IC to celebrate Twilight Zone’s 50th Anniversary

On the evening of Oct. 2, 1959, American television viewers watched a man in an Air Force jump suit wander the deserted streets of a strange town, unable to remember his name or how he got there. It was America’s first peek into a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. On Oct. 2, 2009, Ithaca College will begin its two-day commemoration of the visionary writer who created that middle ground between science and superstition with the “Rod Serling Conference: Celebrating 50 Years of the Twilight Zone.” Having grown up in Binghamton and taught at Ithaca College, Serling had deep ties to central New York. The Rod Serling Archives — the largest single collection of Serling’s television scripts and screenplays — are housed at Ithaca College, and locations in central New York have made their way into “The Twilight Zone.” A reference to Taughannock Falls, for example, appears in “The Midnight Sun,” and the carousel in Binghamton’s Recreation Park was the inspiration for “Walking Distance,” the tale of a middle-aged man trying to recapture his lost childhood. A bus trip to Recreation Park — along with a walking/trolley tour of Rod Serling sites in Binghamton — will be among the conference offerings. Running from Friday, Oct. 2, to Saturday, Oct. 3, the interdisciplinary conference will include presentations, screenings, a two-day mini-course on Serling’s legacy as well as a Twilight Zone Marathon and a keynote address by George Clayton Johnson, who wrote many original “Twilight Zone” episodes and the story that inspired the “Ocean’s Eleven” films.The two-day commemoration will offer 17 conference sessions. Highlights include Tony Albarella, editor of “Timeless as Infinity: The Complete Twilight Zone Scripts of Rod Serling,” examining the impact of Serling’s war experiences on his life and work; “Don’t Assume that the Current Norm Shall Be Your Norm” by John Keshishoglou, the professor emeritus who brought Serling to the college; and a panel discussion by the three winners of the Rod Serling Scriptwriting Competition.Also, Serling’s wife Carol and his daughters Anne and Jodi will attend the welcome event on Friday morning and will also be in Binghamton on Saturday for the walking/trolley tour.In addition, “Translating the Twilight Zone: Recent Photography by Allie Ellis” — the series of black and white photographs inspired by “Twilight Zone” episodes currently on display in the college’s Handwerker Gallery — will be available for viewing during the conference. Free and open to the public, the exhibit will remain on display until Oct. 11.Registration information, along with a complete listing of conference events, is available at www.ithaca.edu/rhp/serling.

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