Satellites, 'Northern Exposure' and America's Future

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Published September 23, 2011

| FoxNews.com

As a NASA satellite barrels toward Earth this week with impending doom, the references to the TV show "Northern Exposure" are many. I, of course, remember it well. 

Maggie, my character on Northern Exposure, was giving her boyfriend, Rick, a pilot's examination. He made a mistake so she did not give him a passing grade. He was distraught and thus ventured to the top of a mountain to meditate. While in this posture, he was hit by a random, falling satellite and killed. 

Many of Maggie's boyfriends died untimely deaths and this was a blow, in itself, to Maggie. Fleishman was undaunted, and, daring death, danced with Maggie at the end of the episode. Great writing. Great cast. Great fun. Maggie was a truly unique character; one unmatched then and now.

I was walking through Lowes yesterday to buy a hammer and I saw a tool kit belt that wraps around the waist. I laughed fondly as I remembered that during rehearsals, to "get into character," I wore one of those tool belts filled with tools. Maggie could fix anything: planes, toilets, dinner -- with meat hunted by her own hand.

During the filming and post production of that satellite episode I was unhappy with the producers, Josh Brand and John Falsey. I had to re-record the dialogue for the scene in the episode where Rick's coffin was revealed and they continuously cut away from my face. 

The satellite had fused to Rick's body, so the coffin had pieces of metal coming out of it. 

I wanted to show some emotion revealing that Maggie was sad that Rick had died. Thus, I had a few tears, conjured by "method acting." (My favorite actors were all "method actors" -- Dustin Hoffman, Robert Deniro, Al Pacino, Jessica Lange, even Marilyn Monroe.) 

John and Josh were desperately trying to keep the show in the Monday night "comedy" line up so my performance had to be restructured via sound booths and editing rooms to be "funny." Of course, I believed that "the self same well that holds our laughter also holds our tears," to loosely quote Khalil Gibran but... so goes the tango and artistry of team work.

I remember John Falsey called me after the filming of that episode and said, "We are a comedy! Write it down!" So, "dramedy" we were -- part drama, part comedy. 

It was tough to win in an drama acting category because I was always "funny," through the tears, (tears that  I could slip in), while other "drama" actresses were having genuine meltdowns. 

Throughout the years, as I watched the clips of my fellow nominees sobbing, I knew I'd never win. Their characters were having huge, dramatic, emotional breakdowns. I didn't care. I loved the show. I loved my character. I loved the cast. I loved the creators -- Josh Brand and John Falsey. Josh and John believed in me and I will always treasure them, those years, and my groundbreaking character, Maggie O'Connell.

Now it is 2011, and there seems to be a correlation between the present descending satellite and the potential descent of America. I love America and all the promise for which she stands. I want her to survive. My friend, Brent Cooper, and I  were recalling the "Northern Exposure" satellite episode today. He said, "You've gone from actress to activist." I laughed, but it is true.

I am now an activist and I have never felt more urgent sense of passion and purpose. As the satellite is making a beeline for earth it reminds me a bit of our situation in America. We feel the impending doom: faltering economy, strangling debt, high unemployment, disenchantment, terrorism beckoning on our doorstep and a president who has blinders on and only sees 2012. Satellite? What satellite? Ignorance is not bliss.

We are at a huge crossroads in our country. As Jackie Gingrich Cushman says in her new book, "The Essential American," "It's the desire for liberty and freedom above security and safety," that best represents the American spirit.  

Ironically, the "entitlement Americans" who claim "security and safety" is their "right" are incapable of seeing the satellite that is going to crash and burn upon their indignancies. The anomaly looming in the horizon is the collapse of our society as a whole when America can no longer pay her debts.

One thing our founding fathers knew was history, a subject that is considered irrelevant in our schools today. History, both in centuries past and decades past, proves that bad economies, high taxes, record breaking unemployment and incomprehensible debt lead to despotism and demise. Americans want both "liberty and freedom" and "security and safety." Instead of Patrick Henry's call, "Give me Liberty or Give me Death!" the call of the "entitlement Americans" today is "Give me Liberty and Give me, give me, give me!"

We can not have both. Our founding fathers wrote the words, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," with no guarantee of happiness only the pursuit of happiness. They also made it very clear that God gave us these rights and not government. Government can simply not withstand the demand of being "sugar daddy" to everyone. Liberty cannot withstand that demand.

So, as the satellite comes tumbling toward earth, we are all on alert. We know that it is coming. Should it not be the same with our impending doom regarding our Republic? I remember reading, "The Mandarines" by Simone de Beauvoir. In the book there is a passage, when, after World War I, a French diplomat appeals to a French leader to reach out and help another country. The French leader looked at the diplomat and said, "Don't you understand ...we can't even help ourselves."

I read this over 20 years ago but it is a passage that has always stuck with me. If our country falters and tumbles from the weight of debt, how can she possibly help even her own people? This is so elementary that I cannot  believe that the liberal elite and the "entitlement" contingency do not see this -- the implosion of a force that is heading our way.

Claire Belinsky writes in her book, "There Is No Alternative, Why Margaret Thatcher Matters," about leaders who can shape destiny based upon history, "Those who matter are able to master these historical forces...they are able to shift the forces into a different outcome." 

Our forefather, Patrick Henry was one of these men. His biographer, William Wirt, describes Henry as, "a spirit fitted to raise the whirlwind, as well as to ride in it."

Henry questions the colonists' hesitancy to take on the British for fear of Britain's strength and the enormity of the task, "Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our back, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope..."  

The enormity of our task today:  to bring back America to her basic thesis, to curb big government and entitlement mentalities, to educate her citizens, young and old, about the duties that imbue liberty, to demand an accountability regarding spending in Washington -- to basically save America -- is as daunting today as it was for the colonists to take on the biggest, most powerful country in the world, Britain. However, we must. We cannot continue to hug the "delusive phantom of hope."

Who will accomplish this, if not the people? We must reclaim America's promise, which is liberty, which is freedom from government and thus, the ability to pursue happiness -- all on our own.

Actress tuned activist. I see the falling weight of misguided leadership. I recognize the impending doom. I want to be a woman of action, a patriot of action. I believe in Patrick Henry's words, "Should he keep back his opinions, at a such a time, for fear of giving offense, he should consider himself guilty of treason towards his country..."

Join me in my quest. Visit my foundation, "Constituting America's" website and get involved. Listen to and/or watch my radio show, "The Janine Turner Radio Show," on Saturday nights on 570 KLIF or catch it on the web at http://www.klif.com. AND starting Monday, September 26th, listen to my daily radio show on my website. Call in and let's chat about satellites, "Northern Exposure" and America's future.

Actress Janine Turner is founder and co-chairwoman of “Constituting America.” For more, visit
www.constitutingamerica.org.

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http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/09/23/satellites-northern-exposure-and-americas-future/