I'll be guesting on Kate Valentine's Viewpoints show this evening. The show goes out at midnight New York Time on WYNM am 970 The Apple. Viewpoints is primarily a UFO show, but there's a clear connection with The War of the Worlds, and this will be a good opportunity to discuss how panic radio broadcasts, UFOs and the planet Mars have become interconnected.
The 1938 War of the Worlds radio panic, the anniversary of which we are about to celebrate, was largely focused on the East Coast of America, but the West Coast can boast at least one celebrated example, when an entire town lost its head. It was 5pm when the broadcast was heard in the little town of Concrete, Skagit County, Washington. It was all down to an unfortunate quirk of fate, when a lightening strike knocked out the power in the town just as the Martians were laying waste to New Jersey. Thinking the worst, that a Martian Tripod was attacking, the residents took fright. Feliks Banel of KUOW radio has the full story, including an amazing interview with a resident who remembers that dark and stormy night. Definitely worth a listen.
The movie site Ain't it Cool News has been running a fascinating series of behind the scenes photographs in recent months, and today they've turned up an amazing image from George Pal's War of the Worlds movie. The Martians in Pal's movie something of a failure. They're seldom seen, not so much to build suspense, but because the suit was so poorly constructed that it fell apart at the drop of a hat, but how cool is it to see this image? A word of warning, the language on Ain't it Cool can get a bit close to the knuckle, so the easily offended should beware.
I always love it when people shine a new light on the story of the 1938 broadcast, but was particularly delighted to chance upon The Broadcast, a first time work from Eric Hobbs. This graphic novel looks to be a really fine debut with nuanced writing and a particularly interesting style of art, which at first glance looks unfinished and rough, but there’s a subtle sophistication here that creeps up on you page by page until you are totally immersed in the story. I've only had a chance so far to read the first 21 pages online, which Eric has generously provided on his website, but this is going on my Christmas list. I'm still smiling as I write this from the final panel in the preview, which shows Orson Welles crossing out the name of Howard Koch as writer on the script and replacing it with his own. Eric certainly has Orson exactly right there. You can buy The Broadcast on Amazon now.
The Grover's Mill Coffee Company, whose namesake is of course the Grover's Mill where Orson Welles set his 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast, is recreating the show on the nights of Friday October 29th and Saturday October 30th. Actor Michael Jarmus will be hosting what sounds like an excellent evenings entertainment. More details and directions can be found at the Grover's Mill Coffee Company website.
Zombies are flavour of the moment right now, and The Walking Dead is the latest take on the theme, though for the first time ever, the Zombies are going to be lurching onto our TV Screens. To promote the new series from AMC and Fox, Zombies in full make up will be appearing tomorrow in dozens of cities across the world, including New York and London. I just hope that those behind this stunt are taking precautions to ensure people are aware that this is just publicity for a TV series. It would be dangerous in the extreme to assume that everyone will instantly get the joke. They didn't in 1938 when Orson Welles unleashed his Martian invasion, and they didn't this year in Georgia when a TV station faked a 2nd Russian invasion, nor a month later in Jordan when a newspaper reported on an alien invasion! This could get real ugly, and I'm not just talking about the Zombies.
Sad news that Tom Bosley has passed away at the age of 83. Tom was of course best known as the long suffering father of Howard and Joanie Cunningham in Happy Days, but he also featured in the 1975 TV movie The Night that Panicked America, which told to great effect the story of the 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast. Tom played the rather anonymoussounding Norman Smith, a rattled CBS producer trying to deal with the maverick force that was Welles, but it is fairly certain to me that he is actually taking the role of Davidson Taylor, the CBS producer actually present that night.
The first episode of a new adaptation of First Men in the Moon will air tonight at 9pm on BBC 4 and to coincide with the broadcast, the BBC have released a number of recordings made by H. G Wells between 1931 and 1943. There are some fascinating pieces here, including a 1943 attack on the state of British newspapers that includes an intriguing suggestion that news be disseminated by telephone as a way of bypassing what he saw as the censorship of newsprint. It's very easy to think of this as the Internet in principle. Were Wells alive today, I think it certain he would be blogging. You can also find some letters written by Wells on the BBC Archive pages. Definitely worth a look. The trailer for First Men in the Moon also looks very good, though isn't that the theme music from the recent Sherlock Holmes movie?
Radio Teesdale in the UK, a radio station run by volunteers, has scored a scoop with a very interesting interview with Mr War of the Worlds himself, Jeff Wayne. Wayne talks for 20 minutes about his life and interest in The War of the Worlds. It's well worth a listen. A short version can be found right now on the radio Teesdale website, but the full show including music from Wayne's seminal musical version of The War of the Worlds goes out Monday 19th at 9pm GMT on http://www.radioteesdale.co.uk/. For those in the UK, the station is on 102.1 and 105.5fm.
The Stagework Theatre in Tampa is presenting their own version of the 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast between October 7th and 16th. Sounds like an interesting variation on the theme, with several other panic broadcasts apparently influencing the production. Given the forthcoming anniversary of the 1938 broadcast, you can expect a flood of similar productions across the world. For further information on the Tampa production, visit the Stagework Theatre website. There's also a short interview with the director Karla Hartley at the WUSF website.