Druyan, executive producer and writer of Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, accepting the Peabody Award in 2014
|Born||June 13, 1949|
Queens, New York, U.S.
|Known for||Author, activist, producer|
(m. 1981; d. 1996)
|Children||Nicholas Jullian Zapata Sagan (1970, stepson with Carl Sagan)|
Alexandra Rachel "Sasha" Druyan Sagan (1982)
Samuel Democritus Druyan Sagan (1991)
Ann Druyan (// DREE-ann; born June 13, 1949) is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning American writer, producer, and director specializing in the communication of science. She co-wrote the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos, hosted by Carl Sagan, whom she married in 1981. She is the creator, producer, and writer of the 2014 sequel, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and its sequel series, Cosmos: Possible Worlds, as well as the book of the same name. She is credited with directing episodes of both series as well.
She was the Creative Director of NASA's Voyager Interstellar Message Project, the golden discs affixed to both the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. Druyan's role on the project was discussed on the July 8, 2018 60 Minutes segment "The Little Spacecraft That Could". In the segment, Druyan explained her insistence Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" be included on the Golden Record, saying: "...Johnny B. Goode, rock and roll, was the music of motion, of moving, getting to someplace you've never been before, and the odds are against you, but you want to go. That was Voyager." The segment also discussed Sagan's suggestion, in 1990, that Voyager 1 turns its cameras back towards Earth to take a series of photographs showing the planets of our solar system. The shots, showing Earth from a distance of 3.7 billion miles as a small point of bluish light, became the basis for Sagan's famous "Pale Blue Dot" passage, first published in Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994).
Druyan and Sagan's working and resulting romantic relationship has been the subject of numerous treatments in popular culture, including the Radiolab episode "Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan's Ultimate Mix Tape" and a segment of the Comedy Central program Drunk History's episode "Space". The asteroid 4970 Druyan, which is in a companion orbit with asteroid 2709 Sagan named after Druyan's late husband, is named after Druyan. In 2015, it was announced that Warner Brothers was in development on a drama about Sagan and Druyan's relationship, to be produced by producer Lynda Obst and Druyan.
Druyan was born in Queens, New York, the daughter of Pearl A. (née Goldsmith) and Harry Druyan, who co-owned a knitwear firm. Druyan's early interest in math and science was, in her word, "derailed" when a junior high-school teacher ridiculed a question she asked about the universality of π. "I raised my hand and said, 'You mean this applies to every circle in the universe?', and the teacher told me not to ask stupid questions. And there I was having this religious experience, and she made me feel like such a fool. I was completely flummoxed from then on until after college." Druyan characterized her three years at New York University as "disastrous", and it was only after she left school without graduating that she discovered the pre-Socratic philosophers and began educating herself, thus leading to a renewed interest in science.
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Druyan's first novel, A Famous Broken Heart, was published in 1977.
Druyan co-wrote six New York Times best-sellers with Carl Sagan, including: Comet, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, and The Demon-Haunted World. She is co-author, along with Carl Sagan, F. D. Drake, Timothy Ferris, Jon Lomberg and Linda Salzman Sagan, of Murmurs Of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record. She also wrote the updated introduction to Sagan's book The Cosmic Connection and the epilogue of Billions and Billions. She wrote the introduction to, and edited The Varieties of Scientific Experience, published from Sagan's 1985 Gifford lectures.
Work in science
As creative director of NASA's Voyager Interstellar Message Project, Druyan worked with a team to design a complex message, including music and images, for possible alien civilizations. These golden phonograph records affixed to the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft are now beyond the outermost planets of the solar system, and Voyager 1 has entered interstellar space. Both records have a projected shelf life of one billion years.
Druyan is a fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims for the Paranormal (CSICOP).
Film and television
In 2000, Druyan, together with Steve Soter, co-wrote Passport to the Universe, the inaugural planetarium show for the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Natural History Museum's Hayden Planetarium. The attraction is narrated by Tom Hanks. Druyan and Soter also co-wrote The Search for Life: Are We Alone, narrated by Harrison Ford, which also debuted at the Hayden's Rose Center.
In 2000, Druyan co-founded Cosmos Studios, Inc, with Joseph Firmage. As CEO of Cosmos Studios, Druyan produces science-based entertainment for all media. In addition to Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, Cosmos Studios has produced Cosmic Africa, Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt, and the Emmy-nominated documentary Cosmic Journey: The Voyager Interstellar Mission and Message. In 2009, she distributed a series of podcasts called At Home in the Cosmos with Annie Druyan, in which she described her works, the life of her husband, Carl Sagan, and their marriage.
Druyan was one of the three writers of the TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, along with Carl Sagan and Steven Soter. Druyan is credited, with Carl Sagan, as the co-creator and co-producer of the 1997 feature film Contact.
In 2011, it was announced that Druyan would executive produce, co-write, and be one of the episodic directors for a sequel to Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, to be called Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which began airing in March 2014. Episodes premiered on Fox and also aired on National Geographic Channel on the following night. At the time of its release, Fox gave the series the largest global rollout of a television series ever, debuting it in 180 countries. The premiere episode was shown across nine of Fox's cable properties in addition to the broadcast network in a "roadblock" style premiere. The series went on to become the most-watched series ever for National Geographic Channel International, with at least some part of the 13-episode series watched by 135 million people, including 45 million in the U.S.
In March 2020, a third season of Cosmos, named Cosmos: Possible Worlds, for which Druyan was executive producer, writer, and director, premiered on National Geographic. Druyan also said: "I very much have season four in mind, and I know what it’s going to be. And I even know some of the stories that I want to tell in it."
Druyan has for many years been a vocal advocate for nuclear disarmament. She was arrested three times at the Mercury, Nevada nuclear test site during Mikhail Gorbachev's unilateral moratorium on underground nuclear testing, with which President Ronald Reagan did not cooperate. This included an arrest in June 1986, when Druyan crossed a white painted line indicating the test site's boundary; Sagan, who attended the same protest with Druyan, was not arrested.
In the early 1990s, Druyan worked with Sagan and then-Senator Al Gore, Jr. and a host of religious and scientific leaders to bring the scientific and religious worlds together in a unified effort to preserve the environment, resulting in the Declaration of the 'Mission to Washington'.
Druyan served as a founding director of the Children's Health Fund until the spring of 2004, a project that provides mobile pediatric care to homeless and disadvantaged children in more than half a dozen cities. She currently serves a member of their Advisory Board.
Druyan has served on the Board of Directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for over 10 years and was president from 2006 to 2010.
An asteroid discovered in 1998 was named in Druyan's honor by its discoverer Eleanor F. Helin. In a 2020 interview with Skeptical Inquirer, Druyan discussed 4970 Druyan and the asteroid named after her late husband, saying that 4970 Druyan is in a "wedding ring orbit" around the Sun with 2709 Sagan. Druyan was presented with a plaque on Sagan's sixtieth birthday, which is inscribed: "Asteroid 2709 Sagan in eternal companion orbit with asteroid 4970 Druyan, symbolic of their love and admiration for each other."
In November 2006, Druyan was a speaker at "Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival".
In November 2007, Druyan was awarded the title of "Humanist Laureate" by the International Academy of Humanism.
Religious and philosophical views
In an interview with Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post, Druyan stated that her early interest in science stemmed from a fascination with Karl Marx. Achenbach commented that "She had, at the time, rather vaporous standards of evidence", a reference to her belief in the ancient astronauts of Erich von Däniken and the theories of Immanuel Velikovsky pertaining to the Solar System. Druyan freely acknowledged her past views and also said that they [clarification needed] after marrying Carl Sagan.
Concerning the death of her husband she stated:
When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me—it still sometimes happens—and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don't ever expect to be reunited with Carl.
In 2020, Sagan and Druyan's daughter Sasha Sagan released a book For Small Creatures Such As We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in our Unlikely World, which discusses life with her parents and her father's death when she was fourteen year old.
- 2004 Richard Dawkins Award
- 2014 Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming Primetime Emmy Award
- 2015 The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television from Producers Guild of America
- 2015 Writers Guild Award for "Documentary Script - Other than Current Events"
- 2017 Harvard Humanist of the Year Award
- 2020 National Geographic Further Award
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Her interest in science came primarily from her interest in the philosophy of Karl Marx. ... Druyan herself had, at the time, rather vaporous standards of evidence for her many sundry beliefs (as she later acknowledged). She believed ... that Immanuel Velikovsky in the 1950s had correctly deduced the truth about the solar system. ... She believed in the ancient astronauts of Erich von Daniken.
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