Rms titanic 3

The rising industry inspired by the sinking Titanic

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At precisely 2.20 a.m. on April 15th, a church bell is rung in the small County Mayo parish of Addergoole, close to the west coast of Ireland.


Locals gather in the churchyard to remember the night that changed the parish forever. 2.20 a.m. was the exact time that RMS Titanic, the largest, most technologically advanced steamship in the world hit, sand to the bottom of the Atlantic after hitting an iceberg roughly two hours and forty minutes earlier.

The mighty Titanic took only that amount of time to sink, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

Only 705 passengers survived. The Addergoole parish was home to just a few hundred people then, but 14 of them were on board Titanic. Now, a century later, the sinking of the Titanic has turned into a huge industry and is as popular a topic as Jesus and the Civil War.

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On this centennial anniversary, media makers are hoping that viewers maintain an almost infinite appetite for the tale of the doomed ship. Over 200 novels have been published, countless television programs created, and that does not include the new crop that will debut this month and expected to make millions for the creators.

Even with the onslaught of new materials, the public stays fascinated by a story that remains deeply eerie, theatrical and tragic.

Here are just a few specials to look out for.

Titanic director James Cameron will see the release of the 3D version of his 1997 blockbuster film to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking. Cameron's epic 1997 film Titanic won 11 Oscars and grossed well over a billion dollars worldwide. We'll see how the 3D version does. Meanwhile, the National Geographic Channel joined the director for the ultimate forensic investigation into the shipwreck in "Titanic: The final Word With James Cameron" TV special.

Cameron, who has made more than 30 dives to explore the Titanic, brings together a team of engineers, naval architects, artists and historians to solve the questions of why and how an "unsinkable" ship sank.

My former employer, PBS, will commemorate the anniversary of the disaster with several new programs premiering this month. Each program provides a different perspective on the sinking - from historical drama to science to personal stories of the effect of the tragedy on the descendants.

"Saving The Titanic," by colleagues at Tile Films, Dublin, is a historical drama that tells the untold story of the bravery of the ship's engineers, stokers and firemen in the face of impending death. Based on eyewitness accounts, the program follows the engineering crew who fought courageously to keep the power systems running so people could escape.

"The Titanic With Len Goodman" (of Dancing with the Stars fame) examines the impact of the sinking on the thousands of affected families. Later in April, NOVA presents the premiere of "Why Ships Sink," which investigates the safety of cruise ships. Twenty million passengers embark on cruises each year, vacationing in deluxe "floating cities." The programs asked the question, "Are we really safe at sea - or are we on the brink of a 21st-century Titanic?"

Meanwhile, back in Addergoole, the annual Titanic Mass will be followed by the official opening of the Addergoole Titanic Memorial Park. More at www.addergoole-titanic.com.

Another anniversary that is not getting as much fanfare, but has an Irish connection as well and it is the 100th anniversary of the death of Bram Stoker. The story of the fanged Count Dracula is a fiction narrative written by Dublin-born Stoker in 1897 and set in London and Transylvania.

IBO news: Speaking of notable Irish writers, Colum McCann will be the featured guest speaker at the Irish Business Organization meeting on April 11. Colum is the award-winning author of five novels and two collections of short stories. His recent novel, "Let the Great World Spin," won worldwide acclaim, including The 2009 National Book Award and is being adapted for the screen. Perhaps he'll read a little Dracula for us. For more information, visit the www.ibo-ny.com.