The CIA, the Lord of Light Film Project, and The Science Fiction Land™ Theme Park
ARGO (remember the Film?): a 2012 catchy action-based fiction film partially based upon the 2007 Wired Magazine True story of a real life Gutsy Deception of a 1979 CIA true Rescue and Extraction — but really using a “not-so fictional”, real SciFi film as a cover & Deception. Got That?
The TV clip may take a few seconds to load (c) 2000 Errol Morris, Bravo TV.
When my film and enthusiastic theme park project ran into problems in December of 1979, my Makeup SFX man, John Chambers, took the script and production designs to his CIA boss, Tony Mendez. We never knew he was with the CIA. It was crucial timing, though. It is now known that without the Lord of Light screenplay and the Kirby/Geller production designs, the real Argo mission might not have happened at all. I am honored to have participated in changing history, and I share it will all those involved who had helped. Had the Science Fiction Land project not run into legal troubles exactly when it did, John Chambers would not have offered the Lord of Light script and production designs to Tony Mendez, in the CIA’s hour of desperate need. Mendez’s group was already turned down by the State Department in December. But Lord of Light’s script and drawings were perfect for Iran’s locations in their desert, with bazzars, temples, etc. When I asked the Iranian editor of the avante garde magazine Zaman who was interviewing me in 2014, what where the Iranian’s favorite Lord of Light drawing, he said, “The Terminal of the Gods … because it signified to his parents the departing of the Shah and the return of their own Religion.”
In 2001, I learned that CIA agent Tony Mendez used my screenplay, Lord of Light, along with Jack Kirby’s production illustrations which we designed together, as cornerstones of the cover story used to rescue six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis. Mendez changed the screenplay’s name from Lord of Light to Argo. The Hollywood film Argo is based on this story. The film focuses on the CIA rescue, but leaves out so much of the true story that made the mission possible. Basically, my designs and script was used as the mission’s cover — while it did not perform any other functions, the mission could not have been done without it.
My promotion of the film in 1979 was to bring attention to our extraorinary mental powers just as Star Wars brought recognition of life in the Galaxy. The Science Fiction™ ThemePark was an extention of this, to expand the imagination of children by bringing together the greatest scientists and new technologies utilized completely for an entertainment basis. This is where I brought in Futurists like Ray Bradbury, Paolo Soleri (Arcology), and Buckminster Fuller (Geodesic Dome) as consultants. Knowing we were changing the future, the Themepark/Film Project became the grandest dream for all of us, perhaps even the culmination of a life’s work for several of my collaborators — including myself.
The plan to use a desert-based SCIFI movie as the very basis to get the six Americans out of Iran I believe was totally John Chambers’ idea, based upon his recent employment for my film production, Lord of Light; John Chambers deserves the credit for imagining this caper — which he has never publicly received. I am the first to admit however, and always to his own credit, the real Tony Mendez had the greatest chutzpah and pulled off an unbelievable and amazing feat which saved those lives and he deserves the great applause he received.
The Oscar-winning John Chambers (Planet of the Apes, Island of Dr. Moreau) was actually Mendez’ consultant and makeup master for many years. John helped Mendez for what he considered his patriotic duty. Mendez and the State Department were desparate. The situation was desparate. Thinking that the Lord of Light project was deceased, he gave Mendez his copy of my screenplay and the production designs which were based upon it, the designs Jack Kirby and I had worked so hard on together. When I first saw the real Mendez’ own admission to purloining my production work in the Errol Morris clip on this page, I was amazed. To me, this represents a legacy of American and Hollywood ingenuity; Jack and I had a hand in changing history, which now has finally been acknowledged.
I didn’t do it alone. The legendary Jack Kirby and the great John Chambers, Ray Bradbury, Holography Scientist Donald Broadbent, Buckminster Fuller, and Arcology architect Paolo Soleri were central to my team and to the vision of Lord of Light and Science Fiction Land™. I had some really good ideas they all believed in — and together we deeply believed in the goals of the project, we shared ideas, and all helped me bring my plans and dreams to life.
The 2007 Wired article (linked here) at least comes the closest to the Truth…. Except for the fact that John Chambers was working for Geller Productions up to two weeks before the Argo Deception, and had the script & drawings readily available.
When one looks at the Kirby/Geller Lord of Light Drawings, with their Hindu & Middle Eastern themes, it is just impossible to separate the drawings from Real Argo caper, and from the success of its mission. After all, it was meant to be a deception! In truth is that these were real-life blueprints made by a VERY REAL Hollywood team.
I applaud the CIA’s Tony Mendez’s balls and bravery and all those other real-life heroes who, like the Canadian Ambassador, risked it all to save the lives of those six Americans. the connection to the Lord of Light Project and the safe return of the six Americans will always be a reality of the connectivity of Life.
In the winter of 1979, after more than a year’s preliminary development and upwards of one Million 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 Science Fiction Land™, 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 Ira Geller, brilliantly drawn by Jack Kirby.
The Producer’s vision (in 1979) was to bring together the greatest scientific minds, artists, and businessmen of his generation. This vision 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 Science Fiction Land™ 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, DonC Broadbent, and Ray Bradbury were enlisted to come in as consultants. The 3M company had already expressed interest in building a 1/2 mile high Floating Heated Dome (based upon Buckminster 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.