Karen Knotts went to USC where she learned her craft from Emmy Award winning director Alex Siegal. She did Equity regional theatre across the country. Roles included a prostitute in “Norman is that You?” and a prude in “Mind with the Dirty Man.” Karen’s first TV break was a miniseries starring George Peppard entitled “One of Our Own”. She played a hippy hitchhiker. The part required her to recite limmericks while “smoking pot” while holding a guitar, then throw herself through the car’s windshield. Television roles followed, in “Return to Mayberry” she played a former highschool beauty queen, and in “Vice Academy” a demented prison guard. Karen did well in sitcoms, even being directed by the colorful Carroll O’Connor. Recently, Karen starred in “An Occurrence at Black Canyon,” playing a sexually frustrated artist in 17th century France. Upcoming is Sy Rosen’s “Speed Dating.” Other fun credits are “Twinkles and Friends” (a TV pilot for kids), “Out of the Shadows” (a documentary about illiteracy) and the stage farce “Lend Me A Tenor” in which she won an ADA Actor’s award for Lonnie Chapman’s Group Rep Theatre (GRT).
The Dad I Didn’t Know
When Dad was a boy, there were hard times at home. The family was poor, his father was sick and couldn’t work, and his mother worried every week about how she was going to pay rent. But when he got to high school, everything changed. Dad’s personality which had previously been shy and withdrawn, suddenly exploded. He often said this was one of the best times of his life.
He became a very known and popular personality on campus. His humor was emerging. He ran for, and got elected to class president, and he wrote a column for the school paper called ‘Dots and Dashes by Knotts.’ It was full of fun little tidbits (and humor of course) about other students and high school happenings.
Another great thing that happened was the beginning of a deep and lasting friendship with another popular boy, Jarvey Eldred. Jarvey came from a wealthy family who lived on the ‘other’ side of the tracks. He was handsome, fun, and a great dancer. Jarvey often borrowed the family car and the guys would go out on double dates together. All the girls in their class wanted to date them.
Don and Jarvey developed a song and dance act which they performed at school functions. Later, another boy was added make it a trio, Ritchie Ferrara. Ritchie was an awesome musician, he played banjo, so now they had even more booking appeal. Both Ritchie and Jarvey were dad’s life long friends.
Years later when Dad was hot as a performer on ‘Man on the Street’ (a sketch from ‘The Steve Allen Tonight Show’), he was invited to perform in Cuba (I’m not sure what show, I think it was a variety show). He went down there and immediately got sick, among other things he had a terrible stomach ache. Everyone was afraid that he would have to cancel his appearance. He called Ritchie, who by this time was a doctor. Ritchie immediately flew down. After his examination, he privately diagnosed the case as stage fright. So he went to the store, bought groceries, came back and proceeded to cook a huge Italian spaghetti dinner.
Dad was perplexed, he couldn’t understand the treatment. Then Ritchie started telling stories and they got to laughing, piling in the food, drinking wine, and next thing you know, that stomach ache had vanished! Dad went on to perform on the show. They did things like that many times for each other over the years, and Dad regularly flew out to visit Jarvey in West Virginia. To this day Ritchie still plays a mean banjo.
* * *
Of course, we’ll always remember
Magical. The. Best. Ever. OMG, that was freakin’ A.W.E.S.O.M.E.!
That’s what some attendees of the Writers’ Police Academy have said since we pulled the curtain on the 2014 event. I agree, it was indeed magical and awesome in every sense of those words, and much of that awesomeness is because of you, the attendees and supporters.
To give you a bit of background, planning for a WPA event takes well over 12 months. In fact, I usually start the preliminaries for future events long before the detailed planning for the current one begins.
Our planning committee members typically begin their initial meetings and discussions while at the current event. So, while you’re having fun playing cops and robbers and CSI experts, staff members are hard at work figuring ways to make the next WPA better than the last.
And, we’re watching you…
That’s right, we conduct surveillance on WPA attendees.
If you’re smiling and asking tons of questions during a particular presentation, well, we’ll try to find ways to incorporate similar subject material into a future event, if needed.
I listen to questions and comments. If you want it we’ll find some way to do it (within reason, of course).
Other ways I select workshop topics:
During the year I spend a lot of time answering questions from writers, reading blogs and comments and questions on listserves, etc. I make note of the most often asked questions. I read many, many books, and I pick out the most common mistakes made by writers who think they know about police procedure and forensics.
While reading, I focus on the scenes that scream to me that their creator has never experienced what they’ve written. The text is often dull and flat and in need of life, color, emotion, smells, and sounds. You know, like this year when Captain Shepherd and crew used explosives to blow a door off its hinges. You heard the deputies shouting commands. You felt the tension as they prepared the charge and counted down. You heard the explosion. You saw the splintered door and the deputys’ entry. You heard the gunfire inside the residence. You smelled the smoke and felt the heat.
Now that’s how to conduct research!
Of course, having the best instructors and presenters on the planet is a huge bonus. They’re all writers and readers, which means they already know the subject matter needed to bring your stories to life. And we all love doing what we do…helping writers get it right.
This year, however, the WPA is at a crossroads. We are currently exploring the option(s) of taking our dog and pony show to a new location. For years people have requested that we come to a “town near you.” So I’m open to suggestions. Would you like to see the WPA in your backyard? Do you have a connection with a local police academy or other training facility, and/or an inside connection with law enforcement? Are you near a major airport? A nice hotel? Can you assemble a fantastic team of hard-working volunteers?
If so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write FUTURE WPA in the subject line.