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Peter Weller, Syracuse University

I was watching Engineering the Roman Empire on History Channel International over the weekend, when movie star Peter Weller (of Robocop fame) appeared on the show as an expert. He was credited as Peter Weller, Syracuse University.

My reaction was whaaa? When did Mr. Narrator-type actor man become an expert? The show was having him opine about Julius Caesar at the Rhine wanting to go to Germania and the massive temporary bridge his army built. Weller talked about how crossing the Rhine meant there was no place Rome cannot go. Further, there was no place Gaius Julius Caesar cannot go. Etc...

So, I wiki'd him. He received his Masters in Roman and Renaissance Art. Per Wikipedia, his ex-girlfriend Ali McGraw "turned him onto" it. He occasionally lectures at Syracuse about Roman History in Hollywood, hence the Syracuse affiliation.

Okay, so he's not a proper Ph.D. However, I am willing to accept his credentials. Passion for history does not require a doctorate. Yes, it was a bit surprising to have an actor presented as an expert, but his parts were good. I'm not one that insists that actors can only be actors.

I wonder if Mr. Weller and the History Channel have a particularly cordial relationship. After all, Weller was chosen over other experts in the field to be one of the experts on the documentary. Weller was not the overall narrator of the show. Did some well-deserving Roman historian get passed over, or are Roman historians so remarkably untelegenic that the History channel jumped at the chance to inject some star power?

Speaking of telegenic scientists, Cliff is still bitter about how Nova ScienceNOW's host Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson was involved in de-planetfying Pluto. Every time Cliff sees him, be it on an astronomy show or The Daily Show, Cliff has to make a comment. In Cliff's heart, Pluto is still a planet.

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