Classic 90's Television: 'Ghostwriter'.
When most people see or hear of the term "ghostwriter", they probably liken it to that of a writer that publishes various forms of books, articles, and reports that are officially credited to someone else. Although this definition is the official meaning of what an actual ghostwriter does, the word itself likely holds more of a sentimental meaning to anyone that grew up in the 90's and watched the PBS Kids network.
The 1990s was a special decade for most that grew up during that era. One of the things that made the 90's special was that there was a nostalgic relevance linked to the 80's, but also a certain magic that bordered on the cusp of changes that were due to come with the Y2K generation quickly approaching. In other words, the Internet existed, but television was also still kids main source of entertainment.
If you were a child during the 90's and your family owned a television, you've likely heard of or watched the television series 'Ghostwriter'. Ghostwriter was a very unique kids television series in many aspects, which makes it one of those memorable classic TV series from the 1990s. Even if only for a brief time, it's time to bring back some attention to Ghostwriter, and also catch up on what happened to the Ghostwriter team.
'Ghostwriter' Series Synopsis.
The 'Ghostwriter' television series made it's debut in October of 1992. The series premise was that of a children's mystery show that was targeted for elementary and middle school children. The series itself aim was to aid in teaching reading and writing skills to it's targeted age bracket. The other element to Ghostwriter for kid was that the show encouraged viewers to help solve the mysteries with the cast.
The plot of Ghostwriter revolves around a diverse group of teenagers living in Brooklyn, New York, who in their spare time solve crimes and mysteries in their neighborhood. The kids are able to do this with the help of an invisible ghost they refer to as "Ghostwriter". Ghostwriter's only way of communicating with the kids is through manipulating whatever letters and any text he can find. He then uses those letters to form sentences, which only the kids themselves can see.
The team of kids keep a casebook, which they use to keep track of any clues they find. Along with the aid of Ghostwriter, the kids piece together the clues and solve mysteries. The series Ghostwriter aired for three seasons in total, but was cancelled in 1995. The show was primarily cancelled due to lack of funding. Despite the show's cancellation along with lasting only three seasons, the series remains critically acclaimed for it's racial diversity and goal of helping kids. After the series third season, Ghostwriter ranked in America's top five children's shows on television.
The Ghostwriter Team.
As previously mentioned, the 'Ghostwriter Team' was an ethnically diverse team of teenage detectives. The following includes a brief bio of each character.
- Jamal Jenkins: Jamal was the first member of the team that Ghostwriter revealed himself to. Since Jamal was exposed to Ghostwriter first, he was viewed by many as the leader of the team. Jamal lives with his parents and his grandmother, and hopes to become a scientist. Jamal was portrayed by Sheldon Turnipseed.
- Lenni Frazier: Lenni was the second member of the team to see Ghostwriter. Lenni lives with her widowed father, who is also a musician. Like her father Lenni loves music, and aspires to become a singer, songwriter, and rapper. Lenni was portrayed by Blaze Berdahl.
- Alex Fernandez: Alejandro, primarily referred to as just Alex, was the third team member to become acquainted with Ghostwriter. Alex is a first generation Salvadorian American. He's in the sixth grade, and lives with his parents and young sister Gaby. Alex's parents own a bodega, which happens to be located underneath the apartment that Lenni and her father live in. Alex is a skilled basketball player, and someday aspires to become a detective. Alex was portrayed by David Lopez.
- Gaby Fernandez: Gabriela "Gaby" Fernandez became the fourth member of the team to see Ghostwriter. She is the younger sister of Alex Fernandez, and is also the best friend of team member Tina Nguyen. Gaby is 9 years old, and hopes to become a newscaster in the future. Gaby was primarily portrayed by Mayteana Morales in seasons 1 and 2, and later by Melissa Gonzales.
- Tina Nguyen: Tina is the Vietnamese American girl that didn't officially join the team until their second case. While investigating the first case on her own, Tina becomes intrigued with Jamal and Alex's methods of investigating. Because of her curiosity, she is eventually exposed to Ghostwriter. Tina's goal is to get into film someday, and she is often seen with a camcorder. Tina is best friends with Gaby Fernandez. The role of Tina was portrayed by Tram-Anh Tran.
- Rob Baker: Rob is a transfer student that comes from a military background. Since Rob has moved around so much, he is initially shy and reluctant to join the Ghostwriter team. Eventually, he decides to join up with the team. Rob's somewhat impulsive personality causes him to sometime get into dangerous situations. Rob aspires to become a writer, and often writes poems and short stories. Rob was portrayed by Todd Alexander.
- Hector Carrero: Hector joined the Ghostwriter team halfway through the second season. Hector met Ghostwriter team member Alex through a mentoring program. Although he was born in New York, Hector was raised in Puerto Rico and has a hard time reading and writing in English. Hector was portrayed by William Hernandez.
- Casey Austin: Casey is Jamal Jenkins younger cousin from Detroit, Michigan. Casey comes to live with the Jenkins family while her mother is being treated for alcoholism. Like Hector, Casey joined the team midway through season 2. Casey loves practical jokes, and has a even bigger love for peanut butter. Casey was portrayed by Leteaka Vinson.
Although Ghostwriter himself was the series title character, there has always been a mystery as to who or what he actually was. As the series continued to progress, various clues became available that gave some indication as to Ghostwriter's origin. The following are a few facts regarding Ghostwriter's possible origins:
- It's believed that Ghostwriter was once a male while alive, but now exists only as a ghost.
- Ghostwriter is very protective of the children.
- As stated earlier, Ghostwriter is only able to be viewed by those that he has revealed himself to.
- Although Ghostwriter cannot talk or hear, he can communicate by writing. Ghostwriter can also feel and read other's emotions.
- Ghostwriter is able to travel through time, and also has the ability to travel across the Internet.
According to various show producers', Ghostwriter was set to be revealed as a 15th to 16th century writer. However, this idea was never revealed nor explored while the series aired. One of the other ideas surrounding the mystery of Ghostwriter was that he was once an ancestor of Jamal Jenkins. Again, this idea was never revealed during the show's airing.
Other Notable Cast Members.
The following is a list of other cast members that appeared in 'Ghostwriter'.
- Cece Jenkins: The grandmother of Jamal Jenkins. Portrayed by Marcella Lowery.
- Max Frazier: Father of Lenni Frazier. Portrayed by Richard Cox from first season till the middle of season 2. Later portrayed by Keith Langsdale.
- Mr. Fernandez: Father of Alex and Gaby Fernandez. Portrayed by Shawn Elliot.
- Estella Fernandez: Mother of Alex and Gaby Fernandez, and wife of Mr. Fernandez. Portrayed by Cordelia Gonzales from first season till middle of second season. Portrayed by Iliana Guibert afterwards.
There were several notable actors and celebrities that had fairly minor roles, or made cameo appearances on Ghostwriter. Some of them include:
- Samuel L. Jackson: Portrayed Jamal's father Reginald "Reggie" Jenkins. Jackson appeared in three episodes.
- Julia Stiles: Portrayed computer hacker Erica Dansby in several episodes.
- Daisy Fuentes: Makes a cameo as Galaxy Girl, a hero in Gaby's favorite TV show. Fuentes later becomes MTV's first Latina VJ.
- Spike Lee: The famous film director appeared as Special Agent Pete in two episodes.
Other notable guest appearances include: hip-hop trio Salt-n-Pepa, actor and singer Harry Connick Jr., singer CeCe Peniston, and former NFL players Charles Mann and Bo Jackson.
Where Is the Ghostwriter Team Today?
Several members of the Ghostwriter Team remained in acting, while others completely left the business to pursue ventures in their personal lives.
- Sheldon Turnipseed(Jamal Jenkins) - Not much information is known about Sheldon Turnipseed whereabouts since he portrayed Jamal Jenkins. One fact that has been found is that he graduated from New York University. Another theory on the Internet is that he changed his name and joined the military. Besides that bit of information, not much else is known about his whereabouts.
- Blaze Berdahl(Lenni Frazier) - After leaving the Ghostwriter Team, Blaze Berdahl continued her acting career in soap operas and television. She's primarily been featured as a voice actress for Subway restaurants and Swiffer cleaning products. Blaze graduated from Bucknell University in 2002 with a double major in political science and economics. She is currently married, and has been since 2007.
- Mayteana Morales(Gaby Fernandez) - Following her stint on Ghostwriter, Mayteana Morales left acting and moved into the music side of the entertainment business. She graduated from New York University in 2003 with a degree in drama. She is currently a member of the funk group The Pimps of Joytime.
- David Lopez(Alex Fernandez) - Although he was born in Queens, New York, David Lopez was raised in Colombia. Now 35 years of age, Lopez is believed to be living in Colombia after attending Rutgers University. Lopez last acting job was in 2004 when he provided voice work for the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
- Tram-Anh Tran(Tina Nguyen) - Tram-Anh Tran graduated from from Penn State University in 2001 with a degree in Finance. She is married, and her last reported acting work was in 2009 on the TV series 'One Life to Live'.
- Melissa Gonzales(Gaby Fernandez #2) - Although still in the acting business, Melissa Gonzales hasn't appeared in much since Ghostwriter. He most notable acting work came in the 1999 film 'Light It Up'.
- Todd Alexander(Rob Baker) - After Ghostwriter ended, Todd Alexander focused mainly on school and his personal life. He has however appeared in various commercials, and now primarily works behind the camera as a writer and director.
- William Hernandez(Hector Carrero) - William Hernandez is currently a writer/actor and a personal shopper. Hernandez appeared on MTV's reality series 'The Real World: Philadelphia' in 2004. An openly gay male, Hernandez expressed on The Real World how he left home at a young age because of his parents not being accepting of his lifestyle. He's appeared in several movies since being on The Real World.
- Marcella Lowery(Cece Jenkins) - Since portraying Jamal's grandmother on Ghostwriter, Marcella Lowery has continued in the entertainment business. Besides her various acting credits in movies and television, she's been notable for playing former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb's mother in the Campbell's Chunky Soup commercials.
- Lateaka Vinson(Casey Austin) - Besides doing voice work here and there, Lateaka Vinson pretty much left the entertainment business. She did however attend Hampton University, where it's said that she was remembered by many for her role as Casey on Ghostwriter.