Weekend Roundup: "Ancient Aliens" Can't Count; Ex-Fox News Host Praises Spiritualism; and Robert Sheaffer Tries to Find Tom DeLonge's Money
Ancient Aliens has never been known for its factual accuracy, so it only makes sense that the series can’t even get its own anniversary correct. According to TV Shows on DVD, this June the History Channel and Lionsgate Entertainment will be releasing the Ancient Aliens tenth anniversary commemorative box set, featuring what press materials call the series’ first ten years of content:
Just in time for its 10th anniversary comes this mammoth ANCIENT ALIENS gift set featuring all 135 episodes from the HISTORY channel hit! The best-selling acclaimed HISTORY series celebrates its 10th anniversary with this incredible gift set featuring all 10 seasons, all 135 episodes and over 100 hours of content.
Ancient Aliens launched with a two-hour documentary on March 8, 2009, intended as a one-off special. Its success caused the network to order the show to series, and it launched as Ancient Aliens: The Series (to differentiate from the standalone pilot) on April 20, 2010. Later, the network and production company changed the name of the series, dropping “The Series” as a subtitle and retroactively claiming the 2009 special as the series’ start date. They also renumbered the seasons a few years ago, which are currently numbered 12, though Lionsgate didn’t get the message and is still counting them as 10.
For those of you keeping score, 2010 was eight years ago, and 2009 was nine years ago. Neither number is ten.
Meanwhile, Newsweek announced that ocean-mapping technology has demonstrated that Atlantis never existed since there is no place for it to have sat. Good for them, catching up to what science already knew long, long ago. On the other hand, a big boo to Eric Burns, the former Fox News Watch host and NBC correspondent, who is publishing next month When the Dead Talked, a study of the opinions and attitudes of leading American thinkers of the nineteenth century on Spiritualism. (Disclosure: I know Burns very slightly, having exchanged some correspondence with him more than a decade ago.) I give burns a boo for two reasons: First, because he is publishing with the notorious charlatans at New Page Books, who publish all manner of New Age and paranormal drivel, and second, because the publisher describes Spiritualism this way: “Though few historians seem to know of it, Spiritualism is not only crucial to an understanding of both past and present, but also to the inner workings of the human animal.” That is wrong on every level. Spiritualism is not only well known, but has nothing to do with understanding humanity except in terms of understanding humanity’s gullibility in the face of con artists. I sincerely hope that the book doesn’t live up to the publisher’s blurb.
Finally today I’d like to point your attention to Robert Sheaffer’s efforts to follow the money in tracing the movement of cash into and out of Tom DeLonge’s many corporate entities. DeLonge, of course, is currently raising money for To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, the think tank that is allegedly working to produce multimedia entertainment about UFOs and super-powered UFO-style transport vessels, on a budget of less than an episode of Game of Thrones. I was one of the first to question the company’s bizarre financial structure, which has most of its revenue returning to Tom DeLonge’s hands in the form of loan repayments and huge royalty payments for years to come. I’m pleased to see that this line of investigation has come to dominate efforts to understand DeLonge’s many businesses.
Sheaffer was particularly interested in DeLonge’s holding company, Our Two Dogs, Inc., which someone, quite possibly the ex-rock star himself, listed, likely in jest, as a hot dog company in some business directories, causing it to be reported as a hot dog stand on many respected business websites, including Dun and Bradstreet. When Sheaffer inquired, DeLonge’s business agent, Louis Tommasino, threatened to sue Sheaffer if he called Out Two Dogs a hotdog stand.
We moved briefly into a small conference area, and another employee of his joined us. I mentioned the loan payment that To The Stars will make to Our Two Dogs from the money raised by selling shares, and it quickly became apparent that Tommasino was unhappy with this line of inquiry. "Dun and Bradstreet is garbage, everyone knows they are garbage." The other employee agrees, they are garbage. (Dun and Bradstreet is, of course, the largest and most respected source of business information in the United States and in many foreign countries, founded in 1841.) "You insult me by bringing that in here." "Our Two Dogs is a management company, a highly respected management company, that I have operated for many years," he said.
Our Two Dogs was founded in 2000, but without declaring its purpose, and it lists itself as a “musician management” company in official statements of information filed with the California Secretary of State’s office. Oddly, even though a statement of information is supposed to be filed every year, California has records only for two, in 2012 and 2017.
Our Two Dogs loaned To the Stars Academy a large amount of money, which the newer company is legally obliged to pay back out of money raised, limiting the amount that can be spent on research.
What is interesting is that To the Stars, Inc., the first DeLonge-associated company working on DeLonge-branded UFO material was originally founded in California in 2002 as Resting Bird, Inc. In 2011, it changed its name as it moved its focus to “e-commerce,” basically selling DeLonge’s products. But in 2017 it filed documents officially changing the company’s purpose to “multi-media entertainment,” putting it in line with the new To the Stars Academy. That company is officially registered in Delaware, where taxation is much lower, as is corporate oversight. That’s why many major corporations are officially headquartered there. Delaware, however, charges $20.00 to read its public filings, and I am not that interested in its filings to pay that kind of money for a bunch of forms.
What is most interesting, of course, is that the big showy To the Stars Academy is a glossy face on a network of other companies that seem to exist to push money back to DeLonge. More interesting is the fact that DeLonge’s business partners and employees don’t want to talk about the money or the relationship between the different companies. Generally, when a shadowy network of personal corporations are shuffling money around and don’t want to talk about it, the real story isn’t the official business of the companies but rather the money.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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