Magazine article Newsweek

The Red Planet Takes a Bow: Space Age: Why Tinseltown's Got a Case of Mars Fever

Magazine article Newsweek

The Red Planet Takes a Bow: Space Age: Why Tinseltown's Got a Case of Mars Fever

Article excerpt

When the folks at the Mars Society asked James Cameron to speak at their annual convention this year, they probably expected him to be polite. Instead, the "Titanic" director stood before them and asked, "Why the hell do you wackos want to go to Mars?" He was just kidding: in truth, Cameron is as evangelical as anyone about Mars, and he figures politicians won't lead the call for funding. "We don't have the same conditions as when John Kennedy declared a race to the moon," he told NEWSWEEK. "Then we were racing the Soviet Union. Today, it's going to have to come from grass roots--from the public clamoring to get it done." Cameron has vowed to stir up "Mars fever."

It seems the wackos at the Mars Society have found some powerful allies: the wackos in Hollywood. So many projects are in the works that soon we'll all have either Mars fever or Mars flu. The studios are clearly responding to the public's fascination with 1997's Sojourner mission--and the success of movies like "Apollo 13" and "Armageddon." So Brian De Palma's "Mission to Mars," with Gary Sinise, will land in theaters in March, and another would-be blockbuster, "Red Planet," starring Val Kilmer, is set for summer 2000. As for Cameron, he'll produce two missions in 2001, one a TV miniseries, the other a short 3-D IMAX movie, which he'll direct. Most filmmakers insist their movies will be realistic. Cameron believes that extravaganzas like "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" have actually hurt NASA's real-life adventures. …

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