45th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing
How could I pass up the Omega, Vanity Fair and MAK Center celebration of the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing, which took place July 20, 1969. No matter that I’d just come home from Rome, Paris and Switzerland at midnight the night before — I wasn’t about to let a bit of potential jet lag stand in my way.
Click here to read my story in the Los Angeles Times and read on for a few more comments and photos…
First the basics…
* The moon-walking astronaut from that first lunar landing, Colonel Buzz Aldrin was on hand to greet admiring guests. Although I’ve known Aldrin for many years, it was fun to see people meet him for the first time, most of them either babies or not yet born when humans last set foot on the moon.
* Consider that the International Space Station is about 250 miles from Earth, while the moon is about 250,000 miles away. Given the technology available at the time, the fact that astronauts reached the moon 45 years ago – and came home safely – is nothing short of astonishing.
* More guests were Sergio Harford, the alien, ghost or figment of Halle Berry’s imagination (still to be determined) on “Extant;” Teo Halm, star of “Earth to Echo;” Vince Gilligan, the brilliant creator of “Breaking Bad” and co-creator of the soon-to-air spin-off, “Better Call Saul,” Perrey Reeves of “Entourage;” Grey Damon of “Star-Crossed” and “Friday Night Lights;” TV personality Shaun Robinson; model Beverly Johnson; members of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, at the Schindler House; and more.
* Could there have been a better venue? The party got started on the tennis court of the Sheats-Goldstein residence perched high above Beverly Hills. On view: a telescope pointed toward the stars, the expanse of city lights below, a moon rock on loan from NASA and Omega’s new Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 wristwatches on pedestals.
* Designed by architect John Lautner of poured-concrete, glass and wood, the dramatically futuristic Sheats-Goldstein residence was available for tours, (unlike so many parties at private homes, which take place totally outdoors.)
* A few lucky guests (myself happily included) got to go down the stairs to the phenomenal skyspace designed by light artist James Turrell. Bathed in an intense red light, the space had a comfy bed for soaking in the atmosphere; and on the wall, a window slightly ajar to view the darkness outside. (Not so lucky, the sprinklers went on as we walked back up the suddenly-soaked stairs.)
Jean-Claude Monachon of Omega
“If you go back to 1960, when there was the moon landing,” said Monachon, Omega’s vice president of product and customer service, “my parents had just bought a black and white TV set and I saw the live transmission at three in the morning.“
Although he didn’t grow up to become an astronaut, as he said he wished to do as a child, he remembered that first lunar landing when he came to Omega. Consequently, the company patterned the new watch after the one Aldrin wore to the moon.
The new model, made of titanium with rose gold accents in a limited edition of 1,969, sells for 6,500 Swiss Francs, or approx. $7,250.
Colonel Buzz Aldrin
In the years since the original astronauts rocketed to the moon, said Aldrin, “There hadn’t been an affordable plan (for further manned space exploration) or a palatable one politically.”
Yet he is still hoping for missions to Mars in future years, “Not in one decade but two – before 2040,” he said.
Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad”
“I could never be Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong. I’m not a pioneer myself,” said Gilligan. “That’s why I respect people who are. I am not the guy to try out a parachute that’s just been invented and I wouldn’t be the first guy on the moon. I’d want to go when they figure out how to make sure it’s pretty safe.”
Yet no one would argue with Gilligan’s courage in writing and storytelling, although he said the success of “Breaking Bad” came as a surprise. “I was flabbergasted at the success of ‘Breaking Bad. It was astounding,” he said.
“I didn’t think it would ever go on the air in the first place,” Gilligan continued. “AMC was very courageous to put it on the air. Pretty much every network in the business turned us down. I was amazed when AMC said yes, and then we got a second season and a third season and beyond. Then sometime around the late fourth season, it took off in terms of increased viewership and increased fan awareness.”
In terms of the future, Gilligan said he is now shooting episode four of ten of the series spinoff “Better Call Saul,” based on the character Saul Goodman, whom he called, “the rascally lawyer, played by Bob Odenkirk,” which should air in the first quarter of 2015.
So no matter when rockets take off to Mars, we’ll have “Better Call Saul” in the immediate future.
Top photo: Colonel Buzz Aldrin, in a tie printed with Apollo, Gemini and Mercury mission patches, stands beside a moon rock, at the Omega and Vanity Fair celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Omega)
Third photo: Buzz Aldrin with Vince Gilligan at the Omega and Vanity Fair 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon manding (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Omega)
Fourth photo: Colonel Buzz Aldrin, center, with Omega vice president of product and customer service Jean-Claude Monachon, left, and Omega brand president Gregory Swift, right, show off their Omega Speedmaster watches at the Omega and Vanity Fair celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Omega)
Fifth photo: The Omega and Vanity Fair celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on the tennis court of the Sheats-Goldstein residence, designed by architect John Lautner (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Omega)
Sixth photo: Bathed in the red light of the skyspace by artist James Turrell at the Sheats-Goldstein residence are Ned Olivier, center; Ellen Olivier, this website’s author, left; and arts communication consultant Lyn Winter, right; at the Omega and Vanity Fair celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing (photo, SocietyNewsLA.com)
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45th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing
Published July 19, 2014 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA