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MINNEAPOLIS - Jesse Ventura is back for another stab at TV stardom, this time hosting a program that digs into conspiracy theories, including alternate views of what was behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the purpose of a sprawling research center in remote Alaska.
The former Minnesota governor, professional wrestler and Navy SEAL stars in "Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura," which premieres Wednesday n truTV. The cable network, part of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., has ordered seven episodes of the hourlong weekly series.
The premiere episode deals with the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP, a 35-acre compound of 180 antennas near Gakona, a remote village in Alaska, that is used to study the Earth's ionosphere. Ventura and those he interviews question whether the government is using the site to manipulate the weather or to bombard people with mind-controlling radio waves.
"This thing can knock planes out of the air. It can control the weather. And it's a very dangerous, dangerous weapon," Ventura said Tuesday on "The Morning Blend" talk show on WTMJ-TV of Milwaukee. (The HAARP Web site says the research station does not affect the weather and was not designed for military purposes.)
On the debut show, Ventura talks to a team of "Conspiracy Theory" investigators about HAARP and makes an unplanned visit to the research station, only to be turned back at the gates.
"When I get denied something, I do the opposite of getting intimidated - I get angry," Ventura fumes.
HAARP, which is managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Office of Naval Research, is open to the public for one day every other year.
Jillian Speake, an Air Force spokeswoman based in Kirtland, N.M., said Ventura made an official request to visit the research station but was rejected, "and he and his crew show up at HAARP anyway and were denied access."
Future "Conspiracy Theory" shows explore alleged cover-ups surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks and whether there are real "Manchurian Candidate" assassins who are programmed to kill, said Juris. But he said the show is selective in which theories it investigates.
"We're not just running around the country and talking to anyone who has a conspiracy theory. We're actually looking for consistency in the types of stories we're hearing," Juris said. "We're trying to see if there's an element of truth to it."