Monday, May 16, 2016

The Obscure Twin Peaks: Reports and Notes about Unusual Twin Peaks History and Mythology

 Installment 1

Welcome to The Obscure Twin Peaks!  Joel Bocko was reading my new book and wanted to know more about the Florence Gould Seminar that is mentioned in the text once or twice.  Here’s a report about that event, which took place just one week after the airing of episode 14 (where Leland was revealed to be Bob).

On November 17, 1990, Florence Gould Hall in uptown Manhattan hosted a fascinating seminar entitled "Return to Twin Peaks." This was a moderated discussion featuring a number of Twin Peaks personalities. 
            The seminar was advertised in an issue of Soap Opera Weekly (probably sometime in late September/early October of 1990).  The advertisement was small and the seminar quickly sold out. (The venue only accommodated about 400-500 people.)
            On the stage, in the auditorium, stood four round tables with chairs, red table cloths, and candles.  The dim lighting, candles and Twin Peaks music playing over the loudspeakers provided an otherworldly ambiance to the room. 
            A group of people emerged from behind the stage curtain and took their places at the four round tables.  (Who these people were, and why they were there, was never explained. They were likely VIPs, lucky enough to share the stage with the Twin Peaks guests.)  An announcer introduced Mimi Torchin, editor of Soap Opera Weekly and an avid Twin Peaks fan, who would be the moderator for the upcoming panel.  She spoke briefly about the phenomena of Twin Peaks and then introduced Mark Frost, Jennifer Lynch, Dana Ashbrook, Wendy Robie, James Patrick Kelly, and Catherine Coul­son.
            Ms. Torchin provided most of the discussion topics and asked a majority of the questions.  Many of these questions were di­rected to Mark Frost and Jennifer Lynch.  Both talked about David Lynch, with Frost noting that he and David drank a lot of coffee as they wrote Twin Peaks. 

Program Guide for the Return to Twin Peaks Panel (with admission ticket)
(Note the misspelling of Catherine Coulson's first name)

A week earlier, the show had revealed that Leland, possessed by Bob, had killed Laura Palmer.  Ms. Torchin took a poll of the audience to see how many people had guessed the identity of the killer.  Over half the attendees raised their hands.  Mr. Frost provided a few details about the Bob plot, explaining that Leland did not know he was possessed.  He promised that more details about the relationship--and Laura's knowledge of it--would be revealed in the next few episodes. 
            Jennifer Lynch spoke quite a bit about her book, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer.  She talked about the basis for the his­tory of Laura's life before she died and explained how she came up with some of the material in the diary.   Much of it, she said, came from consultations with her father and other writers from the show.  She also visited shopping malls to observe tee­nage girls.  When asked about home life with her father, Ms. Lynch told a funny story of how David once constructed a minia­ture volcano on the dining room table.  For weeks, the family had to eat around this model volcano.
            Dana Ashbrook (who nervously shifted in his chair throughout the seminar) spoke of his early acting career and noted that his older sister was also an actress.  Ashbrook thought it was funny that his character, Bobby Briggs, was supposed to be a punk and a jock combined.
            Wendy Robie, whose character Nadine believed she was 18 years old, said she hoped one day Nadine would notice the eye patch she wore and try to figure out what had happened to her.  Upon hearing this, Mark Frost smiled and pretended to make a special note in a pocket notebook.  Ms. Robie also revealed that the many figurines adorning the shelves of the Hurley house on the show were all disfigured or handicapped in some way (a one- legged dancer, a woman with an eye patch, etc.). 
            Catherine Coulson, after apologizing for not bringing the Log Lady's log with her, spoke of her long-time working relation­ship with David Lynch.  She recounted the now famous story of how Lynch, when working with Coulson on Eraserhead, said that he would someday cast her as a lady with a log in a television show called "I'll Test My Log With Every Branch of Knowledge."  She spoke more about her interpretation of the Log Lady, but was careful not to give too much away regarding the mysteriousness of the character.
            David Patrick Kelly spoke briefly about his character, Jerry Horne, and Jerry's relationship with Benjamin Horne, but had little else to say.
            As the seminar drew to a close, Ms. Torchin took questions from the audience.  Many people were eager for answers to puz­zling loose ends in the story and directed their questions to Mark Frost, but he revealed very little.  When asked why Sarah Palmer saw a horse the night of Madeleine's death, however, Frost explained that the white horse signified death.  Other particip­ants quizzed Frost on some of the show's possible errors, but did not receive any enlightening answers. (Frost was at a loss, for example, when asked about the discrepancy regarding Jacques Renault’s blood type changing between seasons one and two.)
            After only a very few questions from the audience, Ms. Torchin thanked the panel of guests for attending, and the semi­nar was over. 

(This is an edited and revised version of an article by Lorna Thorne that first appeared in Wrapped In Plastic #6.)

Get more interesting facts and history about Twin Peaks in The Essential Wrapped In Plastic!


  1. Do you remember any more details about it?

  2. Well the event was very lighthearted and funny. It was odd that there were some people seated on the stage - but they looked like just regular audience members - and they were very attentive to the stars in attendance. They were in fact eating cherry pie and the tablecloths were not red they were red and white like picnic tablecloths.
    The host from Soap Opera Weekly didn't really seem to be that much of a fan. She seemed to be there "on assignment" and she asked questions in a dry manner.
    There was a program that I have somewhere. David Lynch was the draw - the advertised attraction - but then when we got there it was announced that he couldn't make it. And we did not know who WOULD make it (only Lynch had been advertised). But when they introduced Dana Ashbrook, many people in the audience squealed. My friend in particular (who was very upset about David Lynch's absence) said (about Ashbrook) "Well THAT makes it ALL WORTH IT!"
    Someone was late - either Catherine Coulson or Mark Frost. Catherine Coulson was wearing Doc Marten boots. And at one point she talked about an AIDS charity she was working with in Los Angeles - and about how they were trying to plant a tree for every person who had died of AIDS "Which is a lot of people, sadly" she said. But she liked that they would be represented by a forest in the end.

  3. Wendy Robie was surprisingly glamorous and wearing a short blue skirt. She talked about how (before Twin Peaks) she had been working in Seattle as an actress and was "making about as much money as I would have made if I had a really good paper route." She talked about her audition and David Lynch asking her which eye was her good one - and she pointed to one eye and said "This one!" and he said "That's the right answer!" She also told a story about the scene of Laura Palmer's funeral - and how incredible the production design team was and how one of the fake gravestones said "I Told You I Was Sick." Wendy Robie was kinda the star of the day - very funny and pretty - and everyone was amazed to see her without the patch! She said they had someone on set to lead her around because she had discovered she had no depth perception when wearing the patch and kept bumping into things.
    Dana Ashbrook wasn't nervous or awkward. He seemed jovial and happy. He talked about how Twin Peaks was using "colors and light" like no other TV shows ever had. That it was unusual to see "so much darkness" on TV (meaning the picture, shooting at night, shooting in low light, etc).
    There was an interesting moment when an audience member asked about the horse that Sarah Palmer sees. But I remember that the question was more for Jennifer Lynch and Mark Frost together. The question was "When Sarah Palmer sees the horse - is it the horse that Laura had as a girl - the horse she talks about in the diary?" And BOTH Frost and Jennifer Lynch laughed and got excited - and one of them said something about how it was amazing that the audience was watching the show in such a precise detailed way. They were amazed at the level of detail people were picking up on. BUT Jennifer Lynch said no - that wasn't Laura's horse. Because Laura's horse was brown and white (and I think she said it was based on a horse she had as a girl?) Then Frost said that the white horse was a symbol of death - a symbol borrowed from old tales/stories/fiction about Sir Lancelot. (Me and my friends were upset because we too thought it was Laura's horse. It was clear that a bunch of people in they audience thought it was Laura's horse).

  4. Pretty much all the questions were very detailed and specific and involved discrepancies and errors in the show and Mark Frost kept saying "It's amazing how thorough and observant our viewers are!"
    Another question was about a scene early on when Nadine is exercising on the floor of her house (early on in season 1) and she gets mad at Ed and in her rage she bends the metal bars of her exercise equipment. The question was "Was this foreshadowing for Nadine's super strength in season 2?" And again Mark Frost was like "Yes! Wow! You guys are really catching everything!"
    The whole event was part of some city-wide cultural festival - like Lincoln Center Fall festival or something. And again, it had originally been advertised as "David Lynch in person talks Twin Peaks."
    That's all I can remember right now but I'll try to come up with more.

  5. This is wonderful detail! Thanks so much for sharing and clarifying certain items. The event was so long ago, and I've never heard from anyone else who was there who could confirm or expand on details. Thanks again, and if you can remember any more, please share! (You wouldn't happen to have any pictures? I assume they didn't allow photography, but you never know!)