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Author Topic:   The Challenger Disaster (BBC/Science Channel)
tetrox
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From: London England
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posted 03-12-2013 07:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tetrox   Click Here to Email tetrox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a heads up, I just saw advertised that BBC 2 (in the U.K.) are broadcasting a factual drama called "The Challenger" at 9.00PM GMT on March 18 starring William Hurt as Richard Feynman and his efforts to reveal the truth (as he saw it) about the causes of the "challenger" Space Shuttle disaster.

From an earlier report by TVWise:

The 90 minute TV movie is a co-production of BBC Scotland Science and Science Channel and stars William Hurt (Altered States), Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek), Brian Dennehy (Twelfth Night), Joanne Whalley (The Borgias), Kevin McNally (Pirates Of The Caribbean), Henry Goodman (The Merchant Of Venice) and Eve Best (Nurse Jackie). Mark Hedgecoe, Cassian Harrison and Rocky Collins are serving as executive producers, with Laurie Borg and Theresa Ryan Van Graan serving as producers and James Hawes on board as director. Production is due to commence later this month, for an early 2013 premiere on BBC Two.

"This is the gripping story of a brilliant physicist's battle for scientific truth in the dark corridors of big government", said Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC's Commissioning Editor of Science and Natural History. "With an impressive cast, including award-winning actor William Hurt, it promises to be a powerful factual drama for BBC Two and part of our mission to make science programmes ever more surprising and ambitious."

"The Challenger disaster represents an indelible moment in American history - anyone who is old enough to recall it remembers exactly where they were then this terrible tragedy occurred," says Debbie Myers, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Science Channel. "Science Channel is honoured to work with the incomparable William Hurt to tell the story of Richard Feynman, a true-life hero and one of most controversial scientific minds of our time."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-12-2013 07:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Variety reported in January that this drama, titled "73 Seconds: The Challenger Investigation" for the U.S. market, will air on the Science Channel in fourth quarter of 2013.
Last fall, Science Channel and BBC announced a factual telepic about the investigation surrounding the Challenger space shuttle disaster, with William Hurt set to topline as scientist Richard Feynman.

Now, Variety has your first look at the Oscar-winning thesp in character.

Paul23
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posted 03-13-2013 07:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul23   Click Here to Email Paul23     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Radio Times give this a reasonably favourable preview but the write-up understandably was focused more on the quality of the drama rather than the accuracy but it sounds like an interesting piece.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 03-19-2013 06:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Screened last night. A very watchable dram-umentary aided by the great acting of William Hurt as William Feynman.

The interaction between the Commission members, the contractors and NASA was subtly managed, given the risk of making this into one huge conspiracy theory. Chairman William Rogers did not come off well, being shown as somewhat of a denier of Feynman's theories and approach. Acting Administrator of NASA, William Graham, was perhaps shown as unnecessarily powerless, given that he had only been in post a few weeks when the disaster happened.

What was surprising (to me at least) was the role of Gen. Kutyna in aiding Feynman and Sally Ride's critical role as a catalyst in hinting towards the problem.

In an hour and a half its hard to condense this weighty matter, so necessarily the role of Armstrong, Yeager and others was not covered.

The credits were suitably poignant, noting the untimely deaths of three brilliant people: Feynman, Armstrong and Ride. I'd highly recommend a viewing.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-20-2013 09:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Arts Desk has reviewed "The Challenger":
The Challenger might have been written for William Hurt. Erect, gimlet-eyed and adamantine, he doesn't do cuddles, or doubt. He does withering impatience and intellectual self-belief. He does mean stares and snorts of derision. The sort of qualities that get you slung off Hollywood's A-list for a decade or two, or gives NASA a bloody nose. "How's your integrity?" was his first question for a fellow physicist now working for the government.

The integrity of the script is another thing. The usual caveat came up on screen in a caption before the shuttle had even taken off: to paraphrase, all of this happened - apart from the stuff we've made up. Usually one accepts the push-me/pull-you of dramatic licence, but it gives you pause in a story about provable facts. There were quite a lot of chance meetings in corridors and phone calls and one egregious cab ride that didn't have the ring of truth. And yet thanks to Hurt, at no point was your belief in Feynman's determination to root out the truth shaken.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 03-20-2013 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's harsh.

The "chance meetings" were artistic license to convey the interactions between individuals. Like I said, how could you condense the story into one and a half hours. I forgot to say that Brian Dennehy (another great actor) was somewhat wasted and certainly overshadowed by Hurt, without whom this could have been very humdrum.

YankeeClipper
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posted 03-20-2013 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was a shame Roger Boisjoly got such a brief and peripheral mention as one name on a microfilm newspaper page. Most viewers probably didn't either see his surname or know the significance.

issman1
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posted 05-26-2013 11:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that while Richard Feynman's role in the accident investigation was pivotal, Roger Boisjoly was largely overlooked in 'The Challenger'.

Boisjoly was a true whistleblower - exposing his employers then losing his career. Just curious if there was any NASA input, which is common for such productions?

SpaceAholic
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posted 10-25-2013 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Science Channel release
Science Channel's First Dramatic Feature Film, "The Challenger Disaster", Starring Award-Winning Actors William Hurt, Bruce Greenwood and Brian Dennehy, Debuts This November

The Challenger Disaster Premieres Saturday, November 16 at 9 PM ET/PT on Science Channel

Americans sat in stunned silence on the morning of January 28, 1986, as the Space Shuttle Challenger tragically exploded in the clear blue sky over Cape Canaveral, Fla. Just 73 seconds into Challenger's 10th mission, America's dreams of reaching beyond earth suffered a horrific setback. In the months following, a special Presidential Commission worked to determine the explosion's cause in the hopes of making future spaceflight missions safer. Of the 14 commission members from the domains of NASA, the military and other affiliated organizations, one person stood apart as an independent voice-Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Richard Feynman.

Science Channel's first dramatic feature film, "The Challenger Disaster", premiering Saturday, November 16 from 9-11 PM ET/PT, is the riveting story of Dr. Feynman's role on the Presidential Commission. Based upon Feynman's book "What Do You Care What Other People Think?", "The Challenger Disaster" chronicles Feynman's efforts to uncover the cause of the Challenger explosion by deftly navigating the many vested interests represented on the commission, and his ability to quickly learn everything about the vast complexity of the space shuttle.

"This film is the biggest swing in our network's history. As our first fictional drama, "The Challenger Disaster" furthers our commitment to bring audiences programming that provokes thought," said Debbie Myers, general manager and executive vice president of Science Channel. "We're telling the side of the Challenger story that isn't well-known while showing that science is a fascinating, rich, alive world. Our hope is that the audience walks away appreciating the genius of Dr. Feynman and the impact of his accomplishments."

Feynman was chosen by William Robert Graham, one of his former students and NASA's acting administrator, to lend his skills to the commission. Reluctant to participate, Feynman followed his scientific instincts during the investigation, unafraid of raising questions in the face of pressure from several commission members. With unwavering persistence he employed exceptional integrity and scientific logic to determine that two of the shuttle's O-rings failed during launch. In a famous televised hearing Feynman demonstrated that the O-ring was not as pliable as previously thought by submerging a piece of the O-ring in a glass of ice water. At the investigation's conclusion Feynman produced an essential report, "Appendix F - Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle", that was presented to President Reagan independent of the commission's report.

Co-produced by the BBC, "The Challenger Disaster" features powerful performances from an all-star cast that is headlined by Academy Award-winning actor William Hurt ("Altered States", "Kiss of the Spider Woman", "Children of a Lesser God", "History of Violence", "Into the Wild", "Too Big To Fail") as the brilliant physicist Dr. Richard Feynman. Joining Hurt is actor Bruce Greenwood ("Thirteen Days", "Star Trek", "Super 8", "I, Robot") who plays fellow commissioner U.S. Air Force General Donald Kutyna in the second lead role. He is joined by Brian Dennehy ("First Blood", "The Belly of an Architect", "Bunker Hill", "Twelfth Night") as William Rogers, Chairman of the Presidential Commission, actress Joanne Whalley ("The Singing Detective", "Edge of Darkness", "The Virgin Queen", "The Borgias") who plays Feynman's wife Gweneth, and Eve Best ("The King's Speech", "Nurse Jackie", "The Shadow Line", "Shackleton") as astronaut Sally Ride.

As a companion to the fictional drama "The Challenger Disaster" Science Channel is airing "Feynman: The Challenger" on Monday, November 18 at 10 PM ET/PT. This special one-hour documentary, narrated by Bruce Greenwood, examines the remarkable life of Dr. Richard Feynman, including his work on the Challenger and his role in The Manhattan Project, a U.S. government backed program that operated during the 1940s and led to the creation of the first atomic bombs.

"The Challenger Disaster" premieres Saturday, November 16 from 9-11 PM ET/PT on Science Channel. "Feynman: The Challenger" premieres Monday, November 18 at 10 PM ET/PT on Science Channel.

"The Challenger Disaster" was co-produced by the BBC. For the BBC, Mark Hedgecoe ("Operation Iceberg" and "How to Grow A Planet", "Rome: The Rise And Fall Of An Empire") and Cassian Harrison ("Earthflight", "First Light") are executive producers, and Laurie Borg ("Great Expectations", "Made in Dagenham", "Sense and Sensibility", "Occupation") is producer. James Hawes ("Enid", "Suspicions of Mister Whicher", "Mad Dogs", "Doctor Who", "Fanny Hill") is director and the script is by Kate Gartside ("Mistresses", "Lillies" and "Lark Rise To Candleford", "Stopping Distance").

For Science Channel, Rocky Collins ("Dark Matters: Twisted But True", "Alien Encounters") is executive producer, Lindsey Foster is coordinating producer, Bernadette McDaid is Vice President of Production, and Deborah Adler Myers is General Manager and Executive Vice President.

Jay Chladek
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posted 10-27-2013 08:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any mention of the "green ball theory" in the film? For those that don't know of it, read Allan McDonald's "Truth, Lies and O-Rings" to get the reference.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 10-28-2013 08:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Premiered" eight months after release by the BBC on non-subscription channel?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-12-2013 05:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The trailer for The Challenger Disaster, additional videos and information are available on The Science Channel website.

garymilgrom
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posted 11-12-2013 07:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with the Arts Desk review Robert posted near the top of this thread. The movie is essentially a vehicle for William Hurt. Hurt is a great actor and plays the Feynman character well but he's in almost every scene and dominates the movie.

I don't think this is an accurate portrayal of the contributions Feynman and others made to the Challenger commission. I do think it's a screen play based on Feynman's recollections of his contributions from his book "What Do You Care What Other People Think". I re-read the Challenger portion of that book after seeing the movie and it's written exactly as the movie plays out on the screen.

By the way there is no mention of the green ball theory (thanks Jay) and the close relationship and whistle blowing by General Kutyna is written about extensively in the book. This is one aspect the film seemingly got right.

Overall a decent attempt by Hollywood to tell a technical story that would have benefitted from a more balanced portrayal (and screen time) of other commission members besides Richard Feynman.

dogcrew5369
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posted 11-24-2013 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
It was a shame Roger Boisjoly got such a brief and peripheral mention as one name on a microfilm newspaper page. Most viewers probably didn't either see his surname or know the significance.
My sentiments exactly. I sat there watching hoping for Boisjoly to enter the picture. I was disappointed he wasn't part of the movie as we all know how pivotal Boisjoly was in exposing the SRB problems.

Also, one nagging timeline issue that bothered me was the use of the meatball ranging from clothing to on the wing of an orbiter instead of the NASA worm. Someone didn't get the memo.

Jay Chladek
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posted 11-28-2013 05:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dogcrew5369:
I sat there watching hoping for Boisjoly to enter the picture. I was disappointed he wasn't part of the movie as we all know how pivotal Boisjoly was in exposing the SRB problems. Also, one nagging timeline issue that bothered me was the use of the meatball ranging from clothing to on the wing of an orbiter instead of the NASA worm. Someone didn't get the memo.
Thing is though, it was Allan McDonald who was the first whistleblower. Not discounting what Boisjoly did, mind you, as he was a witness to what went on in Utah while McDonald was front and center for the events at KSC. But it was McDonald's refusal to sign the waiver when it got faxed over to KSC that probably had a bit more of an impact.

Boisjoly also voiced opposition to the Morton Thiokol engineers back in Utah during their half of the teleconference, but ultimately, they caved in to NASA's demands and sent the fax with the VP's signature saying they were okay with the launch. McDonald has said in his own book that he feels one of the reasons why Boisjoly acted the way he did after the Challenger investigation is he continued to feel guilt and regret over not doing more to stop the launch. while McDonald himself essentially had the decision taken away from him and felt personally he did what he could. But neither person wanted the story to get swept under the rug.

As for the NASA meatball bits, that didn't necessarily bother me all that much. I got the sense that there wasn't much of a budget left for set design and the like. So they used a few off the shelf items and some CG compositing to make things work. The cockpit they used for an orbiter (at Marshall of all places...) was clearly that of a classic 747. An indoor engine test stand facility I think was also a little bit of a truth stretch as well, but I won't call a complete foul on it.

All things considered though even with the technical flubs and using footage of other shuttle launches to stand in for Challenger in spots, I did feel the movie helped convey the story it was trying to tell from Feynman's perspective. Be aware though this was not a Hollywood production. Sure, there were American actors in it, but I believe it was produced by BBC Scotland.

To me though, Greenwood as Kutyna was the jewel of the performances as he did a nice job with it. Not to say that Hurt didn't do a good job as Feynman, but Feynman has a bit less softspoken voice than Hurt, the bluntness of which came out quite well when he did that O-Ring and icewater demonstration.

By the way, while the movie was a slight letdown, Science Channel after the rebroadcast on Monday night aired a one hour show called "Richard Feynman, The Challenger" which was a retrospective documentary of his entire life. Despite the title, it was not about Challenger the shuttle (which only took up maybe the last 10 to 15 minutes of the whole show as that took place in the twilight of Feynman's life), but rather about Feynman's whole life.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I didn't exactly know who Richard Feynman was. I came away from this show with a new found appreciation of this man who using his unique talents helped to turn our understanding of scientific concepts on its head in such brilliant ways. If I had the opportunity to attend a Feynman lecture, I might even have stayed in school to get an engineering degree.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-02-2014 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Huntsville Times reports that Judson "Jud" Lovingood, a retired deputy manager of the shuttle projects office at the Marshall Space Flight Center, has sued Discovery communications for $14 million for the way he says he was portrayed in "The Challenger Disaster."
At issue is testimony before the Challenger investigation commission by characters identified as Feynman and Lovingood. The suit says that in the movie's crucial scene Lovingood is shown testifying falsely that the odds of a shuttle failure were much higher than other NASA engineers calculated. The suit says that Hurt, portraying Feynman, then says to Lovingood in the movie: "That's not scientific calculations. That's a wish."

"The clear statement and depiction was that Lovingood lied about the probability of total failure being 1 in 100,000 when NASA's own engineers said it was 1 in 200," the lawsuit says. "This movie scene never took place in real life at any hearing. (Lovingood) was never asked to give any testimony as depicted and he did not give testimony to the question shown in the movie in this made up scene."

"It makes it look like (NASA leadership) ignored a highly risky situation" in deciding to launch Challenger that day, Lovingood's attorney Steven Heninger of Birmingham said Friday.

All times are CT (US)

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