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Airlock Alpha’s Top Newsmakers Of 2007

Once a year, I get the honor of choosing and announcing who I feel were Airlock Alpha’s top newsmakers of the year. When I say “honor,” I mean that somewhat lightly because this also is the time of year I get flooded with e-mail blasting my picks (or yelling at me for those that I […]

Once a year, I get the honor of choosing and announcing who I feel were Airlock Alpha’s top newsmakers of the year. When I say “honor,” I mean that somewhat lightly because this also is the time of year I get flooded with e-mail blasting my picks (or yelling at me for those that I didn’t pick).

It’s hard to come up with the top newsmakers because it’s not based on the number of stories they appeared in, or even how many views they got. It’s the stories that were the most interesting, the ones that may change the way we watch television or go to the movies, or the ones that will be talked about for years to come.

This list is kind of like that, except from my perspective. There is some contribution from you, the reader, here as well in the form of suggestions and the like, and I hope that I’m able to at least touch on stories that you, too, would agree were the best stories of the year.

This past year, 2007, was a great year for Airlock Alpha. It was the year we celebrated our ninth anniversary (and right now, we’re in our 10th year of existence), and we have an amazing staff of writers and columnists (as well as graphic designers and programmers) who have helped make this year great.

We launched a new design in the middle of the year. We launched a new sister Web site, Rabid Doll, and we have expanded our coverage to include more reviews, more column — thus creating more original content.

In 2007, you found 1,159 articles on Airlock Alpha through today. That’s right, 1,159. That’s nearly four articles each day — including weekends and holidays. Of that number, 888 of them were news stories. Columns totaled 93. We had 74 reviews. And those items you saw scrolling on the top of the screen in our news ticker? There were 104 of those this year (pretty cool, since we didn’t start using that until the middle of the year).

I had to go through each and every one of those 1,159 articles to come up with this year’s list. I will start with No. 5 and work my way up to the biggest newsmaker of the year. But let me know what you think of our list. Visit our message boards, or you can even drop me a line at mhinman@airlockalpha.com and we’ll print some of the best letters right after Christmas.

So without any further yapping from me, here are Airlock Alpha’s Top Newsmakers of 2007.

5. ‘Doctor Who’
I have to chalk this up to the whole adage of not fixing things that aren’t broken. I just don’t understand what is wrong with the BBC and why they feel they have to keep playing with the “Doctor Who” formula.

We understand that Christopher Eccleston wanted to leave after one season, and that Billie Piper wanted to leave after the second season. But sheesh, make a decision and stick with it. You decided on Freema Agyeman to be the new companion, but then you decided against her. You then chose Catherine Tate as the new companion, and based on new reports, you’ve also decided against her. No wonder David Tennant is talking about leaving the show … who can keep up with this revolving door?

And that door is swinging 360 degrees because not only are companions going, they’re coming. Agyeman will revive Martha Jones for a few episodes in the fourth season. Also, Piper — who had probably one of the best exits of any companion — is returning as well in an episode more crowded than the “Five Doctors.”

On top of that, we are getting a year off from the show which has only half a typical American television season as it is.

BBC has something real good with “Doctor Who” and its spinoff of “Torchwood.” Please, oh please, don’t screw it up.

Some of the more interesting stories from this include the announcement that “Doctor Who” was taking a season off as well as the official return of Billie Piper.

4. Daniel Radcliffe
If there is any advice I could ever give to child actors as an old writer doing nothing more than yapping on a Web site, it would be to work hard to show that you can do more than just be a smiling kid that makes mothers go “awww!” And Daniel Radcliffe has done just that.

Doing what he can to break out of a mold that is as strong as any spell he could cast, the Harry Potter star is trying to show audiences that there’s far more to him than the boy wizard. And he showed all of that in a recent play in England where he walked around completely naked.

A lot of parents spoke out about how an actor who is idolized by so many teens could make such a move, but there are only two Harry Potter movies left, and Radcliffe will need to work after that.

This is an effort to show that he is serious about acting, and is willing to be a part of creating art, and my hat (but not my clothes) are off to him. At the same time, why is it that parents never complain about violence in movies and on television which actually hurts and kills people, but seem to be all bent out of shape over the human body, which wouldn’t hurt anyone (unless it was Uncle Vernon getting naked).

I was able to watch the latest Harry Potter film and not be distracted by the fact millions of fans followed his happy trail in his pictures. And that’s the sign of a good, strong actor that will be around for some time to come.

Some interesting links for all this include our initial story on Radcliffe prancing around in the buff.

3. J.J. Abrams
From the impending demise of “Lost” to what looks like the resurrection of the Star Trek franchise, J.J. Abrams has been busy.

His latest movie, “Cloverfield,” will be out before anyone knows it, and he’s busy filming “Star Trek XI” despite the fact he nor his writers can do any rewrites on the set.

This is going to be a very interesting year for Abrams in 2008 as Hollywood tries to figure out if this guy is for real or not. Remember, Paramount Pictures gave him a chance with a proven franchise like Mission: Impossible, which ended up doing the lowest box office take of all three movies. However, the studio blamed star Tom Cruise for the problems and not Abrams.

Let’s see if they were right. We’ll get our first dose with “Cloverfield,” and then a little more than a year from now, we’ll have a chance to see “Star Trek XI” for ourselves.

My bets are that J.J. Abrams is a genius. But right now, the jury is still out.

Some interesting links in all this include the first report that “Lost” would end after five seasons, the official announcement that Abrams would direct “Star Trek XI”, initial reports that “Lost” could get a new timeslot in January, and how “Lost” fans struck back.

2. “Jericho
“Jericho” was a show that started as a hit, and was expected to be on for some time to come. It had some great acting talent in the form of Gerald McRaney and Skeet Ulrich, and a powerful story that was completely different from anything else on television.

However, CBS thought it would follow the lead of other networks and try something different — why not give it a long winter hiatus, and make viewers clamor for it even more in the spring.

It was a gamble that nearly cost “Jericho” its life. By the time the show returned, viewers who were interested had moved on to other things, and the audiences were only a fraction of what they were. CBS pulled the plug, and the rest was history.

Fans ended up sending in more than 40 tons of nuts to CBS headquarters in New York and Los Angeles, and network officials decided to take a second look at the series. The fan campaign was extremely well organized, and instead of trying to irritate executives with whining, they presented strong arguments (in “executive speak”) on why the show deserved to stay on the schedule.

And they won.

Beginning in February, “Jericho” is back on the airwaves, and it would’ve never happened if it weren’t for a fanbase that loved their show so much, they would go to whatever lengths to bring it back. And in the process they did a lot of good. Troops overseas got tons of nuts, charities benefited, and so did the fans.

CBS was right in reversing its decision, and it shows a lot of class for the network to be able to admit it made a mistake, and to really listen to what the fans have to say. For that, CBS gets an honorable mention for a positive newsmaker this year.

Some interesting links from that overall story arc include our initial story announcing the campaign to save the show, the column where I personally supported the campaign (a rarity in of itself), and the official announcement that “Jericho” had been renewed.

1. Writers Guild of America/Alliance of Motion Picture And Television Producers
In a normal year, the “Jericho” story would’ve been No. 1. But there’s no denying that the continuing Writers Guild of America strike is the key event of 2007. And the way it’s going, it could end up being the key event of 2008 as well.

At odds are how much — if anything — writers should get for new media such as the Internet, and it doesn’t seem like either side is any closer to coming to a resolution than they were when writers walked out on Nov. 1.

I would like to see television shows go back into production, but at the same time, I want to make sure that both sides end up with an agreement that is good for both of them. No matter what the WGA or AMPTP say, it is possible, and here’s hoping that they all end up back at the bargaining table soon.

Some interesting links for this include our first report of the impending strike.

So there they are, the top newsmakers of 2007. So, who were some of our honorable mentions? Well, here are several stories that caught my eye when I was digging through the past year.

The story about former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” star getting angry because a chat she held was reported on by the news media still makes me laugh. I guess next she’ll be wanting her lines on the show to be secret as well.

We had quite a bit about the back and forth between New Line and Peter Jackson and there’s still question on whether or not he will ever direct “The Hobbit.” Also, “Battlestar Galactica” dominated a lot of our news this past year, especially with our initial exclusive report that a full season pickup would spell the end of the series. People said we were wrong, but it wasn’t long after the show was indeed picked up for a full season that the producers of the show made the cancellation official.

There were some great “Star Trek XI” stories to tell, including “Heroes” star Zachary Quinto expressing interest in the role he would later get: Spock. And it would take an online version of Star Trek, called “New Voyages,” to finally tackle one final frontier: homosexuality.

Who can forget the excitement expressed by “Farscape” fans everywhere when SciFi Channel announced it would bring back a Web version” of the show while NBC’s big show of the fall, “Bionic Woman,” crashed.

And finally, my personal favorite, almost two years ago now, I had a chance to join “Battlestar Galactica” star Edward James Olmos during filming of the third season on the location sets used for New Caprica. A year later, I shared that experience with all of you. This column was written before our redesign, so if there are some layout issues, I apologize. But take a read again and see how amazing of a man Edward James Olmos is.

Join us again next year for the Top Newsmakers of 2008. Until then, don’t be a stranger!

Michael Hinman is the founder and site coordinator of Airlock Alpha, writing out of Tampa, Fla. He can be reached at mhinman@airlockalpha.com.

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