Ghost-Hunting Cops Haunt Historic Theaters

Ghost-Hunting Cops Haunt Historic Theaters
By John Burgeson,
Connecticut Post

May 11--BRIDGEPORT -- When the ghosts that haunt the old Poli Palace theater get out of line, who you gonna call?

Why the cops, of course -- or, more specifically, the East Coast Paranormal Police.

Now, the newly formed ECPP might have a shot at fame. On Monday, a TV producer was in town to shoot footage of the ghost-hunting cops in action inside the Poli Palace and Majestic theaters downtown on Main Street, two long-abandoned, historic showplaces that score high on the creepiness scale.

"Today we're doing a pitch tape for a new show we have in mind," said Rob Johnson, a production coordinator for Pangolin Pictures. "We understand that the Poli Palace might be haunted and Jim Myers suspects that there might be a poltergeist here."

Jim Myers, a 12-year veteran with the Bridgeport Police Department, is the man behind the ECPP, which has been getting help from one of the heavy hitters in the ghost-hunting business, famed psychic and Monroe resident Lorraine Warren.

Pangolin, which has three of television's Emmy Awards to its credit, is primarily a producer of nature films for the major cable networks. These include "Tarantulas: King of Spiders" and "Jaws and Claws."

Johnson notes that while there are other ghost-hunter shows, Pangolin likes the fact that Myers uses "police training" to investigate strange occurrences.

"We think that's an interesting angle that will be new to paranormal shows," he said. "In 'Ghost Hunters,' they're

plumbers by trade. Jim's group all have had police training."

On Monday, Johnson and his assistant Gina Fitch were busy shooting footage of Myers and his 11-person team as they explored the dusty innards of the Poli Palace and two attached buildings, the Majestic theater and the Savoy Hotel.

In 2007, the direct-to-video cop action flick starring Steven Seagal shot in downtown Bridgeport included scenes filmed the Poli and Majestic theaters. The showcases continued screening movies sporadically into the early 1970s, long past their glory days as venues for elaborate live entertainment, and later for first-run Hollywood movies. Through the early 1950s, it wasn't unusual for movie stars to turn out on opening night to boost attendance.

While plans have been floated over the years to restore the theaters, nothing has ever become of them.

Johnson hopes that the pitch tape, which will be about five minutes long, will be pedaled to the various cable networks, such as Discovery, National Geographic Channel, TLC, the History Channel and so forth. He said that it may take six months or longer for the networks to decide whether to proceed with the idea.

"It's just a quick piece to show Jim and his team and what they can do," Johnson said, "and to show the network what it would look like as a series."

If the network picked up the idea, the ECPP would be central to the show, which would follow the team as they checked out various reports of paranormal activity up and down the East Coast, Johnson said.

City Historian Mary Witkowski, also interviewed Monday by Johnson, said there's no shortage of reasons why there might be strange goings-on inside the theaters.

"First it could be Golden Hill Paugusset tribe, whose graves may have been disturbed when they built there. It could be Dutch Schultz, the rum-runner who was murdered in New Jersey -- he did a lot of business in Bridgeport back in the 1930s. Or, it even could be Mae West -- she had performed here, got into trouble and spent the night in jail," Witkowski said. "Maybe she wants to get back at us."

Myers said he has 16 to 18 members in ECPP, and all are trained in police work.

"I actually come in here on a weekly basis because the city gave me the key, so I can keep an eye on the place," Myers said. "I've seen a couple photos that were taken here that were pretty strange."
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