Many years ago I produced/wrote a 60-minute documentary called “The Mystery of Half Moon Bay”.
The way I pitched the project and sold it made me feel like a waitress at Schwabs discovered by a famous Hollywood producer.
Okay, maybe that’s way too romantic.
I was passionate about my idea of putting the colorful Coastside** on the small screen—and I appeared at the offices of KCSM-TV in San Mateo, landed an appointment with Stewart Cheifet, the general manager—and I can still visualize myself seated on the opposite side of Cheifet’s desk, a very serious look on his face as he took an egg timer and turned it upside down.
(Photo: Stewart Cheifet)
“You’ve got three minutes,” he told me, sternly. I noted he had one of those fine broadcast voices, honey-coated.
Maybe it was really one minute and maybe it wasn’t an egg timer but one of those little glass “thingies” with sand inside that tells how much time has passed by dripping grains of sand.
I’d never produced or written a script for a documentary—I was just a novice—but I had a brave, bold soul and I was in love with Half Moon Bay. Apparently that feeling got across to Stewart Cheifet because, to my total surprise, I got the “go” signal. *
To make the hour show, I was paid a tiny sum but I happily spent nearly a year of my life absorbed with it. I was assigned to work with longtime director Rick Zanardi, and cameraman Jim Threlkeld– and we went out in the field to shoot this doc. They were experienced and great to work with.
What I most regret now is that I didn’t have the financial means to keep the raw footage—there were some oldtimers, now gone, interviewed on those precious tapes, gone forever.
Before “Mystery of Half Moon Bay” aired on KCSM, there was a premiere at the Pete Douglas Beach House in Miramar Beach. I was so nervous I didn’t go into the concert room where “Mystery” was being shown on a huge tv screen, donated via the contacts of Coastsider John Essa.
I loved the show and its theme– that Half Moon Bay’s historical failures were actually the reason for its success. KCSM’s publicist took ads out in TV Guide and there were newspaper interviews. Before vanishing from the screen, “The Mystery of Half Moon Bay” was aired several times.
For a long time my copy of “Mystery” sat with my books on a dusty shelf.
One day I was invited to a meeting organized by the folks who founded MCTV, the local access station. To me the words “local access” seem painfully bureaucratic words that don’t convey anything meaningful—certainly not what the founders intended: a tv station where local talent could produce shows and have the creative result seen by Coastsiders.
The small group met at the Half Moon Bay library. That’s where I encountered Connie Malach and her husband Mike. They’d recently moved from San Francisco to El Granada.
MCTV was just being born and Connie and Mike didn’t own a vast video library; they didn’t have a lot of shows to air. When I told them I had a tape of “The Mystery of Half Moon Bay”, they were excited. Yes, they wanted to air it. Almost immediately “Mystery” (with permission from KCSM) hit the local airwaves.
And Coastsiders loved it.
When MCTV hosted their first “Seals of Approval” award ceremonies at the glamorous golf course south of Half Moon Bay, “The Mystery of Half Moon Bay” won a “seal” for the most popular show!
A most thrilling moment in my life.
My MCTV trophy sits proudly on my bookcase, a symbol of the mutual affection between the Coastside and me.
The “Seal of Approval” for most popular show. The photo doesn’t do justice to the beautiful slick mammal.:
*Stewart Cheifet injected a tremendous dose of optimism and much-needed change into KCSM-TV.Whoever hired him should receive an award. As the new GM, Cheifet had the staff going out into the real world for the first time. They were following politicians running for office and suggesting ideas that would have been nixed before. Stewart Cheifet was innovator and everyone at the station came to life–I know because I was a witness to it.
**I had written a book about HMB, had lots of photos, developed an outline for the show, submitted letters of recommendation & etc.)