Mars One just announced this morning that they’ve finalized a deal with a production company called Endemol for a worldwide TV event that will start with the Round 2 interviews. I’ve never heard of Endemol, but apparently they’re the parent company of DSP, which is best known for producing award-winning theatrical documentaries like “Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon” for BBC Two. Although Endemol is also the production company behind Big Brother, Mars One was actively looking for a company that wasn’t going to turn it into just another reality show. They want to keep control of all aspects of the astronaut selection process, including making sure that the candidates who might be seen as frontrunners aren’t going to be the ones who can create the most drama.
And that’s a good thing. If there’s one thing I might have not-so-subtly mentioned, it’s that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in close quarters with a drama queen just because she pulled in the ratings for the TV show. It might still happen, but it’ll at least give the rest of us who can keep a level head when things don’t go our way a real chance to be the ones who plant our boots in Martian regolith. If you see accusations that somebody’s trying to turn this into a one-person show flying on the official Aspiring Martians Facebook group, you can be sure that there’s at least one drama queen involved and she’s the one who might turn a serious situation into a life-threatening one simply because she puts her need to be the center of attention above the needs of the Mars One mission.
But, really, that’s the only reason I might have hesitated to get involved in the “media blitz” side of Mars One. I was worried that the drama queens were going to end up running the show. Imagine four people flipping out when the settlement catches on fire instead of rationally assessing the situation despite the inevitable adrenaline rush, donning oxygen masks and activating the fire suppression system. Those are four people who would burn to death if the toxic fumes don’t kill them first. If it’s just the fact that I’ll have a camera pointed at me most of the time, I’ll probably just ignore the camera man unless he’s in my face or blocking my path to the fire suppression system when I need to pull the lever that triggers the sprinklers.
My immediate concern, though, will be just getting to the interviews. From the perspective of one Aspiring Martian, the new media deal mostly means that we Mars One candidates (all 705 of us!) should start gearing up and getting ready for the interviews if we haven’t already. We’re probably going to be traveling without a lot of notice – not great for getting the best air fare rates, but there’s always trains and buses if all else fails. I mostly feel bad for the ones that might have to travel internationally to get to their regional headquarters. I’m told that a lot of Europeans already have passports, but there are people who might be scrambling to get those. There’s been a lot of speculation about where those headquarters are even going to be. Mostly I’m just hoping that it won’t be more than a couple of states away.
Are the Endemol people going to be disappointed that they can’t control the selection process by pushing forward the candidates who get the ratings? Maybe, but the challenges we’re going to face should make for exciting enough television to make up for the fact that they can’t push the drama queens. I hope they comprehend the fact that this isn’t Big Brother. This is going to be the people who could have shown up at the America’s Got Talent auditions if they wanted their fifteen minutes of fame but decided to sign up for something completely new, different, and highly dangerous instead.
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