8 Mysterious Facts About Ghostwriter

YouTube
YouTube

Once called the "Children's Television Workshop's most ambitious educational project since Sesame Street," the PBS family mystery series Ghostwriter premiered in 1992 and lasted for three seasons. For readers who missed its original run, Ghostwriter was about a diverse group of kids who found and became friends with a ghost (a.k.a. Ghostwriter) that could only communicate by manipulating letters on signs, in books, and on computer screens. The ghost helped the group solve mysteries, while they also tried to solve the mystery of its identity. Whether you watched it religiously after school, or you've never seen a single episode, here are eight things you should know about Ghostwriter.

1. Ghostwriter was a murdered runaway slave.

The series was canceled before the kids could solve the mystery of who their ghost was before he died, but producer and writer Kermit Frazier had his identity sorted from the beginning. “Ghostwriter was a runaway slave during the Civil War,” Frazier told The New York Times in 2010. “He was killed by slave catchers and their dogs as he was teaching other runaway slaves how to read in the woods. His soul was kept in the book and released once Jamal (Sheldon Turnipseed) discovered the book.”

2. Samuel L. Jackson kicked off the adventures.

Jackson played Jamal’s father in the show, though he only appeared in three episodes in the entire series. The first episode starts with father and son digging through a basement for an old trunk for Jamal’s sister to use at college. Jackson has the first line of dialogue, and when he and Jamal move the trunk, the book that holds the ghost falls off of the shelf.

3. There were quite a few celebrity appearances.

Spike Lee, Daisy Fuentes, Bo Jackson, Salt-N-Pepa, Dr. Dre, Ed Lover, and other familiar faces showed up in episodes of the educational show, either playing themselves or small one-off roles.

4. Brooklyn was an important character in the series.

Atomische, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Set in the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn, the writers and producers thought of Ghostwriter as a reflection of the borough. “We were looking for a neighborhood that was urban, multi-ethnic, but also had a bit of history to it,” executive producer Liz Nealon told The New York Times. ”When we first scouted Fort Greene, I said, ‘This is it.’” A church there, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and Nealon added that when Ghostwriter was alive, he would have stopped in that area.

5. The show was never really about the ghost.

While giving a group of kids a ghost to interact with is a fun way to get other kids interested, the makers of Ghostwriter wanted the primary focus of the show to be education. According to a 1992 article in Education Week, the three goals of the show were "to motivate children to enjoy and value reading and writing," "to show them how to use effective reading and writing strategies,” and "to provide them with 'compelling' opportunities to read and write.”

6. Ghostwriter was funded in part by Nike.

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In the early 1990s, Nike was a frequent advertiser with Fox (which premiered a sneak peek of the pilot episode) and the major underwriter of Ghostwriter. The athletic apparel and footwear company contributed $5 million to the show, which at the time was the “largest single corporate grant ever made for a children's educational television project.” Nike also promoted the show and literacy with its “Exercise Your Head, Read” campaign.

7. Its first episode bumped the X-Men: The Animated Series premiere.

 

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As a part of the deal with Nike and PBS, Fox had to do some strategic reworking of its Saturday morning cartoon lineup. On October 3, 1992, X-Men: The Animated Series did not premiere as scheduled. It was moved to October 31 to make room for Ghostwriter, but the commercials that were planned for its breaks were still shown. Also as a way to get viewers to watch both channels, part one of the premiere was shown on Fox, and viewers had to tune in to PBS on Sunday evening to see the conclusion.

8. It was Julia Stiles’ first acting credit.

IMDb lists Ghostwriter's "Erica Dansby" as Julia Stiles's first professional role (on television or film). As the editor of the school newspaper, she appeared in six episodes. But there is one clip that the Internet is obsessed with, in which Erica schools Tina (Tram-Anh Tran) on hackers.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Jeff Koons's Puppy Sculpture, at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Is Donning a Face Mask

Puppy by artist Jeff Koons is now sporting a face mask.
Puppy by artist Jeff Koons is now sporting a face mask.
Erika Ede/Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Artist Jeff Koons’s Puppy sculpture located at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Spain, has always been dynamic. The 40-foot-tall depiction of a West Highland Terrier is made of flower mantles that change with the seasons. From begonias and petunias in spring and summer to pansies in winter, it’s never exactly the same thing twice.

Now Koons is offering another variation on Puppy—a face mask made from flowers.

The addition was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s radically altered life for citizens worldwide and serves as a reminder that public health policy could save lives.

“What an honor it is to be able to have Puppy communicate the importance of wearing a mask during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Koons said in a press release. “A Bilbao resident sent me a letter asking if Puppy could wear a mask, which I thought was wonderful idea. I was thrilled that the Museum agreed as now Puppy, adorned with a mask made of white and blue flowers, can communicate the importance of wearing a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

"One of the most important acts that we can make to each other during this pandemic is to share information on how we can protect each other. I can imagine that the Puppy has appreciated all of the love shown toward it and is so happy to communicate safety and well-being to the citizens of Bilbao and the world.”

Puppy has been in residence since the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao opened in 1997. Koons has made a career of outsized sculptures. His Balloon Dog sold for $58.4 million in 2013.