Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective (1971)

Amateur “action-thriller” film made by Walt Jaschek and friends as sophomores at Jennings High School introduces Walt’s long-time detective character, played by him.

Jennings, Missouri. 1971. A quartet of juvenile delinquents makes a daring escape from a detention center and head for a hide-out of gambling and drugs. When Christopher McKarton, teen detective, learns of their escape, his ire is raised. These are the same delinquents that earlier involved McKarton’s girlfriend in a kidnapping scheme. So for the teen detective, recapturing these delinquents isn’t just his job. This time, it’s personal.

That’s the summary of the first, pilot episode of “Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective,” a film shot on 8mm by Walt Jaschek, Marc Stephenson, Rudy Johnston, David LaChance and Bill LaChance, based on Walt’s script for his original character.

All players were sophomores at Jennings High School in St. Louis County.

Walt Jaschek as Christopher McKarton


Credits

Starring
Rudy Johnston
Bill LaChance
David LaChance
Marc Stephenson
With Walt Jaschek As Christopher McKarton
Written By Walt Jaschek
Directed By Marc Stephenson
Walt Jaschek
Anybody Who Held The Camera

Filmed With The 8mm Camera Marc Recovered From a Trash Can In Jennings
(True Story)

Filmed On Location In
Downtown St. Louis, Missouri
Jennings, Missouri
The LaChance Residence

Original Film: Lost in a Box in the Basement Until Now!



A little backstory from Walt:

In 1971, my high school buddy Marc Stephenson found a working 8mm movie camera in an outdoor trashcan in Jennings, Missouri, where we lived and went to high school. (That would be Jennings High.) This, we decided, was an omen. We would make a Movie. Or at least a TV Pilot. We scraped together allowances and chore money to buy and process 8mm film (expensive for 15-year-olds,) then gathered friends and spent a few weeks across North County and St. Louis City running around, dodging traffic, stunt-fighting and shooting… “Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective.” The original 8mm reels were shown on a projector in my parents’ basement, and groups of high school friends enjoyed this “action/thriller” – well, at least those of us IN it did. But shortly thereafter, the already well-used film was lost to time, and only recently (here in 2021,) did I find a few reels in the bottom of a box marked “High School.” I had the film converted to digital (this is as good as these faded 8mm scenes can look) and tinkered in iMovie to add some titles and music to the original silent movie. Yes, shooting this at age 15 was Great Fun. What a blast. David, a year older, already had a car, and he shuffled us to multiple locations. (That’s the pink Cadillac I’m shown driving, even though I didn’t have a license. Or permit.) As per the parenting morays of the day (“be home when the streetlights turn on,”) we were mostly left to our devices, playing in traffic, popping out of underground pipes, climbing down buildings and bridges, and being blissfully careless. The only time we caught any attention is when we threw a dummy off the bridge by Northland Shopping Center. That drew a Jennings Police Officer to the scene: when he learned what we were doing, he laughed, asked for a ticket to the movie, and left. Missing from reels I recovered, alas, was one flashback scene involving McKarton, his high school girlfriend, and one of the “delinquents” delivering her back to McK in a kidnapping scheme. Or something like that. Suitably ridiculous, I know. But no more ridiculous than any of the rest of the “plot.” But the missing scene helps to explain why McKarton turns into such a vengeful, Dirty Harry-like killer near the end of the first episode… Ooops! Spoiler! Thanks for watching, and remember: Christopher McKarton will return.

Christopher McKarten did return – in 1974, as a comic strip by Walt in the UMSL Current, the student newspaper at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

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St. Louis media history rediscovered! Here are KMOX-TV Channel 4’s “Big Mistake” commercials from 1985, alerting viewers to an error in TV Guide magazine. Writer/director: Paul Fey. Guy on camera: me!

Yes, that’s me, Walt Jaschek, at a studio in KMOX-TV (St. Louis,) performing on-camera in 1985. I recently found these spots on 3/4″ tape, transferred them to digital, and asked Paul to remind us why this campaign existed and how it came to be. Here’s what he said!


The VP Parade was an extremely important local programming event for Channel 4… not only for the major revenue that would be generated from a local program, but because it also indirectly served as powerful cross-promotion for its news team, who would be heavily visible while covering the event.

A “Big Mistake” occurred when TV Guide did not correctly include the listing for the VP Parade coverage, and instead left the normal weekly listing for Family Feud. Without a crucial TV Guide listing (which was actually a big deal in those days), Channel 4 had missed a major opportunity for exposure, and all felt lost. The magazine was already in print. There was no way to get the incorrect listing changed by the time it was discovered, only a few days before the event.

Out of sheer frustration and in order to amuse himself (this was NOT an assignment), Paul Fey wrote the campaign later that night after the irretrievable “Big Mistake” was discovered. He pitched it to General Manager Allan Cohen the next day. Allan loved it, and Paul enlisted friend Walt Jaschek as the on-camera talent.

The Creative Services team launched into action. shooting it, produced it, and putting it on the air within about 24 hours. The three spots ran heavily over a total of 3-4 days leading up to the day of the actual event.

Even without the correct TV Guide listing, Channel 4 handily won the time slot anyway.

Afterward, Allan said this: “You guys somehow always manage to find a way to turn chicken shit into chicken salad. This time, you turned chicken shit into Chicken Cordon Bleu.”



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Walt runs a YouTube channel and the entertainment empire, Copywriters In Love.

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Ken Ohlemeyer Jr.
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Here’s the video.

Here’s the script for our bit, which one person in the chat called “Nice shtick!” Shtick it is, proudly…

[Zoom call commences]

KEN:  Well, hey it’s Walt Jaschek…what do I owe the pleasure of this Zoom call to, Walt? What is going on?

WALT:  Hi, Ken. I just want to pop in here and say what an honor it is to be a new inductee into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in the category of Advertising and Public Rela…

KEN:  Walt, Walt, wait, wait, wait, wait!

WALT:  What?

KEN:  I have to stop you right there and correct you.

WALT:  How so?

KEN:  Walt, you are not being inducted in this year’s St. Louis Media Hall of Fame.

WALT:  I’m not?

KEN:  You were already inducted in 2018.

WALT:  2018?

KEN:  Along with Paul Fey, your partner as Paul & Walt Worldwide. You two were inducted for your award-winning radio work and contributions to St. Louis advertising…You don’t remember?

WALT (searching for the memory):  I remember a big ceremony downtown… some well-dressed people… open bar…

KEN:  That was it!

WALT:  That was the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame?

KEN:  Yes! You and Paul gave an acceptance speech…played a funny reel of your ads…wowed the crowd with stories…

WALT: It was in The Before Times.

KEN: Definitely The Before Times… [wistfully continues] You thanked clients, family…

WALT:  Oh, yes! But I don’t think I adequately thanked the St. Louis Media Foundation itself.

KEN:  You didn’t?

WALT:  No. I shoulda said what an honor it is to be an inductee.

KEN:  “Was.” “Was” an inductee.

WALT:  I shoulda said St. Louis is lucky to have the St. Louis Media History Foundation that saves, preserves, and celebrates our rich, diverse, and memorable media history. I shouda said everybody should donate to the foundation to help create these memories alive.

KEN:  Well, that woulda been nice… yea, I guess you shoulda said those things.

WALT:  I shoulda!

KEN:  That’s OK, you’re saying them now, though.

WALT:   Help me remember that ceremony more… there were tables and chairs, and people gathered?

KEN [resigned]:  There were. Lots of them.

Walt sits back, lost in memory.

WALT:  Wow. Remember “people gathered?”

KEN:  We’ll get there again.

Walt leans back into camera with mock seriousness.

WALT:  From your lips, Ken. From your lips…

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