Mushroom Clouds on HDTV’s Horizon


Contributor: Ted Hearn.

Mushroom Clouds on HDTV’s Horizon

Coming to an HDTV channel near you: The Bomb.

At least that’s the intent of visual effects wizard Peter Kuran, the writer/producer of an award-winning documentary on the development of the atomic bomb by the U.S. government. Kuran is in the process of converting his 35-mm film, Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie, into an HDTV feature.

Kuran said he hasn’t shopped the feature to cable networks yet, as the film’s conversion has not been completed.

“I won’t sell it until I have [the completed film] in hand. Up until then, it’s just an idea,” Kuran told The Wire.

“My goal: I don’t want them to look at it as a scratchy, stock newsreel.”

Kuran made the film in the early 1990s and has seen every frame multiple times, yet he’s been shocked as he worked on the conversion. One shot, he noted, depicts as B-52 and in HDTV, the image is so clear one can actually see a bomb dropping out of the bay doors.

The entire film has been turned into “a huge Quicktime file” which Kuran is in the process of cleaning up, he said, removing dust and scratches from the images.

He hopes the “awesome images” and his marketing hook will attract networks: This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first atomic-bomb test.

Kuran admits to a fascination with the weapons, though he stresses: “I’m not a hawk. People need to be reminded of the destruction. When we haven’t seen these images in a while, we tend to become complacent.”

We Hear McSlarrow’s Joined the NCTA List

A new name has surfaced in the search for a new president at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. According to an informed source, the NCTA search committee is taking a close look at Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow, a veteran GOP operative with close ties to Senate Republicans — an area in which the NCTA’s has been weak in recent years.

McSlarrow could be in the job market because his boss, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, turned in his resignation shortly after President Bush’s re-election in November.

An NCTA spokesman would not comment and McSlarrow, 44, did not return a reporter’s call.

McSlarrow, a former U.S. Army captain who lost two House races in Virginia in the early 1990s, was deputy chief of staff and chief counsel to GOP Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott from 1995 to 1997. He joined the office of Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.) in 1997 as chief of staff. He ran former Vice President Dan Quayle’s losing presidential campaign in 2000.

His wife, Alison, is a Senate player, too. A former Lott aide, she is a D.C. lobbyist who has represented Fannie Mae, Microsoft Corp., Nextel Communications Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc.

The NCTA needs someone with solid Senate contacts. The Senate Commerce Committee — where a new telecommunications bill will originate — has a strong rural profile and its Western-state members want to keep subsidies flowing to telecom companies with high fixed costs.

With Internet technology putting stress on the subsidy program, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has clearly indicated he wants to see cable broadband revenue contribute to the fund. How much — or how little — will be a key objective of the new NCTA president.

Court Informs Knievel Pimp’s No Evil Term

ESPN should be on the s--t list of stuntman extraordinaire Evel Knievel for some time to come, especially now that a federal appeals court in California has shot down an attempt by Knievel and his wife to sue the network for libel.

Knievel failed to see the humor in a caption which appeared for six days on the Web site in 2001. Knievel and his wife, Krystal, were guests at the network’s Action Sports and Music Awards that year. Like other celebrities at the event, the Knievels posed for pictures that were later posted on the Web site.

The photo showed Knievel, dressed in a black leather jacket and rose-colored glasses, with his wife and another unidentified woman. The caption said, “Evel Knievel proves that you’re never too old to be a pimp.”

The Knievels brought suit in federal court in Montana, arguing the caption made people think they were engaged in prostitution, adding that Evel Knievel lost clients because of the assertion.

In a 35-page opinion issued last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on behalf of ESPN. While one judge thought the issues raised by the Knievels merited a full jury trial, the other two on the panel recognized the Web site’s language as an attempt at humor.

Among the site’s target audience, the term that so offended the stuntman was probably intended as a compliment, the opinion said.

Nat Geo Engages In Public Tree-Cycling

Millions of Christmas trees headed for the landfill or mulching machines last week, but New York’s Rockefeller Christmas tree met a less ignominious end this weekend, thanks to the National Geographic Channel.

The giant fir was sliced into “specially crafted enrichment toys” for the animals in the Central Park Zoo. Such toys are designed to stimulate animals’ natural behaviors. The four-footed beneficiaries included snow monkeys, polar bears, red pandas and goats.

Kids — admitted free to the event if they arrived with an adult bearing a Time Warner Cable bill — got slices of the tree they could decorate and take home.

We’re sure it was awww-inspiring….

RCN’s Mooney Isn’t NCTA’s Ex-President

When competitive cable and telecom provider RCN, on emerging from Chapter 11, named James F. Mooney as chairman, lots of people took notice — especially the people who remembered James P. Mooney as the former National Cable Television Association president.

Well, James F. Mooney isn’t a former NCTA chief. Instead, he’s the current chairman of U.K. cable provider NTL Inc.

Representatives of James P. Mooney told the Wire last week his in-box has been overflowing with “say it ain’t so” e-mails from people who think he’s at the head of the board of overbuilder RCN.

“It ain’t so,” Mooney with a “P” passed along. “I feel like my name’s been overbuilt.”