We’re in Hollyweird this week Fletcherfans, where JB has just rolled up to Universal City Studios meet the people who want to turn her most recent book into a movie.
Side note, I love it when an actor name is also a subtitle.
Turns out that woman opening the car door to greet Our Heroine is the aforementioned parked Lincoln, today playing Carolyn Price, the secretary of the producer Daryl Heyward. She’s been sent to escort JB through the lot to a meeting.
At the meeting, JB meets Daryl, his agent Willy Montego, and the writer hired to adapt the screenplay, John Cavershaw.
JB tells Daryl her publisher was impressed with his persistence, and asks him whether he thinks there will be any creative problems adapting the book. He says that’s John’s purview and John tells her he’s got a few fixes to do…
…fixes meaning, making things more visual for the screen.
Daryl’s watch beeps, he has to be somewhere in 20 minutes. He’s set up a lunch meeting between JB and John to discuss the script, which gives JB just enough time to check into the hotel. Willie tells her she hopes she will enjoy herself – on the lot they are just one big happy family.
Cut to a bottle being thrown at Daryl’s head by the movie’s star, Leonora Holt.
The reason for the bottle smashing is a report in the paper that says that Leonora’s creepy nemesis Kevin Maxwell is going to be in the movie, but Daryl swears it isn’t true, and that the actor probably planted the story himself to try and get on the cast. Leonora cautiously believes him, and promises to come to the set later that day to meet JB.
Across town, on the set of Baywatch…
…Daryl is on the phone to his secretary to tell Kevin Maxwell’s agent that if his client opens his mouth again there will be trouble, he was only offered the role on the proviso he kept it quiet. Daryl also says he won’t be back in the office for a bit, he has an errand to run.
Over at the lot, JB and John Caversham are having lunch and discussing his plans for the movie, which is based on a true story. Caversham thinks they don’t need to do much, just add a couple of car chases, 2 or 3 more murders and they’ll have to change the ending, audiences won’t pay five dollars to go and see it if they’ve already read the book and know who the killer is.
FIVE DOLLARS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It costs 25 dollars to go see a movie! Damn I miss 90s prices.
Daryl, meanwhile, is about to do his errand.
Back at the lot though, a little old man is sneaking into a shrubbery in a truck.
Jess has given up on explaining to John what a nonce he is, so he has delivered her to the head of production, Ben Miller for a tour of the lot. As they walk, Ben asks JB if she thinks evil is a real thing. For example, say you spend a lot of money to convince the world that something is evil – does it then become evil?
JB thinks it depends on what it is.
“That,” says Ben, and points.
That, as I’m sure you know, is the Psycho house. Home of the originator of on-screen mummy issues, Norman Bates. Naturally JB wants to get in there and have a poke about, but alas it’s locked up tight. Ben promises to get the key tomorrow so they can go in and take a look around. As they leave JB sees a shadowy figure cross the window, but decides she’s imagining it.
Daryl has finished doing his errand (ERGH), and decides it’s the end of the line. She’s married to one of his biggest investors, she’s got kids, it’s all too complicated. He launches into a speech about Darwin’s theory of evolution and she points out he didn’t think it was complicated when she was convincing her husband to invest in Daryl’s company when it was about to go broke. Daryl tells her he’s grateful, they’ll do lunch.
Back at the lot, Carolyn introduces JB to Leonora Holt, who is thrilled when she discovers that the book is based on a true story and she will be playing JB (how she didn’t work this out until now is in fact a mystery). She can’t wait to spend all her time with JB picking her brain, finding out about her life and her work, how she investigates murders, how she dresses, she wants to make the role as true to life as she can. She’ll have to learn all those words like moxy and hood and how to put someone on ice. She wonders if she will have to learn to type…
Faced with the overwhelming omnishambles that this production is turning into, JB goes to Daryl and says she would rather withdraw her book from the deal rather than see it eviscerated. Daryl tells her sure, no problem, they’ll get rid of John Cavershaw, he never wanted him anyway (which is news to Leonora, she always thought Daryl liked him.) Daryl has a brainwave – JB should write the script and he’ll set up a brains trust of people to help her through the learning curve and then that way Leonora can spend more time learning about her character.
“Oh no, I really wouldn’t want to impose.” JB says through gritted teeth.
That night, as Carolyn and Daryl are leaving, Daryl’s errand rolls up. Turns out her name is Monica. She’s not thrilled with the way things ended, and when Daryl tells her right now isn’t the best time or place to be discussing it she suggests they go to his place, to see what his wife thinks about it all. Daryl sees no reason for her to know, but Monica thinks there’s plenty – so she can hurt him the way he hurt her. Daryl says it will happen over his dead body and Monica tells him that suits her down to the ground.
After a clearly bad nights sleep Daryl arrives at work and tells Ben Miller he’s being let go for cost cutting reasons. Ben swears he won’t leave and Daryl tells him he can either leave with dignity and a month’s pay or leave with security. Ben tells him this ain’t over. At lunch Jess runs into Daryl and Willie at the commissary and says she’s looking for Ben so they can finish the tour of the Bates House. Daryl says Ben’s not available just now, but he’d be delighted to finish the tour with her and arranges to meet her at the Bates Hotel at 3 o’clock. As Jess leaves, Roger the Shrubber peers up over a menu.
That afternoon Daryl lets himself into the Bates House. JB arrives a little while later and sees a figure move in front of one of the windows. She goes inside and finds Daryl dead on the floor.
The police rock up and…excuse me I have something in my eye…
Lieutenant Hanrahan listens as JB points out a few details in the crime scene, like a weird blood smear, but they are soon interrupted by Carolyn who would like a private word with the lieutenant. JB politely leaves them too it and joins the rest of the staff in the office. Ben comes in with a shaken Willy, who collapses on the couch.
Lieutenant Hanrahan arrives just in time to hear Ben Miller say he’s not sorry Daryl’s dead, and asks him to go into much greater detail. Afterwards, he goes to see Daryl’s errand Monica to find out more about this fight she and Daryl had that Carolyn overheard, and Monica says she didn’t kill Daryl and Carolyn was probably making the whole thing up.
Back at the office, Jess is worried that Daryl was killed because of the movie, but Willy says he doesn’t know anything about anything. Leonora thinks this is the perfect time to practice her 1940s noir detective words she’s learnt and starts demanding information.
Leonora takes her self off to practice more gangster words, and JB asks if Willy knew anyone else who would try and hurt Daryl. Willie says he gave the list of names to Lieutenant Hanrahan who told him to keep it confidential. JB understands, and says at least he got to see Daryl right before. He tells her they were in the commissary finishing the paperwork on his new agent contract, Willy was going to rep Daryl for another 2 years. Meanwhile, Carolyn is fielding calls and barely notices when Roger the Shrubber comes in to ask when Leonora will be in again. She tells him she won’t be back til the afternoon but the phone rings again and Roger says that’s okay, he can wait, and goes into the office.
Jess gets back to her hotel room, a bit tuckered out if I’m honest, and suddenly realises the news is on. She catches the tail end of the report and then starts channel surfing and wouldn’t you know, Psycho is playing on another channel. She watches on with interest as Detective Arbogast (played by Martin Balsam who was in these episodes of Murder She Wrote) gets stabbed by Mrs Bates and go tumbling down the stairs, before a knock at the door brings her back to reality. It’s John Cavershaw, who decided JB was right and has written up some new treatments for the movie. JB asks him if Daryl had said anything to him about the script and John says no. He also reveals that Daryl never wanted Leonora in the role, and so had hired Kevin Maxwell to be in the movie in the hope she would quit.
Back at the studio Leonora denies the rumour that she wasn’t first choice, or that she had any issue with Kevin Maxwell, but then JB is called away to the phone. While Leonora waits, she gets a visitor from Roger the Shrubber, who turns out to be her number 1 fan.
After some deft work from JB Roger is contained and taken to the police station. The gun turns out to be a prop from Leonora’s first movie that he wanted to give her, possibly in exchange for dinner. But he knew nothing about Daryl’s death – he left his Bates House hideout to go and get food and when he came back there was a body on the floor and the house was talking to him.
(For the record Roger’s real name is Oliver, but whatever he’s Roger the Shrubber).
JB has one last question – did Roger notice any papers on the body when he went back? Roger tells her yes, a whole heap of blue pages. Hanrahan says they weren’t there when the police arrived and Jess no. She knows what’s going on now.
Later that Ben Miller goes to see Willie to beg him to tell JB not to go back to the Bates House that night. Willy asks him why she’s going and Ben says she told him she was going to make the house talk to her.
JB arrives at the dark deserted house and heads inside. A quick test of the pipes in the kitchen and the bathroom upstairs reveal all JB needed to know, just as the killer walks in.
Turns out Ben Miller wasn’t the only person who got the boot that day. Willie was being let go too, so he bumped off Daryl, slipped in some blood, went all over the Bates House looking for water to clean his shoes and THAT’S WHY HIS SHOES ARE TWO DIFFERENT COLOURS LIKE THAT TIME UP THERE WHEN I SAID I’D GET BACK TO THE SHOES JOB DONE.
Case closed kids. Time for me to have a coffee.