Celebrity Paranormal Project: "The First Warden"

Celebrity Paranormal Project: "The First Warden"

I have to say, Celebrity Haunted House Paranormal Project (watch it on Hulu) makes a great summer night popcorn show.  I guess there were only six episodes that aired back in 2006, which is kind of a shame.  

This episode featured Olympic ski racer Picabo Street, Baywatch star and supermodel Michael Bergin, actress Mariel Hemingway, actor Joe Piscopo, and Real World: Chicago start Tonya Cooley.  Of these, Picabo Street turned out to be the hard-core believer, while Joe Piscopo was the laid back skeptic.  In fact, Piscopo seemed actively bored at several points during the show.

As usual, I spent a lot of time trying to peer behind the curtain, so to speak.  I have become convinced that the actors aren't "in on it" in any sense.  Their reactions are far too convincing, and I think the show as a mechanism for producing watchable television would only work if you kept up the façade with the stars as well as the audience.

This made it all the more interesting when at two points, the actors threatened to tip over the apple cart by accident.  

In the first incident, Picabo Street is standing outside a room while Michael Bergin is inside.  Street's attention is drawn down the hall by a small noise.  She then feels something brush past her bare arm, and hears footsteps going down the stairs.

I think you could make a pretty good case that this is a genuine phenomena happening because this staged show is taking place at an actual haunted location.  Can you imagine how frightening it would be, to be a crew member sitting in one of the distant rooms in the dark, waiting for your cue to slam a door or move some stuff to fake ghost activity, only to hear shuffling or whispers in the dark behind you?  

In that sense, staging effects is really gilding the lily.  This episode takes place at Tennessee State Prison, which has a long and storied history of cruelty.  (It was also used in filming The Green Mile, but that's neither here nor there.)  It's not only spooky at night, but there are a lot of reputable accounts of ghost activity.

At any rate, we watch Picabo Street pan her flashlight down the hallway, clearly conflicted.  Her "mission" is to stand there and not abandon Bergin (who by the way is terrified).  And I suspect the producers have been pretty strict with the actors about not venturing off the stated path.  But Street obviously wants desperately to investigate.  

In the end, she stays put.  Probably a wise career choice, but disappointing for the viewers.

In the second incident, Joe Piscopo and Mariel Hemingway are sent down to Cell Block 3.  The story calls for one of them (Piscopo) to be caged up out of sight, while the other (Hemingway) has to investigate the third floor catwalk.  

Awfully convenient that the show splits up the two actors like this.  Hemingway says she sees and hears someone on the stairs behind her.  Was it a show intern, carefully kept out of Piscopo's sight?  Piscopo seems clearly exasperated when Hemingway returns, like he can barely keep from rolling his eyes.  Did he see something, or just suspect they were all being had?