Some conflicting news on the Starwalker reality series, an Australian effort to produce a television series that would send winners into space. Robert Brand, who had been working on the production, provided this update via Facebook on Friday:
All, I am now unemployed as Starwalker has cancelled! I am now looking for work so please advise. In fact I would be pleased to develop other space based shows and would like to hear from any Australian film maker interested in doing something.
The show’s blog had a more cheery – if somewhat vague – announcement the same day:
New look, new content and new amazing announcements, coming soon! Change… and not a moment too soon.
The project has been controversial since it was publicly announced last year. Three ISU alumni who said they created the show subsequently withdrew, saying that producer Jonathan Nolan refused to enter into a binding contract with them. Nolan continued with the show under the title of creator/executive producer.
Nolan is a former attorney who was disbarred by Australia’s Northern Territory in 2002 for embezzling funds from a trust fund that he controlled. He had made several low-budget films, one of which focused on 9-11 conspiracy theories. Nolan has produced several short videos in which he espouses theories about alien visitors, including one about a Black Sky satellite detected in polar orbit in the late 1950s.
Nolan and his business partner, Greg Smith, have claimed they have full financial backing for the $100 million reality show. However, they have refused to identify any sponsors or partners in the effort. No organizations have come forward claiming to be in partnership with Nolan and Smith.
One source of income for the show was text messages. Potential contestants could text in applications via their mobile phones for a fee. Applicants also could register via a website.
The production has been dogged by several other questionable claims. Organizers originally said the show was being co-produced by Red Vision UK, a special effects company in Britain. Red Vision subsequently said it had been approached about doing special effects for the program but was not co-producing it.
Producers also claimed the participation of famed physicist Stephen Hawking as a judge. That claim was later denied by Hawking’s assistant.