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Something new for space fanatics

Something new for space fanatics

This was an agency news report by Jay Sharbutt for Associated Press that was syndicated to local newspapers in the USA on 29 May 1975. Titles included "Something new for space fanatics" and "Trekkies: Space 1999 Is For You".

New York (AP) - "Space 1999" is a new syndicated TV series about an international group of earthlings adrift in space. Next September, they'll try to lock on to "Star Trek" fans in more than 100 US cities.

That's the word from Abe Mandell, head of Independent Television Corp. which Is distributing the made-in-England, tailored for America science fiction series here.

He says the one-hour show is trying to attract the large, loyal and vocal clan of sci-fi buffs who still devotedly watch re-runs of "Star Trek," which NBC canceled in 1969 after three seasons on the air.

"We're not going into this blind," Mandell says. "We've got $6.5 million invested in the show. We did a lot of research and it proved to us that out there in television land, all over the world, is a vast cadre of science fiction nuts. They love the stuff, right?"

"Now 'Star Trek' has done phenomenally well. The old re-runs are still tops in their time period. But it's getting a little tired and running out of gas.

"And those fans out there are waiting for something new."

"Space: 1999" stars the husband-and-wife team of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain from the old "Mission Impossible" series and Barry Morse, the detective who used to chase David Janssen In "The Fugitive."

They head the gang at Moonbase Alpha, built on the moon as an early-warning unit against the earth's potential enemies front other planets. The base runs on atomic power, which of course creates atomic waste.

In 1999 the waste goes bam, blasting the moon out of earth's orbit and into space. (This creates problems, particularly for songwriters who must now find something new to rhyme with June and croon.)

The series is made by ITC's parent Company, London based Associated Television Corp. Mandell says 24 episodes have been filmed, the last in January, at a cost of $275,000 each.

He said the program, scheduled for world-wide release in September, has been sold in 101 U.S. markets so far, and hopes are high another 49 stations will have bought it by mid-July.

All but three of the 101 stations that have signed up are network affiliates, he said, and claimed that at least 85 per cent of those affiliates may air the show in prime evening time next fall.

He said they've told him they plan to pre-empt what they consider their network's weakest series in the so-called "family viewing" hour and show "Space: 1999" In that time period next fall.

Mandell, who calls the new series "truly a network-budgeted, network-quality show," said ITC initially took it to all three networks but rang up three no-sales and had to go the syndicated route.

However, he says he expects it to be such a hit next season that a network will be forced to buy it for 1976-77.

"We're going to have to do it the hard way, but I'm going to prove the networks wrong this time" he said.