Sunday, October 15, 2006

Local UFO Expert Gets a Shot On The Sci Fi Channel

By Mark Hare
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

     Dolan(October 15, 2006) — When his friends learned that Rich Dolan of Rochester would host a Sci Fi Channel show on mysteries, legends and the paranormal, they worried about his reputation as a scholar.

"I have no reputation," Dolan cracks. "I write about UFOs."

The show, Sci Fi Investigates, airs at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on the Sci Fi Channel (cable channel 59). The first of six episodes, on voodoo, appeared Oct. 11.

Others in the series will investigate Bigfoot, Mothman (who allegedly appeared 40 years ago in West Virginia), paranormal hotspots, the afterlife and the Roswell, N.M., site of an alleged crash of alien spacecraft.

Dolan, who has done dozens of interviews and narrations on UFOs on other cable channels, was approached last spring by the Sci Fi series' producers. He is one of four hosts. The others include an archaeologist, a crime scene investigator and "Boston Rob" Mariano, billed as "the skeptic," who began his celebrity career as a contestant on the CBS series, Survivor. He later married Amber Brkich, the winner of Survivor All-Stars and last year the two of them were contestants on CBS' The Amazing Race.

Why Rich Dolan? "I have an interest in weird things," he says. If the ratings are decent, the show could be renewed. Already he's been approached by producers considering similar types of shows. "But in TV, nothing is for sure until it happens."

Dolan, 44, is a trained historian, who attended Oxford University and later studied American Cold War diplomacy at the University of Rochester, where he earned a master's degree. His book, UFOs and the National Security State, is the first of two volumes that provides a chronology of what he calls the national security dimensions of the UFO phenomenon from 1941 to 1973. A second volume, due out in early 2007, will describe events from 1973 to the present.

Dolan clearly believes we are not alone in the universe and that aliens may well have visited our planet. But his interest as a historian is in getting the facts. If there are hundreds of sightings of bright, perfectly triangular-shaped objects that can accelerate rapidly, "wouldn't you want to know what they are?" he asks. "If it's military technology, isn't that worth knowing?"

Dolan is a meticulous researcher, who also runs a successful resume writing service from his 19th Ward home, plays vintage baseball at the Genesee Country Museum, lectures on UFOs and can teach groups to play the harmonica in two hours. And he's married with two young children.

It strikes me that he is the polar opposite of Boston Rob, a brash jockish guy who has parlayed Survivor into a nice career. "We have nothing in common," Dolan admits, "but we became friends. I was branded 'the believer'" so there are many exchanges with "the skeptic." "He's really pretty smart," Dolan says of Mariano. The relationships among the four hosts keep the show lively.

In the first episode on voodoo, Dolan "did a midnight dance with a funky, wild voodoo princess holding a boa constructor over my head."

He can't give details of the shows yet to air, but he predicts viewers will find the ordinary people interviewed compelling — whether you believe them or not.

As for a career in television, Dolan's not counting on it, but if it would buy a bigger audience for his books, he'd welcome it.

More . . .

See Also: Rochester Man Studies UFOs with a Historian's Tools


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