The idea for an alien television show came from humble beginnings, as a “visitors” pass on one of the characters in a James Bond film. This was the first time I associated being kidnapped, tortured, and returned home to the stories I heard about alien abductions.
Someone asked me if I knew any aliens and I said, “Mork from Ork.” I quickly came up with the idea for the uniforms worn by the aliens to resemble Mork’s. In fact, after watching a few of the installments I complained that the uniforms were not similar enough.
I also named one of my characters for Robin Williams.
Diana (pictured left)
Being a fan of Star Wars, I was excited to meet George Lucas. Before leaving, he mentioned an actor who tried out for Hans Solo and a friend of Mark Hamill who needed work. He didn’t have a stage name yet and I was asked to give him his name. I gave him my father’s first name of Robert…and for the country who was invading mine.
Robert Englund as Willie
I gave characters the names of those who entered my life during that time, Diana, Charles, and Elizabeth.
General Maxwell Larson
Over the months I would add characters, such as General Maxwell Larson who was known as “The Butcher of Birmingham” and made Alabama a smorgasbord.
Larson would be stylized with gold chains for another one of my characters named “Mr. T” in my show The A-Team.
After working on ideas for “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and my television show “Dallas”, I added Mary Kruger to the lineup who was known as “The Dark Angel of Dallas”.
General Larson and Kruger showed up on the episode The “Visitors’ Choice”.
“On the homefront, the citizens of Birmingham, Alabama met force with force as the Visitors attempt to subdue the city once known as The Pittsburgh of the South, employing guerilla tactics, carrying the fight to the streets. The residents maneuver the Visitors into the BLACKWELL Oil Refinery, then set it afire. At this hour, the fire rages out of control and it is said you can hear the REBEL YELL in the streets of Dixie tonight.” – Howard K. Smith for the Freedom Network
The above Freedom Network report by Howard K. Smith from the “The Overlord” episode was made up by me to reference the man who proclaimed me his enemy, Chris Blackwell of Island Records, Birmingham, Alabama being my birthplace, and at the time I had already made up the song “Rebel Yell” recorded by the artist I gave the stage name Billy Idol and worked on ideas for the film “Firestarter” (a reference to Def Leppard’s 1983 album titled Pyromania). Much of the news report was inspired by discussion I had with Michael Jackson who told me about the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.
My attempt at peace came in the form of naming a character Elizabeth. The half-human half-alien child born to Robin who was meant to bring peace between the two species. After working on ideas for the book to film Firestarter, she would exhibit powers of telekinesis.
Her nickname of “The Starchild” came from meeting members of the band Kiss and Paul Stanley’s persona.
Every time I watched a new installment of “V” before the release I noticed the name of the director, Bruce Seth Green, flash across the screen. Bruce also worked on many other of my creations, such as “Knight Rider”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, “Dawson’s Creek”, “Gilmore Girls”, “Baywatch”, and “Highlander”.
A new redheaded actor needed a stage name and I was asked to come up with it. I gave him the name of Seth Green.
Of course, with Michael Jackson and Michael Hutchence in my life I named a character for them. The character Michael Donovan, news reporter and Freedom fighter, would be portrayed by actor Marc Singer.
Lori Singer and Kevin Bacon in Footloose
After working on ideas for the film Footloose, I was asked who I wanted to portray the character Ren McCormack. Since my knowledge of what actors were available at that time, I asked for Marc Singer to take the role.
Marc’s sister, actress Lori Singer, was chosen for the character Ariel Moore. The character name of Ariel was chosen after Michael Jackson and I decided to name Disney’s Little Mermaid and my work on the script for the film “Splash.
I was told Marc was not available for the role and Kevin Bacon, who appeared with Val Kilmer and Sean Penn in Slab Boys, was available. Of note, Sean Penn had already been filming Taps (with the then little known Tom Cruise) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High of which I worked on script ideas.
The idea for Kevin Bacon’s “Six Degrees of Separation” came from a discussion about how I ended up working in the industry and the actors chosen to appear in my projects.
A note on the film “Footloose”: The idea for the film came from a discussion about my church, the Church of Christ, ban on dancing and the title comes from a little known play which Alabama native Tallulah Bankhead appeared in 1920 by playwright Zoe Akins.
Seen right is a photo of the actress with The Who’s guru Meher Baba and part inspiration for their 1971 song “Baba O’Riley“, which Nirvana would record a cover. I would use Baba’s saying, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (1988) to make up the song recorded by Bobby McFerrin. Baba also called himself the “Avatar” which became the title of a film I worked on script ideas with James Cameron.