Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Roger Zelazny, Lord of Light, Jack Kirby ... and the CIA?

From LordofLight.Com:

In the winter of 1979, after more than a year's preliminary development and $500,000 in pre-production fund-raising, spanning potential sites from Reno, Nevada, to Toronto, Canada, then Mirabel, Quebec -- 1000 acres were finally leased for a Theme Park called ScienceFictionLand, set to be built in Aurora Country just outside of Denver, Colorado. The Park's buildings were to be based upon the production designs and sets of the film, Lord of Light, designed by Jack Kirby and Barry Geller.

The Producer's vision (in 1979) was to include computer-controlled rides, magneticaly levitating cars operated by voice command, billboard-sized Holography, a bullet-train from Japan, and many other venues for children to envision the future. The park was heralded in the press as the first theme park ever to become a center for new technologies invented, developed, and presented to the public solely on an entertainment basis. Commercial applications of new technologies would further act as continuing revenue for scientific, educational, and research foundations set up by the parent company. The creation of the Theme Park ScienceFictionLand was also the Producer's plan for the funding of the film, Lord of Light.

Fortune 500 companies around the world had been contacted to act as sponsors. Internationally acclaimed scientists, architects, and engineers were intrigued and several had begun work on Research and Development. Future Technologists like Buckminster Fuller, Paolo Soleri, and Ray Bradbury were enlisted to come in as consultants. Even 3M had already expressed interest in building a 1/2 mile high Floating Heated Dome (based upon Buckminister Fuller's original designs for air-conditioning NYC during its 1960s World Fair) over the entire park. The film's financing was contingent upon the development of the themepark.

From the Business Development section: "During the period of 1978-1980, (the last time the project was publically promoted and prior to the CIA story covered elswhere on this site), professional associations included: a seasoned financial manager who managed four Studio heads, a Major Studio promise of distribution, an Oscar-winning actor's promise of participation, an Oscar-winning Makeup Special effects director's employment, the employment of the creative artist/designer responsible for 50% of the Comics Industry, two of the world's top science fiction writers consulting, two of the world's leading achitects, and last but not least the personal involvement of one of the world's most famous inventors.It was described as a property whose vast resources both creative and financial talent appreciated."

Production funding began to materialize but was stopped due in no small part to the publicity regarding the actions of the project's supervising producer who was charged with security violations and caught plotting secret real estate purchases with the local mayor and city council. All were later convicted; the Producer's innocence was immediately proven in court and he was completely exonerated.

Strangely, coincidentally, the project's troubles came to public light (after a raid on our production offices in Denver by the FBI-backed DA's office) on almost the exact days the CIA/Agent Mendez admits to coming up with his Film Cover Story (Argo Productions) and shortly afterwards purloining the Lord of Light production drawings and script. It was the Lord of Light larger-than-life science fiction script and production designs, created by Kirby and Geller, which proved to be the foundation for the success of the CIA's mission. (see Mendez story below. Bravo TV's film clip, where Mendez explains the details of how he used the production designs and scripts as his cover, is available upon request). Our existing interim financing (about 1/3 of the film's budget) was frozen at the banks in late December, 1979, just around the time the CIA was organizing it's "Production." The End.

It took almost two years for the Producer to restructure the original investment partnership using two of the top legal firms in the Western United States, completely clearing and protecting the book rights beyond any legal question. Nothing has been done with the Lord of Light Project since that time.

Our Chief of Makeup Special Effects in 1979 was the revered Oscar Winner, John Chambers (Planet of the Apes, etc.). John had briefly mentioned to me he'd done some "special" makeup work for the Government, months before. In actual fact, John was the CIA's true Master Disguise creator for quite some time, spanning many covert operations. According to the article below CIA Operative Mendez (who wrote the article) received the Lord of Light development package from "Jerome" -- John Chambers -- about a week after the raid on our Denver offices. The Lord of Light material was stolen ("appropriated" ) by CIA Agent Antonio Mendez to form a phony Hollywood film company called Studio Six Productions.

By using Geller's script and the Jack Kirby / Barry Geller production drawings from the Lord of Light project, the happy ending of the the operation (called an "exfiltration") resulted in the successful rescue of six Americans hiding in the Canadian Embassy during the Iran Crisis. John Chambers died just after the release of Mendez's book admitting the events, and few people in the industry know of all the dedicated work he'd accomplished for his government.

These facts only became known to us in 2001, when we were approached by Bravo Television for permission to use some Lord of Light Production drawings for a filmed interview on Mendez by Errol Morris' First Person, where Mendez openly admitted the theft of the script and production drawings for his cover. The video is copyrighted by Bravo and is available from us upon request.

Regardless of anything that may or may not have occurred and the means which the CIA used, we nevertheless applaud the success of Mendez's mission, John's heretofore unknown and unsung patriotism, and the safe return of six American lives.

For more detail on how the King of Comics, a Lord of Science Fiction, and the CIA were involved in freeing American hostages from Tehran:

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