Hanks Mini-series Makes Childhood Dream A Reality

Posted: January 31, 1998

PASADENA, Calif. — Since Tom Hanks was a kid, the names Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were as familiar to him as Chip and Ernie on ``My Three Sons.''

``I was inspired not by the fact that they were Americans or that they were throttle-jockey test pilots or that they even had cool cars,'' Hanks said. ``I was always dazzled by the idea that frail human beings of flesh and bone and sinew could go off in these vacuum-packed little spacecrafts and travel half a million miles.''

If you haven't heard, Hanks grew up to choose acting instead of space exploration.

But, like most powerful people, he found a way to make his childhood dream come true. Hanks wanted to go to the moon, so he built one.

Three years ago, he signed on with HBO to executive-produce a 12-part nonfiction miniseries that combines his fascination with his vocation: ``From the Earth to the Moon.''

The project, which will be shown during six consecutive Sundays from April 5 to May 10, ended up costing a whopping $65 million, television's most expensive project yet.

The premium movie channel, which doesn't sell commercials to offset the costs, hopes this will draw additional subscribers.

One look at the 38,000-square-foot replica of the moon's surface in the cavernous blimp hangar at the Tustin Marine Corps Air Station and you see why this is fast becoming the biggest deal to hit cable.

It took six weeks, 3,500 tons of earth and 1,925 tons of crushed granite to make the fictional moon - just one of the series' more than 100 filming locations - look like the real McCoy.

The finished product brought Hanks as close as he's ever been to walking on the moon.

``I get from this [talking about the moon] the same feeling you'd get from visiting the pyramids in Egypt or seeing the big heads on Easter Island or viewing the Sistine Chapel,'' said Hanks, who played astronaut Jim Lovell in Ron Howard's ``Apollo 13.'' ``How do they do this? But more importantly, why did they do it? You can learn the nuts and bolts by studying science, but why they did it and what they got out of it are the great mysteries.''

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