“And that’s why I think ‘Scott’s Folly’ has always been one of my favorite episodes,” Maggie McAllister said as she smiled out at the two thousand fans that filled the ballroom of the Royal Grand Hotel.
The cheers that greeted the fifty-two-year-old actress were such that an unknowing observer might think the short haired redhead had won an Oscar rather than her claim to fame having been that she’d appeared on a twenty year old science fiction show. It went on for another half minute or so as she flashed her best smile and wallowed in their admiration.
“And to think I originally told my agent that I wanted no part of some geek sci fi show,” Maggie thought as the applause finally died.
Twenty years before, as a thirty-two-year-old never really was actress, Maggie had been called late one Friday morning by Ryan Clarke, her agent, and offered the chance to take over the role on an upcoming science fiction show about time travel called “Chronos II”. It seemed that the actress that had been originally cast had been injured in a car accident the day before. She hadn’t been seriously hurt, but some facial contusions were enough to delay production on the pilot, which was scheduled to start the following Monday.
Her initial reaction had been to say no, but then Ryan had convinced her to at least read the script which he had already sent over by messenger. One of the producers evidently had remembered her from some of her earlier work and thought she would fit the role perfectly. That most of her previous work had been a string of quite forgettable films where her breasts had a greater role than the rest of her said a lot about her career so far. And while her boobs were still holding up pretty well, she was getting a little old to still play those roles.
After reading the script, which had arrived just ten minutes later, she had still been unimpressed. The story revolved around the crew of the Chronos II, hence the title of the show, which had been lost in time. She would play June Kirkland, the assistant to Professor Mortimer Weatherby, the scientist who had invented the time ship. Rounding out the cast would be a strong male lead character named Rock Cooper, a not too bright but devilishly handsome sports hero on whom June would have a crush on, and his teenage nephew, Jim Cooper, who would have a similar crush on June.
“This is hardly the big break you’ve been promising me for the last two years, Ryan,” she had said over the phone shortly after putting down the script.
“It’s work.” Ryan had replied, reminding her that was something that had hardly been breaking down the door lately. “Just think of it as a paycheck,” he’d added. “It’ll probably never get past the pilot and no one will ever remember it a year from now.”
“I just have to show up ready to go on Monday morning?” Maggie asked as she glanced on the small pile of bills on her coffee table. “No late night auditions or anything like that?”
In her early days in Hollywood, there had been quite a few of those where she had been called upon to demonstrate her acting ability to various producers and directors. Said demonstration and her chances of getting the role usually consisting of how realistically she was able to fake an orgasm. She hadn’t minded it so much back then, it was part of the game, one that a lot of girls, and in some cases, guys had to play. The problem was that none of those roles had ever caught fire and it seemed that the practice was beginning to reappear.
“Nothing like that,” Ryan had promised, “I swear. They would, however, like you to come down to the studio tomorrow to make sure the wardrobe fits and all. You and Cynthia Cannon, she’s the girl they originally hired, have pretty much the same build, but they want to see if the costumes need any minor alterations.”
“In other words, I’m getting the gig because she and I both have great boobs,” Maggie pointed out.
“You said it, not me,” Ryan replied. “Now do I tell them yes or start looking for another girl. They wanted an answer ten minutes ago and already another one of the producers is saying that they want to go younger for the role.”
“Oh hell, I’ll do it,” Maggie said in resignation, glancing again at the stack of bills.
It hadn’t been only the money she owed that sealed the decision. Ryan’s last comment had carried a lot more weight than she wanted to admit. Up to then, she’d been able to play younger roles without a problem but there were a lot of new girls actually those ages out there, many of them willing to do an awful lot to get their chance.
“Chronos II” turned out to be exactly the kind of silliness that Maggie had thought it would be. But much to her, and many other people’s surprise, it was also a minor hit. So much so that it ran for four years. Over ninety-eight episodes, she had been crammed into the sexiest outfit they could find for the time period they visited. From a Victorian gown that was so tight she could hardly breathe in it, to a bikini like outfit made of twisted vines. It got so she came to the conclusion that the writers started with how revealing an outfit they could get past the network censors and then wrote a story around it.
When the show finally folded, Maggie thought it would be the last she’d ever heard of “Chronos II”. Then, to her even greater surprise, the show became an even bigger hit in what seemed like endless reruns. Over the last two decades, it had never really been totally off the air. Along with the growing fan base of new generations of Chrononauts, as they came to be called, came the personal appearances at various science fiction conventions around the country.
“Chronos II” would never be popular enough to have a convention of its own, but there were enough generic gatherings in which it played a role for her to make at least a half dozen appearances a year. All with travel expenses paid and a not unwelcome stipend for just answering some silly questions and then spending an hour or so signing autographs for which she would also get a cut of the profits.
Her acting career had also flourished after Chronos had gone out of production. She was never going to be offered a staring role, but she had spent the years since in a steady number of supporting roles in various movies and television shows. That some of these turned out to be caricatures of her June Kirkland character hadn’t bothered her in the least.
The sound of applause brought Maggie back from her musings as Roy Carlsen, who had played Professor Weatherby in the series, finished up a question of his own. Back when the show had first premiered, Roy had only been a few years older than the rest of the cast and used makeup to fit into his role. Now, two decades later, he had aged into it naturally.
As another fan took her turn at the microphone, Maggie was relieved to see that there was no one else in the waiting area. The organizers of the event were quite skilled at keeping things on schedule and knew just how many questions could be fit in during the question and answer panel. Not only was it bad form to have fans wait on line to ask a question, only to be told that time was up, but such disappointments might more importantly have a negative impact on their spending money on autographs and other souvenirs.
Only two of the cast of “Chronos II” had been available for the star panel this time around. Stephen Duke, who had played Rock Cooper, was home with the flu and that had disappointed Maggie terribly. She had become good friends with Stephen over the years and had been looking forward to seeing him again. The remaining no show wasn’t missed at all by either Maggie or Roy. Tommy Butler, who had played Jim Cooper, had grown up into the kind of obnoxious former child star that the supermarket tabloids loved.
Getting the role of Jim Cooper, after a string of television commercials and small guest staring roles, Thomas, and his mother turned agent, had been convinced that he was well on the way to a Tom Cruise like career. Instead, the show had turned out to be the highlight of his acting days as he had the looks, but not the talent to go further. Once he reached adulthood, he lost most of the charm of his teen years as well as the ability to keep off the extra pounds.
In the latter area, Maggie could well sympathize as she had added a few pound herself. Only in her case, the added weight had fallen in all the right places, giving her a more mature, sexy look. The girls, as she had long ago started referring to her breasts, had held up pretty good too. The effects of time and gravity held at bay by a specially constructed brasserie.
The last question of the morning was again directed at Maggie and she gave the young woman at the mike her full attention as she began speaking. It was a typical die hard fan question, but one that brought back other, best forgotten memories to the actress.
“I know that all though the series, June Kirkland always had a thing for Rock Cooper, even though he never seemed to notice,” the teenage girl, who Maggie knew hadn’t even been born when the show was originally filmed, said, “but a lot of fans have always thought that maybe she should’ve given Jim Cooper a chance. After all, by the time the series ended he was already seventeen. Do you think the show would’ve been better if the writers had gone in that direction?”
A chorus of laughter filled the room as Maggie glanced back at Roy, to also see a look of bemusement on his face. She was going to get no help with the answer from his direction.
.... There is more of this story ...