Monday, February 05, 2007

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

OK. This story from The New York Times is not technically related to showbiz--although I do think NASA is kind of similar to a movie studio making reaaaaaaaaaally expensive diversions to preoccupy the masses from our real problems--but this is one fascinating story. It involves love affairs among astronauts, adultery, a cross-country roadtrip with possible intent to commit kidnapping, assault with pepper spray, and murder that involved wigs, disqguises, and diapers. Huzzah!

ORLANDO, Fla.--An astronaut drove 900 miles and donned a disguise to confront a woman she believed was her rival for the affections of a space shuttle pilot, police said. She was arrested Monday and charged with attempted kidnapping and other counts.

U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak, 43, who flew last July on a shuttle mission to the international space station, was also charged with attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery. She was denied bail.

Police said Nowak drove from her home in Houston to the Orlando International Airport to confront Colleen Shipman.

Nowak believed Shipman was romantically involved with Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, a pilot during space shuttle Discovery's trip to the space station last December, police said.

Nowak told police that her relationship with Oefelein was ''more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship,'' according to an arrest affidavit. Police officers recovered a love letter to Oefelein in her car.

NASA spokesman James Hartsfield in Houston said that, as of Monday, Nowak's status with the astronaut corps remained unchanged.

''What will happen beyond that, I will not speculate,'' he said.

Hartsfield said he couldn't recall the last time an astronaut was arrested and said there were no rules against fraternizing among astronauts.

When she found out that Shipman was flying to Orlando from Houston, Nowak decided to confront her, according to the arrest affidavit. Nowak raced from Houston to Orlando wearing diapers so she wouldn't have to stop to urinate, authorities said.

Astronauts wear diapers during launch and re-entry.

Dressed in a wig and a trench coat, Nowak boarded an airport bus that Shipman took to her car in an airport parking lot. Shipman told police she noticed someone following her, hurried inside the car and locked the doors, according to the arrest affidavit.

Nowak rapped on the window, tried to open the car door and asked for a ride. Shipman refused but rolled down the car window a few inches when Nowak started crying. Nowak then sprayed a chemical into Shipman's car, the affidavit said.

Shipman drove to the parking lot booth, and the police were called.

During a check of the parking lot, an officer followed Nowak and watched her throw away a bag containing the wig and BB gun. They also found a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, $600 and garbage bags inside a bag Nowak was carrying when she was arrested, authorities said.

Inside Nowak's vehicle, which was parked at a nearby motel, authorities uncovered a pepper spray package, an unused BB-gun cartridge, latex gloves and e-mails between Shipman and Oefelein. They also found a letter ''that indicated how much Mrs. Nowak loved Mr. Oefelein,'' an opened package for a buck knife, Shipman's home address and hand written directions to the address, the arrest affidavit said.

Police said Nowak told them that she only wanted to scare Shipman into talking to her about her relationship with Oefelein and didn't want to harm her physically.

''If you were just going to talk to someone, I don't know that you would need a wig, a trench coat, an air cartridge BB gun and pepper spray,'' said Sgt. Barbara Jones, a spokeswoman for the Orlando Police Department. ''It's just really a very sad case. ... Now she ends up finding herself on the other side of the law with some very serious charges.''

If convicted of attempted kidnapping, Nowak could face a maximum of life in prison...

According to NASA's official biography, Nowak is married with three children. During her 13-day mission in July she operated the robotic arm during three spacewalks.

Oefelein is unmarried. He piloted the space shuttle Discovery in December. He has two children, according to a NASA biography.

Yowza! Who will play married-with-children US Navy Captain Astronaut Lisa Nowak in the made-for-tv movie to be aired on the Lifetime network next year? Well, lets take a look at her:

I'm kinda getting a Penelope Ann Miller vibe from this lady...hmmmm:

Am I right or am I right? Penelope Ann always had a little bit of the crazy in her eys that would hit just the right note. (Remember her portrayal of Mary Kay Letourneau in "All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story"? Eh? Anyone?)

Then we've got to cast the role of objet d'obsession Navy Commander William Oefelein:

He totally reminds me of some character actor, but for the life of me I can't figure out who. Anyone got any ideas? I'm dying here!

UPDATE 02/06: Apparently great minds think alike, because today Defamer had their own casting call for the movie, although I'm not sure I agree with their choices:

Yesterday's arrest of Lisa Marie Novak, the kidnappingest astronaut in NASA, begs for an immediate Sunday night telefilm treatment. (Working title: Breaking Orbit: The Lisa Marie Novak Story.) We wholeheartedly agree with a reader's recommendation that an offer should immediately go out to Oscar nominee Toni Collette for the Novak role, who may be lured to the small screen by a gritty, yet somehow flamboyant, part requiring a crazy-love-fueled 900 mile drive to intercept a romantic rival while packing a Wile E. Coyote-quality arsenal of a wig, a trenchcoat, adult diapers, BB gun, a steel mallet, some rubber tubing, and garbage bags. As for the role of her spacefaring object of obsession, putting out a call for "a Tony Shaloub type, but cheaper" will probably do the trick for now, as securing Collette's services will probably eat up most of the casting budget.

I'm thinking a better title might be "To Diaper For: The Lisa Marie Novak Story," since that is the aspect of the story that has siezed the public imagination--it certainly siezed mine. Yowza!


Linda said...

I'd cast either Ed Marinaro or Steven Bauer.

porkmuffin said...

Tom Berenger would also work!

Lucinda said...

I'm sure Tom Sizemore could use some work.