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SYFY WIRE apollo 13

Al Reinert, screenwriter of Apollo 13, maker of For All Mankind, dead at 71

By Josh Weiss
Al Reinert

Al Reinert, the award-winning screenwriter of Ron Howard's Apollo 13 and the director of the documentary, For All Mankind, has passed away at the age of 71. According to the Houston Chronicle, Reinert succumbed to cancer on New Year's Eve in his Wimberley, Texas home.

Before entering the entertainment industry, Reinert (a graduate of Texas A&M University) covered NASA-based news for the Chronicle in the 1970s, discovering a passion for human space travel. This led him to direct For All Mankind, a 1989 documentary about America's Apollo program, particularly its missions between 1969 and 1972. Nominated for an Oscar, the film snagged two wins from Sundance and one from the International Documentary Association's.

Per the report of the writer/director's passing, Reinert recently received a letter from First Man's Damien Chazelle, who instructed his crew to watch the documentary "for inspiration."

"For All Mankind", full NASA movie (1989).

Reinert's vast knowledge of NASA and its Apollo missions made him the best candidate to co-write the screenplay for Apollo 13, which was directed by Ron Howard. The 1995 drama (also written by William Broyles Jr.) tells the story of the astronauts that nearly died when their spacecraft malfunctioned in 1970. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and Kevin Bacon were all a part of the feature's A-list cast. 

The film was a hit and scored Reinert and Broyles Jr. an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay; the script was based on Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger's 1994 non-fiction publication, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13.

"If there's something that combines what I've done, it's that they're all true stories," Reinert told the Chronicle in 2015. "That's really all I'm good at is true stories. I was a pretty good journalist, and I still am. I think I developed an instinct for a good story. I'm not as good at making things up by myself."

Some of his other notable works include From the Earth to the Moon, a 1998 HBO miniseries hosted by Tom Hanks, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, an animated feature from 2001. Prior to his death, Reinert was working on Above It All, a new documentary about the International Space Station, which is not yet finished.

Reiner is survived by his wife, actress Lisa Hart Carroll.