By Sally Carpenter
I’ve always been fascinated with television. Growing up in a small rural Midwest town, the three network channels were our principal form of entertainment. Even before the days of cable TV one could usually find something decent to watch. Sure, many of the shows of the 60s and 70s were silly, corny (anyone remember “Mr. Terrific”?) or brainless, but the programs were family-friendly and wildly entertaining, full of loveable characters and great personalities.
As a kid my career ambition was to star in my very own TV show—without having to pay any dues first or wait tables, of course.
My dream was fueled in my high school, which had a working TV studio. The senior TV production class produced short programs that aired to the local elementary schools. “Sesame Street” had just started at this time, so our studio had a puppet stage to use in the shows. I loved that class. We took turns acting with the puppets and running the camera.
In fact, this class was where I wrote my first published piece. The company where the school bought its puppets mailed out a newsletter that published puppet plays. The newsletter accepted a short play I had written. My “payment” from the company was a free puppet (I chose a rabbit) that I gave to the school to use in the programs.
Several decades later I finally realized my dream by landing a job as a page at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. The pages gave the studio tours in the daytime and ushered the audiences for the sitcoms shoots in the evenings. Some of the shows were filmed on other lots, so I also worked at Sony (formerly MGM), CBS Radford, Fox and smaller studios. I met some fun people, worked hard, saw a few celebrities, and had a great time.
I was never a TV actor but I could write a character who was—former teen idol Sandy Fairfax, star of the hit ‘70s show, Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth. Like many actors whose star burned out after cancellation, when Buddy ended after four years, Sandy’s career faded and he fell into the bottle.
Now it’s 1993. Sandy quits drinking and attempts to make a comeback—but dead bodies keep getting in his way. He manages to juggle sleuthing among his rehearsals and family issues.
With this character, I can use my knowledge of the TV industry and live out my dream of being a star—without getting up early for a 5 a.m. call at the studio or going to auditions.
In “The Sinister Sitcom Caper,” Sandy’s the guest star on “Off-Kelter,” a corny family situation comedy, and the lowest rated TV show of the 1993 fall season. Before rehearsals barely begin one of the actors drops dead at Sandy’s feet. He investigates, enlisting the aid of two of his new cast mates: a dwarf and an animal actor.
During his snooping, we meet Sandy’s ex, his parents and his teenage son, all with their own “situations” going on. During rehearsals Sandy also encounters a beautiful choreographer—could this be love?
Will Sandy solve the murder before the Friday night taping of “Off-Kelter” or will the elusive killer cancel our hero before the final credits?
Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif
She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award and “Star Collector” was produced in New York City.
Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.
She’s worked as an actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.
Her initial book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel.
Her short story, “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” appears in the 2013 anthology “Last Exit to Murder.”
“Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” was published in the “Plan B: Vol. 2” e-book anthology.
Her short story “The Pie-eyed Spy” appeared in the Nov. 23, 2013, issue of Kings River Life ezine.
She blogs at http://sandyfairfaxauthor.com.
She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles chapter. Contact her at Facebook or email@example.com.