(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
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
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
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