One man's alien is another man's puppet.
Jeff Peckman, a Denver resident and believer in alien life, has begun the work of putting a ballot initiative to the city's voters that would, if passed, establish an "extraterrestrial affairs commission" made up of 18 members appointed by the mayor to ensure public safety in the event that aliens -- or their vehicles, according to the ballot language -- were to arrive in the Mile High City.
Peckman has already met with the city council in a fact-finding question-and-answer meeting. He received approval from the city clerk to start going after the 4,000 signatures he needs to get his initiative on a ballot, a task he has 180 days to complete.
Before beginning that work, Peckman vowed to show a video to members of the media that he claimed has cemented his belief that aliens exist and that it would be prudent to prepare for the inevitable encounter.
"It's the best evidence I've seen," said Peckman of a roughly one-minute snippet of footage he showed this morning in Denver. "If people believe it, it's really significant."
Peckman described the footage to ABC News in these terms: "It starts out with a digital camera looking out across the room toward a window. There's a couple of flashes of light. After a few seconds, there is a small head clearly rising above a sill, panning the room, blinking its eyes, all slowly." The skin of the alien's oblong face, he said, is smooth, not wrinkled like the being in the popular film "E.T."
About 50 journalists attended the screening, including about 20 TV cameras, according to the Denver Post. Originally, Peckman said that members of the media would be required to sign waviers in which they agreed to stop rolling tape during the scene featuring the purported alien. A producer from ABC News' Denver affiliate KMGH said that Peckman buckled under pressure from skeptics and distributed a still of the supposed extraterrestrial.
The footage was originally protected because it is part of a documentary under production by Stan Romanek, another UFO believer.
While Peckman, Romanek and other experts he assembled to speak at the viewing may be convinced in the alien's authenticity, not everyone believes the footage offers irrefutable proof that we are not alone.
A Rocky Mountain News writer who blogged throughout the event reported that a Denver man came forward with a video he had created Thursday night that is a near-replica of the footage Peckman aired this morning, just to prove the video could be a hoax.
Bryan Bonner, a member of the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society, said that he and his friends rented a foam latex alien from a costume shop to use as the base of their recreation. "It's so amazing that anyone would believe that video is a real space alien," Bonner told the Rocky Mountain News. "And it's so frustrating to see that they want to use city time and tax dollars on this."
Peckman said that Jerry Hofmann, a professor at the Colorado Film School, authenticated the footage. Hofmann said that he was not a believer in aliens until Romanek approached him about his footage a year ago. He concluded that, in his opinion, there is no possible way that the footage was doctored after filming. There is a chance, he said, that the alien figure might be a puppet, but only a very elaborate and expensive one. "If this was faked, it's the most elaborate fake I've ever seen," he said. "This is no 29-cent puppet."