'Ghost Hunters' Seek Muppets and Manson
That's the case in the Wednesday, July 18, episode of the Sci Fi Channel series. Currently in its third season, it follows plumbers Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson -- co-founders of The Atlantic Paranormal Society -- and their team as they probe possible hauntings, relying on scientific and electronic equipment, their eyes and ears, and their plumbing-inspired problem-solving skills.
"We try to make determinations off the equipment," says Hawes (who could double for "The Shield" star Michael Chiklis). "Having video and audio, stuff like that, I'm also able to put it out there and have the whole world see, so everybody's able to view it and make their own determinations."
The episode concludes with a visit to the former Charlie Chaplin Studios in Hollywood, now home to the company founded by Muppet creator Jim Henson. There, TAPS investigators look for ghosts of stars of the past. But first they have to search for the spectral remnants of people who gained fame in a very different and tragic way.
On a warm early-November night in 2006, the crew descended on Cielo Drive, a stretch of dirt road in the hills above Los Angeles. It could have been any of a million places in the city, with multilevel homes hugging the steep hillsides. But at the end of the drive is a gate, and because of the topography, all that seems to be visible above the gate is empty sky.
It's eerie, especially because beyond lies the location of one of the most celebrated multiple murders in U.S. history. In 1969, followers of Charles Manson descended on the house that stood there at the time (there has been a lot of demolition and rebuilding since) and brutally murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four other people.
David Oman lives in a house a few hundred feet down Cielo Drive from that gate, and he claims the ghosts of the Manson victims have visited his home, which was built long after the killings.
"I've always been fascinated by ghosts," Oman says, "so, to me, it was a bonus to have a house that has the activity it has. But the truth be known, I don't find it bothersome. I don't feel affected by it. I find it intriguing.
"I, myself, saw the ghost of [victim] Jay Sebring two years ago in the summertime in the middle of the night."
Oman has produced and co-written "House at the End of the Drive," a fictionalized account of his experiences. Shot partly in his house, the movie, for which Oman currently is seeking a distributor, also features his Rhodesian Ridgeback and himself in a cameo.
He may be the first "Ghost Hunters" homeowner to have his own clip reel and press kit.
"David's really excitable," says Wilson (who has a bit of a Sam Waterston vibe). "He wants something to happen. He wants to be attached to this. He did a movie about it. Whether he wants to be attached to it or not doesn't matter to me. He brought us in to find the truth and find evidence, and that's what we'll do."
Oman has had psychics and investigators visit the house before, and he has pictures and video. Some of them depict "orbs," bright floating spots that some believe herald paranormal activity.
Hawes has another view. "Orbs? Dust or insulation? What do you want to talk about? There are true orbs, but the problem with orbs is, we've re-created the same effect with bugs, with moisture, with cigarette smoke, hand-blown insulation.'
But his skepticism about orbs doesn't mean Hawes doubts Oman's paranormal claims.
"It's a beautiful house," he says, "and David truly believes that he's got things going on here. I'm hoping that we're able to catch some of that activity that goes on here.
"When I go to a place, I'm never going in with false hopes. I'm always expecting to come out of there with nothing, because more than 80 percent of the time, that's how it is."
"It's a nice house," says heavily tattooed TAPS investigator and technical expert Steve Gonsalves. "I think it has potential for activity."
Even though the house is on multiple levels, Gonsalves doesn't see that as a problem for setting up his video and audio equipment.
"We've done battleships, aircraft carriers," he says. "We did Jim Henson Studios yesterday. It was awesome. It was cool."
"I grew up on that stuff,' Hawes says, "that and 'Fraggle Rock.' What blew my mind the most was finding out how many people who work at the Henson Studios are big fans of the show, because you never think that other people in the industry actually watch TV. You don't look at it like that.
"I'm a plumber out of Rhode Island. I mean, you don't expect this."
"You're walking around," Wilson says, "and you see Charlie Chaplin's footprints in the concrete. I mean, you stop and think, 'The Great Dictator,' all those movies, were filmed there. Charlie Chaplin, Jim Henson. It's awesome. To be there and see it, it's surreal."
But ask Wilson about the Manson murders, and you get just a shrug.
"A lot of people in this field get fascinated by horror, serial killers, all that stuff. I don't like horror movies. I don't get into it."