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Malibu Seen

SPACE COWBOY

“Life,” proclaimed Arthur C. Clarke, “is very tenacious. If you search–it can be found–even beneath enormous amounts of scum.”

The legendary writer was not talking about the L.A. dating scene. He was expressing his hope for interplanetary exploration.

He made his comments before an enthusiastic gathering of scientists, researchers and celebrities at, of all places, the Playboy Mansion.

It was all part of the Space Frontier Foundation’s 2001 Gala. This is not to say the mansion has never seen the likes of those who appreciate science, but that usually means mesmerized males marveling over the wonders of silicone, Botox and better living through chemistry. This, was a different kind of evening.

One of the group’s biggest space cadets is James Cameron. A life-long science buff, the Malibu filmmaker was honored by the foundation for encouraging discovery of new worlds.

It’s a mission he takes seriously. After conquering the oceans, the “Titanic” director is ready to blast off into the wild blue yonder. He hopes to hitch a ride to the Soyuz Space Station and document his journey on film.

The star trek will not be easy. It requires study, 18 months of physical training and a green light from both NASA and the Russian space agency.

“I’m still working on it,” he told The Malibu Times, “but it looks good.”

I asked wife Suzy Amis if the potentially dangerous voyage made her a little nervous. “Naaaa …,”she said with a casual wave of the hand. “I’m just jealous.”

In light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Cameron says space exploration and “permission to dream” is needed more than ever.

“Look at the ’60s. We had civil unrest, we had Vietnam, we had kids smoking pot, the fabric of society was unraveling. Then came the moon landing. We need that kind of excitement and exploration, especially in times of darkness.”

Cameron’s sentiments were echoed by Clarke who appeared in a hologram live Q and A session via satellite from Sri Lanka.

Before the introduction, Cameron spoke of his deep admiration for Clarke, whom he described as “a childhood hero.”

“I remember the first time I went to see ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,'” said Cameron. “It was art, it was music, it was film. It was then that I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker.”

He did, and everything else ever since he says, “has just been arguing over budgets.”

So good luck, James–boldly go where no filmmaker has gone before and let Hollywood live long and prosper.

MERRY, MERRY

EXTRAORDINARY

Back here on earth, TV producer Elaine Perkins was among the music lovers lucky enough to catch the opening night performance of “The Merry Widow.” The L.A. Opera’s delightful production featured lavish fin-de-sicle sets, dazzling dance numbers and sparkling solos. Perkins and her pals braved the rain for a late-night cast party at Nic and Stef’s where they gave the show two thumbs up and a big round of applause.

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