One of the exciting things about being a movie fan is the potential to dig deeper into the imaginary lives of the characters we meet onscreen — even if that meeting is brief.

There is a chance that we will see a movie 10 or 20 times during our lives. And I’m convinced that the success of “chopping up time” in movies like Pulp Fiction is due to our now commonplace habit —  mine anyway — to see a movie on cable in chunks. Very often I will see a new movie by catching a bit of the middle, filling in the end later, and finally seeing the beginning some other time… and still get it.

One of my favorite past times, as I watch a movie more than once, is thinking about its minor characters. Whatever happened to Serge from Beverly Hills Cop? The espresso-wielding omni-sexual Serge launched the career of Bronson Pinchot, and is one of the great character turns ever. But while we know Bronson starred in a fun TV series, Serge disappeared, even though he made a brief appearance in a later Cop installment.

Whatever happened to him?

We see this on TV too. Or don’t see it. The ellusive Marris, Niles’ ( David Hyde Pierce) wife on Frasier never was seen, although the theater of the mind filled in all kinds of pictures of her.  The neighbor on Tim Allen’s Home Improvement went to great lengths to stay off camera, too.

But as I go deeper into more and more viewings of certain films, 10 or 20 times down the road, all kinds of questions come to mind:  Whatever happened to Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally… Did they go the distance as a married couple?  And what about the great lover Wallace Shawn portrayed in Manhattan, the one that so surprised Woody Allen when he and Diane Keaton ran into him while shopping? Did he and Diane ever get together again for one tumultuous sexual romp?

If you’ve ever wondered about the lives of these minor characters prior to the entry into our lives, or what happened to them after the movie was over, here’s your chance to let your imagination run wild.

And here’s a chance to turn your imaginations into cold, hard cash!

“Spinoff” is the name of our latest contest and here are the rules:

1. Take a well-known movie and pick a minor character — or one that is referenced yet never seen.

2. Make him or her the star of a new movie in which we answer the question: What happened to them AFTER the movie? or Where did he or she come from, and what were they doing BEFORE the movie began?

3. Pick a title that vaguely smacks of that of the original movie and…

4. Write a logline of that movie that might appear in TV Guide, or a cable channel selection.


KEYSER PERMANENTE — Sequel to The Usual Suspects finds its disgraced police captain (Chazz Palminteri) busted down to an HMO hospital security detail, until a series of murders in the Physical Therapy unit — and another broken coffee cup — draw him back into a case that still might be solved.

The winner this time will get a $200 shopping spree at The Writers Store (  Second Place: a $100 spree. Third place: a $50 spree, with Runners Up being noted. Yes, wit counts! But so does creativity. So let’s dig deep into our mental movie wheelhouses and find what happened to those missing characters we’ve always wondered about!

The contest results will be announced after Labor Day, giving you two weeks to come up with a winner!

Good luck to one and all! I will be watching Comments for the fabulous entries I’m sure will folllow!