David Balsiger, along with his associate Charles Sellier, produced a number of motion picture documentaries concerning subjects such as Noah’s Ark, The Shroud of Turin, and the Lincoln Assassination. Sellier died on January 31, 2011, and David Balsiger died in the middle of 2017 on June 27. Balsiger directed my segment on the CBS Television show, Ancient Secrets of the Bible 2. It was hosted by Dennis Weaver, star of McCloud and Steven Spielberg’s movie, Duel.
My segment concerned the story of Samson and Delilah, and was completely scripted. The sentiment expressed was a view I already had, so I really didn’t mind doing it. There were some people who believed I was selling out since the bulk of the program endorsed evangelical Christianity, with the skeptics brought in for brief intellectual relief.
It didn’t matter to me! This was a good way to see how television programs were made and it introduced me to a number of people who would bring color and lively commentary to my various public access programs made at Long Beach Community Television.
His CBS contract would eventually be cancelled when it was learned Balsiger had been the victim of a sting set up by USC Archeology professor, Dr. Gerald Larue, and his friend, George Jammal. Jammal had taken some wood from a nearby train track and cooked it in oils and spices, placed it in an impressive tin, and wrote a letter to the producers saying he had been to Noah’s Ark and this wood was proof.
I had been at a Humanist event where Larue talked about the show, which had aired the previous night. Since I knew David, I gave him a head’s up. Balsiger told me he felt Jammal had been vetted and the professor was just casting shade on Jammal. When the story broke, Balsiger later told me they were having NASA scientists from New Mexico studying the wood.
When the news broke, the only TV outlet covering it was Inside Edition. The print media, like the New York Times and Washington Post, covered it, but television news did not seem eager to critique itself. This LA Times article mistakingly calls George Jammal an out of work Israeli actor. George told me he was Arab.
This article, The Sun Goes Down in Flames, is a more thorough account of what happened during the humanist inspired sting.
David Balsiger was also the co-writer of Christian comedian Mike Warnke’s book, The Satan Seller, one of the many books that received new life during the Satanic panic (brought about by false accusations during the McMartin Pre-School trial of the late eighties).
Balsiger left California for Colorado. Since his company owned the Ancient Secrets tapes and series, they were recycled into smaller programs centered around a specific topic. Even today, you can occasionally see my segment from Ancient Secrets popping up on TBN, and other religious networks, under the name ‘Ancient Mysteries’ and different variations of that title. You can also buy the series at amazon.com.
The entire production of Ancient Secrets of the Bible, Part 2, was shot on Beta Cam and taken to a place called Filmlook for processing. Filmlook was known for taking raw video and giving that video a film-like sheen. It made the re-enacted segments of Samson and Delilah look as if it had been shot on film.
Working with David made me realize my bigotry against film was actually holding me back. During the 80s, as film gave way to video, there was a push back by cinematic fundamentalists who refused to have anything to do with video. Working with Balsiger made me realize if I wanted to have success creating anything, I needed to give up that prejudice.
Dr. Gerald Larue and George Jammal eventually became returning guests on my program, MAR’S HILL, and Jammal would later appear as an angry father in my movie, Bible Madness, which is currently available on amazon.com’s Direct Video.
All my interviews with Dr. Gerald Larue and George Jammal seemed to have been raptured from my collection! This is from a program called ‘FOOD FOR THOUGHT’.