A limo pulls up to the studios of KWAP channel 3, and a rushed Laura Holt and Remington Steele get out. Remington pauses, handing his coat to Fred, and follows Laura to the doors, pausing again to shine his shoes on the backs of his pants legs. Laura opens the door with an air of frustration and all but pushes him into the building.
Inside, as they walk down the corridor, Laura straightens his tie, then asks a passing woman, "Remington Steele? To give an interview?" the woman points down the corridor, and Laura takes a hit of breath spray, then as an afterthought, gives Steele a hit as well. He frowns at the taste. They enter the studio.
Steele takes a deep breath. "Ah, can you smell it, Laura?"
She frowns. "Smells like an old liverwurst sandwich."
Steele looks around. "The stench of professionalism. The odor of objectivity." We see that Laura is being viewed through a camera, and is on a monitor close by. "Oops." He smiles at the cameraman, and they move on to the newsdesk set. "Shades of Sevareid. Cronkite. Hugh Downs. Trenchcoats and drizzle. The sound of ack-ack pounding on a distant shore. And there, in the very thick of it, the man with the microphone." He sighs. "I always wanted to be a reporter. Ever since I saw Joel McCrea in "Foreign Correspondent"."
Laura moves down the steps. "So did I," she tells him, and Steele is surprised by the admission.
"You wanted to be Joel McCrea?"
"Really? We learn another little facet of Laura Holt uncovered."
She's looking off screen at something. "And all because of that man.." She turns his attention to a man sitting at a Teletype machine, making notes. He's middle aged, bald, and a bit overweight. A cheery makeup lady approaches him.
"Mr. Walsh! Toupee time!" Walsh sighs, then follows.
"Doesn't look much like Joel McCrea to me," Steele comments.
"He lectured my freshman year in college. The stories he's covered, the places he's been. For months afterwards, I dreamed of flying off to Tangier, Maracaibo, Macao." She laughs, obviously embarrassed.
"What dissuaded you?"
It was much more romantic than realistic. Besides," she tells him, moving away, "I was on a math scholarship."
He follows, unwilling to let it drop. "Regrets?" he asks.
"A few," Laura admits as another woman approaches them
Steele takes her offered hand. "Yes."
"I'm Amy Fogelson, Russell Stewart's assistant."
"Uh, how do you do? My associate, Laura Holt." Laura and Amy shake hands.
"Hello," the each say, then Amy turns her attention back to Steele. "Why don't we find a quiet spot-do a little preliminary background on you before Mr. Stewart takes over?"
"Of course," Steele agrees as Laura looks nervous.
He turns to follow Amy, but Laura tells him, "Remember, the interview with Russell Stewart is merely a cover for our being here."
"Fear not. While she's pumping me, I'll be pumping her." He moves off as Laura nods, then does a double take as she frowns.
A man approaches her. "The Fogelson kid buy it?' he asks, checking a folder in his hands.
"Why shouldn't she, Mr. Greene? Remington Steele is always being asked to give interviews."
"I hope he doesn't have an skeletons in his closet. Russell loves to rattle 'em for all the world to see."
Laura glances nervously in the direction Steele and Amy went in, then follows Mr. Greene. "You sounded very cryptic on the phone, Mr. Greene."
"It started about two weeks ago. At first I thought they were just routine foul-ups. Instead of the news on the TelePrompTer, there were nursery rhymes. Mary Had A Little Lamb, stuff like that. Wrong film was substituted. Somebody reversed all the basketball scores, changed all the temperatures on the weather map. Made my news team look like a pack of blithering idiots."
"And you think it's deliberate?"
"You know anything about the rating, Miss Holt? Arbitron? Nielson?"
"I've heard of them."
"We in television live and die by them. They're our God. Our ticket to heaven or hell." He moves off, forcing Laura to follow him into a control room. "Channel Three news was in the ratings dumper when I took over as station manager. If it was up to me, I would've canceled it, put on re-runs of Barney Miller. But the FCC has this rule about television stations performing in the public interest, so I had to keep the damn news on."
"Only you found a way to---"
"Jazz it up. Give it some pizzazz. I mean, the news is generally so depressing. All those famines, fires, floods." He shivers. "Ugh! I mean, who wants to see that every night? So I put in a happy news format. A little chit-chat between all the rapes and murders. And I wanna tell you, the public ate it up. Our ratings doubled." He's smiling.
"Aside from the moral question, I still can't see the connection."
The smile is gone. "Television is a cutthroat business. Dog eat dog. There's fierce competition for the advertising dollar and for every rating point you get, another station loses one."
"You suspect a rival station is sabotaging you?"
"I make no accusations. I just want Steele to find out who's behind it and bring the culprit to justice. But it's got to be done quietly. If this gets out, we'll be the laughingstock of the television community."
The stage manager begins counting. "All right, everybody, magic time. Fifteen seconds to air."
Ed Greene rushes to the mike, and opens it onto the floor below. "Energy, people! Energy, energy! Remember, we love our work. And we love each other. We're happy, and we show it!" On the floor below, as the theme music begins, the Spotlight Newsteam rushes onto the set.
The announcer says, "And now, from the Channel Three studios, it's Spotlight News! Featuring Hoop Tracy on sports, Uncle Tim with the weather, and investigative reporter Russell Stewart!" Hoop, a perky, cute brunette is flanked at desk by Uncle Tim, a balding, short little clown of a man, and a tall, handsome man. "And now, with the news, the Southland's most innovative news personalities--Elliot Walsh and Chrissie Carstairs!" Elliot and Chrissie take their places. Elliot is now sporting a toupee, and looks much younger. Chrissie is a twenty something blonde.
She looks at the camera. "Good evening. And good evening to you, Elliot. I hope you had a nice day."
"Excellent, Chrissie. Excellent. And how was your day?" he asks, smiling.
"Filled, Elliot. Filled," she tells him seriously. Retaining that serious expression, she reads, "Dateline, Rome. Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner vehemently denied rumors that she's contemplating another trek down the aisle with a mysterious Argentinean suitor identified only as --Flavio." She turns. "Elliot."
"Speaking of rumors, Chrissie, a palace spokesman today denied reports that Princess Di is pregnant again."
"Well, that's too bad. I'm sure the whole world would welcome another bun in the royal oven. And speaking of ovens How hot was it for the Lakers tonight, Hoop?"
Hoop is sitting in a nearby chair and smiles in response. "Sizzling, Chrissie. We'll have all the highlights later."
"Thanks a heap, Hoop," Elliot tells her. "Look forward to that. And now Uncle Tim will give us a hint of what to expect weather wise." In the same spot where Hoop was second before, we see Uncle Tim, wearing a yellow rain slicker. He opens a yellow umbrella over his head. He steps on a button on the floor and water pours down on him as she laughs.
"I think it's going to rain, Elliot," Chrissie comments as she giggles.
"I'd say that was a safe bet, Chrissie," Elliot agrees.
"And speaking of bets," Chrissie reads into the camera, "Spotlight News investigative reporter Russell Stewart will give us a glimpse of his five part series on bookmaking in the Southland."
Russell moves toward the desk, only to jump back as a klieg light crashes down, narrowly missing him. Everyone freezes in shock. "Good God!" Ed says. "Did that go out over the air?"
"No, no. We were still on Chrissie," the director tells him.
On the monitor, a terrified Chrissie is staring at the camera. "She's gonna lose her cookies!" Ed declares. "Go to a commercial!"
Murphy enters the offices of Remington Steele, finding the others in Steele's office. "The safety clamp on that lamp was definitely sheered," he informs them, dropping his jacket practically on Steele before taking a cup of coffee from Bernice. "No question about it."
"I can't believe a competing station would resort to something like this," Steele comments, dropping the jacket onto the floor, his own feet up as he frowns. "No matter how desperate they were for what did you call them?" he asks Laura, who's sitting on his desk.
"Ratings," she replies.
"You actually think these television people would kill for ratings?"
"I've heard it said."
"Hmm. Desperate lot." Steele gets up to get a refill of coffee.
"Well," Murphy says, "if it wasn't sabotage to discredit the Spotlight News and drive viewers away from Channel Three, maybe whoever was occupying that chair was the target."
"Well, let's see. First of all, we have the female jockstrap "
Bernice laughs, and Murphy almost chokes on his coffee. "Jock. Athletes are called jocks."
"Hmm. Quaint terminology you have for your sports figures."
"Then Uncle Tim took her place," Laura recalls.
"And Russell Stewart was about to until the light fell," Steele finishes.
Bernice looks relieved. "Thank God they didn't get him."
Murphy stares at her. "You WATCH Spotlight News?"
She shrugs. "Hey, the news is very depressing these days and Russell Stewart's hot to look at. I say if you're going to get depressed, you might as well get turned on doing it," she says with a smile.
Steele slips into his jacket as Laura sighs. "Mr. Greene certainly knows what his audience tunes in for."
"I say we split up," Steele suggests. "Each of us interrogate a possible victim and see if there's any truth to Murphy's theory."
Laura frowns. "You just stay clear of Russell Stewart."
"Why?" he asks.
"I don't want him asking you any embarrassing questions."
"Child's play for a seasoned prevaricator," he assures her.
Laura smiles. "Hoop Tracy is a lot safer. I'll deal with Mr. Stewart."
Murphy doesn't look happy. "That leaves me with Uncle Tim. Why do I always get the weirdoes?"
Steele straightens his tie as Bernice and Laura laugh. "Perhaps because you--relate to them so well, Murphy," he suggests, patting Murphy on the shoulder before leaving the room.
Murphy, wearing glasses, and carrying a clipboard, knocks on a door, then opens it to find himself the target of an air rifle wielded by Uncle Tim. "Excuse me-" Murphy says, quickly closing the door, then sticking his head back around. "Mr., uh-"
"I'm Murphy Michaels, Tim, and-"
"MR. Tim," he corrects.
"My first name's Uncle and my last name's Tim. Had it changed legally. So you can call me MR. Tim."
"Right," Murphy agrees, looking as if he's not too sure of the man's sanity, but not questioning it, since Tim is still playing with the air gun. "Look, I'm with the insurance company that carries the policy on the station. That was a very close call the other night. A few seconds more and you might not be around."
"But I am. So what's your point, sonny?" Tim asks.
Murphy pushes the barrel of the gun down. "The point is, the light was rigged to fall." He's got Tim's attention now. "Anybody around here who might wanna see you under it?"
Tim points the gun at Murphy, angry. He pushes Murphy from the room with it. "Nobody wants to kill me. And if they did, I know exactly who it is!" He slams the door in Murphy's face.
Murphy removes his glasses, and shakes his head. "I always get 'em."
At the Los Angeles Coliseum, Steele is waiting when he's almost run over by a group of football players en route to the dressing room. They are followed closely by Hoops and a camera man.
"Uh, Miss Hoop," he begins, trying to catch up with her as she walks quickly. "I must say, you have an excellent stride, Miss Hoop."
"I was power forward on my college basketball team," she tells him without looking around.
"I've always enjoyed motorized sports," Steele comments, drawing a look from Hoop and the camera man as they enter the locker room.
There are several players there, in various states of undress, many wearing only towels. They're all tired and seemingly frustrated. There is a collective groan as Hoop barges in, mike to her mouth. "Okay, guys, grab your helmets, let's talk about last Sunday's tragedy." She moves away as Steele is attempting to be one of the "guys" and fails miserably. He follows Hoop to where she's asking a man, "How about you, Markowski? Wanna explain why the coach called for a field goal with ten seconds to play when you were down by four points?"
"The coach coaches, I just kick."
"Uh-huh," she agrees, disbelieving. She moves to another player. "How about you, Wemlinger? Wanna tell your mother why the winning touchdown pass bounced off your helmet?" Wemlinger gets up and walks away, and the others ignore her. She hands the mike back to her assistant and tells Steele, "If they could move that fast on the field, we'd have an unbeatable team."
"I sense you rather enjoyed doing that," Steele notes.
"Listen, cutes, when I got to be a sports reporter, women weren't allowed in the men's locker room." She gives him a stick of gum, and he reluctantly takes it. "So I had to sit in the equipment office, waiting until someone deigned to come out and give me an interview. More often than not, they forgot that I was there. So I used to have go back to the station empty handed." She smiles. "So I got a court order allowing all, qualified reports, regardless of gender, access to the locker rooms. So you better believe I love to see their little tushes flapping in the breeze. Makes for great visual commentary."
Steele follows her out of the locker room. "Would any of these gentlemen be angry enough to want to see you removed from the sports scene permanently?"
"I'd be disappointed if they weren't. It would mean I wasn't doing my job."
"Then you wouldn't be at all surprised to find that that falling light was intended for you?"
Hoop stops. "You mean it wasn't an accident?" Steele shakes his head. "No. I don't think any of the guys I've gone after would resort to that. Bad press is all part of the game."
"A game you play exceedingly well, Miss Hoop."
She smiled. "I like you, limey. You're kinda novel. Wanna hoist some brewskis with me after the show tonight?"
Steele shrugs. "Well, I'm all for new experiences."
"Attaboy!" she says, slapping his shoulder. As soon
as she's gone, Steele takes the gum from his mouth.
In Russell Stewart's car, Russell tells Laura, "That light was meant for me."
"Why would someone want to kill you?"
"Because of who I am. What I do. I've helped put several people in prison, Miss Holt. Frauds. Charlatans. Con men." He brings the car to a stop, rolls down the window. "There is it."
"What?" she asks.
"The site of my next expose. I'm going to film a vice officer receiving a pay off from a flesh peddler."
"If I were you, I wouldn't sound quite so nonchalant about it."
"It's my job."
"That's a very courageous attitude."
"I'm a very courageous guy," he tells her, then leans toward her. "And not a bad dancer." Laura laughs. "I have a thirst--call it a lust--for the truth. For a certain justice in the world. For honesty in institutions--as well as personal relationships."
"And what do you lust for, Miss Holt?"
"That depends on who I'm with."
"And if you were with me?"
"I'd hardly know where to begin, Mr. Stewart," she tells him. Now Russell laughs.
"We'll call this first round a draw. But I warn you, I never leave a fight unless I'm carried out."
At the studio, Russell rehashes the light falling as Murphy comforts him, and the stage manager tells Ed Greene "I can't find Uncle Tim anywhere."
"It's fifteen minutes to air! What do you mean you can't find Uncle Tim!?"
"Look, I sent someone to his apartment, and I called all his local hangouts. What am I? The FBI? I don't know what else to do!"
"All right! All right! Let's get a grip on each other. We're all professionals here," Ed tells the others. "If he doesn't show up on time," he says, looking at Chrissie, "Somebody's gotta do the weather."
"Why?" Elliot asks.
"Please, Elliot. This is no time for your wry humor," Ed tells him. "Hoop, you used to do the weather. What about filling for Uncle Tim?"
"They don't have weather girls anymore, Ed. It's considered sexist."
Amy speaks up. "I'll take a shot at it."
"Sorry, kid. You've got a behind the scenes face." Amy is obviously upset by this. "Chrissie, come on. Get over here."
"I don't know anything about the weather," she insists.
"That never stopped Uncle Tim," Elliot reminds her.
"What's to know?" Ed asks. "You read it from
the TelePrompTer, and point at the map. Come on. I'll run you
through it." He leads he to the weather map. "After
Elliot introduces you, you step over here and start with the forecast.
Where's the weather copy?" She gets it for him. "Light
to moderate rain--So you hit the rain button, and--"
Suddenly Uncle Tim's body, encased in the yellow rain slicker, falls from above, leaving everyone speechless.
Later, Murphy examines the body and declares, "Looks like a blow to the back of the head."
"There you are!" Ed insists. "It was obviously an accident!" Seeing their looks, he says, "He was checking his water trough, fell in and hit his head. Just like falling in a bathtub. Happens every day."
"Now we know who the killer was after," Laura says.
"Always good to narrow these things down," Steele agrees.
"One minute and thirty seconds to air," the stage manager tells them.
"All right, everybody," Ed says, "places! Where's Chrissie?"
"Probably," Amy tells him, "Locked in her dressing room."
They all go to Chrissie's dressing room and Ed bangs on the door. "Chrissie. Open up. We have a show to do. The news must go on."
"Why?" she calls back.
Ed turns to the stage manager. "Find a key."
"It's the same thing all the time. Inflation. Unemployment. Why don't you just re-run last night's news? They'll never know the difference."
Murphy comes up and looks at the door. "Just a minute, everybody. I'll handle this." He moves back. "Please stand back, give me some room."
"Murphy," Laura says, worried, as Steele stands by hand on cheek. "Don't you think-"
"Laura, you know how long I've waited to do this," he reminds her. As he starts forward, Ed speaks.
"Chrissie, if you don't come out right now, Hoop's our new anchorwoman!"
Just as Murphy gets to the door, it opens and he goes flying into the room with a loud crash and groan as he lands.
"Who was that?" Chrissie asks Ed.
"Come on!" He grabs her arm. "Places, everyone!"
Laura and Steele go to Murphy and help him out. He's holding his right shoulder. "I should have kicked it in," he decides.
Steele is with Amy as she lights a cigarette. "What would be your assessment of all the mishaps here at the station, Miss Fogelson, culminating in the death of Uncle Tim?"
"I really couldn't say."
"Who would want to kill a weatherman?"
"Anyone who was interested in journalism. I hate to break the unwritten rule about speaking ill of the dead, but Uncle Tim was third-rate burlesque." She waves at the silent TV nearby, with it's images of Chrissie and Hoop and Elliot as they read the news. "That's not a news team. It's a circus. Some clown puts on a raincoat and pours water on his head to tell people what they already know."
"Yet you volunteered to take the clown's place."
"I was simply trying to help in an emergency."
"Well, no matter how comedic the man's life may've been, it was still taken. And someone is responsible."
"That's your specialty, Mr. Steele. Mine is research." She fishes through her notes. "And according to your official bio, which can mercifully be described as sketchy, you were connected with certain government agencies, and international organizations "
"If you despise Spotlight News so much, why do you stay?"
"I have to eat," she answers, then continues without missing a beat. "However, neither the Central Intelligence Agency, Interpol, or MI5 have any record of you."
"A man's death seems far more important than the humble beginnings of a private investigator, don't you agree, Miss Fogelson?"
"Who are you, Mr. Steele?"
"My life's an open book."
"With a lot of blank pages."
"I have nothing to hide."
"We ALL have something to hide. The trick is, finding out what it is."
Steele smiles back at her.
Laura is in the "Golden Lady Ballroom", a throwback to the Big Band era. Its shabbiness is barely noticeable among the high ceilings, crystal chandeliers and wooden dance floor. There are few couples on the floor, and Laura's attention is caught by Elliot Walsh, sans toupee and corset sitting down at a table. She crosses to the table.
"Miss Holt," he says, apparently pleased.
"Mr. Walsh." He gets up and seats her. "This hardly seems the place for such a young lady."
"You left this number with the station," she tells him.
"Now you've discovered my secret vice." He sits down. "Terrible about Uncle Tim. That's why you're here, isn't it? I must confess, in all the time I've been doing Spotlight News, I barely spoke two words to that man."
Laura isn't thinking about the murder. "May I ask you something personal?" She pushes ahead quickly. "And if you don't want to answer, say so. I won't be offended."
"You lectured at my college during my freshman year. It really affected me, my outlook on a lot of things. And I remember you once said, a good reporter gives the facts, a great reporter understands their meaning. I wanted to speak to you afterwards, but- courage is a fleeting thing when you're that age."
"It can leave at any age, Miss Holt."
"Why would somebody with your- background and your experience-"
"Be anchoring Spotlight News?"
"I don't mean to be sound condescending or critical, it's just that it seems so far beneath you."
"You have to change with the times. Roll with the punches. Go with the flow. Actually, I'm grateful to be doing it. You see, my kind of reporting is practically passé. Oh, there are still a few who dig for a story, do their own research, write their own copy. But it's rare in these days of male models and junk food news." Laura glances away as the music begins again. He notices and rises slightly. "May I?"
Laura smiles and lets him lead her to the dance floor. As they dances, she tells him, "I remember when I was a little girl, my father used to dance with me like this. He'd pick me up in his arms so that my feet would dangle way above the floor and he'd twirl me around the living room."
"Careful, Miss Holt. Nostalgia is a dangerous disease. Highly contagious and almost impossible to cure."
"Do you have any theories about Uncle Tim's death?"
"A good reporter ALWAYS has theories."
"Care to share them with a fan?"
"Uncle Tim was what we used to call a goof-ball. Not terribly bright, not terribly offensive, harmless enough. Now- Chrissie is up for a network anchor job in New York. And she had no intention of taking him with her. You see, she thought he was an albatross, something to be discarded as quickly and painlessly as possible."
"Why should Uncle Tim care whether or not Chrissie Carstairs took him along when she went to New York?"
"He was her husband," Elliot tells her. Laura's shocked by the revelation. "It wasn't generally known outside the station, but they were married when she was a struggling model. He paid for a nose job and several other anatomical refinements, then when the job came up at the station, he got Greene to hire her. Naturally, he felt when she made it big, so should he, after all he'd done for her. She, of course, had other ideas."
"The kind that lead to murder?"
"Theories are just that, Miss Holt. Just an old reporter's instinct." He twirls her around as she laughs.
In a country and western bar, Hoop, who's now wearing a cowboy hat, lifts her mug of beer toward Steele's. "To Uncle Tim."
"Uncle Tim," Steele agrees, and they drink.
"At least now he won't have to risk pneumonia every time it rains," Hoop comments. "Can you imagine what Ed would've made him do if we lived where it snowed?"
"I take it you're not very pleased with the way the news is presented on Channel Three."
"We'll go down as the first station in television history to present jiggle news. You see the way Chrissie bounces around out there? I have it on good authority she's had everything enlarged--except of course her brain. She has more surgical scars than Frankenstein. Only HE has a higher IQ." She slaps the bar. "Dammit! Why couldn't SHE have been the one in that water trough?" She leaves the bar, heading toward the pinball machines.
Steele follows. "What exactly did Chrissie Carstairs do to earn your enmity?"
"Ed promised me the anchor slot. And then Chrissie wiggled her way into his line of sight, and slam bam thank you ma'am, she got it."
"Are you inferring she slept her way into the job?"
"Chrissie does her best work from the prone position. I didn't have any leverage in that department. I'd already slept with Ed to get the sports assignment."
"This is beginning to resemble a segment of Spotlight News," Steele comments.
"Think anyone would notice if I had Chrissie put to sleep?" Hoop asks as the machine lights up. "TILT!"
Steele enters the office as Bernice, Laura, and Murphy study research. "Ah, here's the happy family," he says. "How's the arm?"
"Numb. Very numb," Murphy says, rubbing it.
"Well, perhaps this will restore the circulation." He pauses for effect. "Chrissie Carstairs slept with Ed Greene to get the anchorwoman's job."
"I can top that," Laura pipes in. "She was secretly married to Uncle Tim."
"Oh, dear me. Channel Three is a veritable "Peyton Place"."
Bernice doesn't miss a beat. "Lana Turner, Lee Phillips. Twentieth Century Fox, 1957." She notices Murphy and Laura's look. "Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," she says as Steele looked pleased.
"Go on, Murph," Laura says.
"Everybody seems to be what they say they are- except Amy Fogelson."
Steele is interested. "What's her story?" Laura asks.
"That's just it. She hasn't got one. She seems to have sprung full-blown when she got the job six months ago."
"What did her application say?" Bernice questions.
"That's another funny thing. She never filled one out. She was hired on Elliot Walsh's personal recommendation."
"Amy Fogelson and Hoop Tracy share an intense revulsion at the way the news is exploited on Channel Three, but- could that be reason enough to kill a poor buffoon like Uncle Tim?"
"Murders have been committed for far less logical reasons than that," Murphy reminds him.
"Maybe," Laura agrees. "But Chrissie Carstairs considered her husband excess baggage. She wanted to get rid of him before she moved on to bigger and better things."
"And he said if somebody was trying to kill him, he knew exactly who it was," Murphy recalls.
Laura starts toward the door. "She might just wind up as the lead story on her own news cast," she says.
Steele stops her. "Before we go charging off, I think you should know that Miss Fogelson is determined to unearth the truth about Remington Steele."
Laura winces. "I KNEW that interview cover was a mistake."
"Don't worry, Laura. Rather than embarrass or jeopardize you and the agency, I'm prepared to do the honorable thing," Steele assures her.
"You're going to leave?" Murphy asks hopefully.
"I was thinking more along the lines of -stealing her notes," Steele says, slapping Murphy's injured shoulder. Murphy yowls in pain. "Ah, splendid! Glad to see feeling's returned. Always a good sign!" Steele joins Laura as Murphy does a slow burn.
Chrissie comes from her bedroom, tying the belt of a short satin robe. The walls of her apartment contain photos of her and very little else. She crosses the room and opens the door. "Oh," she says upon seeing Laura and Steele. "I thought you were the deli."
"May we speak to you, Miss Carstairs?" Laura asks.
"I'm having the tension pounded from my body," Chrissie tells them.
Steele is smiling. "OH."
"I'm having a massage," she informs him coolly.
"It's about- Uncle Tim's death," Laura tells her.
"Well," she glances uncertainly toward the bedroom, then steps aside. "Just for a minute."
Inside, Laura asks, "How did Uncle Tim feel about your going to New York?"
"How do you know about New York? Nobody's supposed to know about that. I'm not even announcing it until tonight's show."
"Was he angry, Miss Carstairs?" Remington asks. "Did he threaten to follow you? Perhaps reveal your marriage in the hopes of embarrassing you with your new employers?"
"Or did he suddenly become more attractive dead than alive?" Laura questions.
"Stop it! Stop saying these terrible things!" She puts a finger to her chin and runs to a mirror. "Now look what you've done! You're making my face break out! What's going to happen to my credibility if I have a zit?!
From the bedroom, Russell Stewart says, "Chrissie, dumpling. Was that the deli?" He comes out, tossing a bottle of oil, wearing briefs, a towel around his neck. He stops as he realizes she's not alone.
Laura frowns. "Ah, Mr. Stewart. Investigative reporter and part time masseur?" she asks.
"Oh, uh, excuse me," he says, backing out at Chrissie's jerk of the head. "I --have to--fold the towels."
The doorbell rings. "That's the deli," Chrissie announces. "Now you MUST go. Because we only ordered enough food for two."
Later, at the studio, the controlled pandemonium is broken by the screams of the make up lady upon finding Chrissie laying across her make up table, dead, her face covered by a mask of dried mud pack.
Everyone rushes in. The make up lady goes to Ed as Laura goes to check for a pulse. "I went in to wake her from her nap, and-" the woman explains.
"Suffocated by a mudpack?" Steele muses as Laura kneels to retrieve three of Chrissie's fingernails from the floor.
"These must have broken off in the struggle," she says.
"Chrissie's fingernails." Steele examines them too. "Hmm."
Laura walks down an alley to join Russell and his camera crew as they hide nervously in an alley. "You shouldn't be here, Miss Holt." He pauses. "As a matter of fact, neither should I. I don't know why Ed insisted I do this. I could get myself killed."
"I have a few questions about Chrissie that can't wait."
"Poor Chrissie. Just yesterday, so vibrant, so alive, so giving "
"How long had you been receiving?"
"I know what it looked like. But it was actually a business conference." Laura nods, not convinced. "She, uh, promised to recommend me for a job at the network as a special assignment reporter. We were just discussing what film she should show them. You know, to demonstrate where my talents lie."
"Did Uncle Tim know about this- business relationship?"
"He may have suspected something. Chrissie was rather-careless about those things."
"He must have been very upset, what with Chrissie leaving him here and taking you to New York."
"I see what you're getting at. Well, that may have been an excellent reason to dispose of Uncle Tim, but not Chrissie. She was my ticket out of this two bit station."
"Unless she changed her mind. She had a history of loving then leaving. Just ask Uncle Tim and Ed Greene."
"Laura, I'm telling you, somebody's after us. Somebody's trying to wipe out the entire Spotlight News team. Maybe even the people I'm going to expose today. Maybe they got wind of what I'm trying -- to do and " his voice trails off as a bright red Cadillac roars into the alley and a giant of a man, dressed in pimps clothing unfolds himself from behind the wheel. Russell holds back, but the camera steps out.
"Come on, Russell. We've got a deadline. Let's move it."
They follow the cameraman, and Russell keeps a hold on Laura's arm, finally handing her the mike. "Here. Hold this a minute." The vice officer takes the money from the pimp and puts it into his pocket as Russell hides behind Laura and calls out.
"How much money did he give you, officer?" he asks, his voice shaking. The pimp and cop are furious. "RUN!" Russell yells, taking off. Laura stands there as the cop vanishes, but the pimp rounds on her. Just as he grabs for her, the cameraman pulls the mike and her out of harm's way.
They follow Russell, making their escape. Almost. Laura is behind the men, and tries to jump over a fence. Seeing the pimp's knife, she grabs some clothing from a Dumpster and tosses it at him. She gets onto the fence, but the pimp catches her foot and tries to pull her down. She shoves a foot into his face and jumps over.
Laura, the cameraman and Russell stagger into a seedy diner. They sit down at the counter. "I'm a fraud," Russell admits. "A charlatan. A con man."
"I can get behind that."
"Amy does all the research, writes all the questions. Even picks the people I'm supposed to interview. I don't even know who half of them are!" he moans. "I'm tired. So tired, of always being afraid! I want to get to where it's safe. Where people don't threaten me, or hit me, or try to run over me."
"If I only had my gun," Laura offers unsympathetically, "I'd put you out of your misery."
Russell picks up a napkin holder and starts examining his face. "Well, I want that anchor spot." He uses a napkin to clean his face.
"What anchor spot?"
"The one that's going to open up as soon as they bounce Elliot."
"Elliot Walsh is going to be fired?"
"It's a young man's game. And I don't care how many toupees Elliot wears, he's not fooling anybody. He's old."
"And what about all the years he's put in strengthening his talents? Honing his skills? He still has a great deal to offer."
"Maybe he can read them the newspaper at the old folks home."
Laura deliberately takes the cream pitcher and dumps it over Russell's head.
Amy is alone on the set, looking into the camera as she asks, "Then would you care to tell us, Senator, about your silent partnership in the Thorsen Construction Company? And exactly what an illegal campaign contribution of ten thousand dollars bought them?"
Steele speaks from the shadows as she waits for a response. "Excellent questions, Miss Fogelson."
"Nothing compared to the ones Russell Stewart's going to ask you."
"It seems we both have some minor discrepancies in our past. For instance, you didn't exist until six months ago."
"And you don't exist at all," Amy counters.
"What's your connection with Elliot Walsh?"
"You have no birth certificate. No tax returns. No fingerprints on file anywhere."
"Two people have been murdered, Miss Fogelson," Steele says, coming closer. "Why are you so consumed with Remington Steele?"
"I believe him to be a fraud. A charlatan. A con man."
Steele looks at her for a long moment in the dark studio. "I knew a young man once. Virtually an orphan. Shunted from relative to relative. Always underfoot and unwanted. He'd been given many names as a child. Sometimes to suit the vanity of those who sheltered him, others to bilk the government with one more dependent. He never really knew who he was or where he belonged. So, he set out at an early age to find something he could call his own. Something he could hang onto when the nights turned bitter, the faces unfriendly. And, as he'd been taught by his elders, he acquired many names in that pursuit and many professions to go with them. Saw a great deal of the world- mostly from the underside. Cheap lofts, drafty street corners. He's still searching, Miss Fogelson. Merely from a better perch," he confides with a smile. "If you can find that young man in any of your notes, I'd greatly appreciate it." He turns and starts for the exit, only to stop as Amy speaks.
"The day Chrissie was killed," she tells him, and he stops and turns. "I heard her arguing with Hoop Tracy. I don't know what it was about, but it was threatening and violent."
"Thank you, Amy." He turns to leave again, but she speaks again.
"Mr. Steele. That was a very affecting story. But that doesn't mean the hunt is over." She puts her glasses on.
"For either side," he assures her.
Elliot is sitting in the ballroom as Laura joins him again. He gets up. "I warned you. Nostalgia is very insidious, Miss Holt. Even for one so young."
"You're not dancing tonight," she comments.
"And if I had a brain, I'd lie and say I was waiting for you. Actually, I think even the box step would elude me this evening." He pours something into his cup from a bottle contained in a brown paper bag as Laura watches. "It's a little game we play. They don't permit alcohol in here so from time to time I, uh- smuggle in a bottle. They bring me a pot of tea and we all pretend I'm getting smashed on orange pekoe." Laura laughs. "Well, I presume you came to talk about Chrissie. So much for an old reporter's instinct. Any idea who the mercy killer is?"
"Aren't you afraid you might be next?" she asks.
"In truth, I'd welcome it. Do you have heroes, Miss Holt?"
"I'm looking at one."
"Heroes are very important. They give you something to strive for. I want to catch the ball like DiMaggio. Change the country like Roosevelt. Tell the truth like Ed Murrow."
"And what's it gotten me? I'm a trained seal at the Channel Three zoo, honking and clapping for my lousy portion of fish." He indicates the toupee. "I hide under some Sicilian peasant's crowning glory, stab myself with corset stays. And pretend to give serious consideration to whether Princess Di is pregnant again. While Chrissie Carstairs, every teenager's midnight fantasy, whose head that's never held a single, solitary thought, is summoned to New York to read the news at six hundred thousand per. Ever think about growing old, Miss Holt?"
"Take my advice. Don't do it. It's a very demeaning process. They say the first thing you lose is your hair. Not so. The first thing to go is your courage."
"Elliot, tell me about Amy Fogelson."
"She's the only decent one down there. The rest of em? Not worth the powder to blow them up."
"What's her background? Where did she come from? How did you meet her?"
"You don't suspect her?" Elliot asks.
"She's the only one at the station who doesn't have any history."
"She has plenty of history. Let 'er alone. She's had enough trouble in her young life." He pours more tea, and more whiskey.
"You have a newscast in a few hours."
"Don't worry. I have an infallible method of telling when I've had too much orange pekoe. My cheeks get numb." His smile fades. "Besides, the station is a very sobering place."
Hoop throws a basketball into the hoop over her garage in a suburban development. "Like everything else in life, ace," she tells Steele, who's watching her, "it's all in the wrist."
"Do you have another name?" he asks. "Something less sporting than Hoop?"
"Yeah. But it didn't pay the bills."
"When was the last time you saw Chrissie Carstairs, Margaret?"
"Before you and I hit the bar the other night."
"Are you certain that was the last time?"
"Yes, dammit. Why?"
"Someone heard you and Chrissie in a violent argument the day she died."
"Who? Who heard?" She tries to ignore it and turns to shoot. Steele easily blocks the shot, taking the ball. He doesn't say a word, just looks at her. "Okay. So we had a little a tiff. She was on her way to New York, and I asked her if she could put in a good word for me with Ed. Maybe it would've meant something. Maybe not. I dunno. Couldn't have hurt. Then she got on her high horse. And she had the nerve to tell me that I had to earn the job like she did, on merit. She earned it flat on her back, the little twitch."
"As I remember, your parting words to me were, think anyone would notice if I had Chrissie put to sleep."
"So I had a primo reason to kill the little tramp. But why in God's name would I want to do anything to a goose egg like Uncle Tim?"
"Excellent point," Steele agrees. "Provided the same person killed both of them." He tosses the ball, and it goes through the basket-nothing but air. "Thanks for lesson," he tells her, and turns toward the limo.
Amy is typing happily as Laura and Remington approach. "I hope you can think on your feet, Mr. Steele," she tells him. "These are the questions that Russell's going to ask you tonight."
Laura is holding a paper. "I think he might be more interested in the story that WE stumbled on," she says.
"Oh, yeah?" Amy asks.
"It concerns someone who planted incriminating documents on a congressman she suspected of taking kickbacks, she then ran the story in the newspaper that she worked for."
Amy puts out her cigarette as Steele continues the story. "Although the accusations proved true, the methods were- highly questionable."
"And Agnes Fowley was discharged from the paper," Laura finishes. "I'm sure you're painfully familiar with the details, Miss Fowley."
Amy looks a bit relieved. "For six months I've been looking over my shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and here it is, with a great big thud. I couldn't get a newspaper job to save my life. Not even delivering them. I finally came to see Mr. Walsh. Although he disapproved of my methods, he understood my motives. And he was good enough to intercede with Ed Greene on my behalf."
"Someone with such a fervent desire to punish the guilty, no matter what the cost, just might see Spotlight News as the ultimate corruption and want to put an end to it permanently."
"I made a mistake. I learned from it. I'm everything you say I am- except a murderer." She looks at the report. "What are you gonna do with that?" she asks nervously.
Steele returns her look. "There's no sense in exposing someone for past indiscretions."
"I see your point," Amy admits. She picks up her notes and they quickly exchange them as Laura rolls her eyes at their actions. Steele points to the typewriter. She takes the questions out and hands them to Steele. "I hope that kid finds himself."
"He's never stopped trying."
"Well, I wish him luck."
"And he you." He and Laura exit the office.
In the studio, Murphy meets them. "You know how much I hate this part of the job."
"What?" Laura asks, taking the folder from him.
"Delivering autopsy reports."
"Murphy, we're private detectives. Autopsy reports are part of our lives." She reads the report. "Chrissie obviously put up quite a struggle. There was blood under all three of her broken fingernails."
"Apparently she managed to inflict a substantial wound on her killer," Steele comments.
Murphy reads over Laura's shoulder. "But where? I don't see anybody around here with scratches or Band-Aids."
"Unless it's on a portion of the anatomy we don't normally see," Steele says.
"The killer didn't suffocate Chrissie in buff," Murphy insists, laughing, but Laura's looking at Steele.
"You know, you really are incredible."
Murphy shakes his head. "Come on, Laura. Don't tell me he's come up with the solution AGAIN?"
"Hit the nail right on the head, Murph," she says, wandering off.
As Steele turns to follow, Murphy grabs his arm. "Care to share your brilliant deduction with a fellow detective?"
"Come now, Murphy. You know these things are always more fun when there's an audience to guess along." He slaps Murphy's sore shoulder and Murphy howls in pain.
"And now, from the Channel Three Studios," the announcer says as the news team enters the set, "it's Spotlight News. With the NEW Spotlight Newsteam! Featuring Biff Lagerfeld with sports, Cousin Claude with the weather, and investigative reporter Russell Stewart! And now, with the news, the Southland's most innovative news personalities--Elliot Walsh and Margaret Tracy!"
Elliot looks at the TelePrompTer. "Good evening," he says seriously. "At the top of today's news is the release of the coroner's report on Chrissie Carstairs, Spotlight News' late anchorwoman. The autopsy revealed blood under the victim's fingernails, indicating that Miss Carstairs managed to inflict deep lacerations on her assailant. The killer was obviously driven by some deep seated need to express his rage-" Elliot begins to falter. "At the loss of heroes," he says, seeing Laura and Remington by the machine. He forces himself to continue. "He began by trying to embarrass those he felt were trivializing the news, but his anger soon pushed him beyond protest and into the dark corner of murder " He looks into the camera, giving up any pretense. "I've been doing these newscasts for more years than I care to admit tonight will be my final one." He removes his toupee, revealing the three deep gashes on his bald head. Laura draws a breath as Steele moves away. "This is a symbol of not only what I've become, but of what the entire electronic news community is in danger of becoming."
Steele enters the control booth as Ed screams, "Go to a commercial! Cut that son of a-"
Steele reaches across and stops the manager. "Let him speak," he says.
"We have this magical tool called television. This tool of light and sound. An instrument that can help create the most informed people in the world in the world's most enlightened republic. Instead, we give you Spotlight News. We put on happy faces and happy talk. We serve up wars and disasters like mealtime snacks. We snicker, we prattle, we pander! Spotlight News is not a local disgrace. It's a national affliction! A young lady I've become very fond of reminded me that I once said, A good reporter gives the facts, a great reporter understands the meaning." Laura wipes a tear from her cheek. "Well, I won't pretend to any greatness, so I will simply give you the facts. Those of us who sit in these well-salaried seats are NOT the news. Forget our polished smiles, our scripted banter, and our pretty faces. We are NOT the news! The news is unexpected. It's hard and ugly and most of all, it's complex. Don't settle for us, people. You're better than that. You deserve better." The monitors fade out
At the ballroom, Steele and Laura are dancing to "As Time Goes By". "I realize my powers of deduction have sharpened considerably under your excellent tutelage," Steele says, "But exactly how did I solve this one?"
"When you said the scratches were probably on a portion of the killer's anatomy that we didn't normally see."
"But we always saw Elliot without his toupee," Steele tells her.
"Exactly. He hated that toupee. It represented everything he'd grown to despise about himself. He only wore it when he was on the air. Yet the night after Chrissie was killed, he had it on when I found him here."
"Of course. To hide the evidence that would link him to the murder, he was forced to wear it all the time. I'm sorry. I know he was an idol."
"But at the end, he managed to get back on his feet, hmm?"
"Yes." She looks up at him. "Now, what was that little exchange between you and Amy all about? All that stuff about- hoping the kid finds himself?"
Steele looks into the distance. "A poor waif, wandering the cold cruel world in search of himself."
"Anyone I know?" she asks.
"Slightly. But with any luck, you'll know him far more intimately."
They both smile.