My wife and I were sitting on the couch in our Berlin apartment when “I got the phone call” this summer. It is the call of calls — the one that makes or breaks a person. The one where, in movies, the protagonist jumps up and down while screaming in glee and friends begin to high five and trade hugs and “Tub Thumping” starts playing as the musical score.
“Hello,” I said answering the unrecognized number glowing on my cellphone’s LED display at the German hour of 12am.
“May I speak to Chris Puh-ree-zo, please?” The obvious mispronunciation of my French-Canadian name from its Nuevo Anglican root told me that the caller was two things: A) someone who didn’t know me, and B) not a Vermonter. The proper French pronunciation told me nothing.
“This is Chris.”
“Hi Chris. My name is XXXXXXX and I am calling from Pilgrim Films. We are the production company of ‘Ghost Hunters’ on the SyFy Network.”
I immediately sprang up straight. My wife, hearing the reverberation of the iPhone, sitting right next to me, did the unthinkable and put down her US/German Tax Code Treaty Law Book (we are in Berlin because of her job as a Real Estate Tax Accountant to multiple German clients). Her mouth drops a little bit.
“Hi XXXXXXXX. How are you?” I give my wife a WTF face.
“Listen, we have a project in the works and we are currently screen-testing stars for an upcoming television show that is going to be on TLC. Your name came up and we were wondering if you would like to try out for it?”
I got hot. I started to sweat. My head throbbed with a thousand questions: My name was on a list somewhere? My name just came up? Who came up with my name? What is the list? How many people are on the list? Why me? What’s the show? Will I be working with Natalie Portman at all? Can I at least meet her? What’s her phone number? I will go ahead and call her myself.
“Uhm… sure… yeah… I am interested. That sounds great. What type of show?”
He proceeds to describe the premise of the show to me. It’s a documentary-drama-reality-drama-documentary-investigation-documentary thing, he says. And here is the set-up:
“It’s ‘Charlie’s Angels’ meets ‘Ghost Hunters’.”
I started laughing. I started laughing uncontrollably.
“Three attractive female psychics are sent out to investigate haunted houses; we are looking for Bosely.”
I am now shaking in pure uncomfortable joy. Me. Bosely. The asexual and non-male-threatening dude. To psychics. Hot psychics. Who investigate haunted houses. On TLC. I was relieved that I was not becoming Cousin Ollie on “Jon and Kate Plus Eight Plus Chris” — and surely was happy to not have to work with little people because they kind of freak me out. Even though I would be falling in the footsteps of Bill Murray and Bernie Mac (RIP), two men who I admire more than my own father sometimes, I couldn’t imagine accepting this role.
What a ridiculous television show. I told the guy that I just don’t believe in psychics because it is next to impossible to prove psychic mediums to be anything but phonies. There is no proof. You either believe or don’t believe. Television is the worst vehicle to set forth to prove psychic mediums to be true. A person walks into a house and feels the spirit of woman who hung herself in that house? Wonderful. It’s called Google. It’s called Public Records. It’s called “Hey-Psychic! Want-to-come-to-a-haunted-house-and-investigate-it-with-me?” “Sure-thing! I-have-to-stop-at-the-library-first-though!”
How does a show about psychics really do anything to prove that the phenomenon is real? There is too much downtime. Too much time between takes. Too much time for someone to access police and hospital records.
Also, I have never seen any psychic interaction that is legitimate. I have heard stories, but never have I actually experienced something that I couldn’t get off of a Bazooka Bubblegum comic (Help! I’m stuck in a bubblegum factory!) or the Sunday horoscopes.
I find out later that my colleague Tiffany Johnson is one of the Angels. Sorry, Tiff.
Anyway, when Hollywood calls, you should answer. Perhaps this was my last shot at stardom, the last time my phone will ring and someone will say “..and your name came up.” So I answered. I filmed a little screentest video. Emailed it in. Heard back two weeks later when I was in Munich that I didn’t get the part.
But during those two weeks I talked myself in and out of doing the show. At one point, I wanted it badly. I wanted it badly enough to not sleep at night and role-play hypothetical scenes and opening credits in my mind. The next day, I would wake up and think no way in hell was I going to do that show… it was a dumb idea and doesn’t reflect my personal beliefs or ethics of paranormal investigation. Fuck it. I hope I get the part just to turn it down.
But please consider me for your next project, though! (batting of eyelashes here)
I talked to my wife about it for an entire two weeks. She was a perfect companion, listening as I thought out loud and dealt with my flipping of preferences. Finally, because she is smarter than me, she figured out the solution: “Why don’t you create your own show?”
Good question! Why don’t I create my own show? I am a creative person and semi-talented failed writer! I could do something different. Something that takes all the things that irritates me from the other shows and completely eliminates them! Something brand new that appeals to multiple audiences, not just fans of the paranormal! Something that bridges interests and ideas and formats.
So I did.
I talked to some folks and collaborated on ideas. My original concept warped into something else and, in time, designing the show’s structure took on a life of its own. The creation process, the formulating of the idea, came alive. And eventually we weren’t designing the concept at all — rather, almost, the opposite occurred. I sat down with my good friend and talented filmmaker/screenwriter Darrell Hazelrig and let ideas fall where they may (with an absurd amount of alcohol falling down our gullets). To be honest, musicians will understand this: the show created itself. Similar to songwriting, the next step, the next idea, became obvious as the show molded itself together. There was no questioning about what should come next — it just sounded right. And both of us, through the process, agreed on all decisions.
With the concept in place, the first draft of the script is completed and being redrafted as you read this (stardate: 9/5/9) and we begin location shooting within two months. The show barely mentions ghosts. It barely mentions EVPs. It barely mentions all the other things that have become cliché in this field of repetition and expectations. The cast has been casted. Someone in the business called it “revolutionary in concept and design” and “something new to bring to the table.” And we admit right from the start that scenes have been recreated.
All systems are a-go.
Once the pilot is shot and fully edited, it will be sold to multiple networks by folks in the business who have signed on to get this thing off of the ground.
Contrarian readers — wish me luck as I take a big stride forward in one of the most daring and, in my opinion, high-quality piece of artistic expression that I have been involved in since my youth. The dwindling spark of a young creator was reignited by a simple phone call on a warm Berlin summer night.
From ridiculousness sprouts innovation — I wish it happened like that all the time.