A made-for-TV movie starring Bill and Bette Fisher as Bill and Bettee Fisher, two just-plain folks from Carnegie, Pa., who happen to have nothing better to do one summer Thursday night than sit around and talk with an unpopular incumbent president about gas lines, inflation, Salt II and who' more macho - Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson. Also starring Rico Devioso, a cynical investigator who realizes that Bill and Bette Fisher will be the hottest story in the country for about 20 minutes and who thinks that's about 19 minutes and 59 seconds to much.
The plot: Bill and Bette have just finished schmoozing with the president on their back porch when suddenly all three national television networks 4,581 newspapers, about a half-million boat people and Rona Barrett want to talk to them. Hence the name "Vulturama," from the word "vulture," a large bird of prey that eats its young except on Wednesday night when it watches "Hello Larry." The Fishers go underground. Devioso's assignment? Track 'em.
"Why?" Devioso asks.
"Because if you don't we'll have to fill 90 minutes of prime time with a special report on the Energy Crisis," he is told.
"Boredom supremo," Devioso says, reaching for the telephone.
Pittsburgh information: "I'm sorry, the Fishers have an unpublished number."
A phone call to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Barry Paris, who is assigned to cover the Fishers, answers: "Everyone I know wants them. All I know is that on Sunday night I'm supposed to go out to their house and sit with them while they watch the president speak. But there's this rumor that a local TV station is going to bring them into the studio during the speech. I've been trying to reach them all afternoon, but they don't answer. I've got their unlisted number. Do you want it?"
Does a chicken have lips?
You call every 15 minutes from 6 p.m. on Friday to 1 a.m. on Saturday. No answer. Of course no answer. Why should these people be accessible?They're not running for office.
Devioso thinks to himself - "If I was them I'd be half way to Costa Rica by now. Who needs 'Vulturama?'"
7 a.m. Saturday and the Fishers still don't answer. You call all three Pittsburgh network affiliates: KDKA (CBS), WIIC (NBC), WTAE (ABC). The first two have recording machines. You leave your number. WTAE has actual live people.
WTAE: "ABC News has them. The Fishers will be going to New York to watch the president's speech there and then comment on it. Next morning they'll be on 'Good Morning America.' Do you want to talk to the other people who were at the meeting with the president? Here's a number for Michael and Mary Kay Fording. They live close by."
You wake Mary Kay at 7:30 a.m. She says she's a registered nurse and she got off work at 3 a.m. You apologize half-heartedly. You're an investigator. It's your job.
Mary Kay: "Everyone wants the Fishers, don't they? I can understand that. But they're no different than the rest of us. We were there - it was just at their house."
That's the name of that tune, sister.
You learn that Bette Fisher rounded up a few neigbors just an hour or so before the president showed up, for a general meeting about "what's going on in the country." Mary Kay says that "someone from the White House was supposed to show up, but no one dreamed it would be the president. I mean him come here? To Carnegie of all places?
Just the facts, ma'am.
Mary Kay: "Everyone was casual. I wore a dress.My husband had pants and a shirt. One man wore a jacket, but he took it off. We were all on the back porch talking with Mr. Caddell when he told us, 'In 30 minutes the president and Mrs. Carter will be here.' There's no way Mrs. Fisher could have known. Her house was clean, but she couldn't have had time to clean it special. She had some food brought in - the advance man told her to have some - cold cuts, potato salad, cole slaw, jello salad. I mean she had plastic silverware."
Facts. More facts.
Mary Kay: "The president came in. He was wearing a suit, but he took off his jacket. Mrs. Fisher asked him if he wanted a drink; she had Coke and lemonade. The paper said he drank lemonade. It was real hot and humid. I think my husband would have gone for a beer.The Fishers' baby woke up toward the end, and Mr. and Mrs. Carter held her. Mrs. Fisher seemed very much at ease, but I'm sure she was in shock."
Anything else, ma'am? Will you watch his speech Sunday night?
Mary Kay: "Sure we will. CBS is coming to talk with us as we watch it. All the networks are coming in to Carnegie. Of course everyone wants the Fishers - they're the stars. But like I said, there were a lot of us there, it was just their house."
You try the Fishers again. Every 15 minutes for two hours.
You try ABC in New York. They put you on to Bob Siegenthaler in Special Events.
Siegenthaler: "They're coming to New York on Sunday to watch the speech here. Afterward they'll give their reaction to Frank Reynolds. I think they'll stay at the Sheraton Center. You can come up - just clear it with our publicity department in Washington. Kitty Halpin."
Have you talked with the Fishers today?
Siegenthaler: "No, but we have a number."
Yeah, you and the National Guard of Nicaragua.
Kitty Halpin: "It's fine with us, we just want to clear it with the Fishers. We have a number. They'll arrive at our studio at 9:30 Sunday night and watch the speech. But right after that they have to go to another studio for a live radio show with KDKA in Pittsburgh. They promised they'd do it."
So when will you have definite word on their arrival?
Kitty: "The producer is supposed to call them in a few minutes. We have their number. It's unlisted, but we have it."
Lot of good that'll do you.
KDKA: "Returning your call."
What's the word on the Fishers?
KDKA: "We were supposed to have them live here, but NBC is flying them up to New York for the 'Today' show."
The Fishers, those sly dogs, are working both sides of the street. What a great move. They just might have the stuff to beat "Vulturama."
NBC: "Hold on, we'll switch you to Steve Friedman."
Everybody wants the Fishers.
Friedman: "Right, and we've got 'em."
Talked to them lately?
Friedman: "No. but we've got a number."
"They're flying up to be on the 'Today' show on Monday morning. They'll talk with Brokaw. We've got a breakfast set up at the Promenade Cafe in Rockefeller Center. Brokaw will talk with them, a cabby, some others, you know, the people who really are affected by Carter's speech. You can come, but I can't guarantee you'll get them."
Hey, you can't even guarantee you'll get them. The whole thing is a sitcom: 'Looking for The Fishers.' Their unlisted number is the worst-kept secret in history. The only ones smart enough to know that are the Fishers - they're probably holing up at Three Mile Island; it's the only place nobody has checked.
Kitty Halpin: "Getting back to you. It seems the Fishers will be on the 'Today' show and not 'Good Morning America.' I haven't been able to reach them yet, but I think they're coming in on Allegheny. Poor CBS, taking sloppy seconds with the Fordings out in Carnegie. Poor Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It'll probably have to settle for an interview with the Fishers' baby sitter. But, no sense in getting sentimental. Sheraton Center: "Yes we have a reservation for Mr. and Mrs. W. Fisher for Sunday. NBC made it." Allegheny: "We have a 2 p.m. flight on Sunday from Pittsburgh to La Guardia in New York, arriving at 3:03. We do show a Mr. and Mrs. W. Fisher on the passenger list." Bingo. Now, one last phone call to Carnegie. Saturday to 6 p.m. A shot in the dark. Bette Fisher: "Yes, we did leave the house Friday. We stay away until about 15 minutes ago. It's real strange, almost like a television show. Like before we talked to the president nobody cared beans about us. Then, all of a sudden - Bam." Bill Fisher: "We had to get away. It was really crazy. It never stopped. The phone. The door. The steps. They were climbing over the wall of our yard. Everyone was trying to get to us. But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining." Hooray for Hollywood. Fade to black.
Poor CBS, taking sloppy seconds with the Fordings out in Carnegie. Poor Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It'll probably have to settle for an interview with the Fishers' baby sitter. But, no sense in getting sentimental.
Sheraton Center: "Yes we have a reservation for Mr. and Mrs. W. Fisher for Sunday. NBC made it."
Allegheny: "We have a 2 p.m. flight on Sunday from Pittsburgh to La Guardia in New York, arriving at 3:03. We do show a Mr. and Mrs. W. Fisher on the passenger list."
Now, one last phone call to Carnegie. Saturday to 6 p.m. A shot in the dark.
Bette Fisher: "Yes, we did leave the house Friday. We stay away until about 15 minutes ago. It's real strange, almost like a television show. Like before we talked to the president nobody cared beans about us. Then, all of a sudden - Bam."
Bill Fisher: "We had to get away. It was really crazy. It never stopped. The phone. The door. The steps. They were climbing over the wall of our yard. Everyone was trying to get to us. But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining."
Hooray for Hollywood.
Fade to black.