryce Zabel, "is that
we're going to march through recent history and show you what really happened
behind the scenes.  We start out in the '60s, and by our fourth season, when
it's 1999, we will have caught up with [present] time: The alien presence may
make an announcement on the eve of the millennium."

The aliens in question are the Hive, parasitic creatures that attach
themselves to the brains of humans and eventually take control of the nervous
system.  Hive members communicate telepathically, and are working in unison
to achieve world-wide "Singularity" (or, as Star Trek's Borg would say,
assimilation).  En route to that goal, they play a role -- either directly or
indirectly -- in some of the most significant events of recent years.  For
instance, ever wonder what really caused the New York City blackout in 1965?
 Well, it turns out that a Hive saucer orchestrated it to stop the broadcast
of filmed proof of alien infestation.  Apollo 17, it will be revealed, was
actually a strike against a Hive moon base; SDI was secretly designed as an
offensive weapons system against Hive spacecraft, resulting in the
retaliatory destruction of the Challenger. The list continues.

"This is a large canvas to paint on, and I for one love to find the
relationships between unrelated things," says Zabel, who co-wrote the pilot
episode with Brent Friedman.  "One of the things Brent and I did was create a
timeline, and we literally plugged in all of the major events of the 1960s.
 Then we added UFO sightings; unexplained phenomena of the same period and we
were able to see which things matched up.  The results would surprise you.
 Things you wouldn't normally group together begin to take on meaning.
 Listen, it's bound to be controversial, and I'm sure that we will have fans
who will really like us but will also be hard on us. Each of them will
probably have their own take on how the show should go, and that's great.
 I'll meet them on Internet and we can talk about it."

The pilot for Dark Skies begins in 1961 as young lovers John Loengard (Eric
Close) and Kimberly Sayers (Megan Ward) arrive in Washington, D.C., as
low-level members of President Kennedy's "New Frontier."  They optimistically
embrace the future, aspiring to some day become President and First Lady.
 Their dreams are short-lived, however, when Loengard becomes involved with a
secret unit of the government called Majestic-12.  Supervised by Frank Bach
(J.T. Walsh), MJ-12 has hard evidence that an alien craft crashed in Roswell,
N.M., in 1947.  Fifteen years later, with Loengard tagging along, the group
encounters an alien "ganglion" attached to the nervous system of an Idaho
farmer, leading them to conclude that an alien race is systematically taking
over the minds of human beings.  Loengard subsequently learns that President
Kennedy has no knowledge of MJ-12 or the aliens, and that Bach has no plans
to tell him.  Loengard, however, defies his master, and three days later,
Kennedy is assassinated to keep the secret contained.

"Loengard and Sayers are considered loose cannons by MJ-12 and pursued by the
very organization that considered the death of the president an acceptable
method of keeping a secret," says Zabel with a wicked smile.

"I've been interested in this idea for a long time and have included aspects
of it in some of my other work," says the producer, who wrote the Sci-Fi
Channel film, "Official Denial." The genesis of the series can be traced to
1993, when Zabel was struggling through a rewrite of the movie. He received a
phone call from a man he didn't know who had read the original teleplay and
had a problem with the ending.  Zabel says that though his initial impulse
was to hang up, something in the man's voice convinced him to listen.

"This guy claimed to have been a field operative for Majestic-12 in the early
'60s," he offers.  "That kind of intrigued me, so I met with him and he
became one of my sources for this.  His angle was that he thought the time to
get the truth out had arrived.  Because the disinformation campaign had
worked for a number of years, using fiction to get the truth out was the best
way to not put people at risk."

Zabel says he asked the man for proof of his identity and for evidence of his
involvement with Majestic-12; none was forthcoming.  Still, what the man had
to say -- regardless of whether he was a crank, a figment of Zabel's fevered
imagination or the real deal -- proved valuable to the TV producer.

"First, he said that the Roswell situation was true and that it happened
pretty much as [UFO theorists believe it did], and that as a result
Majestic-12 was formed," he says.  "He told me something else that I had not
heard, which was that in December of 1960, following the election where
Kennedy had defeated Nixon, President Eisenhower -- who had been briefed
about Majestic-12 -- had signed an executive order that the directors of
MJ-12 could brief future presidents at their discretion, because Ike didn't
trust Nixon or Kennedy.  According to this guy, they didn't tell Kennedy,
which is what we build the story around."

That spin has intrigued just about everyone who has read Zabel's script for
the premiere episode, including director Tobe Hooper. Best known for his
big-screen horror efforts such as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre",
"Poltergeist", and "Lifeforce," Hooper has carved out a new career for
himself in recent years as a director for the small screen.

"The pilot script just blew me away," admits Hooper. "This isn't a horror
film.  It's about real people and an experience that -- who knows? -- could
be true."

It was the intelligence of the script and the show's premise, says actor Eric
Close, that attracted him to the project.  "What I like about this show is
the endless possibilities it raises.  This script takes a unique look at
history.  In fact, my favorite scene in the whole pilot was when Bobby
Kennedy and I were walking along the Potomac River and we're talking about
the material I sent to his brother.  It was incredible to shoot that because
I really felt as though I had stepped back in time. Plus this actor, James
Kelley, had the accent and sort of looked like a Kennedy.  I'm sitting there
thinking, 'Man, I really am with Bobby Kennedy.' It was a real highlight of
the show."

Like other shows with dark conspiracy themes, the government is made up of
both white hats and black hats -- but the black hats distinctly have the
advantage.  Frank Bach, however, is something that's a little more unusual in
TV-Land: a gray hat.

"What's particularly interesting about the Bach character is that he's
morally ambiguous," says Zabel.  "John Loengard believes that people have a
right to know, while Frank Bach believes that people can't handle the truth.
 These are both good points of view.  Either one could be right.  What makes
it so interesting is that it is a good fight.  Bach's feeling is, 'I'm a
soldier in a war and people die in wars. I have been charged by my country
with the solemn duty to protect it from this unthinkable menace and, by God,
I'm going to do it with all the resources I have available to me. If you
don't want a warrior to fight your wars, you're in serious trouble.' I think
the relationship between Bach and Loengard is a twisted father-and-son
relationship, I think [it's] going to make the J.R. Ewing of the '90s."  Adds
Hooper, "There's a moment in the pilot when Bach finally loses his cool and
it's almost like Olivier when he has a confrontation with Spartacus.  When
you see a powerful man finally losing it, it really humanizes him.  The
character has an interesting dichotomy to him."

The dichotomy Bryce Zabel is currently struggling with is the chasm between
his and co-creator Brent Friedman's vision and that of NBC.  Though open to
the collaborative process, he is fearful of allowing too many alterations to
"conventionalize" the series.  The "X-Files," he notes, took a full season to
become a hit, and part of the reason the show struck a chord with the public
is that it was unlike any other series on the air."

"In a sense, we're struggling for the soul of the series," he says.  "What's
really important to Brent and I is that we want to create an internally
consistent world so that the fans don't feel toyed with.  We don't want
people to think we're just making it up as we go along, because we're not.
 We have a grand plan, and we think it's a pretty fun ride and we want to
take people on it."

With NBC heavily promoting the series, everyone involved believes that "Dark
Skies" will quickly gain an audience when it begins its run in August, and
Zabel is convinced that by working within reality-based conspiracy theories
the show will keep viewers tuned in.

"The Kennedy assassination was a cover-up, as was Roswell, as was Watergate,"
Zabel opines.  "There are many situations where we're told one thing and
another thing is going on.  Almost anything is plausible.  The interesting
thing is you may not be able to prove that UFOs are true, based on available
evidence, but you can almost prove that a cover-up is in existence. If you
can prove a cover-up, then maybe the truth is stranger than you might expect;
maybe something worthy of disinformation is out there. So if you believe in
your heart of hearts that a spacecraft crashed in Roswell, N.M., in 1947, and
the evidence is relatively strong that something happened, then all kinds of
things are possible."


    After 45 Years, "Behind the Flying Saucers" Rings True

[CNI News thanks James Sutton for forwarding this item, which was posted to
the internet by UFOSearch of Columbia, Missouri.]

Frank Scully was a very interesting newspaper man, a member of an older
school of journalism, reviled now, who came up the hard way during the
Depression.  Scully's abilities at last allowed him access to the upper
reaches of U.S. society and gave him a true insider's viewpoint, one that
"normal" reporters never acquired.

The following paragraphs are from the Preface of Scully's book "Behind The
Flying Saucers," published 45 years ago.  As you can see, they seem right up
to the minute.  This is because the world we are living in today was created
in the immediate Post World War II years -- and a lot of people did not like
it.  Scully was one of these people.

From The Preface Of  "Behind The Flying Saucers:"

"Between the people and government today lies a double standard of morality.
 Anything remotely scientific has become by government definition a matter of
military security first; hence of secrecy, something which does not breed
security but fear.  If we see anything unusual, even in the skies, we the
people must either freeze our lips, like a Russian peasant at the sight of a
commissar, or give our names, addresses, business connections, and testimony
to be screened and filtered by anonymous intelligence officers.

"Feared and respected by many people, these anonymous creatures can deny what
we say, ridicule what we say, and sometimes (and in an increasing number of
countries) jail us for what we say -- especially if our timing does not match
to the second their intended official pronouncements on the subject.

"The only way for a free people to fight such encroachments on free inquiry
is to say in advance, "What I am telling you will be denied," or "This is
true but those who say so now will be branded as dreamers, and if they
persist, as liars.

"This may seem a dreadful way to treat our own flesh and blood, our
commissioned sons who have been trained for combat but are assigned in
peacetime to espionage and counterespionage.  But since our sons in uniform
do not report to us, the people, but to Central Intelligence (which as far as
we can make out reports to nobody and is answerable to nobody), how otherwise
can we get our current findings to our friends?

"Scientists believe they have suffered more than any other group from the
postwar loyalty hysteria but writers cannot be far behind them.  The "thread
of intolerance" which runs through our history has now become as thick as a
noose to hang us.

"Propaganda has made true-and-false practically obsolete in our language.  If
a spokesman has served time in intelligence, it may be fairly said, the truth
is no longer in him.

"Scientists do not want to go to war with the Army over the issue.  They have
to get essential materials for research, and certain branches of the
Department of Defense might find it difficult to find such essential
materials for scientists who will not cooperate.

"Is it any wonder then that I advise my readers to treat any official
statement as no more than old newspapers blowing in the wind.  In fact, if
such faceless men should say that the objects are (a) newspapers or (b) not
newspapers but fragments of flying saucers, they are not to be believed
either way.  Not until we, the people, we who have names, addresses and the
courage of our convictions, not until we say there are such things as flying
saucers, is it authentic."



[The following item appeared in the current issue (July 96) of Mademoiselle,
as a sidebar to a brief article on abduction titled "Blind Dates from Outer
Space," written by Mededith Berkman. CNI News finds this treatment of the
abduction subject neither helpful nor amusing -- in fact, we consider it to
be ignorant, insensitive and outrageous. Any of our readers who feel the same
might consider writing to Mademoiselle and setting them straight.]

"How to Survive a Close Encounter"

1.  Remain Calm. Dr. Jacobs believes that abductors don't respond well to
melodrama. "Once the event begins, you have no control. You cannot run or get
loose." Conserve your energy for your recuperation -- not to mention your
book tour.

2.  Wear Something He'll Like. "Remember who you're dressing for," advises
Spit Brody, one of the stars of last season's ABC comedy "Aliens in the
Family."  "Aliens don't like clothes with good taste, they like clothes that
taste good. Chanel belt buckles are especially flavorful -- and they show the
alien that you care." And a caring gesture makes for a caring alien.

3.  Don't Pressure Him. "Many girls want their alien abduction to be
magical," says Brody. "To avoid the inevitable letdown, remember: Your first
abduction is bound to be awkward, even embarrassing, and guess what? The
alien is probably just as nervous as you!"

4.  Build Him Up. Most Abductees show a real want of imagination, writes
skeptic and scientist Carl Saga: "The form of the supposed aliens is marked
by a ... preoccupation with human concerns. Not a single being in these
accounts is as astonishing as a cockatoo would be if you had never before
beheld a bird."

5.  Act Natural. Be yourself. "Remember, the alien abducted you," says Brody.
"He could've just as well sucked up an otter or a slug. Don't put on airs,
don't try to impress, and don't pretend you have more chromosomes than you
do. Rule of thumb? Phonies don't get a second abduction.

6. Be Flattered. Why? Because they bothered to come back, even though such an
advanced race probably could've done the job in one trip. "Why not steal a
few eggs and sperm cells," wonders Sagan, and then simply manipulate them in
the lab? In other words, these gray guys are going to a lot of trouble for a
second date.



[The following tidbit appeared in Variety, written by Ray Richmond.]

HOLLYWOOD - Forget CNN, C-SPAN and CNBC. What President Clinton really wants
is the Sci-Fi Channel.

That became clear Friday [June 14], when a White House official contacted
Dick Ross, a VP with USA Networks Inc., parent company of cable's Sci-Fi
Channel. The official wanted to know how the president could receive the
cable network at the White House, as well as his retreat at Camp David in
Frederick, Md.

Ross told the unnamed official that it just so happened that District
Cablevision of Washington is set to add Sci-Fi Channel to its basic package
June 24.

Camp David, however, was another matter. The area surrounding the
presidential spread has yet to be wired for cable.

Ross got the OK to descramble the channel's signal to Camp David so it can be
received by the property's satellite dish as of Monday. "We're really pretty
flattered," Sci-Fi spokeswoman Karen Reynolds said.

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Next: CNI News 19.7