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Martians get the red carpet treatment

Newly-discovered life on Mars means new plot lines for sci-fi shows

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Those schlocky ’50s films were right — there was life on Mars. That the newly discovered aliens turned out to be harmless microscopic bugs instead of beasties with humongous throbbing brains may have been anticlimactic for some, but Hollywood is rolling out the red (planet) carpet for our new Martian friends:

3rd Rock From The Sun NBC’s alien comedy will crack a couple of topical jokes in its season opener, airing Sept. 22. (”Next time you have a picnic on another planet, clean up!”) Jests executive producer Terry Turner: ”I couldn’t ask for more. We feel validated.”

Dark Skies NBC’s new X-Filesesque drama will work references to the discovery into its story lines and promos. ”It’s like this dropped out of the sky just for our show,” says cocreator Bryce Zabel.

Mars Attacks! Warner Bros. won’t comment on whether director Tim Burton will go back to make any last-minute changes on his sci-fi comedy. But a new press release boasts, ”Warner Bros. will offer definitive proof of life on the Angry Red Planet on Friday, Dec. 13 with the release of…Mars Attacks!

Mars Lives B-movie king Roger Corman was one of the first on the case. ”The second we heard, we rushed a Mars project into development,” says Darin Spillman, VP of production at Corman’s Concorde/New Horizons studio. The $20 million flick will follow a group of space explorers who awaken a dormant and hostile Martian race.