When Life Freakily Imitates Art

Thursday, January 29, 2015


It wasn't the first screenplay that I wrote, but it was the first one that I thought had potential. I called it Crimson House - the story of a famous family of psychics who operate out of a gorgeous Italianate mansion in the Victorian Village neighborhood of Memphis. I made so. many. changes to the story over the years, but the opening aways stayed the same - the most powerful psychic of them all - 16 year old Miranda Delacourte - channeled opera diva Maria Callas to the astonishment of her international clientele.

Crimson House is set in a real place - the James Lee House of Memphis. After the home became the first incarnation of what is now the Memphis College of Art, it flourished until the college set up shop in Overton Park. The house sat abandoned for over 50 years. When I was granted a tour some years back, I got to pick my way through the dark, abandoned rooms, stepping over piles of architectural salvage, winding my way up to the top of the fourth story tower, imagining what it would be like if someone had the ability, the money, the clout to save this house before it was too late to salvage. I kept returning to that dusty parlor, imagining my haunted, doomed psychic in the throws of the spirit world, singing until she collapsed.

Last night, I got to see the scene play out for real.

Minus the psychics.

I think.

Opera singer Kallen Esperian performed in that beautifully renovated parlor to the amazement of her guests. There did not appear to be any mediumship on display - not that I know of - but I had serious chills upon chills watching life imitate art in the exact room where I'd pictured it so many years prior. The James Lee House is now a gorgeous B&B, resurrected by Jose and Jennifer Velazquez, and I only hope I didn't overwhelm them with my complete and total fangirldom. I'm thrilled the city of Memphis gets this jewel back in its architectural crown. Maybe now its time it gets a spooky movie out of it, too.

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