Difficult as it was to watch, the episode of HBO's The Newsroom that featured a storyline about Rep. Gabby Gifford's shooting was done so well, says Gifford's husband Capt. Mark Kelly, that he wrote the show's creator-executive producer Aaron Sorkin an email about it.
"I thought Aaron Sorkin did a great job with that episode," Kelly, commander of the space shuttle Endeavour, told B&C Thursday in Los Angeles after a press conference held by Time Warner Cable ahead of Endeavour's two-day, 12-mile trek across L.A. Kelly also described his family's relationship with the press as "pretty good," though he'd have liked to have seen some of the shuttles' missions covered more.
Kelly during the press conference praised TWC's support of the Endeavour's installation and the company's commitment to education with its Connect A Million Minds initiative, a five-year, $100 million outreach to promote science, technology, engineering and math. "Because of that, I was happy to come out here and help with this event," Kelly said.
TWC's $3.8 million investment in the California Science Center comprises $1 million in construction costs related to Endeavour's planned trek from LAX to its permanent home at the California Science Center. Oct. 12-13. Some 100 TWC technicians are to be involved in the transport; 300 employees have been involved directly in the project, which has required construction that began six months ago. Some facilities have been permanently put underground, and others will temporarily be elevated five stories high to make way for the shuttle to traverse the city's streets.
Jim Gordon, regional VP, communications, West Region, Time Warner Cable, says "less than a dozen" customers will have interruption of service for approximately 20 minutes as the shuttle comes through their neighborhood. "We've got it very precise and they're getting calls from us so they'll know what's happening," Gordon says.
When asked if those customers will get a prorated bill, he said, "We're going to do something special for them. So they're going to be taken care of. But we're keeping them posted and I think by and large most people understand this is a really important moment."
The Endeavour project is a point of pride for TWC, which has some 6,000 employees in Southern California and plans an event for employees at the Science Center, Gordon says. "We're really proud of the teamwork," he says. "We needed 50 volunteers for some events in the next couple days and in less than two hours we had 125 people sign up. So really there's some excitement inside Time Warner Cable."
An edited transcript of B&C's one-on-one with Kelly follows.
How does this feel getting the shuttle into its permanent, retirement home?
I will be happy when it safely gets over there. This is not an easy thing to do. To get it through these streets. I understand there are a couple spots where there are inches on either side. They actually have to snake down some of these streets. So I'll be happy to see it get safely over there.
Probably no person on this planet knows better how tricky it is to maneuver the shuttle than you.
Yeah I know how tricky it is to maneuver during launch, in space and even all the way down to on the runway. But how to turn it when you're towing it, I don't know much about that.
How would you describe the magnitude of the task of doing that, moving Endeavour these 12 miles?
From what I understand it's pretty hard. That's why Time Warner Cable is, you know, they're actively involved. They have to move a lot of their stuff. They're really, really focused. They've got a lot of volunteers as part of the effort, but they want to get it to the museum as well so it can be part of their Connect A Million Minds program, which is really important to motivate kids.
Certainly you and your family, it would be an understatement to say, have been the subject of a lot of TV and media coverage, especially in the last couple years. How would you describe your relationship with the media?
It's pretty good. It always tends to be pretty positive.
Are you happy with the coverage of Endeavour and the amount of profile it's gotten?
I think so. You know this is a big deal, moving it into a museum. Flying the space shuttle became a routine event. So some of the missions I would have liked to have seen them covered more. I mean I think it was always a succession of small miracles to get that thing flying in space every time and getting it back. You know, Americans built that. And they should be proud of that. So hopefully you'll see millions of them coming out to see it (at the museum).
I heard you and Gabby watched the episode of The Newsroom in which she and the coverage of her shooting was the subject.
Yeah we did. Separately at first. Because it came on, she was out of town.
Did you get a heads up that it was coming?
Oh yeah, yeah. They let us know. They let us know.
(Newsroom creator-executive producer) Aaron Sorkin let us know that it was going to be part of the episode. It was pretty interesting to watch. It's hard to watch. It's hard for me to watch, hard for Gabby's parents and my parents and my kids to watch. And anybody that knows her. Oddly enough, it wasn't so hard for her to watch it.
Yeah. And the reason is that she doesn't have any memory of all that, of that day. She doesn't have memory of any of it. So we watch it and we relive - I certainly do - where I was and what it felt like. And I thought Aaron Sorkin did a great job with that episode.
But when she watches it, she's kind of very matter of fact about it. She's like, "Alright." It's not an emotional thing for her to see it. Everybody else in the room is crying. She's like, "What's the big deal?" Because she doesn't remember any of it.
Did you talk about watching it separately?
No, she was somewhere with her mom. She was in North Carolina, doing some therapy. They sent it to us ahead of time so I sent the DVD to her so she watched it before it was on TV. I watched it when it showed up on HBO for the first time.
I thought (Sorkin) did a nice job. I actually sent an email to him. He said he read it to the whole crew.