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DEEP IMPACT - 1998 | PLOT & SCREENSHOTS


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The FBI agents bring Jenny into a kitchen (presumed to be the White House kitchen) where she is introduced to Morton Entrekin (O'Neal Compton), chief advisor to President Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman).


When Jenny rebuffs Entrekin's mentioning that people knew about the Manhattan project (creation of the atom bomb) and kept it a secret, President Beck comes into the kitchen to speak personally to Jenny. Both Beck and Entrekin are clearly unenthused about Jenny's attitude, hinting that national security is at stake.


When she drops Ellie's name, Beck asks her about it, although he pronounces it, "E.L.E." Beck confirms that his administration has spent more money than can be hidden, and the federal budget is slated to be published in two weeks. They ask her to sit on the story until then, appealing to her sense of what is in the nation's best interest. Jenny knocks both points out of the water quickly, at which point Beck and Entrekin decide to play hardball with her.


Beck agrees to hold a press conference in two days, and offers Jenny a reserved second-row seat there, which he knows will be a major bump up from her current job. When she tries to press for more, Beck warns her sternly that she is already receiving a presidential favor-- something people like her can rarely even dream of-- and he can direct the Secret Service to imprison her indefinitely as a threat to national security. Jenny backs down quickly, politely asking for the first press question at the conference. Beck answers dismissively before ordering she be released.


Back at her desk in the MSNBC news offices, Jenny goes on the internet to research. Understanding now that 'Ellie' is an acronym for ELE, she enters that into a search engine. Dissatisfied with the results, she thinks and then enters E.L.E. with the periods. Puzzled at the result display of the University of Berkeley's paleontology department, she looks through the university's list of studies and notices a link to Extinction Studies.


Reading through it, Jenny learns the grim truth: E.L.E stands for Extinction Level Event; the kind resulting from severe global-level catastrophe, such as the extinction of the dinosaurs... presumed to be the result of a massive comet or meteor strike on the Earth. Jenny is barely able to hide her monitor display when Beth stops by to invite her to dinner. Jenny politely declines as she is scheduled to meet her father and Chloe for drinks later.


The meeting with Jason and Chloe goes badly. Chloe gives Jenny a pair of pearl earrings as a present, looking to break the ice with her and try to establish a cordial relationship. But Jenny is every bit as bitter as Robin, about Jason's leaving Robin for a younger, more beautiful woman... and Jenny proves to be more vocal about it as well. E.L.E weighs very heavily on Jenny's mind as well, though she doesn't bring it up, further baffling Jason and Chloe at Jenny's coldness.


The day of the press conference arrives. Beth is attending, as MSNBC's White House correspondent, and is surprised to find Jenny there-- even more so when Entrekin (with whom Beth is acquainted) comes to escort Jenny to her reserved seat. Entrekin tells Jenny she will get the first question.


President Beck takes the podium to make the announcement of the comet. The comet was discovered one year ago by two astronomers, Marcus Wolf and Leo Beiderman. This comet is nearly as large as all of Manhattan Island-- large enough to endanger all of human existence. Beck downplays the comet somewhat, saying there is a "chance" of impact one year from then.


He then reveals the whole Treasury fiasco was due to a secret joint project that the U.S. government had been undertaking with Russia for the past eight months. In orbit above the earth, a massive spacecraft is near completion, named the Messiah. This spacecraft is tasked with intercepting the comet and using nuclear warheads to try and shunt its orbit to avoid direct contact with Earth.


Beck calls up a video conference to introduce the crew of the Messiah-- mission Commander Oren Monash (Ron Eldard), spacecraft pilot Andrea Baker (Mary McCormack), medical officer Gus Partenza (Jon Favreau), navigator Mark Simon (Blair Underwood), Russian nuclear physicist Col. Mikhail Tulchinsky (Aleksandr Baluev) who is serving as Messiah's engineer, and a NASA veteran, Captain Spurgeon 'Fish' Tanner (Robert Duvall), who will land the spacecraft on the comet's surface so the warheads can be planted.


Beck gives the nation a stern warning that he is freezing all wages and prices, and will fiercely combat all attempts at material hoarding and profiteering. Work and paying of bills will continue as normal with as few disruptions to the world's way of life as possible. Opening up the floor for questions, Beck calls on Jenny for the first question as he agreed to do. Jenny's MSNBC crew, in a frenzy over preparing their coverage of the conference, are stunned to see her at the conference. Jenny presses her privilege, asking three questions before finally sitting.


Her third question shows everyone that she was on to the whole story before anyone else: she directly questions Beck on Rittenhouse's resignation, asking whether the true reasons for his stepping down was because he believed that the comet could not be stopped, and he wanted to spend time with his family because he believes they didn't have much time left to live. Beck defensively answers that Rittenhouse served the country with devotion and resigned for personal reasons after a distinguished career.


As far as Rittenhouse's concerns regarding the comet, Beck points out that over the next year, everyone on Earth will eventually have to come face to face with their worst fears. As much as he'd been downplaying it in the conference, Beck finally acknowledges that all of human survival is at stake. But, he insists, life will go on, and he is determined that humanity prevail even over this potential catastrophe. When questioned by another reporter about the comet being named Wolf-Beiderman, Beck begins to explain that the two astronomers were killed in Arizona a year ago while racing to alert the government about the comet.



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