National / International News
In May of 1961, Americans huddled around their televisions as Alan Shepard completed a 15-minute space flight, making him the first American in space. His story isn't the subject of ABC's new mini-series "The Astronaut Wives Club." The show centers on his wife, Louise Shepard, and the other women whose husbands were part of NASA's Mercury Seven — the first American men chosen to go to space.
The mini-series is based on the Lily Koppel book of the same name, which Stephanie Savage brought to the television screen. Her credits include "Gossip Girl" and "The O.C."
"I feel like we have a real responsibility to tell something that is truthful to these people's points of view and who they were," she says. "At the same time, we've got to fit it into 10 episodes."
As if that wasn't enough of a challenge, "The Astronaut Wives Club" is also about women's history, something that hasn't often been recorded extensively. That required additional focus on her source material for the show.
"The work that Lily Koppel did in her book is really important. She did a real oral history," Savage says. "She went out to women's homes all across the country, sat in their kitchens and took down their stories."
Inside Stephanie Savage's production company Fake Empire, founded by Savage and "The O.C." creator Josh Schwartz. (Bridget Bodnar/Marketplace)
Savage also hopes that the show will encourage viewers to go out and research the history that "The Astronaut Wives Club" covers, even if it means important plot details are revealed to the audience too soon.
"Nothing would make me happier if people got curious enough to actually go online to and start looking and researching the Apollo 1 fire...That would be amazing to me if people would actually go through the trouble to figure that stuff out," she says.
Savage acknowledges that the show is different from the series she's known for.
"I'd love to do something like this again," she says: telling the stories of strong women. "There are so many amazing untold women's stories, that I'd be happy to do one of these every summer for the rest of my life."
Astronaut Wives premieres Thursday on ABC at 8 p.m.
Pope Francis released his much-anticipated encyclical, "Laudato Si'" ("Praise Be To You"), on Thursday, calling on all nations and all peoples to take action on climate change. He came down with the overwhelming majority of scientists, who say global warming is caused by the activities of man.
And he was pretty critical of two of those activities: capitalism and consumerism. The quest for too much profit, and for too much stuff, harms the planet, he said.
In going there, the pope staked out territory that most economists make a point of avoiding: a moral interpretation of our economy.
This isn’t the first time a major faith has put forth a moral interpretation of economic prosperity — even within the Catholic Church, from popes going all the way back to Leo XIII.
Leo XIII wrote an encyclical titled “Rerum Novarum,” taken from the Latin for “of revolutionary change,” which was meant as a push back against some of the negative aspects of the Industrial Revolution.
More recently, even Pope Benedict XVI wrote about the need for “adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth.”
“Consistently the popes have spoken that the marketplace is not God; that it’s not going to solve all of our problems,” says Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter.
Reese notes that economists tend to view their subject as “value free” — a matter of the efficient allocation of scarce resources— but that the Pope feels that approach isn’t addressing the needs of the poorest and weakest among us.
“The realm that he deals with, and the morality of life, is one that economics has struggled with," says Maureen O’Hara, a professor of finance at Cornell University. "I think that economics is beginning to rethink that a little bit.”
In talking about issues like climate change and the environment in terms of “values,” the pope is entering territory many economists tend to avoid.
“The closest we tend to get is things are ‘inefficient’," O’Hara says. “I think many people kind of feel that may not tell the full story, and that's where I think the pope is trying to blend both the pieces from the economics perspective and the moral perspective together."
O’Hara says she agrees with much of what the pope said in his encyclical, but not his opposition to trading carbon credits. Cap and trade, she says, can be an effective tool for reducing pollution.
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