Ann Druyan, Wife of the Late Carl Sagan, Reflects on 'Cosmos,' Now and Then

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Carl Sagan, host of the original "Cosmos," with a model of the Viking lander. (NASA)

The original "Cosmos" aired in 1980 on PBS, and in just 13 episodes, astrophysicist Carl Sagan captured the hearts and minds of a generation. As Takeaway partner The New York Times recently noted, the original series had such a dramatic impact on so many Americans that the Library of Congress designated the book version of the show as one of 88 books that shaped the United States.

This Sunday, more than 30 years after the original series began, "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" will premiere on Fox and the National Geographic Channel. Hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the new series pays direct homage to Sagan's original vision, in part because the original and the re-boot share an executive producer in Ann Druyan, wife of the late Carl Sagan. 

Druyan, who is also a writer and director on the new "Cosmos," explains her decision to revive the series.

"If Cosmos should awaken a new community of people who recognize how tiny and fragile our world is and what our responsibilities are to that ancient continuity, I will be truly happy" she tells Takeaway Host John Hockenberry.

"The hope of the future is that the information that has been gathered by the generation of searchers who we celebrate in the Cosmos series, that it needs to belong to all of us—it needs to be widely distributed," she later explains. "Not in a single place, or a few places, for the elite, for the select few. It has to belong to all of us. And that's Neil and Carl and me, that's our ethos."

She also reflects on her marriage to Sagan, who died in 1996. "The greatest thing that ever happened to me was to spend 20 years working with, loving Carl Sagan, creating a family with him. And really, that's the candle burning for me. That's the flame."


Ann Druyan

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [5]

Charlotte Grove from New York

In one of the Comos episodes the discovery of a relationship between temperature and the colors of the spectrum was attributed to Sir William Fredrick Herschel based on experiments he performed in 1800. However, it seems that this relationship was first predicted by Mme du Chatelet in the paper "Dissertation sur la nature et la propagation du feu" published in 1737. As I recall from the the book by David Bodanis, (10 October 2006). Passionate Minds: The Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment. New York: Crown. ISBN 0-307-23720-6. her prediction was based on experiments very similar to those performed by Hershel.

Apr. 06 2014 10:57 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Carl Sagan helped earthlings feel like they were a part of a small shtetl (Yiddish for small community) in a very large universe.

@John: Fox has schizophrenic tendencies when it comes to their programing. It is one of the mysteries of the Universe.

Mar. 05 2014 01:17 PM

Glad to hear "Cosmos" is coming back! Carl Sagan made me want to read, when I had trouble reading and comprehending, having dyslexia, but his ideas and way of expressing them made me want to know more.

I'm glad the Fox Network is presenting this work too, since there are far to many "deniers" and people who watch that channel who don't understand science. Hopefully, the presentation makes people think - thinking is key!

Nice to know too that he was much loved by his family, because I know he was and is loved by many who still think of him as if he lives on - which in a way he does.

Mar. 05 2014 12:56 PM
Bill R. from Wayne, PA

I am very excited about the Cosmos reboot. I was 16 when the original series debuted and it influenced me in my career decision as a scientist. My son is 15 and I hope the new series will have an equally profound impact on him as Dr. Sagan's original series had on me. Thank you for doing this, Ann Druyan and Dr. deGrasse Tyson.

Mar. 05 2014 12:55 PM
Cynthia Barabas from Monmouth County NJ

As a pediatrician and mother of 3, I am enthused about the prospect of gathering around the TV with the family to watch an important, educational, inspiring show. I fully support the spirit of information dissemination in a glossy cover.

To this end, I wonder why the show has been posted for 9pm Eastern Time.

Surely the most important audience should be in bed long before the completion of this broadcast.

We will certainly record and reschedule, with an apology to our children that they will be left out of the
"water cooler" discussion on Monday morning.

I hope that Fox and the National Geographic Channel will consider rescheduling if this becomes a beloved show in the manner of its predecessor.

Mar. 05 2014 10:16 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.