In his 2017 book, “Absent Witness,” Kearny’s resident psychic/medium Karl Petry has a chapter titled “The Ghost at the Lodge,” recounting a haunting (no pun intended) experience that occurred at the Adoniram Masonic Lodge in Lyndhurst.
Recently, that building was the setting for the filming of an episode of a television series, also to be called “Absent Witness,” based on Petry’s lifelong relationship with the paranormal.
Be it TV or movies or stage productions, not much in show business occurs at a rapid rate. Our colleague Ron Leir first wrote about initial planning for the Petry series back in 2014, but now things appear to be proceeding apace, with the first three half-hour episodes completed. Petry told us that hope is the program will debut in mid-2018.
In the interim, the aforementioned book was published, and a sequel in now in the works. Both deal with the author’s “sixth-sense” abilities, which he admits he kept secret for a good part of his life.
In the introduction to his book, the Down Neck, Newark, native notes that he “grew up in a time when the general opinion of psychics was that they were turban-wearing scam artists.”
Petry says his ability to see, and communicate with, those who have passed on and [this part intrigues your correspondent even more] to see into the past were not things he was eager to share. He writes: “It took nearly 40 years for me to believe that people might be ready to hear what I had to say without laughing at me or, worse, mistrusting me.”
That seeing into the past is called a “time slip.”
One example: Petry talks of visiting Newark’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery, on Broadway near the Belleville border, and suddenly being surrounded by the mourners at the grave of Thomas Edison’s first wife, Mary Stilwell. (Her burial took place in 1884.)
We don’t know if time slips will figure in any of the episodes, but based on today’s proliferation of paranormal media — particularly TV shows — any of Petry’s stories should attract a wide audience. Although that’s not why he eventually revealed his talents. That came through interaction with respected, and supportive, members of the psychic community and, eventually, the public.
The Lyndhurst ghost story deals with a lodge member, an Alzheimer’s victim who tragically froze to death after falling in the snow in his own driveway. A few years later, he returns during a Masonic meeting, seeking recognition of his presence there. The unquiet spirit is eventually calmed but evidences of haunting (e.g., an organ playing with no one at the keyboard) are still reported in the building.
We were invited to the recent episode filming, but were unable to attend, so we do not know how closely to the book the plot will follow. Petry noted that, although all the stories will be inspired by his real-life experiences, “this will not be a reality show.”
In Leir’s article, executive producer Pamela S. Kramer used the same words. It’s “not a reality show,” she said, explaining, “Think of ‘Law & Order.’ It’s acting out real-life events in Karl’s personal life and how he dealt with his abilities. The goal is to get people to understand the paranormal better.”
As Petry explained, “A psychic investigation may take a year or two years, so [for a half-hour episode] you have to condense it and make modifications.”
The show, he said, “will be a recreation of reality — things that happened and events that I was a part of.” Although some will be based on accounts in his book, others will be stories with which his readers are not familiar.
Along with Kramer, the executive producers of “Absent Witness” are Petry himself and Michael Giordano, who is also the director and principal writer.
The cast features Michael Chmiel, starring as Petry; Timothy McCown Reynolds as “Ian” (“a mysterious figure who seems to appear out of nowhere and guides Karl when he seems to need it most”); Kristin Muri as “Amanda,” a parapsychologist who brings cases to Petry and investigates with him in the field; and Eric Michael Gillett as “Mark,” Petry’s close friend and Masonic brother.
We eagerly await the premiere, and rest assured we will keep you informed as to when and on what network it will be televised.