Back to New York City this week Fletcherfans, where JB is in the offices of Reynolds and Company publishers being pitched a book idea by Scott Fielding, vice-president of marketing and development. He wants her to write a book about the murder of Richie Kane, a massive star in the 60s. JB remembers him well, but Scott tells her he was in nursery school the year Richie died, 1965.
JB is confused as to how she got involved in all of this, but it turns out Scott has a plan. The Haley sisters, who made their debut on the Barry Barnes show the night Richie Kane was murdered, and who quietly retired out of the spotlight in 1974, are coming back to do a Barry Barnes show reunion special. You know what that means – free publicity! And also, JB Fletcher’s name will be on the book, you know, whatevs. Jess is not interested but begrudgingly agrees to visit the studio where rehearsals for the reunion special are underway.
YOU GUYS BARRY BARNES IS DONALD O’CONNOR.
Barry’s having a bit of a tough time at the moment. The writers hired to work on the new special are more Saturday Night Live than Barry Barnes, and one of the Haley sisters, Lee Haley is about to rage quit after a dancer crashes into her during a rehearsal of one of their songs. Lee’s husband Artie Sommers, head writer for Barry Barnes, assures Barry that she’ll calm down but Barry orders a break anyway.
Jess chooses this moment to sneak in to the theatre to watch rehearsals. Barry sees her sitting in the darkened theatre and freaks out (which is fair enough, JB is a harbinger of death) but relaxes when JB introduces herself. Barry offers her tea while they wait for Artie to come back from consoling Lee, who is currently ordering his wife back to work, and doesn’t seem bothered when Lee points out that they are standing in the dressing room Richie Kane died in. Outside, Art runs into music director Ozzie Gerson who has a bone to pick about the way he’s being treated – just like his father was when his father was music director.
Back on stage, Barry serenades JB with piano playing and tea while he tells her the story of how Artie met Lee on the set of his show, 25 years earlier. Lee hated him on sight, but two weeks later they were married. True love. JB asks him about Richie Kane but all Barry can say is that everyone loved him except his killer. The police investigated everyone but the killer was never found.
Artie reappears and begs Barry to go calm Ozzie down, leaving JB to ask about why Barry was so startled to see a shadowy figure in the theatre but Art has no idea. He introduces Jess to the Haley sisters but they are called away to rehearsal, so Art offers to show Jess the scene of the crime. Despite it all, Jess isn’t sold on the idea of writing the book and tells Scott accordingly.
Later that night, Barry is alone in the theatre with the piano when Art comes to see if he wants to have dinner with him and Lee. They chat about Richie Kane for a bit then Barry spots a figure moving in the shadows – a veiled woman pointing him. Barry shouts, then collapses.
At her hotel JB receives a message and rushes down to the hospital, where she runs into Artie. She asks him what happened and he tells her that Barry suffered a severe shock.
“Well is he okay?” Asks JB.
Barry throws everybody out and comes clean to JB. He saw the woman in black, the same woman he saw the night after Richie Kane’s murder, pointing at him like he was to blame for what happened. He wants JB to find the woman in black and get to the bottom of who killed Richie. Jess tries to beg off, saying he needs a proper detective and Barry gives her the phone number of the officer who investigated back in ’65 – Broadway Bulldog Kowalski.
Jess pays a visit on old Bulldog, who has kept all of the case notes regarding the murder but has just recently loaded all of the files onto his fancy new computer.
Bulldog tells her that at the time of the murder, Barry was on stage in front of 50 people rehearsing a sketch, which puzzles JB. Why would the woman in black be accusing Barry of the murder if there’s no way he did it? Bulldog assumes she’s just out to scare comedians and instead turns to the women involved in the story – the Haley sisters and Richie’s wife Sharon. According to Bulldog, she was at the theatre the night of the murder but left 20 minutes before the murder occurred, although Bulldog concedes she could have slipped back in. Jess asks him if he knows where she is now and Bulldog asks if she wants to meet her.
Bulldog and Jess find Sharon Kane about to go and pick up her grandson. Bulldog introduces JB and says she wants to know about the woman in black, since she’s made another reappearance. Sharon tells her she’s not the avenging angel type. She knows she can’t tell JB what to do, but she wishes JB would let Richie Kane remain a man his family can be proud of.
JB remarks on Sharon’s choice of words to Bulldog, who confirms what JB was beginning to suspect. Richie Kane wasn’t the cleancut family man everyone made him out to be. And he liked them young.
Back at the studio the Haley Sisters are rehearsing another number while the show’s writers Sid Lyman and Joe Roth demand to know why their sketch has been cut from the show. Bulldog and Jess run into Artie while he’s being harrassed by Sid and Jo, but tells them to go and sit down out the front. The Haley sisters finish up, but Cathy is called back to change into another costume for a sketch. The next act, some plate spinners, come out to rehearse while Cathy goes back stage to try and get out of being in the sketch. There are screams from backstage, Bulldog goes to investigate and finds Art dead in a chair, after having a vase smashed over his head.
The police roll in, in the form of Lieutenant Mayerling, who appears to suspect everyone individually and collectively – the Haley sisters, Ozzie, the lot of them. He’s not pleased to see Bulldog at the crime scene, and even less pleased when Jess sweetly points out that the two writers Art had been arguing with hadn’t been seen since the murder. Sid and Joe are tracked down but swear they only found out about the murder after they’d left the theatre. While Mayerling goes off to interrogate them further, Barry asks Jess to calm Cathy Haley down.
Out in the park, Cathy tells Jess she just wants to get home to her kids. They heard about it on the news and are naturally devastated – he had no children of his own but he was a great uncle to his nieces and nephew, according to Cathy. Cathy is emotional and says she’s not like her sister Lee, who didn’t even break down when their parents died in 1964. JB asks her about Richie Kane and she tells her he was a creep.
Back in Bulldog’s kennel, JB gets him to pull up the photo of the Kane family he was showing her earlier. They identify the mother and father, and each of the Haley sisters, but then hit a snag. Cathy didn’t start having children until 1974, and if this picture was taken before their parents died, then who is the baby in the picture? After careful consideration of nappy and bottle holding, they suspect it might be Marge’s. As Bulldog said, Richie liked them young.
Bulldog is onto it, and shows JB an admissions form from 1974, the year the Haley sisters retired, showing Marge being admitted into a psychiatric hospital.
(Just trust me on this one guys. I’m getting confused too).
When confronted with the photo, Marge admits that she had a baby with Richie Kane. They had been sneaking around even before they were on the Barry Barnes show – she was already pregnant by the time the show came around. When Richie found out he was going to have the sisters bumped from the show, Marge panicked, picked up the knife and stabbed him.
JB gently points out she’s leaving something out and Marge agrees. Art was there, and saw the whole thing. Lee appears and tells Jess that they will deny everything Marge says, and it will be them against JB.
“And me,” says Bulldog appearing from the next room. Lee refuses to listen, saying that she won’t let them put her sister on trial, but Bulldog seems to think it won’t come to that. He produces the admissions form from the psych hospital and says that it’s clear that Marge had a history of mental illness. When she was released in 1984, with the diagnosis ‘no further treatment required’ – now that’s another story. She could tell right from wrong. So there’s no getting away from Art’s murder.
Actually there is. She didn’t do that one.
When Lee tried to put the show off, after seeing Marge suffering, Art threatened to expose Marge as the killer and so Lee lashed out.
Afterwards, when JB and Barry are debriefing, it’s revealed that Barry’s show has been cancelled. He’s looking to the future though, a future where TV isn’t just on the tube. The actors will be in the room with you.
Now I know that Gene Kelly was a genius and could tapdance on rollerskates, but according to YouTube Donald O’Connor did it first but more than that, he did this:
Long live the king.