Thursday, June 30, 2011

'Apollo 18' latest trailer

Why have we never gone back to the moon? Hollywood answers fearfully in Apollo 18...

Apollo 18 is due for release 2 September, 2011.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transformers 3 reviews

Transformers: Dark of the Moon hits cinemas today. The critics have not been kind.

I'll be providing a detailed UFOlogical review of the movie later in the week.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What is 'UMBRA'?

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers


"UMBRA" is a Latin word that refers to "a dark area, especially the blackest part of a shadow from which all light is cut off."

"UMBRA" is also a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) code word used to denote the highest-level compartment of Communications Intelligence (COMINT) - also known as Special Intelligence. Notable in this context is a "Top Secret UMBRA" NSA affidavit dating from October 1980 which gives reasons why certain information relating to UFOs is exempt from disclosure.

Now, UMBRA is to be a Hollywood movie. A paranoid thriller, to be precise, "about a man who finds an old cassette tape which reveals a horrifying secret."

Details of this movie first emerged back in 2009, when Roger Donaldson was attached to direct and Nicholas Cage to star, but budgetary concerns about the production - as well as Cage's numerous other movie commitments at the time - meant that it never really got off the ground.

The movie's original screenplay was written by newcomer Steven Karczynski and was leaked online in June 2009 and reviewed by a handful of bemused amateur critics. The consensus was that an intriguing and gripping conspiracy thriller in the vein of Coppola's The Conversation was torpedoed in its final act by an unexpected sci-fi twist. The screenplay itself is no longer viewable online, but the reviewers' original comments remain, and they confirm what many will already be suspecting: UMBRA is - or, at least, was - a UFO movie.

The script reviewers' comments are not entirely revelatory, but they do tell us that the would-be movie's plot features a "top secret government agency... apparently powerful enough to employ trained killers, track citizens, intercept phone calls and emails, and gain access to private security deposit boxes." The NSA immediately springs to mind, even if it is not explicitly referred to.

One reviewer noted that "the last name of the man who escaped in the script is 'Lazar'" - a possible nod to Bob Lazar, who famously thrust Area 51 into the spotlight in the late-1980s.

The screenplay's ending apparently is ambiguous, but one reviewer speculated that, in the film, "aliens were harvesting humans for their chromosomes or cross-breeding with them or turning them into surrogate wombs 'ALIEN' style."

"I am a little confused," wrote another reviewer, and asked "was the government trying to stop them [the aliens], were they part of it [the conspiracy], or was there little left of the government that wasn't alien?"

Any questions concerning UMBRA's original incarnation are likely to remain open, however, as the script is now being re-written by Joe Carnahan (The A-Team (2010)) who will also direct the movie for Endgame Productions (the film originally was to be produced by Relativity Media). Whether or not the script's alien element will survive its reboot is uncertain and there is no release date for the movie as yet, though it is unlikely to hit cinemas before the end of 2012 as new director Carnahan is currently tied up with another project entitled The Grey (not alien-related).

Intriguingly, UMBRA's original director - Roger Donaldson - worked closely with the Pentagon on the political thriller Thirteen Days, and with the CIA on Agency pet project The Recruit. Donaldson also directed the alien movie Species. While new helmer Joe Carnahan's production history isn't nearly so interesting as Donaldson's, UMBRA - if and when it reaches the big screen - is nevertheless certainly one to watch out for.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vacation Update

There's been a couple of things to happen since last post.  So I'll just mention them quick.  I'm not on island, so I don't have many details, but here are a couple of interesting stories you can read.  The first one is a news story about the Delta 747 heading for Japan that had to make an emergency landing on Midway a few days ago.  Here's a link:

Also, the short_tailed albatross chick fledged!  Here's the link for that story:

I hope it shows up in a few years and makes Midway its home.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hidden power in Hollywood

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

My frequent writing partner, Dr. Matthew Alford, discussed his ongoing research into the Hollywood/Washington machine earlier today in an interview for Achieve Radio.

In a 50-minute discussion with host James Martinez, Matthew looked at CIA and DoD involvement in Hollywood and the industry's pivotal role in catapulting pro-U.S. establishment propaganda across the world.

Also discussed was the subject of government involvement in Hollywood's UFO movies.

Matthew Alford's book, Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy is available for purchase through the publisher's website and through

Matthew is currently working on a follow-up to Reel Power entitled: Puppet Masters of Hollywood, which will feature a chapter on UFO movies co-authored by myself.

Monday, June 20, 2011

'Falling Skies' reviews and 'Transformers' TV spots

Steven Spielberg's alien-invasion series Falling Skies premiered yesterday on U.S. television and has received generally favourable reviews from critics. Among the show's fans is Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times, who writes:

"Serious without being grim, uplifting without being saccharine, Falling Skies dares to image what feature films will not - a world in which Will Smith or Aaron Eckhart did not bring down the mother ship in time."

Meanwhile, at the other end of the critical spectrum, The New York Times' Mike Hale opines that the highly-anticipated show falls considerably short of Spielberg's own directorial projects in terms of emotional impact:

"As a director, of course, Mr. Spielberg can work magic with this kind of material. But "Falling Skies" lacks his personal touch — there’s no wonder, nor is there the blunt terror and grim plausibility of his own alien-invasion film, War of the Worlds Despite the high stakes of the story and the frequent violence, the tone is placid and slightly monotonous, as if we were watching the Walton family at the end of the world."

In other Spielberg/alien-related news, six new TV spots for Transformers: Dark of the Moon are now online and feature new footage from the movie. This third instalment of the Transformers franchise opens at 9pm on June 28 in 3D and IMAX theatres before moving to 2D theaters the following day.

Silver Screen Saucers

Spielberg fired Megan Fox from Transformers 3

Michael Bay and Megan Fox

By Robbie Graham
Silver Screen Saucers

Transformers director Michael bay has revealed why his former leading lady, Megan Fox, unexpectedly walked away from the franchise despite having been cast for its soon-to-be released third instalment... Steven Spielberg fired her.

Spielberg - who is the executive producer of the alien-themed franchise - apparently was "enraged" by comments Fox had made in a magazine interview comparing Michael Bay to Hitler. When asked by Wonderland magazine in September 2009 what it was like working with Bay (who is known to be something of a tyrant on-set), Fox responded:

"God, I really wish I could go loose on this one. He's like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he's a nightmare to work for but when you get him away from set, and he's not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he's so awkward, so hopelessly awkward. He has no social skills at all."

According to Bay, when Spielberg read Fox's comments, he told his director: "Fire her right now."

Fox has been replaced in the third Transformers movie - Dark of the Moon - by British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Here's a tip, Rosie: when asked in future interviews about the pleasures of working with Bay, just nod, smile broadly and flash an enthusiastic thumbs-up!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alien movie topples alien movie

The UFO movie Super 8 was toppled from the U.S. box-office top-spot this weekend by alien-themed comic book movie Green Lantern, which brought in $52.6 million in its first three days.

In normal circumstances this would be an impressive weekend box-office haul. In light of the movie's combined production and advertising budget, however - a staggering $250-300 million - Green Lantern has quite a way to go yet before making a profit. Negative reviews from critics surely aren't helping.

How to torture an alien... Hollywood-style

Rednecks torture a captive alien in Altered (2006)

On its Asylum site, AOL is quick to point out that it would not approve of humans torturing extraterrestrials, but it  nevertheless offers a few choice tips - based on Hollywood movies - on how best to interrogate any alien nasties that might cross our paths.


Friday, June 17, 2011


Ok, I'm on vacation now in the Washington D.C. area, but since I said I'd do a post from here, here it is. 

Right before I left, one of the last tour groups of the season came to Midway.  The leader of that Oceanic Society group is Susan Middleton.  I'm mentioning that because she came through the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a few years ago and took some really amazing photos.  She put out a book called "Archipelago" and I would really suggest that you check out her site;

I've been doing a bit of volunteer work around here while I've been back.  I've been helping Dasha with her work with the Animal Rescue League, which is an organization that rescues injured wildlife.  I've also been helping out with the Fairfax County Tree Stewards, so it's almost like being at work!

I don't have a lot to report about Midway.  There wasn't a big anniversary for the Battle of Midway this year.  Maybe next year.  While I was gone, the Short-tailed albatross chick was banded, and it should be fledged by the time I get back.  I'll be back in about 2 weeks and will get you up to date then. 

This is the cover of Susan Middleton and David Littschwager's book.  Go to that link above to see pics.

Here's the airport crew seeing us off at the G-2.

This isn't from Midway by the way.  We don't have any ospreys or bullheads.  I took this on the Potomac River in Alexandria, VA near our apartment.

We don't have any peacocks either.  This was at the National Zoo.  I've got a lot more pics, but you want to know about Midway, not D.C. right?

Reagan 'E.T.' screening guest list

As a follow-up to my commentary piece on the Spielberg/Reagan story that's currently doing the rounds on the Internet, the full guest list for President Reagan's 1982 White House E.T. screening is now online, thanks to Grant Cameron.

A full analysis of the list can be found over at Open Minds.

'Green Lantern', 'Ben 10' and Cameron's 'Myth'

James Cameron (Aliens, The Abyss) is to re-team with his Avatar star Sam Worthington for Myth - a mega movie about which nothing is known other than "it’s big, it’s sci-fi, and it’s got lots of action." The movie is likely to be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers), while Cameron will assume the role of executive producer (he won't be directing, though).

In other news, producer Joel Silver (The Matrix), is to oversee a big screen adaptation of the kids' TV series Ben 10, which follows the adventures of Ben Tennyson, a boy who comes into possession of an other-worldly artefact that allows him to transform into ten different superpowered aliens.        

Last, but not least, alien-themed comic book movie Green Lantern (left) has failed to wow critics, though it may yet fare better with audiences in the coming days and weeks.

Monday, June 13, 2011

UFO movie news round-up

The Spielberg-produced, J.J. Abrams-directed UFO movie Super 8 is sitting comfortably at the top of the U.S. box-office after a respectable (though not spectacular) weekend gross of $37 million. It will likely be toppled next weekend, though, by the release of yet another alien-themed movie - Green Lantern (in cinemas June 17).

Meanwhile, Spielberg's old friend and collaborator Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Contact) is in talks to shoot a $100 million, live-action, 3D movie based on Mattel's 1960s space-themed toy line, Major Matt Mason.

The toy line originally was hooked entirely around the wonders of Apollo-era spaceflight and lunar exploration, but later expanded to include a host of alien characters. Whether aliens will feature in the movie version remains to be seen. Life-long sci-fi fan and Zemeckis regular Tom Hanks has co-written the screenplay.

Finally, casts a critical eye over the science of Hollywood's UFO subgenre and asks: What Makes an Alien Encounter Movie Believable?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Disney to produce secret sci-fi movie

By Robbie Graham

Frequent J.J. Abrams collaborator Damon Lindelof has just sold a "secret" sci-fi movie pitch to Disney. It's enigmatically titled: 1952. Beyond that, no details are forthcoming.

I'm gonna stick my neck out and bet that it's about aliens (perhaps relating in some way to the UFO fever that swept America in 1952). Hardly a risky bet, though, considering most of Hollywood's sci-fis right now are about aliens.

For further details, head on over to Empire.

Incidentally, the next issue of UFO Matrix magazine (due out late July) will feature an extensive new article, written by myself, entitled: UFOs and Disney: Behind the Magic Kingdom, which features exclusive revelations from the writer/director of Disney's much-debated 1995 Alien Encounters From New Tomorrowland documentary, plus a whole lot more information about the history of Disney and its ties to the government and military in the context of the UFO phenomenon.

I'll post more details about this article closer to the time of its publication next month.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Guest blogger exclusive #5

In the fifth instalment of the Silver Screen Saucers guest blogger mini-series, Grant Cameron looks at how two of Hollywood's most iconic UFO movies impacted the political thinking of two of America's most iconic Presidents. Read on...

Guest Blogger: Grant Cameron

Klaatu Barada Nikto

By Grant Cameron

Barack Obama recently returned from a trip to Poland where part of his job was as a salesman for the military-industrial-complex trying to sell the Poles on a new missile defense shield to protect the country from “rogue states,” such as Iran. To the logical and sane of the world, this “2011 model of Star Wars” proposed purchase by Poland makes no sense. Perhaps the Poles will help to lower the very high unemployment rate in the United States by buying the latest and greatest war weapon to match their status as the leading economy in the former eastern bloc.

Whatever the reason for the Polish government even considering the idea, those who may get these new high-tech research and development jobs in Poland and the United States will have the aliens to thank.
The original proposal for Star Wars (the defense shield, not the movie), which got its name from UFO advocate and space and missile consultant Carol Rosin, came on March 23, 1983, when President Ronald Reagan made a speech proposing a strategic defense whereby a state of the art missile shield could be created to block incoming nuclear ballistic missiles.
The shooting-down of incoming missiles had been visualized since the late 1950s but not much happened to develop it. Reagan was seriously pitched the idea in 1983 by Dr. Edward Teller, a scientist from Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and – if the rumors are to be believed – a key mover and shaker in the cover-up of the extraterrestrial presence on earth. Teller announced the development of the X-ray laser to Reagan, thus proposing that a defensive shield against incoming missiles was feasible with a few billion a year in research funds.

The general opinion in the scientific and military world was that the concept was unrealistic, even unscientific. Reagan, however, bought into the idea and began to lobby for the funds to begin development. Billions of dollars began to flow into the idea, which never did achieve any concrete operational success.

More importantly, against the advice of advisors, Reagan promised to share the Star Wars technology with the Soviet Union. Reagan reasoned that in this way he and U.S.S.R. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev could rid the world of nuclear weapons and live in peace forever.

Colin Powell, Reagan’s national security advisor, was firmly convinced that the offer made to Gorbachev had been inspired by concepts raised in one of Reagan’s favorite movies – the 1951 flying saucer movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Reagan knew movies. He acted in 54 films, and he had watched 377 movies while President. He loved movies and The Day the Earth Stood Still remained a favorite of his throughout his Presidency.

It was in that movie that the humanoid alien Klaatu warned: “I am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all, or no one is secure.”

It was this concept of aliens, and a Star Wars defense that could put an end to nuclear weapons, that Reagan proposed during a November 1985 Geneva Summit with Gorbachev. “At our meeting in Geneva,” recalled Gorbachev, “the U.S. President said that if the earth faced an invasion by extraterrestrials, the United States and the Soviet Union would join forces to repel such an invasion. I shall not dispute the hypothesis, though I think it's early yet to worry about such an intrusion...”

In reply to Reagan’s alien invasion scenario, Gorbachev had supplemented Reagan’s idea stating we should never forget the biblical passage “[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” The two men became friends and agreed that the world needed a lasting peace.

World peace and aliens were never far from Reagan’s mind. He used to walk around the White House asking people if they had seen the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, and uttering the phrase “Klaatu barada nikto.” These were the words that Klaatu had given in the film to the character of Helen, the heroine in the movie. These words were to be uttered to the alien robot, Gort. If spoken, the words would stop Gort from destroying the world. In the movie, Helen had uttered the words and, in the nick of time, had saved the world. Reagan planned to do the same.

To the dismay of the White House Reagan then went public with his notion of world peace based on alien invasion. On five occasions he raised the alien invasion/united world concept: he did so with Russian leaders; at the United Nations; and even at schools such as Fallston High School in Harford County, Maryland. It was at the Fallston high school in May 1985 where Reagan described his “fantasy” (as he called it) even though it was not in the prepared speech:

"I couldn't help but - one point in our discussion with General Gorbachev - when you stop and think we are all God's children, wherever we may live in the world, I couldn't help but say to him, just think how easy his task and mine might be in these meetings that we held if suddenly there was a threat to this world from some other species, from another planet, outside in the universe. We'd forget all the little local differences that we have between our countries, and we would find out once and for all that we are really are all human beings here on this Earth together. Well, I don't suppose we can wait for some alien race to come down and threaten us, but I think that between us we can bring about that realization."

General Colin Powell, Reagan’s national security advisor, went on the record stating that it was part of his job to keep the alien remarks – especially the alien invasion remarks – out of Reagan’s speeches. He feared that people would actually get the idea that there was a real concern in the White House that there was going to be an alien invasion. Every time Reagan would bring up the aliens, Powell would role his eyes and tell his staff, “Here come the little green men again.” In the case of the Fallston speech there was little Powell could do if Reagan chose to ad lib.

Reagan’s decision to tell the students of the alien invasion was an example of why the White House staff chose to keep him from student events. It was hard to control him. Question and answer sessions were cancelled as he would be “too loose” and “speak too freely.” Judi Buckalew, a presidential aide, spoke of the fear of allowing students around the President. “The staff was always trying to keep him away from these high school groups that would come in to have their pictures taken,” she said, “because he would stand around and answer all their questions, saying all kinds of things. The staff would literally tug him away from these kids.”

It can even be surmised that the alien invasion notion that Reagan got from The Day the Earth Stood Still may actually have led to the end of the Cold War. In 1989, inspired by Klaatu’s words, “There must be security for all, or no one is secure,” Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall and asked his friend Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” Gorbachev removed the wall which separated the two Germanys, and there has been peace between the West and the Eastern bloc countries ever since.

Reagan and Gorbachev at the Geneva Summit in Switzerland, 19 November, 1985.(1985-11-19)...

The idea of an alien invasion and world peace was an idea that went on to inspire others, most notably President Clinton and his wife Hillary. In 1996 Bill and Hillary screened Independence Day. The blockbuster movie was a movie depicts an alien invasion that destroys much of the United States, including the White House. In the end however, the President and the people come together to destroy the aliens.

Clinton spoke of the movie saying, in part, “I loved it… and I was glad we won.” He stated later that many in his administration came to actually believe that – as depicted in the movie – there really was a recovered flying saucer at Area 51, so he sent someone to the base to check it out.

Like Reagan before him, the movie inspired Clinton think of a united world. “The good thing about Independence Day is there’s an ultimate lesson for that – for the problems right here on Earth,” said Clinton. “We whipped that problem by working together with all these countries. And all of a sudden the differences we had with them seemed so small once we realized there were threats that went beyond our borders. And I wish that we could think about that when we deal with terrorism and when we deal with weapons proliferation – the difference between all these others problems. That's the lesson I wish people would take away from Independence Day.” In total, Bill Clinton would talk publicly about Independence Day on five occasions.

The Clintons, June, 1998.

Like Bill, Hillary also was inspired by the movie. She spoke about it during her campaign for President in December 2007.  It might have helped that Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence Day, had hosted a fundraiser for Hillary’s campaign at his home earlier in the year.

“Remember that movie Independence Day,” said Hillary, as she campaigned in Iowa, “where invaders were coming from outer space and the whole world was united against the invasion? Why can't we be united on behalf of our planet? And that's what I want to do.” Hillary would talk publicly about Independence Day and the concept of alien invasion on four occasions.

Klaatu would be pleased, no doubt, but would still see much room for improvement in our politicians. Klaatu, barada, nikto. Long live the dream of a united world, and long live alien invasion movies.

Copyright © 2011, Grant Cameron

Grant Cameron is the world’s leading researcher on the subject of UFOs and the Presidency. He has written extensively on this and related subjects including the Canadian government's early investigations into flying saucers; UFO disclosure politics; and the Rockefeller UFO Initiative. He has lectured widely in Canada and the United States and has been interviewed for numerous radio, TV news and documentary programs.

He has made 20+ trips to the National Archives and most of the various Presidential archives looking for presidential UFO material. One highlight of his presidential UFO research was the chance to question Vice-President Dick Cheney on his knowledge of the UFO subject. Another significant achievement was a FOIA to the White House Office of Science and Technology which yielded 1,000 pages of UFO documents from the Clinton Administration. Many of these findings – as well as the rest of Cameron’s research – can be accessed through The Presidents UFO Website, Barack Obama UFO, and Hillary Clinton UFO.

UFO conference: Into the Unknown 4

High Elms Manor, Watford

I'll be speaking on the subject of Hollywood and Aliens at the UFO Academy's fourth Into the Unknown conference on the 20th August, 2011, at High Elms Manor in Watford (UK).

For full details of the conference, head on over to the UFO Academy's website.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Asteroids (and aliens), Emmerich-style?

Atari's classic video game, Asteroids, is to be adapted for Hollywood, possibly with master of disaster Roland Emmerich at the helm.

New York magazine has the details.

Hollywood to adapt alien abduction comic

Whitley Strieber and Craig Spector's comic The Nye Incidents is to receive the Silver Screen treatment in 2012.

Good natured family fun it ain't.

Open Minds has the full story.

'Super 8': the reviews are in...

... and they're good! For a selection of top critics reviews of Super 8, head on over to Rotten Tomatoes.

For the story behind the above poster, see here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reagan wasn't joking, and Spielberg knows it

By Robbie Graham

In an interview with Ain't It Cool News writer Eric Vespe (better known online as 'Quint') published June 6th, Steven Spielberg confirms that, following a White House screening of E.T: The Extraterrestrial in 1982, President Ronald Reagan did indeed make remarks to the effect that the premise of Spielberg's movie - extraterrestrial visitation - was fact, not fiction.

This is something of a bombshell. Rumours have persisted for years about just what - if anything - Reagan told Spielberg during the 1982 White House E.T. screening, but not until now has the director spoken about it on the record. Spielberg's version of events, however, differs slightly from the version that has entered UFO-lore.

According to Spielberg, Reagan did not address his remarks to him personally, but rather - and more remarkably - to all guests in the room collectively (some of whom were astronauts). Here is what happened in Spielberg's own words:

"It was in the White House screening room and Reagan got up to thank me for bringing the film to show the President, the First Lady and all of their guests, which included Sandra Day O’Connor in her first week of as a Justice of the Supreme Court, and it included some astronauts… I think Neil Armstrong was there, I’m not 100% certain, but it was an amazing, amazing evening.

He just stood up and he looked around the room, almost like he was doing a headcount, and he said, 'I wanted to thank you for bringing E.T. to the White House. We really enjoyed your movie,' and then he looked around the room and said, 'And there are a number of people in this room who know that everything on that screen is absolutely true.'

And he said it without smiling! But he said that and everybody laughed, by the way. The whole room laughed because he presented it like a joke, but he wasn’t smiling as he said it."

The Reagans with Spielberg before the 1982 White House screening of E.T: The Extraterrestrial.

Asked by his interviewer if he thought Reagan "let something slip" that evening, Spielberg replied:

"I don’t think he let something slip there, no. I think he delivered a joke without smiling, without a little bit of a twinkle behind the joke. I think the joke landed because everybody laughed, but because I’m a little bit of a Ufologist I was hoping that there was something more to the joke than met my eye. I’m sorry to say I think he was simply trying to tell a joke."

Sorry, Steven, I'm not buying it. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the subject of UFOs and the Presidency will know as a well documented fact that Ronald Reagan was extremely interested - obsessed, even - with the idea of alien visitation and that this interest extended to a 'belief' (if that is right word) in UFOs (Reagan even had two UFO sightings of his own whilst Governor of California). The notion of alien visitation so preoccupied the President that it entered his policy speeches on a number of occasions, most famously at the 42nd General Assembly of the United Nations on 21 September, 1987:

Even if Spielberg had not been aware of Reagan's interest in UFOs back in 1982, the self-proclaimed "ufologist" would most certainly be aware of it today and could be confident in hindsight that Reagan's comments were not meant in jest.

Of course Reagan's guests laughed at his remark - how else would they have reacted? With a collective gasp of shock followed by a flurry of pressing questions? And surely Reagan knew they'd laugh, which is probably why he felt comfortable saying it in the first place. But Steven - Mr. Spielberg - when a President who believes in aliens tells you that aliens are real, when he says it "without smiling, without a little bit of a twinkle," and when it seems in no way at all like a joke but for the obligatory laughter that follows, it's safe to assume he's not kidding around.

President Obama with Spielberg and Tom Hanks in the White House screening room in 2010.

I don't doubt that Spielberg is telling it as it happened, but I am indeed suggesting that he is being less than truthful in regard to his own personal interpretation of Reagan's comments. But if Spielberg believes - or even knows - that Reagan wasn't joking, why not just say so? Well, because Spielberg is quite a friend to the White House, and has been for decades. He routinely rubs shoulders with the Washington power elite. He's a former Bilderberg attendee. He's a billionaire. He's hugely influential. What he says matters; it rings out. He's smart, and, most importantly in the eyes of his friends in Washington, he's discreet. If Spielberg were not discreet, those regular invites from the White House would long ago have ceased to grace his mailbox.

When you're in Spielberg's privileged position, you don't ruffle Presidential feathers, no matter how old those feathers may be.

Bill Clinton presents Spielberg with The
Liberty Medal, Oct. 2009.

For further information on the Reagan/Spielberg story, as well as on Spielberg and UFOs more generally, see:

Copyright © 2011 Robbie Graham 

Monday, June 6, 2011

The sky is falling!

Spielberg's alien-invasion series, Falling Skies, premiers June 19 on TNT...

'Area 51' movie update

There's still no official release date for Area 51 - the low-budget, alien abduction/secret base-themed sci-fi chiller from director Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity). Indeed, it turns out that the film is still in production.

"I anticipate the movie will be mostly done in three or four months," says the film's producer, Jason Blum. "Like Paranormal Activity, we went back like fifty times for additional photography. The great thing about doing extra shooting for inexpensive movies is that the cost is low, so we screen and shoot and screen and shoot." Blum has indicated, however, that the film should hit cinemas before 2012.

For further details on this story, head on over to Empire.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spielberg's UFO movies: from regular 8 to 'Super 8'

The proud director: Spielberg in 1964
By Robbie Graham
In anticipation of the June 10 release in America of the Spielberg-produced UFO movie Super 8 - which draws considerable inspiration from Spielberg's early work in the sci-fi and adventure genres - I thought it might be fitting to take a brief glance back to a time and place of considerable significance in the history of Hollywood's longstanding love affair with aliens; specifically, to 1964, when, at the Phoenix Little Theatre, in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, a 17-year-old Steven Spielberg premiered his first-ever UFO movie - the 8mm Firelight. 

The film cost Spielberg $500 to produce and, having managed to sell an impressive 500 tickets for the premiere at $1 each, it was his first commercial success (it made a profit of $1 dollar: "I think somebody probably paid two dollars," Spielberg later surmised).

Since Firelight, Spielberg has helped to push the idea of alien visitation into the heart of popular culture like no other filmmaker with movies such as (as director): Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET: The Extraterrestrial, War of the Worlds, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, (and as producer) Batteries Not Included, the Men in Black franchise and the Transformers franchise; and with TV series such as Taken.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

ET: The Extraterrestrial (1982)

War of the Worlds (2005)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
This summer, audiences will receive a triple dose of Spielberg's aliens on both the big screen and small with movies Super 8 and Cowboys and Aliens and the TV series Falling Skies.

For a more in-depth look at Spielberg's historical fascination with the UFO phenomenon, as well as details of his intriguing political connections, check out Spielberg's Saucer Secrets.

And so here's to Spielberg's aliens - the good, the bad and the ugly - and to hoping that his extraterrestrial offerings this summer don't disappoint!

Copyright © 2011 Robbie Graham

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

U.S. Air Force monitored 1956 UFO docudrama

In my co-authored article A History of Government Management of UFO Perceptions through Film and Television - which appears in the Spring 2011 issue of the peer-reviewed North American Studies journal 49th Parallel - I mention an intriguing case from the mid-1950s in which the U.S. Air Force (USAF) saw fit to closely monitor the production process and audience reception of a major UFO-themed docudrama entitled UFO: The True Story of Flying Saucers (1956).

The USAF believed that the docudrama would stir up a “storm of public controversy” and had prepared a special case file that, if required, would  have served to debunk every last one of the real-life UFO sightings dramatised during the film's 90-minute running time. As it turned out, however, the USAF had little to worry about: upon its release, the film did not generate mass-saucer-hysteria, only respectable box-office returns. 

You can watch UFO: The True Story of Flying Saucers, in full, right here:

For further information about UFO: The True Story of Flying Saucers, check out researcher Robert Barrow's excellent blog, which is solely dedicated to the film and features a huge amount fascinating historical material associated with its production and reception, including articles, original newspaper clippings, photographs, interviews and much more - essentially everything you could ever hope to know about the film.