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Martians Invade Earth!

October 17, 2008 |  7:00 am

We interrupt this blog for a special emergency bulletin: There won't be any concerts for a million years or so....If it's amusement you're after, the game's up. Culture Monster, we hardly knew ye. You too, Civilization as We Know It.

Now, back to our regular programming.

Orson Welles in the 1938 radio broadcast of

"There won't be any concerts for a million years or so....If it's amusement you're after, the game's up." That was first heard in 1938, during Orson Welles' radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' sci-fi tale, "The War of the Worlds." Two L.A. theater troupes will deliver it anew in the coming weeks as they celebrate the 70th anniversary of the famous broadcast by performing Welles' script before audiences, verbatim and with sound effects. Fake Radio, a company specializing in old-time radio comedy, goes first, on Oct. 25, with John Larroquette as special guest. The show is at 8 p.m. at Hollywood Center Studios, 1040 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood. Long Beach Shakespeare Company takes its turn at 8 p.m. on Halloween night at the Richard Goad Theatre, 4250 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, with a live audio webcast at www.homecastshow.com.

According to radio lore, scary fiction gave rise to momentarily scarier perceived-reality on Oct. 30, 1938, when a substantial number of the CBS network's nationwide audience either tuned in late or missed the announcement that Mercury Theatre on the Air was performing "The War of the Worlds." The first half hour of the 50-plus-minute broadcast enacted news bulletins and live reports about Martians crashing into rural New Jersey in huge cylindrical vessels, emerging in gigantic war machines, and proceeding to wipe out U.S. ground and air forces en route to Manhattan, where they annihilated the population and knocked the broadcast off the air. Only then came an announcement that it was just a show, to be continued after a brief intermission. By then, untold numbers of listeners had been seriously freaked out.

-- Mike Boehm   

Photo: Orson Welles during the 1938 radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds." Credit: Associated Press

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