Creating Alien Nation, Part 1

Creating Alien Nation, Part 1
Many names have been associated with Alien Nation, most notably "V" creator Kenneth Johnson who developed the concept, based on the theatrical feature, for television. What many genre fans may not realize is that Alien Nation was actually the brainchild of Farscape creator Rockne O'Bannon.

Alien Nation - Rockne O'Bannon Flush with his creative success as story editor of The New Twilight Zone in the mid 1980s (and years before creating Farscape), writer Rockne O'Bannon was ready for the next challenge. He had come up with a concept initially titled Outer Heat, but later changed to Alien Nation, which he saw as a hybrid of two distinct movie formats.
   "They were the two genres that were of great interest to me at the time," he explains. "First was Lethal Weapon, police procedural -- a Warner Bros. type of thing, like Dirty Harry or Bullitt -- with a science fiction scent. What's interesting is that I originally pitched it to two or three places as a television series, not a feature film, and got turned down. Having been story editor on Twilight Zone for that year and a half, there was interest in me writing pilots."
   His feeling was that Alien Nation was a natural for a series, but nobody seemd to see its potential. Perhaps, he muses in retrospect, the idea wasn't developed enough to capture anybody's interest. "I pitched it as a piece about an alien race that gets integrated into regular, modern America," says O'Bannon, who also created the series seaQuest DSV. "One of them becomes the first cop detective and he partners with a human. It seems to me that you should be able to get it from that, but people didn't get it at the time.
   "This was December/January 1986. I just figured, based on the heat that I had coming off Twilight Zone, I would bide my time during hiatus of spring of '87 and get on staff on some other show. So I sat down and wrote it as a spec script, and wrote quickly -- like in two months. Then it sold two weeks later and it was filming by October of that same year. it was something like six months from the time I wrote it that it was in production, which happens rarely in Hollywood. I suddenly had a movie career that I aspired to, but didn't really expect to happen."

To be continued....

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