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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

The Martian Chronicles

Aired August 26, 2003 - 19:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight tonight the orbits of Earth and Mars will take the two planets closer than they've been in 60,000 years, just about 34.5 million miles apart. Really nothing.
We already know a lot about Mars. Polar ice caps, the galaxy's biggest volcano, and while tonight may advance that knowledge a bit, the real benefit may be in reigniting our imaginations. So we asked Bruce Burkhardt to remind us how we've seen Mars in the past.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What's the big deal about seeing Mars up close? Haven't we seen it already?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get yourselves ready.

BURKHARDT: We've seen it in the movies, "Ghosts of Mars," or "The Angry Red Planet," kind of close encounter of the blurred kind, or more recently "Mission to Mars."

Mars isn't just a planet. It's a screenplay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just how long have we been receiving these mysterious signals from outer space?

BURKHARDT: Well, it's been quite a while. Maybe it could be traced back to H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds," first as a book in 1898, then in 1938, when Orson Welles scared the pants off everyone with his radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds."

ORSON WELLES: It's all too evident that these creatures have scientific knowledge far in advance of our own.

BURKHARDT: It also became a movie.

But Mars hasn't always been scary. Abbott and Costello go to Mars, then apparently the Martians return the favor with "Mars Attack."

GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS: I'm not going to have that thing in my house.

BURKHARDT: Comical representations of Martians are not the norm. More often than not, they scare us. The Martian as invader -- that's how we usually perceive our closest cosmic neighbor, or thieves who steal our women. A bunch of scoundrels -- well, except for Uncle Martin on "My Favorite Martian."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you?

BURKHARDT: So when you raise your eyes towards the southeast sky, remember that this business of looking at Mars is really not that unusual.

TOM JONES, ENTERTAINER (singing): It's not unusual to be loved by anyone.

BURKHARDT: Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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