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Notorious ‘Area 51’ book being adapted for television

AMC has ordered a pilot episode for a scripted dramatic television series about the secretive military installation in Nevada known as Area 51. And the basis for this show will be Annie Jacobsen’s book Area 51, an uncensored history of America’s TOP SECRET military base.

Area 51 book cover. (Credit: Little, Brown and Company)
Jacobsen reportedly interviewed more than nineteen men who worked at Area 51 for her book that “explores the myths about the area and those who believe that region is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems and nuclear facilities,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. This book, published in May 2011, met with harsh criticism because of many questionable assertions made by Jacobsen. Most notably was the inclusion of an explanation for what crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. She claims an anonymous witness informed her that the craft recovered at Roswell was actually an advanced German aircraft, and that the bodies recovered from the crash were children that had been mutilated by infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. This craft was allegedly ordered over the U.S. by Joseph Stalin, hoping to trick Americans into thinking it was an extraterrestrial spacecraft, which would result in a mass panic similar to the one caused by the 1938 radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Many doubt the veracity of this Roswell story, including ABC reporter Bill Weir. Weir also interviewed this anonymous witness, but says the witness asserts he did not make all of the claims laid out in the book. The former Area 51 employees interviewed by Jacobsen have also stated how they feel betrayed, and they feel that certain fictitious elements, including the Roswell story, were added to bolster book sales.

The controversy surrounding Jacobsen and her book doesn’t seem to bother AMC, however, and the cable network has even tapped Jacobsen to serve as a co-producer of the show. Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd will reportedly executive produce, and Todd E. Kessler (The Good Wife) will create the script.

The Hollywood Reporter describes that Area 51, the show, “will take place in the 1950s-1960s and will focus on those who work at the base and protect the country’s secrets — including the remains of the alleged alien crash at Roswell.”

Although it has been less than a decade since the government acknowledged the existence of Area 51, there is already a wealth of information provided by former base workers about the base itself, and about formerly top-secret projects that took place there. Many former workers have shared their stories with the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. With this information, the museum opened an Area 51 exhibit this year titled Area 51: Myth or Reality? Perhaps a wiser decision for AMC would have been to work with the National Atomic Testing Museum, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, rather than with the author of such a controversial book.

Jason McClellan

Jason McClellan is a UFO journalist and the producer/co-host of the web series Spacing Out! He is also the web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and a co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. As a founding member of Open Minds, Jason served as a writer and editor for the now defunct Open Minds magazine. He has appeared on Syfy, NatGeo, and, most recently, he co-starred on H2's Hangar 1: The UFO Files. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook.

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