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In 1998, I was hard at work on two books about TV shows, one
Dukes of Hazzard and one on Charlie's
Angels (both now available in bookstores and from amazon.com,
if Andy will allow me the cheap plug). One aspect of the job
was interviewing the men and women who wrote the shows, to record
their memories of the experience and of the episodes they contributed.
Somewhere along the way, I thought it might be fun to attempt
to write a TV script myself.
Having no prior experience in this field, I decided to "warm up" first by working with a concept that I already knew inside and out. Isis was my favorite show when I was a kid, and it remains to this day a precious childhood memory. Not a month has gone by when I haven't watched an episode or two on tape, and found myself instantly transported back to happier, more carefree days, so that seemed like a good place to start. I would write a remake of Isis, a pilot for a proposed new series based on the original classic. I would keep the main characters, add a few new ones and focus on how Andrea Thomas first became a "dual person," an event originally covered only in the series' opening credits.
In my series pilot, Andrea and her students succeed in a semester-long project to raise money for a special class trip to Egypt. During their journey, the group is beset by a series of mysterious accidents. When they visit the Temple of Isis, Andrea discovers a hidden chamber, and a golden amulet, and as in the original she finds herself heir to the secrets of Isis.
While looking up the name of Colleen Camp in a celebrity address book, my eye drifted up the page onto another name: Joanna Cameron. Recalling the encouraging words of my TV writer friend, I copied down the address and also the address for Lou Scheimer Productions. When I returned home, I made two more copies of the script and mailed them to Lou and Joanna. I'm not sure now how many days passed after that, but I do remember waking up late on a sunny Sunday morning, and shuffling over toward the blinking red light on my answering machine. Still half asleep, I pressed the button and heard, "Hello, David, this is Joanna Cameron." Anyone who has found this website is most likely someone who, like me, grew up with Isis. If you're a guy, she might have been your first crush, as she was for me. So to my fellow worshipers of this Egyptian goddess, I need not explain what it felt like to hear that familiar voice coming from my machine (and yes, it sounded exactly the same). She thanked me for sending the script and asked me to call her, leaving her number. It took me an hour or so to gather my composure before I could make that call. I've met plenty of celebrities in my work, but this was different. This was Isis! After several deep breaths, I dialed the number, she answered the phone and I had the chance to tell her how much I loved the show. She talked about how she got the job right out of college and mentioned with pride that she can still fit into the costume today! She spoke of leaving acting for the medical profession and about living in the Monterey area of California where she loves to take long bike rides through the beautiful natural scenery. She also invited me up for a round of golf at one of the famous Monterey courses, an offer which I still berate myself for not accepting.
It was hard for me to get a sense of her feelings about the show and the role she made famous two decades ago. On the one hand, she talked about receiving videocassettes of the series from countries all over the world. I never knew Isis was so popular in Europe, Asia, and Africa. She expressed regret that, for various legal reasons, the series was never released on video in America. On the other hand, when I mentioned how many stars of classic shows have made appearances at sci-fi conventions and other fan events, she quickly dismissed the idea of doing so herself. (Editor's update: Joanna will make her first convention appearance in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June. Go back to the home page to read more). Finally, we spoke about the script. She praised it and said, "You and Lou should produce it." She knew I lived in Las Vegas from my letter and talked about the Egyptian-themed Luxor Hotel, and how that would be a good setting if we could find a way to use it.
Thank you, David, for your article. If you, the reader, have met anyone who worked on the "Isis" show, we would like to hear from you! Please e-mail the site administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on submissions.