GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Look Into Darkness

In writing about Languid Visions of the Mind's Eye, I noted that my offer to the actress in question was that I would interview her in our first taping and she would interview me as the author in our second taping. So it was that we went into the studio about two weeks after we taped her episode to do the Sean Miles (Interview) segment. The character I created to play was a former L.A.P.D. homicide detective who had retired amidst some controversy. He had been part of a task force that dealt with serial killers. His book, Look Into Darkness, was his recounting of his term of leadership on the task force, its impressive abatement statistics and an answer to critics' accusations about its methods and procedures.

Sean looked like anything other than a homicide detective and was well into a reflective part of his life at the time of the interview. He was a character who was resolved but playing in pain. He had seen too much and, by his estimation, had accomplished too little. Many of the cases he investigated advanced quickly until an arrest seemed imminent and the scent would grow cold. Arrest statistics began to trail off yet the killings stopped. This trend raised certain questions amongst critics and watchdog agencies. The underlying implication was very dark and nothing Sean offered into the record provided the clarity his critics were seeking. One could think that Dirty Harry was the inspiration for the character I created though he wasn't. Sean was a composite of people I met subsequent to the kidnapping of my girlfriend in the 70s by two members of the New World Liberation Front (NWLF), which was loosely linked to the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). In the process, I met some very special people doing a very special job. It all ended well for my girlfriend and me. Not so well for others perhaps.

The Sean Miles interview aired about a month later. I was happy with the result and I'd gone on, in the meantime, to tape at least two more interviews with other actors. I wasn't really prepared for the reaction provoked by Sean Miles. The first was an inquiry from a producer with whom I later became friends and with whom I would go glider flying. She was Pippa Scott. As a young woman she had acted for John Ford in The Searchers and I remembered her well from Richard Lester's Petulia with George C Scott. She was a founding partner of Lorimar Productions, smart as a whip and elegance personified.

There were other developments that took another direction. I was working out in a gym several times a week and it is customary to find others there to spot you and they, in turn, come to you for a spot. One of my new-found spotters whose company I enjoyed was a semi-professional weightlifter. He might have been in entertainment--many were in that gym--but he knew what he was doing and he trusted me. One day, it became obvious that he was ignoring me. He wasn't saying hello let alone asking for spots. This was a radical change in his demeanor and it puzzled me. I approached him and asked what was up. "Man, you turned cop on me! You said you were a writer." He had seen the Sean Miles interview and, like most who watched the show, thought it was real. I explained what it was he had seen and he got the joke immediately. We were friends again.

On my way out of the gym that same day, I was stopped by a young couple. They, too, had seen the show on television and wanted to tell me they supported my (Sean's) handling of crime and wished me the best. At the Raiders game on Sunday, I came under further scrutiny with people pointing me out to their friends and staring. Walking into my favorite pizza joint in Brentwood, someone in a passing car called out, "Hey, Sean!"

It had been but a half-hour of screen time but Sean had made his mark. He drew reactions of all sorts from an extraordinary assortment of people challenging their perceptions and values in the process. Every time the segment aired, I saw a palpable reaction whenever I was in public. I wasn't an actor who had played a notorious character, I was that character in their minds. This phenomenon was to repeat over the years and I would hear stories from many of the actors who appeared on (Interview) about being taken for the characters they had played.

I love making movies but I don't know that any have been as fulfilling as any single segment of (Interview).

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