The Clown Prince's Thorned Crown- A 1970s Pop Culture Timeline


The 1970s were filled with many groundbreaking voices, and many of them went to do great work in their respective fields. The entertainment industry was no different.
By the time that it concluded, arguably more transformations had happened in Hollywood over the past decade, than there had been in the last 2 decades beforehand. And television helped that happen. However, it was not all perfect. And buried among the many stories of stars with tragic stories embedded in their lives, is the story of one of the most notable rising stars in all of Hollywood, a young kid with TV, casino and club credits galore, a comedy icon, a hero to an entire community, and yet was tormented by demons of the mind, financial difficulties, addiction to drugs and an impending divorce that risked his ability to have his then-infant son in his life. Needless to say, the pressure was just too much and the young man left us in late January 1977. But what if it was all just a bit different? Mackenzie Philips, Maureen McCormick, Susan Dey, Fred Berry, all of these stars and more suffered some of these issues that seem to impact young Hollywood talent, and managed to survive. With this man, while his situation was of rather high odds, there was something to be said about how many people he knew that could've helped him out. And while it wouldn't have exactly been the perfect solution to the problem, it's a good start nonetheless.

This is the question our timeline wishes to ponder, a question brought up by Arizona Ranger in a 70s pop culture alternate scenario hitlist- what if Freddie Prinze, took a break from Chico and the Man in early 1977 to address his personal and mental issues, and due to it, never shoots himself?

This timeline wishes to answer that question.

Let's go back to late 1976, when Freddie is off break from "Chico" and is dealing with his now incredibly crowded schedule, filled with Las Vegas casino gigs, comedy club headliners, and an increasingly pressure heavy six million dollar contract with NBC. This is where our tale begins.
Chapter 1- Don't Be Discouraged
Chapter 1- Don't Be Discouraged
It's the winter of 1976, and a lot is happening. The presidential election has come and gone, and Carter has, by a slight edge, put to an end the Republican administration of Gerald Ford. Stevie Wonder's newest album, Songs in the Key of Life, has been out for a bit, and changed the cultural picture of music for the year. The Muppet Show, a quaint, chaotic variety vehicle is starting off, somewhat popular with audiences in its native Great Britain, but a rather little known force outside it at the moment. Martin and Lewis very briefly reunited thanks to Sinatra magic on the MDA Telethon. The Gang of Four have been captured, ending the Cultural Revolution dead in its tracks. The New York Yankees have signed Reggie Jackson to a lucrative 3 million dollar, 5 year contract, beginning a new era in the history of baseball player contract negotiations. The NBA, newly powered up by the merger with the ABA, is going through its 31st season. Lee Roy Selmon joins the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as first pick of the NFL draft. And the US Civil Rights Commission publishes a report on Puerto Ricans, documenting their rate of poverty, which is, at the time, the highest level for any racial or ethnic group in the country, at a national rate of 33 percent from 1974's end-point. This is of course, in high contrast to the life of one Freddie Prinze, Sr.

Young, popular, devilishly handsome, quite wealthy and relatively secure, he is living a life most would kill for, and especially a life that his fellow Puerto Ricans aspire for. And yet, despite all this, he is quite miserable. He watches the news, and as it gets into the sports segments, he hears the phone ring.

"Damn, do those executives want to tie me down for another deal?" he thinks to himself as he walks over to his phone.

"Hello?" he nervously speaks to the other caller on the line.

"Someone got you pegged, Fred?" the other voice playfully says. Freddie smiles. He knows who this is.

"Tony!" He excitedly squeaks, as he gets another chance to talk turkey with his friend. Tony Orlando's not just the famed singer and variety show host to him, he's also a great wit and an even better hermano. He obviously cherishes the chance.

"What's going on, amigo? Been a while!"

"Well, I'm planning to get a few friends together for something, and I just couldn't say no to bringing on the Prince himself. What do you think? Still willing to get down with us campesinos?"

Freddie briefly paused. He remembered his schedule, and thought how much it could cause issue.

It wouldn't hurt to take a night off thinking about work.

"What time, which place and what overcrowded highway should I look out for?" Prinze finally cracked.

Tony laughed.

It had been a long fiesta. That was to say the least. To say the celebration was grand would be an understatement. By now, Orlando knew his variety show was history, and decided to use whatever remained of his contract money to throw something extravagant. He invited many people he knew. Ali, Grier, Pryor, Kaplan, Walker, Williams. Just about every young star, not to mention a few up and comers in Hollywood came out for this thing. And as this galaxy of stars convened for a night wilder than any, with drinks, blunts and tail for all, in a room, a few people were talking.

"So you're thinking about going back into politics?" Prinze inquires.

"Maybe." mutters a tough, not too squeaky voice. It belongs to Muhammad Ali, famed heavyweight champion.

"Just can't find a candidate worth backing. I thought about Kennedy but he ain't running now."

"Camelot's too much pressure for Teddy, huh?" Tony quips.

"Probably." Muhammad groans.

"How about Jerry Brown?" Fred points out.

"He's a cheapskate. Won't spend money on much." Ali spits out.

"Then again, he actually cares about black people, and won't stomp out their demands for a few more potatoes." Prinze brings up.

"Still, it could be worse. If Wallace could get third now, he might actually get close to winning one of these days." Tony cracked.

Everyone quietly winced.

"Alright, alright, enough about me. Let's talk about the elephant in the room. Prinze, I saw how much you side-eyed Barbarino at the party here. You got something against Travolta?" Ali decides to bring it up.

"He's jealous of him, plain and simple." a new voice replies, coming out of hiding, scaring Freddie and Tony. Ali laughs. It's Jimmie Walker, star of Good Times and, at the moment, Freddie's personal ego officer.

"Damn it Jim, stop doing that!" Freddie shouts.

"You never give me a reason." Jimmie simply admits. "Anyways...Freddie's just jealous. Kotter's making Johnny a lot more well known and it is making Chico here very upset. You fired three arrows into the door of his house. Explain how that isn't jealousy."

"Because I'm the funniest! He doesn't have what I got!" Prinze is now getting visibly flustered.

"And yet here you are, fluffing yourself up and down like a chicken." Jim points out.

Tony laughs.

"I think we should do something, he might get himself sick if his envy gets any higher." The singer points out.

"I got an idea." the fighter squeaks, as a rather menacing grin spreads across his face.

30 minutes later, Prinze finally meets his self-proclaimed rival. Walker talks to Travolta a little, as he proceeds to explain the situation.

"So you're the guy who fired those arrows into my door! Didn't know I was important enough for people to start wanting me dead." Travolta decides to open up with.

"You didn't know? You're not Hollywood material until someone tries to plots out your murder!" Prinze fires back with.

This strange starting back-and-forth helped ease tensions, and soon the two were laughing a little bit, and were willing to hang out a bit more during the festivities.

Of course, not all is well. After having a spirited round of banter with Pam, Richard and Robin, he decides to run back to get a drink.

Freddie signals to Jimmie and Tony that he needs a minute. They oblige.

"Guys, I'm not doing so hot." he cries.

"Aren't we all?" Jimmie sighs.

"Maybe you should consider taking some time off. I've seen you tonight, man. You're still you, but you're different." Tony says.

"You've been distancing yourself from people a bit, you look a little anxious, when I called you to get here, you seemed nervous like someone was out to get you. You space out half the time we hang. Are you okay?" He pleads, with a bit of concern on his breath.

Both cornered and relaxed, the young Puerto Rican comic finally begins to open up about his problems.

"It's my kid. And my marriage. And the money." he admits.

"I don't know what to do. She's got the advantage. She knows the system, and the system wouldn't consider someone like me fit." he begins to mope and wallow.

"And then there's all this money. The club headliners, the primetime TV work, the Vegas hotel shows, all of this is just too much. It was fine when all I had was Chico, that one Carson show and a few good club spots. Now it's like I can't go 2 weeks before there's a new Hollywood gig here, or some work out East, or a new spot at Caesars. It's too much. All this attention, all this money, all the praise, it gets to me. I've been handed the world, and the world looks bigger than I ever expected.. Couldn't have imagined all of this would happen when I went on Jack Paar's show. Maybe I should've asked him how to deal with the pressure." He laughs, but in a rather somber fashion.

Tony paused. He recognized the harsh truths and rough side effects the celebrity experience have on a young guy, especially a sort of shy, rather wide-eyed type like Freddie. He knew what had to be done. Even if it would go down bad, he had to say it.

"Have you ever thought about taking a break?"

Prinze paused for a moment. This was certainly a good time to take a breather and look back at what he's done, and look forward to what he could do. But it's clear that reflection would probably not be the only thing on the agenda, as he was starting to realize how much of a toll the drugs and the marital troubles were bringing him.

It was fun to reach the highs he did, it was incredible to experience the stuff he had, and all the wonderful, just beautiful, stunning, exciting things he had gotten into. But it all came to get him after everything was said and done. When it was over, he found himself having to deal with the increasingly heavier consequences.

It didn't help that if he kept it up, he might lose his son. So he thought about it.

And he kept thinking about it. Throughout the entire party.

After getting around with all the stars he could, he said his goodbyes to Tony and Jimmie, and then left in his car.

He looked quietly at the phone. He thought about what type of ramifications it might have on his career. It didn't matter. He had to fix his life. Chico could absolutely wait. The Man will understand.

He picked up the phone, and started dialing the number of his business manager, Marvin "Dusty" Snyder.

He waited for him to pick up. It rings once, then twice, and then.....


"Hey Marv."

"Oh, hi Freddie. What's with the weird tone? And the formality? When you call me Marv and not Dusty, I know something's wrong. Spill it on me."

"I'm taking a break from show business. Month and a half, maybe two. I'm out of gas, man. Gotta phone it in for a bit or I'll break."

"Holy shit. Alright then, before I get Wasserman to announce that bomb to the press, you mind telling me where this sudden fucking revelation came from? Because let me tell you, telling the news, the entertainment industry and the National Broadcasting Company in particular, that one of television's biggest new stars is going off the grid for ''reasons'' is a bit of a fucking switch. What the hell happened?"

"Stressed. Got to sort things out with Kathy, see if Ma is okay, maybe try and fight to make sure my son's in my life more often. Got a lot of shit on the schedule. Can't just do all that, and be a star. You have to be present with important things. None of that split attention or life balance bullshit for now. Calling it a day for a little while. Can you just tell them it's just some family matters?"

Snyder paused. He realized that his client, superstar in the making though he is or might be, is still a young man, with a lot of problems. In other words, and in terms of Hollywood, it could be worse, especially considering the nature of his problems. Family matters makes sense and is relatively tame. Besides, it might help him get his focus back, get him off drugs and keep him relatively sane, all rather good things for a Hollywood star.

"Right. I'll tell them. Maybe I'll call some people in the morning, and see if a conference with Paul and me can be set up. So you'll be off until...."

"Maybe February or March. Oh, and don't worry about the show. Komack's talented, I'm pretty sure he can explain my absence. And who can question the amazing talents of Jack? Albertson will cover for me. Maybe they'll do some more episodes with Della or Scatman."

"Yeah, that'll work. Just gotta make sure the heads at the peacock don't explode. I'll try and make it happen. See you around."

"See ya, Dusty. Bye."

The call ended, and Freddie lazily pushed the phone back onto its set.

He got himself composed, cleaned up his place a little, and decided to go to sleep.

The day would be long tomorrow, but it would be new and sunny. So that made things just a little better.
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Chapter 2- See the Morning Sun
Chapter 2- See the Morning Sun

November 24th, 1976
The New York Daily News
Comedian decides to go on break

"Freddie Prinze, notable comedian and star of NBC-TV program "Chico and the Man" has decided to take a leave of absence from his entertainment-related duties including his TV show, a variety of specials, his comedy club work and all his Las Vegas related work, with the lone exception of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, as his manager, Marvin Snyder, mentioned that Freddie himself decided to make that exception, noting that the environment of those roasts felt to him "like little family gatherings". In a statement, Snyder, alongside his agent Paul Wasserman declared to the press, that Freddie has decided to dedicate potentially two months at the most, towards family issues, including reconnecting with his wife and infant son, caring for and visiting his mother more often and having more time for himself towards leisure. The lack of detail in the statement has given way to conspiracy and speculation. Many in the industry have suspected, from previous records, that Prinze may be taking the time to look over and properly deal with his financial affairs, as it has been reported that difficulties have arisen for him recently. For others, more on the fringes and the paparazzi, it is highly suspected that Prinze's decision was influenced heavily by NBC's sudden decision to cancel Snip, a new sitcom vehicle for notable Tonight Show guest, famed comedian David Brenner, before its first episode. Prinze, a good friend of Brenner's, was allegedly quoted in private conference saying that "if they can't even give a reason, then the decision's full of shit and they're wrong for making it." When asked on what this means for the future of Chico and the Man, especially as it enters its third season on network schedules, responses have been split between the creative team on the show and the network's management. James Komack, the show's creator and executive producer, says the show must go on, and that he will continue to produce the third season, however due to the sudden interim loss of Prinze's services, that episodes will have to be rewritten and gaps will have to be filled by the supporting cast. Meanwhile, NBC's management, represented by President of Entertainment Herbert Schlosser, have stated that, while Prinze's temporary leave was sudden, that does not mean that Chico is at any risk of cancellation or timeslot changes, and that certainly does not mean that Prinze is at any risk of being fired, replaced or losing pay. However this also does not indicate that Jack Albertson, Della Reese and Scatman Crothers are getting pay increases for their work, as NBC's financial representatives have stated point blank that the tight budgets the network operates around are rather hard to move, and that this late in the year, it simply wouldn't be possible exactly, although it may be slightly more likely to adjust for the oncoming second half of the 1976-77 season and the first half of the 1977-78 season. His co-stars, along with several of his friends and fellow colleagues in the industry, including "Welcome Back Kotter" producer, star on rival network ABC and fellow comedian Gabe Kaplan, NBC star player and "Sanford and Son" main cast member Demond Wilson, star of "The Jeffersons" and showrunner for "Good Times" on rival network CBS Mike Evans, well known comedians Richard Pryor and Robin Williams, notable singer Sammy Davis Jr., stars of "All in the Family" Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers, and "blaxploitation" actress Pam Grier, have all made comments, generally wishing the young star comedian well and hoping for the best in light of his situation. For now, that is the best any of us can hope for."

December 8th, 1976

A knock is heard at the door of a decently high-end residence.

"Who is it?" said the young man, currently writing something on a relatively new typewriter, a slightly messy Selectric.

"Guess." said another man back.

"Freddie?" said the man.

"No, it's Desi Arnaz Junior. C'mon, you know me! You got some time to talk?" said the Puerto Rican star.

"Sure. Come in, I guess."

The man got up to unlock the door. It's the residence of Demond Wilson, fellow actor.

"Thought you were on break from us Hollywood types."

"I'm on a break from the Hollywood system. People are a different story."

"Alright then, I'll shoot with a different question. Why go up to my place? We haven't talked much since that last dinner wrap party thing for the end of the season around June."

"Mainly to catch up with things on the side I decided to abandon. And to make an offer for a thing."

Demond quietly raised his eyebrows, and simply shrugged. He closed the door, and decided to entertain Prinze.

"Alright, I'm interested. I'll tell you, although I think you'd be better off bothering Jimmie or Tony for this type of stuff. Hell, call up Gabe, he knows this stuff a bit better than I do."

"Well, I didn't. I'm here now. So that's just how it is. Got a beer?"

"Didn't you drive here? We never see you in a place without hearing you destroy half the street with your Stingray."

"I'm still a New York guy at heart. Decided to get a cab. They're everywhere and it's quieter."

"Now that's a switch. Well, for starters, Rob and Sally are certain that their show is ending by '78. They suspect Norm is beginning to wrap things up. So they're fishing for other options elsewhere. Robin might be auditioning for some new shows, but nothing concrete yet. Belushi's thinking of getting an album out, so he's turning out to be the big shit now."

"Really? Never thought he'd get it together so quick."

"The Blues Brothers were huge when they got on TV, man. We all knew he had it together when he cartwheeled onto the stage. They're thinking about giving him and Dan a movie."

"Nice stuff. Quite nice. Alright then, I'll make sure to get the album before I go home. Anything else?"

"McCartney released another album with that band of his, and Lennon's still away from the limelight."

"Good on Paul's end. You ever think the Beatles will do a show again?"

"I don't know man, maybe. I'm more of a Diana Ross type anyways. Besides, I hear George is too busy managing this one band at his and the Four's record label. Badfinger, if I'm correct. Something like that. He's trying to keep their finances together while he's getting them shows and while he's getting their records out. He's too tied up with that to even try. Don't even know where Ringo is."

"Ah, so no Fab Four yet."

"Nope. Well, there are two more things, and they have to deal with me and you."

"Oh? Do tell, Dem, do tell."

"Never call me Dem again, Fred. Well, they happen to be more or less rumours, but they're interesting. I'm being considered for a new show on another network, maybe a little vehicle of my own, like your show."

"Oh hey, congrats man! Nice that they finally noticed your talents."

"Took a lot of sweat to get here, man. I'm just glad it's happening now. And then there's what they're saying about you."

"Ok then. Shoot. Can't be that big."

"Governor Carter's team might be considering having you perform at the Inaugural Ball."

Prinze's jaw might as well have crashed into the floor. His eyes shot up. His face lit up.

"The president wants me to do a show?"

"Maybe. Nobody knows. They haven't said a word. Talk's being going around though, and people who know the Carter guys say they got you on a shortlist for potential guests at this thing. If I were you, I'd get myself prepared to go to Washington."

"Oh my god. I don't know what to say. Guess I'll start thinking about it. Gotta write this stuff down."

"Alright then. Now that we've dealt with that...what's the deal?"

Freddie snapped out of his starry-eyed daydream, and back to reality. He composed himself, and said something to Wilson, that surprised him.

"I want you to take over for me on the show. Just for a little bit."

Now it was Demond's turn to be shocked. He zoned out for about two minutes, before he slammed his head right into the table.

Freddie jumped out of his seat.

"What the hell was that?"

"I think I just saw my life flash before my eyes."

Freddie grabbed him off the floor.

"Get a hold of yourself. It ain't that big. Your show's in the top 30, and mine's like, in the middle 60. It's not a guest spot on Carson or an SNL gig."

Demond stood up straight, then sat back down. Freddie followed.

"Right. Still, you're big with young people, and your show is well liked. How the hell do I fill in those shoes? I'm just getting prepared to step off for a little, so what now?"

"I'll write some stuff down for Komack to work with. You're an old army friend, and you happened to be in the engineering corps. Maybe you went into cars a little after. While my character's on "vacation", you appear at the shop and take over. That should cover the explanation. As for work on Sanford, I'm sure work on two shows won't be much of a problem. The writers can probably convince James to reschedule filming times."

"Yeah, that'll be easy for you to pull off. I still have to convince the guys on Sanford to not have me shitcanned for this. Worse, I'm gonna get a lot more envy now. I'll practically be on for half of the Friday night schedule on the network. Pretty sure Redd will blow a fuse."

"Nevermind that, man. He'll understand. If not, I'll let them know. I'll cover your salary too. Whatever the network decides to pay me in addition to what I'll get for salary when I come back, I will give you that much, all in checks. What do you say?"

Demond thinks it over. He recognizes the opportunity here. He could get himself some extra popularity, prop up his own show in the ratings, get Freddie's show out of the ratings hole, and prove his worth to the network. The stakes presented here were high, and the offer's potential benefits made it too good to pass up.

He then smiled a little.

"Alright man. I'll do it. But only for a little bit."

Freddie sighed in relief.

"Thanks. By the way, speaking of filling in, think you could also get that one guy you used to co-star with? You know, Sierra? He used to play that one Latino cop on Barney Miller. I think he might be able to help."

"Greg Sierra? Yeah, I know him. And his character's name was Chano. Yeah, he's got nothing major, aside from this one project Danny Arnold's bringing up to him. Something about ambulances. I can call him up, and see if he'd want to do something like that, assuming his old boss hasn't got him tied up. He might be interested."

"Thanks Demond."

Freddie finally decides to look at the clock to see the time. It's closing in on 3 quarters past 6. He should think about getting home.

"I think I should get outta here soon. It's getting pretty late."

Demond checked the clock also. He laughed a little at how much time they ended up burning.

"Right. Guess I'll see you around man."

"Yeah, but before I go....can I get like two or three beers for the road?"

"Thought you said you weren't driving."

"No, I'm taking these to go in a bag on a bus or something. Putting them in my fridge."

"Okay then."

He goes into the back of the house, goes to his fridge, grabs a few cans or bottles of whatever and comes back.

"Does this work for ya?"

Freddie thought about it, as he looked. He smirked.

"Sure. It's beer, of course it works."

He takes the drinks off Wilson's hands.

"Alright then. See ya man."

"Thanks for the talk, Prinze."

Freddie leaves Demond's place.

Demond closes the door, and goes to his couch.

Cicely Johnston Wilson, Demond's wife makes it back from an interesting day. She's gotten off an on the spot meeting for work, and spent the rest of the day basically meeting up with and hanging out with showbiz stars she had known through her husband.

"D, I'm home. Anything interesting happen while I was gone?"

"Not much. Oh, a friend did drop in and asked for a favor."

"Who and what?"

"Well, it's Freddie Prinze, he happens to be the who. And as for what....He wants me to fill in for him as a temp replacement on his show."

"Oh. Ok then, what did you say to the man?"


"Well then, it's settled."

"Just like that?"
"Yeah, just about. Listen, I'd object and say you got your show, but I heard from a little bird at the lot in Burbank, that Redd's thinking of leaving. He's getting offers left and right, and they're tempting him a lot. Just take the shot now, and see how it helps your career work out."

"It's not just a career move. It's a favor for a friend."

"Well, in that case, it's a good thing to do for a friend. Go for it."

"Okay then. Love you."

She giggles a little.

"Same here, chief."

They lightly kiss, and then they split, him to his office, and her, to the bedroom, to get things organized.

Freddie returns to his home, back in with a few albums, a few beers and a bouquet of flowers.

He rings the doorbell.

Someone opens the door and answers.

"You're back." says the woman. Kathy Cochran Prinze was a cocktail waitress turned celebrity royalty to everyone else, but to Freddie, she was his wife and the mother of his son, plain and simple.

"Yeah. I know. I still live here. Is there room for me to get into the house, or shall I sleep at the YMCA?"

"Just get in here, wise ass."

She lets him in and closes the door.

"Decided to go out and get some things.

"I can see. Why the albums?"

"Heard about the Beatles?"

"They're not coming back."

"No, but I got some Beatle made stuff. I got this one run by George, and this one led by Paul."

"Beautiful stuff."

"I got you some flowers."

He gave them over to her.

"They look amazing."

"So do you."

For a moment, she looked back at Freddie with proud eyes. She began to see the eyes of the man she loved again.

Then, as soon as that happened, he went onto the kitchen table and put down the beers.

"Well, I got some good news."

"They're putting your show in a better slot?"

"No, honey, if that was it, I would've sped in the car with a bottle of wine."

"Oh yeah." She thought out loud, saying with a rough exhaustion.

Oh, how she loathed that Corvette. And the drugs. More the drugs than the Corvette, but the tickets and burnouts did not help.

"Finally got some dramatic scripts to look over?"

"No, I got someone to cover me at work. If I'm gonna do this break thing, I wanna do it right."

She sighed, worried about his decision but just thankful that he considered his own health in high esteem today.

"Who's the guy?"

"Demond Wilson."

"Doesn't he play Lamont on that one show?"

"Yeah, that one and yes, that guy."

"Well, at least you got somebody good to keep your job safe for a little bit."

"Yeah, and now that I do, I'm gonna stay put here, be there for you more and try and raise my son."

She was rather shocked at his blunt statement, declaring that he'd take care of things, and be a little better at the husband thing.

She laughed a little, then did something she had not done in a while.

She hugged him.

He was a little surprised, but returned it.

Their marriage might've been on the rocks, but that did not mean that they didn't still love each other a bit.

In their minds, they both knew they still had some problems to solve. For Freddie, it was his mental troubles and his excessive behaviors.

For Kathy, it was the drugs, the car troubles and, despite it being for the most part gone, the friendly, bordering on still flirty relationships Freddie had with former flings Raquel Welch, Lonette McKee and Pam Grier.

For the moment now, she didn't really care to think about them. Neither did he.

They just knew they had each other for a moment. That was okay enough for them.

They broke it eventually.

"There is just one more thing I wanted to bring up, babe."

Freddie decided to drop one last surprise.

She giggled at his rather surprisingly still boyish charm in saying that.

"Okay then, shoot."

"I'm thinking of going back to New York City to see Ma and the family for Christmas. I was thinking of bringing you and the kid with me."

"Ah, so a full Christmas vacation out east, huh? That sounds nice and I'd love to go for it....but in that case, when's our ticket due?"

"How about next week?"

He pulled out some money he had gotten.

"Where did that come from?" she said, rather hostile knowing who he knew, but calm, so she didn't spook him.

"Calm down, it wasn't from anyone crazy. A few days ago, I got a bit of a surprise from Jimmie. He told me to think of it as a vacation bonus."

She realized it was fine, and she then finally began to freak out a little.

Things were great, and they were happy....

But now they had a Christmas reunion vacation thing in New York to get to.

And they were still in California.

"So who do we loan out the house to?" she then smirked.

He didn't have an answer. Now he had to get someone to housesit for him.

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Nice timeline so far
thanks man, yeah it's a bit of a work in progress, as in i'm making it up a little as I go- I'm mostly sticking to stuff as it happened in OTL, but with some changes to see what can happen here and there- trust me, butterflies are gonna start flapping like crazy- nothing too ASB, but you will see some shocking surprises here and there- writing chapter 3 as we speak, so you probably might not have to wait that long to see those butterflies work themselves out
Chapter 3- If You Try
Chapter 3- If You Try

December 14th, 1976
The Los Angeles Times
Surprise deal gives Chico's 3rd season a boost and a new edge
The announcement of yesterday morning by their agents, that Demond Wilson of "Sanford and Son" fame, alongside Gregory Sierra of "Barney Miller" fame, will be filling in for "Chico and the Man" star Freddie Prinze while he's on break from his work, has shocked many of the TV industry's biggest critics. The closeness of "Sanford" and "Chico", both on the NBC Friday night schedule, have made their one-two punch of diverse comedy and intense social debate popular to a variety of young viewers, and have made them somewhat heavy winners for the third-place Peacock Network. With the addition of both the co-star of its lead-in and a former cast member of a top 20 show from another network on its roster, alongside their supporting cast of well known bit players and popular singer Della Reese, the show's popularity is predicted to surge for the duration of Prinze's break, which many believe will finish up around early to mid February 1977. Promotions for the season have since gone up, and ratings experts expect it to shoot back up into the top 30 at least, with some saying that the top 25 or even the top 20 wouldn't be too out of reach. This has been accelerated by unconfirmed yet suspected rumors that Redd Foxx, star of Sanford and Son, may soon be leaving the network to seek work that would earn him more money, further putting that show into jeopardy, and causing NBC to promote it just as hard. The combined mass promotion campaign has led to a significant spike of interest in the Friday night schedule for what remains of the 1976-77 season, with many insiders in the business, some stars on other networks and a few network management officials stating that a programming coup may be in the works. At the moment, the speculation is only fueling the fire for the network to do something magical, as the networks plan to air their holiday lineup, with NBC in particular lining up a special series of holiday shows for their Friday night lineup to give it more weight to go up against the other network's more solid runs on Tuesday and Thursday nights, with rumor being that the network might use the opportunity to convene on a massive schedule shuffle, emphasized on taking Monday nights for themselves and stealing Wednesday nights back from ABC. It is believed that once Prinze comes back, the continuous promotion and the solid casting of the Wilson-Sierra duo will have given his return an even bigger audience than before. For now, the intense speculation has people talking and betting. When asked if whether or not the Friday night rush may threaten their plans of expansion, ABC's president of entertainment, Fred Silverman simply remarked rather smugly, "It's called the death slot for a reason. How does NBC think they're gonna carve a golden goose out of a black sheep? It's like delivering oil to Dallas." For now, we shall wait and see if that statements rings true.


A plane lands at JFK Airport. And Freddie Prinze, his wife and his infant son are on it.

Freddie had a soft spot and a bit of a preference for La Guardia, but his wife and him agreed that due to it being more modern, well-used and easier to get into town from, they'd take JFK.

It did not take long for things to start going a little awry. In fact, they had gone awry when the young Prinze family was getting out of LA.

They had been swamped by autograph requests, impromptu picture sessions and a particularly long incident when the young comedian was nearly mobbed by a group of teenage girls, all fans of his work, and one of whom had been somewhat of a stalker, ending with security involvement for the majority of the group, and in the case of the stalker, police involvement.

They were exhausted. So when Freddie and his family got to New York, they hoped they could get some privacy.


"Excuse me? Mr. Prinze?" a young but slightly nasally, quite raspy voice said.

Freddie had to slowly breathe in as he wasn't too far from losing his calm. He then turned, finding the voice to belong to a college-age ginger-haired fellow, with glasses, a press badge, a jacket, a hat and a button shirt.

"Yes, can I help you with something?" he said, sarcastically.

"I'm a bit of a fan, but I'm also with the New York Daily News. I got a friend in the cafe who's with the Times, and a guy I know who's with the Post. We're all kind of low on stories for the month, and the boss is clamping down. Human interest stories usually help us pad things out, and well, nobody's heard from you since you phoned it in for a bit last month. So would you possibly be up for an interview?"

Prinze was half-listening, as he was tired, a bit delirious from extensive jet lag readjusting to time differences so quickly, and a bit angry from the hassles in LA. However an interview absolutely did interest him. He always liked getting to talk about just whatever, and the idea of doing an interview with one of his hometown's notable papers, while on a vacation from the Hollywood hustle and bustle, attracted his attentions somewhat.

"I'll think about it. I am interested in this, but I just got here not too long ago. My wife and kid are with me, and we're just here to spend Christmas with my mom."

The young kid sighed and resigned physically. "Well, in that case, my apologies, I shall be on my way. Sorry for the bother."

Freddie felt a bit guilty, especially with the way he practically blew off this newbie reporter. He caved.

"No. Stay here. If you really want, while I'm here, how about we go to the cafe and do a quick on the spot thing here. You can grill me, I'll talk, you write it all down. I'll pay for the coffee, you pay for the food, and we're golden. Sound good, kid?"

The kid beamed with joy at that response and shook the guy's hand.

"Great! Listen, here's the number for my desk, and the number for my department if you need anything else. Umm, I guess we'll just head here for that, right?"


The comedian and the reporter headed off to the nearby cafe, one of many restaurants at the airport.

The interview commenced from there.


A knock comes at the door.

Maria Pruetzel is in the kitchen, cooking up that evening's supper. It's going to be another family Christmas soon enough, so she might as well start prep work.

Her husband, Edward Karl Pruetzel, is fixing a lamp in the guest room. It used to be their son's room.

It's been some 3, going on 4 years since he left for California. He didn't say it much, but he felt the absence.

Karl decides to answer the door, presuming it's the super or the landlord, or maybe their mailman coming to deal with some unsent stuff.

He did not predict that his son would be back at the door, bags in tow, and wife and child alongside.

"Hi Dad. Still got room in the house?"

Karl practically tackled his son in what can only be described as that "it's been a few years and I really do miss you son" bear hug.

He shouts to his wife.

"Maria, our boy's home!"

She drops what she's doing with the stove right then and there, and immediately rushes to greet her son and his new family.

It's a nice, quiet, hearty reunion.

The supper was quite well received. His son is sleeping in his wife's arms. And now, he and his family, his parents included, have gathered around, as they turn on the TV to watch the event of the week. His show's holiday special.

In it, Ed decides, in a surprise contrast towards his usual attitudes to most celebrations, to host the neighborhood Christmas party. The celebrations become chaotic though, as Mabel the Mail Lady (in what was billed as the return of Bonnie Boland back to the supporting cast) struggles to keep together the guests, Della is struggling to keep together the dinner spread, Louie and Reverend Bemis have to keep the rest of the party entertained, Mando (in Isaac Ruiz's comeback to the show) has to do last minute decoration prep and Liz (in what was Jeannie Linero's first appearance that season) must make sure that the dessert is prepared, whilst chasing away a flock of animals, from a family of birds to an impressively hungry dog, that end up terrorizing her end of the kitchen. The B-plot kicks in when, surprise kicks in, as Chico, via telegram, relays to Ed that he may not be able to make it, due mainly to flight troubles keeping him with his family back home in Mexico, and Ed not coping well. This culminates into an interesting twist, when two friends of Chico's, one from his army days, and the other from his old hometown in Mexico, played by, in their debut appearances on the series, Demond Wilson and Gregory Sierra respectively, come in, struggling, starving and desperate, hearing that Chico happens to live in the East LA garage Ed runs and decide to stay around to visit him. Ed welcomes them in, meets them properly and learns a bit about Chico's life. When Ed laments about Chico not being at the garage, he finally admits to Reverend Bemis and Louie that he thinks of him a bit like a son, and views their relationship a little like a family. During the party, stories about Chico, his hometown and his army time, are told, and mixed in with the stories of the others and the recent happenings happen to spice up the party, and in that process, Ed slowly comes to realize that the group that Chico has exposed him to, and that he helped organize in his time in the area, a large community, that in essence, is sort of like a family. They dance a little to some music, as they enjoy a moment with each other's company. The food arrives, managing to come together at the last minute. And as they eat, the Jose Feliciano holiday staple, Feliz Navidad plays on the old radio that Ed owns, and a sign on the garage's wall is focused on by the camera, that reads, "Paz, Amor y Alegria Para Todos" which in Spanish, en Espanol, roughly means "peace, love and joy to all". The episode ends on that note.

His parents were laughing. His wife has proud. He was crying.

Kathy turned to his husband, and simply comforted him.

"It's amazing. They really outdid themselves. It's a celebration of everything we've done." he said.

"I know. I know. Imagine how much more great it'll be when you come back, better off than ever?" she replied.

"Probably might just be my finest season when I come back. Who knows?"

"It will be. They're clearing the floor for you."

He smiled, as he snuggled up to his wife on the couch.

December 21st- THREE DAYS LATER

Freddie decides to make a day out of things. He gets his wife and kid up a bit early. He asks his parents to help deal with his kid, and he gets his wife to come with him to go out. They're exploring the city. Or at least, his end of it.

After deciding against taking the train or a cab, he decides to walk around his old neighborhood, as Washington Heights had changed....just a little bit.

He bumps into his old corner shop, Hornstein's. The old stationery place had been there for some time, and for him, it represented getting new toys as a kid, and reading
magazines to the chagrin of the owner as a teenager. And now he was back.

He decides to enter the old place, money in hand.

"Hello? Is Mr. Rubin or Warren in here?" he shouted.

The cashier dropped the change he was going to put in the register.

Herb Rubin, store owner and Warren Lee, store manager, are brought forward not too long after.

They recognize who this young man used to be, and who he is now. They catch up, he learns about how the shop is doing, they learn about how he is and how his family is, and he finally pays back all the debts he owed, in magazine dollars. Before he went, he got a few toys and a comic book for his son, not to mention a tarot card deck for his wife.

He decided to give the shop an autographed picture to hang up.

He then went to Charlie's Bar, finally getting both himself a drink and proving to everyone that he could indeed get a date with a girl.

Finally, before he left there, he asked where exactly his friends ended up. The bartender, quite jovial over the idea of a reunion of the boys of West 157th Street, told him as much as he knew. Then the regulars told. Soon it became a long line of people from across the neighborhood. He got information rather quick and easy after that.

He called them up. He invited them to the old apartment for a Christmas party.

They were quite surprised. Surprised at the fact that he'd come back for Christmas, and even more surprised that he would take the effort to find them.

They saw no reason not to come. Freddie was their friend, the neighborhood funny guy and practically one of the youngest idols in all of their hometown.

How could they say no to one of New York City's brightest stars?

He finally decided to go back home, taking a cab to do so, and then going through the local subway station.

After getting some food at a sketchy cart, that being some hot dogs, a Cubano and a club sandwich, with some sodas and fries on the side, he and his wife returned home.

As Kathy was tending to their son, and Freddie was setting down his things, the phone began to ring.

Maria grabbed it.


Freddie's eyebrows turned as her face began to deduce what was being said over the phone.

"Frederick, it's for you."

His face dropped. He heard Frederick, so he knew there was either trouble coming or trouble going.

"Oh no." he thought.

"Is it my manager or my agent?" he muttered.

"No. This one has good news." she declared.

He picked up the phone.

"Hey man, what's the word?"

"Guess who's coming to town?"


"Yep, I'm coming in tonight and I'm bringing in a friend!"

"This is incredible, you couldn't have had better timing! I'm throwing a Christmas party in my old neighborhood, and I think some extra stars to bring with me would shake them up just good enough. That, and would it really be Christmas without friends?"

"Guess not. Listen, don't ask who the friend is, because, one, it's a surprise, and two, you might already know him."

Freddie briefly thought about it.

"Alright then, I won't. See you here. I'll meet you at JFK?"

"Try LaGuardia. Can't go in through JFK, the press would mob me and my friend. And as for Newark....well I know you damn well enough to guess that you're not rushing over to Jersey to pick us up."

"Yes, you do, and yes, I know." he muttered.

"You got swamped at JFK?"

"Try both JFK and LAX."

"Ugh. Rough."

"Right. I'll see you at LaGuardia."

The call ends.

We go to the Los Angeles international airport.

As he hung up the phone, he got himself and his friend out to the desk for ticket checking.

"Names?" the airport ticketing official said, newspapers and magazines covering his face.

"Tony Orlando." Tony gave out.

A new voice and figure came in front of the desk after Tony.

"Jose Feliciano Garcia." said the character, revealing himself to be well-known Puerto Rican singer and guitarist Jose Feliciano.

The official shook their papers, and was about to dismiss them as a couple of wise-ass pranksters...before he took them down, and looked at them. They were both the real deal. Passports in hand, instruments and bags surrounding them.

"Oh my god." he muttered.

"Is he alright?" Jose said.

"No, he's perfectly fine. Just wait for it." Tony replies.

"Get me my supervisor, and tell him to get the team out with him." the ticketer desk-guy said.

"We're about to get swamped, aren't we?" Jose muttered.

"All in the name of seeing Freddie." Tony bluntly shot out.

"Could be worse."

"We still got swamped."

"We're not being JFK-level swamped, are we?"


It was going to be a long flight.
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thanks man, yeah it's a bit of a work in progress, as in i'm making it up a little as I go- I'm mostly sticking to stuff as it happened in OTL, but with some changes to see what can happen here and there- trust me, butterflies are gonna start flapping like crazy- nothing too ASB, but you will see some shocking surprises here and there- writing chapter 3 as we speak, so you probably might not have to wait that long to see those butterflies work themselves out
Waiting to see it, with the MC surviving so far and finding a new home in NY feels very good so far
Chapter 4- Good Times in El Barrio
Chapter 4- Good Times in El Barrio

Prinze found himself arriving in LaGuardia around 9:00pm, and then waiting an hour and a half for Tony and his friend.

He felt a little exhausted, and ever so slightly bothered.

He had taken a long drive out to the airport, much longer than it should've been.

Traffic was murder. Thanks to some flock of jackasses, roads across half of New York had been clogged with disturbances.

The delay cost him about an hour and what should've been around a 25 minute drive soon became almost an hour and a half drive.

He listened to the stations of his youth in the cab, getting the driver to switch between WCBS for traffic and WABC for music, so he could both know how much longer he'd be dealing with this, and be distracted enough to not lose his mind.

He eventually made it there, got in, went to the arrivals section and began waiting.

And so there he was.

And after all of that, he was just trying to keep himself occupied.

He was about to go off to get a few smokes for himself, around the shops area when finally, out of nowhere....

"Hey! Freddie!"

He turned around to face whoever shouted at him.

There they were- two very familiar faces.

Tony Orlando, his best friend on one end.

And Jose Feliciano, a good friend and the guy who wrote his show's theme song, on the other.

"Ay dios mio! Where were you guys?"

"We got held up a bit just about everywhere we went." Jose said.

"No breaks and no escapes. We got song requests every other minute." Tony wallowed.

"Every other minute, someone wanted us to sing."

"Well, don't worry. You guys won't be singing that much for this vacation." Freddie half-promised.

"That's a relief." said Jose.

"Don't be so sure. He said not that much. Alright, I'll bite. What's the deal?"

"What? Can't I just have a nice Christmas break with my friends in my hometown?"

"Yes, you can, but for you, there's always a catch to what you promise."

"Well, this time.....yeah, there's a catch. But just one."

Tony and Jose sighed. On one half, they weren't quite done. On the other half, it was a one time thing, so they would be done way sooner.

"You've ever done a home performance?"

They looked at him weird.

As they all went back in the taxi to the other side of the city, they found themselves chatting quite a bit, about the entertainment industry. It was inevitable, they were still in it after all, being celebrities themselves, musicians and comedians.

Of course, after a long discussion going through the motions, Freddie being Freddie, he obviously had to ask the burning questions involving his success.

"How'd the show do last night?" he asked.

"You mean your show on Friday?" Tony replied.

"Yeah, the Christmas one." Jose said.

"It was good. Surprisingly good, for a show without you on it. So it might've been a bit better than the average with you show." Tony spat.

"Well, thanks, but also oww, my heart." Freddie joked.

"Well, prepare for a bigger surprise. New issue of the Guide's coming out next week, and they got your show on front cover for big hits next year. At least that's what I heard before we boarded out of LA." Jose said.

"Yeah, his agent gave word on speculation about it. Says he expects Jose to get paid good royalties next year." Tony admitted.

"Well, that'll make coming back much easier. Then again, now the pressure's on high for me to do the show good." Freddie went.

"We're well aware." Tony and Jose smirked out.

"Speaking of pressure, you guys ready to go back to it?" Freddie smirked back.

"Only in small doses, please." joked Tony.

They all laughed.


His parents, a group of his old New York friends from his early youth, and a few others invited on the grounds of courtesy, mostly cast members of the hit comedy show Saturday Night Live and a few interns and low-level employees at NBC, were all gathered at the apartment. They laughed, ate, drank, and a few of them smoked joints.
It was a night of catching up, playing games and humble reunions.

It was as Freddie was talking to his old friends, when his best friend from his Harlem days, musician Nat Blake, teased him about the guests he had brought them out to see at the old address at West 157th.

Then he decided to stop teasing them after Nat challenged him on the idea.

"Okay, prove to us that you have special guests here other than your little bird-wing buddies from off Broadway."

If Freddie was encouraged by one thing, it was certainly a dare. He was, after all, the daredevil of his friend group.

"Alright then Nat, you want a show? You'll get a show!"

He walked up to the front of the room and immediately caught the attention of nearly everybody in the crowd.

Everyone was kind of surprised, and began to question each other about what was going on.

Eventually, all the chatter culminated when "not ready for primetime player" and SNL star John Belushi, finally yelling out some rather fitting words.

"You got something big to say or did someone just shit in the punch bowl?"

Let's just say, what he said next fit the former box like a glass slipper on Cinderella.

"I do. Ladies and gentlemen, my friends from the west coast, Tony Orlando and Jose Feliciano."

They then jumped out into the room, surprising most everyone.

The two mostly soaked in the applause, as young stars tend to do.

Finally, Freddie joined them, and they began to set up for a show.

They then began to play what could only be described as an incredibly improvised set.

Jose got on guitar, and they sang a rather junked up but cheerful "Light My Fire", and a solid "Feliz Navidad".

Tony got them to play a three-part series of his big hits, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, Candida and He Will Break Your Heart.

And, of course, Freddie got the guys to sing some old Spanish songs, from their youth, mixed with the odd Sammy Davis tune, plus a few Beatles songs.

The small group was enamoured. The vocal group that had assembled that night was something special.

Freddie's surprisingly good mild baritone, combined with a great soprano by Orlando and an even better, rather soulful, deep and oak-sturdy bass by Feliciano, all backed by guitars by two of them, had made for a fairly good night.

When they finally finished up their stuff for the night, the small crowd of people there broke into applause and cheers as the three simply bowed.

The party was cooling down a bit after that, when Freddie was bombarded by the cast of SNL about what had just happened.

John was the first to bring up the incredible performance, wondering where the young comedian was hiding his skills, encouraging that he should spread his singing craft further in clubs and the like. Dan Aykroyd, John's friend and comedy partner, enthusiastically agreed.

Gilda and Laraine were just a bit stunned to be in the same room as one of NBC's biggest stars, so they couldn't do much but nod.

Garrett Morris, the show's sole black cast member, went a step further, encouraging that he should either host the show, or at least bring himself, Tony and Jose as musical guests, calling on him to think up a band name.

As things cooled down, Nat finally came back, with a few ideas in mind.

"Hey Freddie?"


"Listen, man, I know it's been a hell of a while, and it's way too much of a thing to say that I know a good thing when I see it, but whatever that was, whatever you just set up, was fucking dynamite."

Freddie briefly spaced out at the mention of dynamite, remembering that to have been the first word Sammy Davis Jr. used to describe his smash hit debut routine on the Tonight Show.

He recognized the importance of those words.
" think I should start a band or something?"

"No, not think. I know. Do it when you come back. Do it when you get invited to the Tonight Show again. Do it when your show gets another season. I don't care when you do it, I just really give a shit if you do decide to go with it. Think about it, man."

He thought about it. And kept thinking about it.

He slowly wound things down, and cleared the apartment, ending the party as he did. He greeted the guests on their way out, giving his number to as many people as he could in case he was out of reach for things.

He found himself alone, with Tony and Jose, and maybe a few others too drunk or stoned to get out back into the mean streets of the Big Apple.

The three stood in silence, before one of them finally broke it.

"Well, that was something." Jose muttered.

"It was a lot of fun. And a good warmup." Tony chipped in.

Then Freddie raised the heat a bit, and made the boldest offer he would ever make that year.

"Let's do it again." Prinze said.

The two turned their heads to him, and asked what he meant.

"Let's form a band. We all have the vocals for it. At least two of us know instruments. We know musicians, we have some songs to use, and we have talent agents. All we'd really need is a producer, a few extra people and a name."

Tony was hesitant and hostile to the idea. He was already struggling with Dawn, so a new group might be a good breath of fresh air. But then came the difficulties. Finding a good label, nailing a better sound, finding a bass player, finding drums....okay, that's no issue, Freddie knew how to play those, and Tony knew too....but they might need a better player to both help him and the band, they'd definitely need some other instruments to set themselves apart, and don't even get him started on the horrors that are promotions. God forbid you can't get a few good DJs on some top level markets to help you out, or else it all becomes a shitstorm. However as he began to mouth out his disapproval and vocally decline the invitation, Jose interrupted him.

"What should we name it?" he bluntly spat out.

Tony's temptations got the best of him. The idea was too much to ignore. Fuck it, he decided, the issues were just par for the course, and it amounted to regular business in the record system. He knew a good shot when he saw it, and recognized that a supergroup might be in the works, one that could change their fortunes in show business for a while. He decided to take the risk. He had nothing to lose.

"I don't know. We're all up for this thing now, but it was Freddie's idea."

Prinze very quickly thought up of a name.

"Strings and Mustaches?"

They instantly discarded the idea.

Jose then thought about Fred Hampton's Rainbow Coalition, and then the Young Lords and Brown Berets. Both Latino/Hispanic organizations with a lot of ambition and a lot of power, with a good goal in mind.

"Maybe the Three Berets?"

Tony then decided to throw his hat in the ring with some idioms.

"How about Three Bean Salad? Maybe Beans in a Pod?"

They were getting ever so closer to a name.

Oh, so close.

And hit them.

They thought New York, then Puerto Rico.

"Stringed Fritos." Freddie, Jose and Tony said together.

They all laughed at the name, it sounding way too much like a bad Grateful Dead cover act.

They then stopped thinking about food, since it made them hungry.

"We're all just a bunch of new guys struggling, I guess." Freddie said.

"Yup." Tony replied.

Then they had the big one. The revelation of the night.

"Nueva Boricuas."

They all kinda liked the name, but agreed it needed some polishing.

And thus a three-piece vocal heavy band was born.

"Nueva Riquas." Jose brought up.

They all turned to each other, and their heads excitedly but rather calmly nodded at first sight of the name.

Yeah, they agreed. That's it, that's the name.

Freddie then quipped "Alright then, now let's think people. Anyone got Desi Arnaz Junior's number?"

They all laughed, but thought about it.


It's the night millions of Christians had been waiting for. The last day before their savior is reborn.
And in New York, Freddie Prinze's family goes about it quite nicely.

TV was watched, gifts were set up near the tree, and a carol or two was sung.

They had now just finished a large, delicious dinner, of street food, homeland delicacies and some traditional American staples. While Freddie's parents were preparing to clean up, him and his wife were reading the article of his interview in the Daily News. In it, Freddie got into his motivations to be in and stay in the business, what his plans might be for the future, and detailed some interesting family stories. He peppered in a bunch of jokes and put in some political commentary, openly voicing some of his opinions on the election, and voicing in interest in supporting a potential Ted Kennedy campaign for 1980. They finished his interview by mostly getting into who he liked in showbiz, who he admired and sort of was a fan of, and who he had happened to crush on back in his days as a younger star. Freddie then promised to do more interviews, as he still had the number and admitted that he couldn't stay away from his hometown for too long. He told New York in his closing words that another Yankees win wasn't too far out, and to pray for it.

He and his wife mostly laughed, and then marveled a little at how far things had come. Despite the ending bit being a bit embarrassing, it was a nice piece.

They had snuggled together on the floor, when his baby son decided to crawl in. Despite his young age, he managed to find a way to sort of hop onto his young father, getting him right in the stomach.

"Ay dios mio, the kid's as good with hits as me!" he blurted out, shocked at the sudden gut check.

"Well, he is still your son." Kathy went in with.

"He's yours too, but damn, I guess he takes more from me than from you."

It was a quiet time, but for Christmas in the Barrio, that's all you can really ask for.

Then the phone rang.

Freddie, being the closest in the room, got himself, his kid and his wife up, and got the phone.

"Hello?" he said.

"Is this Freddie Prinze?" the mystery man said.

He stopped briefly, and got a funny feeling that this call was quite very different from his usual ones.

He turned to his wife, and got her to sit on the chair with her son.

"Yes, this is. Who might I ask this is?"

The man chuckled a bit, then cleared his throat.

"My name is Hamilton Jordan, and I represent the office of President-Elect Jimmy Carter. Would you be interested in performing at the Inaugural Ball? Because we have a vacancy, and a lot of his staff insist that you should fill it. Mondale's curious too. And by curious, I mean the Vice-President-Elect is making me doing this on his behalf."

This was really blunt.

Freddie was shocked and surprised. All he could really say was a surprise "Sure."

He then promised to call him back later. He mentioned how they should probably call some of his friends, including Tony, Jose and his fellow TV star friend, Jimmie Walker, for extra glamor at this event.

"That would be more than good enough. Thank you. Merry Christmas, good sir."

He put down the phone, and hung up.

He sat down in the couch near the chair, and his wife saw him stare off into the window.

She finally asked him the burning question.

"What's the matter. Is something wrong?"

Then he dropped it on her.

"The president wants me to do a show. He wants me at his first dinner. I'm going to the Inaugural Ball."

He damn near collapsed right then and there, with his wife just barely keeping him up.

They then pretty much freaked out. During their trouble ridden marriage, there were very few moments of pure serendipity. This was one of them. Euphoria had kicked in.

His parents saw the young couple the way they were, and asked the same question.

Soon they knew, and soon they celebrated with them.

The times were good for Prinze.
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Chapter 5- In The Streets
Chapter 5- In The Streets

The final days of 1976, as the year of the Bicentennial came to a close, seemed like a point of renewal for Freddie Prinze and his family.

Christmas Day was something of a blessing, as gifts from both his family in New York, and friends out in the West Coast, piled in, mainly for both Prinze and his young son, with a good few set off for his wife. They spent the rest of the day sort of snuggled into a small couch, watching TV, briefly interrupted by a small parade of carolers caroling in the street, a rather nice dinner, and a few door visits.

As the year came to a close, Freddie and Kathy plotted to do just about anything they could to make their vacation out to New York a good one.

They went everywhere. The Met and The Guggenheim, both for art. Coney Island, mainly for food, but partly for the cheap thrills that were easily accessible there in the winter, especially on the boardwalk. With their son in hand, the family took a walk around Yankee Stadium, visiting the neighborhoods of the Bronx. Later on, they took the ferry to go out and look around Staten Island.

On New Year's Eve, Times Square couldn't have felt warmer, despite the freezing temperatures, as the couple capped off a rather interesting year. 1976 became 1977, and they could not have been happier with that.

They spent early 1977 going around Fred's old grounds in Manhattan, seeing all the sights it had to offer, and occasionally running away from hungry paparazzi desperate for questions. He had decided then and there just before he was due to go down south to DC for the Inaugural Ball late that month, to crash in on business at good old 30 Rock.

It was around the week before inauguration day, so he had a little time left to do so.

He decided to tell his wife his plan, and asked her which show he should crash. She suggested he should look into going on Today. He didn't really find that energetic enough.

So, late on January 15, he decided to sneak his way into Studio 8H, as Saturday Night Live was preparing to tape its newest show.

He checked into the Plaza building around 8:30, give or take about three hours before the show was due to go on, and sort of sneaked his way through the floors, into the 17th floor of the building. He had heard that the writers did happen to have offices here, so he thought he'd go ahead and start his unauthorized tour there.

James Downey was one of the new guys on the show, alongside newly sainted cast member Bill Murray. A writer who was about to complete his first week, he was relatively still a bit naive to the show's daily goings-on, and decided to move with the motions.

He was going through that night's last minute script changes as cue cards were being organized, when production assistant Neil Levy ran in, looking a little shocked and somewhat dissheveled. Downey noticed and decided to check on Neil.

"What's the matter with you?"

Neil blurts out an....interesting statement.

"Davis was getting out of his end of the floor when he swore he saw a glimpse of this one dude. He doesn't quite know who it is, but it's definitely not one of us."

"You think someone broke in?"

"Not quite. It might just be a friend of one of our writers."

Then, as they spoke, as if the fates had heard, Tom Davis, one of the rising writers on the show, and one half of a budding comedy duo on the show with Al Franken, burst into the room.

"Hey guys, we got a problem on our floor here. Al pulled a guy off in running about and looking around."

Downey then bluntly asked the burning question.

"What the hell kind of a guy just looks around a writers' room in New York?"

Tom cleared his breath and took a second before finally speaking.

"Apparently Freddie Prinze does. Because he's lounging around, coffee in hand, just...there."

For the next twenty minutes, several questions were asked, as the writers gathered around the water cooler, asking quite bluntly what the recently off the grid celebrity was doing.

Eventually Freddie came in to explain himself.

"There was a food stand and I went there. Then I went in the building just for a quick few minutes. Then I started looking around. And now I'm here."

Al Franken, one of the rising talents of the show, and Tom's writing partner, decided to chime in.

"Well, it's nice that you came in. But we really don't know what to do now. See, normally we're given notice when someone busts in the office doors. So quite frankly, we don't exactly see an easy fix to whatever might happen when Lorne hears about this."

Then a lightbulb went off in Franken's head. A quick idea that would end up cementing his job position.

" that I think about it, we could use someone to help keep tonight's show high energy. Belushi's out with injury, so we might need someone else to bring in the people."

Then the other writers started working around this. Rosie Shuster and Anne Beatts, two of the show's best writers, helped figure out a way to sneak Prinze into a few sketches, insisting that he used his improv talents to get him through.

Meanwhile, Alan Zweibel, character man for the show and an experienced material provider for John Belushi, helped Herb Sargent with writing Freddie into some roles on that episode's edition of Weekend Update.

Franken then decided to convince Davis and head writer Michael O'Donoghue, to go up to the management of the network to see if they could negotiate an extra 15 to 20 minutes for that night's episode, insisting that they had a special guest who would make the wait worth it. They then had to clarify that, NO, it was not the Beatles.

President Herb Schlosser was apprehensive about giving the show an extension on its airtime. It seemed rather nonsensical in his eyes. They made their case on two ends- that one, this would be a one time ask that season, and they most likely, probably, definitely wouldn't ask this again, (and even if they did, it wouldn't be for a good long while) and two, that should they do this, the ratings for the night would pay dividends for the network multiple times over, justifying the move. They also argued, through a new third end, that it was also a plus in TV terms, as many people already watched SNL, and it had become, especially amongst young people, a ratings success for late night TV, with good demographics galore. A little more of a good thing never really hurts, they decided to argue.

Ultimately, Schlosser's decision was influenced by one of his many right hand men, former Director of Weekend Late Night Programming and now currently the Vice President of Late Night Programming, Duncan "Dick" Ebersol, and faithful SNL ally.

Dick commented simply "Herb, what do we have to lose? We can't be fourth place in the ratings."

Herb was stunned by the bold and rather brazen statement, but decided to take it on good faith. Ebersol's blessing put the ball in Schlosser's court.

Franken, Davis and O'Donoghue got the call in from the office of Dick Ebersol.

Schlosser said OK to 15 minutes.

That worked just fine for them.

That night, people from across the United States of America saw for the first time in two months, on TV, through NBC's Saturday Night, little glimpses and big of a person who nobody had really seen or heard from much in 2 months. To them, it was unbelievable, possibly near impossible to think.

To the audience witnessing it live at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, in studio 8H, they could hardly believe their eyes. There he was, a noticeably brighter, better built, grittier, man. Famed comedian Freddie Prinze was no longer Hollywood's speculative shut in.

He managed to gel in well in the sketches he got into.

The youth questioning sketch was, by critical review, his best piece. As a semi-serious caricature combining elements of the traditional stone faced journalist stereotype with a tinge of civil rights commentary and his trademark impressionist accent, he managed to add further laughs to the already funny bit, elevating it to season defining status.

His performance in the "Party Dolls" sketch seemed just as good. Although not quite well integrated at first, he improves significantly as his initial cover as second straightman alongside Garrett Morris' character is shed, as he reveals himself to be quite crazy, bringing in a solid minute's worth of humour as he tried out some improv physical comedy, earning him and the fellow cast on stage a standing ovation, one of the show's first of many. Critics viewed it as a solid hitter.

His solid minute and a half on the Coneheads sketch, meanwhile, was considered his weakest, if only due to the short time he was there, and the solid counter performance by newbie cast member Bill Murray. He played the role of a delivery person for a local restaurant, serving mainly as a comic foil for Murray and comic relief for the Coneheads. He got a good few chuckles, and some interesting reactions from the cast, which did help the sketch catch a few more laughter-inducing bits here and there.

But it was arguably his two performances, in the middle, and at the end of the show, that made that episode as notable as it ended up becoming.

Weekend Update was starting out, when Jane Curtin was dealing with John Belushi on the phone, when she decided to bring in Prinze to banter a bit with Belushi.

There, he got in a few notable comments, mainly about Murray, himself, a plea for more team correspondents on WU, and a note on the increasing number of injuries that had befallen the cast, predicting a trend, if not a potential curse-

"John, maybe don't knock on comedians with mustaches. Last I checked, me and Dan have them, and we still have jobs." Freddie, quoted here, in response to a bit about Bill Murray's rather gruffy mustache.

"I could take up his role for a bit. I've already got a recurring character in mind for me, and I'm pretty sure we can figure out how a Latino samurai would work out. Maybe we could use some switchblades." - Freddie, joking about taking Belushi's job for a brief bit.

"Why don't we see more people doing desk bits here on Update? I'm sure some of the guys backstage want something else to do that isn't cue cards!" Freddie, on his lament about Update.

"I just have to note, that Belushi here is the second member of the show to get hurt this season, after Chevy Chase. I'm telling you folks at home right now, that someone might have it out for this cast. People, start pooling money on this. Who might be next? I got my money on Dan, but Gilda might try the fall again, so keep watching for that. Garrett's organizing the studio crew to help the betting pool here in New York. Me personally....Well, it might just be my gypsy father's genes kicking in and going off, but I'm beginning to sense a curse around here!"- Freddie remarking on the injuries.

His performance on Update was solid in the first half, and only got better as he joined in with Jane Curtin on Bill Murray's very first Update commentary, proving to be a great comedy sparring partner for Bill and showed many that he still had the chops a solid bit player needs.

It was the extension at the end of the show, however, that proved to be his absolute finest moment for the night.

He did a ten minute stand up, showing off his new material, mostly talking about being a young father, what normal daily life in LA as a celebrity can feel like, a variety of shots at the exiting Ford administration on the issues of the day, and a little bit on his invitation to the Inaugural Gala, and his opinions on president elect Jimmy Carter. After that however, he began making a serious, passionate, brief appeal about his ancestral homeland of Puerto Rico. He talked about the recent prosperity of the economy there, the natural beauty of the place and the historically rough treatment the American government has given it and its citizens. It was a heartfelt, well built argument, and it shocked the audience, as while Freddie gave hints to his opinions on Puerto Rican disenfranchisement, he never made it so clear, and more importantly, never looked so humiliated about it.

It was a sympathetic piece, and reminded people once again of the intelligence comedians happen to wield.

Of course, Prinze had researched Puerto Rico on his break off of work, through both family contacts and library research, coupled with the odd newspaper read. He had been driven enough by his intense "research" (read: repeated viewing of) into the Zapruder film of President Kennedy's assassination to look over political issues of the day, going forward from the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations up to now. It was an eye opener to say the least.

The crowd applauded and cheered on the speech, giving Freddie what was perhaps his first solo standing ovation, if not ever, then in a good long while.

Across the TV audiences of the US watching that night, many Puerto Ricans that were watching felt something stir in them for the first time, and drive them to action- Pride.
They had, for years, taken whatever their country gave them, whether it be a lack of the right to vote, what was essentially decades upon centuries of second class citizenship rights, their history as a people treated under colonial structures, an immense level of racism and bigotry towards their efforts to improve, and a general malaise and neglect towards their home island by the US government in terms of any changes they needed.

They had just about enough. And through that brief appeal Prinze made, they had their reasons, their call to arms, and many of their eyes, a leader.

But back in 30 Rock, as the tears and clapping stopped over, Prinze was just worried about wrapping things up.

"So, other than that, life's been interesting. Well, it's still good to be back in my home, New York City's only gotten....a bit more dirty up. And now that I'm beginning to come back to work, I'll start doing a bit more. You guys owe me a hosting gig, by the way. Thanks for the love, you guys are wonderful! Good night and Go Yankees! God bless Reggie Jackson!"

He got another cheer both for his performance, and his reminder to the people of which team he went to bat for.

He went off stage, as the band began performing a warm up for the end of tonight's show.

As Ralph Nader began to wrap up that night's show, he fumbled on saying Belushi's name. Prinze, who was standing not too far from him, decided to step away from the brief convo he was having with Gilda Radner and Laraine Newman to correct him, leading to a now famous incident.

"Alright then, thanks to Mr. Belushi for keeping tonight's Weekend Update together, and sorry about the name butcher."

While Nader didn't think much of this tonight, the move accidentally ended up establishing two things- John Belushi's increasing popularity on the show, and the massive stature he carried around. While he didn't grow as big of an ego as many stars on the show would, like Chevy Chase did (and how Bill Murray eventually would sorta), it certainly did help extend his confidence, which would later cause him to butt heads with the writers room, and especially some of the cast.

Then Nader thanked Prinze, Prinze took a bow, and the rest of the cast sorta said their goodbyes for that evening.

And then it was over. The show ended that night.

But Prinze's surprise visit to 30 Rock did not.

He had gone backstage, and engaged a bit with the cast, mainly riffing with Garrett, Dan and Bill.

"So, why'd you come back?" Morris bluntly asked.

"It sounded fun to crash my workplace's head office. I was also still in town, so I had some time. And it seems less difficult to work with than performing for the President." Prinze explained.

Dan spoke on the matter.

"Ah. Oh yeah, that does remind me, how did they choose you? Must've been some competition to deal with."

"Many of Carter's staffers and campaign guys were young, so I'm guessing they chose young. And then I got picked."

Garrett then pointed out that he was coming back to network TV in a short while.

"Well, that's probably not as stressful as coming back to a show that's now back in the top 20. We're hearing rumours that your show may go into the top 15 when you come back."

"You're not wrong. Which reminds me, I'll probably need something to help me prepare for both the Gala and the Hollywood comeback."

Bill finally decided to chime in after being an avid listener.

"So what do you have in mind? Has to be something interesting."

Dan agreed on that bit, saying something to the effect of-

"Gotta find a way to bring up the mojo somehow."

Then he dropped a bombshell, one that would end up being the first big shocker of the year, culture wise. It would also introduce the Saturday Night crew to their first ever challenge.

"I'd like to host SNL sometime next month."

Just about nearly everyone in that part of the studio's backstage heard what he said.

It just didn't register to them that what they heard could be at all true. Not yet.

They all agreed to talk about it later, choosing instead to shoot the breeze on politics, sports and what next month would look like, for both the crew at SNL's futures, and Freddie Prinze's upcoming comeback. They then left for their homes, preferring to call it a night there. But like barkeeps with a tale to tell, they phoned and wrote and sorta remarked about it.

By the next morning, word of the brazen statement spread across the crew of SNL. It had reached the desks of Lorne Michaels, Michael O'Donoghue, and by the middle of the day, Dick Ebersol.

Meanwhile, Prinze was back in 30 Rock the very next day, asking to set up an interview with the Today show people, on what might be happening next in his career. Anchors Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley, the newest people to take up the job of hosting Today, happily accepted the impromptu offer, and set up a date with him that did not interfere with his plans at the Inaugural Gala in Washington, DC.

Shortly after getting the appointment written down, he then booked it over to where he was staying, back in his home neighbourhood, with his parents.

He told his wife to get her and their son prepared to leave, and began packing too. They'd say their goodbyes to his parents, do one last tour of the neighbourhood, and then take whatever means necessary they could find to get to DC.

Before doing anything, he made a few phone calls. He called up Tony, then Jose and then Jimmie.

He called them up each with an offer. Join him at the Gala in DC, as guests of his, as he entertained the president.

He also asked them if they could get a celebrity guest friend to come with each of them. He joked that whoever got Richard Pryor on the phone first to agree, would win a few dollars.

The plans were set. First the Gala, then the Today show, then SNL.

Now if he can just find a time and place to call up the Tonight Show people to set up something, then his comeback would be solid. Or maybe he should angle for an interview
with Tom Snyder on Tomorrow. Either way, primetime or late night, he was going to make a splash return.

He hugged his wife, and then kissed his son on the forehead.

Freddie Prinze, the man was well off.

Freddie Prinze, the young comedian superstar, was about to return.
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Update 1- An Apology for the Late Delivery of This Chapter + A Look Into The Future of This Timeline
Hi everybody, FrozenAmbrosia here. First, let me properly apologize for the extraordinarily late delivery of the newest chapter of TCPTC, as two months have passed since our last check in on our timeline here. Unfortunately, life did get in the way, as between projects involving YouTube work, working on get through my semester's final days with exams and final assignments and tests galore, Christmas break and the unexpected potentially near disastrous crash and subsequent soft reset of my computer, getting this thing through was not exactly easy, or at many times, the priority of my time. Further more, the chapter itself was so poorly constructed, it needed to be repaired from the ground up, so I essentially redrafted it during the middle of production.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, allow me to fill you in on some potential hints and words about the future of the timeline. I plan to get into the latter half of the 1970s on TV, in all its facets, especially sitcoms, and to a lesser extent, late night TV.

Demond Wilson and Gregory Sierra, having served their roles on "Chico" in this universe, are not quite having their stories end here. Demond especially, since I have some plans for his career on the screens to work out much better than IOTL, thanks mainly to both his experiences on Chico and the connections his relationship with Prinze would end up giving him.

John Travolta will also have some decent time in this story, since Prinze almost starting a real rivalry with him IOTL and them semi-reconciling ITTL would make him an obvious player to include in this story.

Not to mention three shows on the same network as Travolta's show, that in this case, would interact with Prinze through their own players, changing the fortunes of everyone involved with each. A controversially raunchy farce set near LA, a sitcom about black youth living in LA and a groundbreaking crime drama with certain elements that would end up accidentally spearheading a genre of TV lambasted by critics and stuffy conservatives alike. All daring, all exciting, all bold. And all on the network of the youth. Could they be the one this year? Needless to say, you'll just have to stay tuned to find out. This is the place to be for such information after all. Meet us for some special chapters to remember. Needless to say, the television alphabet will look much different, ratings wise.

In addition, an old friend of Prinze's who I've either barely mentioned or has so far been without intention omitted from this story, is well known comedian and Carson Tonight Show mainstay/regular guest David Brenner- and trust me- that is for a very good reason- he will get his day in this TL, and when he does, it will shock you how far said day goes. To put it lightly, Prinze's new connections ITTL lead to Brenner's already great fortunes increasing exponentially.

SNL will also go through a surprising transformation of changes, a rapid detour from OTL's universe, in which certain outcomes and fates are sped up to happen much earlier, some things happen a little later, some other people come in, a few people go out- and most importantly, certain events simply either do not happen or are completely different from OTL. Oh, and a lot of major events shall happen ITTL that are rather different and quite unique from ours.

Generally, this TL will be very much a kind one to the fortunes of NBC, as ITTL, it'll go through a very different path, that essentially ensures that, while things may appear the same, the Schlosser to Silverman transition in place, a variety of factors ensures that the network may get to first place faster than they expected.

Also something about fourth networks? Some business involving station chains? Movie studios getting involved? Genres coming back from the dead?

Buck Henry?
Gene Roddenberry? Milton Berle? Monty Python?! Lucille Ball?!
Yes, all those things and all those people will be mentioned, and have their sections in this tale of ours.

Yes, even the Pythons.

Yes, I'll explain Milton Berle later on.

Yes, I know why Buck and Gene are in this, and trust me, they'll connect properly soon enough.

Okay, I can't explain Lucy as well, but trust me, she'll have an interesting role in this story. I think. I hope. I want it to happen, so I'll figure out a way to make that one work.

Yes, some of these elements, if you've read other, more POPULAR timelines, sound eerily familiar. Trust me, we will be using them in not so similar and not so different ways, enough to call this both original and a little inspired.

Reading the works of PresidentLincoln's BSIC and Brainbin's TWR, have gotten my brain scheming with many an idea.

Trust me, the show is not stopping here. Not by a long shot. It's pretty damn far from over.

With that, I'll get to figuring out ideas, changing up character stories, researching more TV history, writing down chapters and developing this story further.

Note, thanks to my second semester of junior year just starting up, and the project I've been working on the last few months involving YouTube affairs and such, amongst other things, that I may have way more time to work on this at some points, and a lot less at other points.

I only ask that you be patient with me, and I'll try to deliver whatever much I can, for as long as I can muster up the strength and energy.

With that, thank you guys for reading this timeline and its update, my continued apologies for the issues here, and I hope you guys all understand and get what's been going on as of recent.

Now on to writing chapter 6- spoiler for the title- it's a good reference to a solid film and a great play.

Chapter 6's title? A Very Funny Thing Happened On The Night of The Gala

P.S. Whoever guesses what movie AND play this is referencing will win the "coveted" Fool's Gold Digital Crown (my take on the legendary No-Prize)!
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Chapter 6- A Very Funny Thing Happened On The Night of The Gala
Chapter 6- A Very Funny Thing Happened On The Night of The Gala

January 19th, 1977

The morning before Inauguration Day

30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City

Today Show- Studio 8G

Freddie Prinze is in a comfy couch chair, sitting near hosts Jane Pauley and Tom Brokaw.

Tom talks to Freddie about some details for the morning's program.

"Now we're kind of still in the process of moving out of 3K downstairs, so things are gonna look a bit rough around here. And they're kinda rushing us to find something to fill the show with that isn't documenting Inauguration Day, some human interest and celebrity gossip here and there, so they need a good back and forth here, so just keep that in mind, okay?"

"Right. This isn't my first time in the interview chair. I've done Carson, I've done that ABC show with Geraldo Rivera, I've done Paar, I've done Dinah Shore. I think I know what I'm doing, Tom. I'll be okay."

"Well, it's a morning show, so you might want to tone down the raunch. Just relax, don't swear too much, and choose your words carefully. People watch Carson to get funny gossip, and all we want is a quiet one on one. Got it?"

"Yeah, don't worry. I know the game."

Jane Pauley walks up on stage, as the show returns from a commercial break and begins the weather forecast.

She speaks a bit.

"They'll have us on in a few minutes. Now you said you have a few new projects in mind?"

"Yeah, and a few things about where I intend to go with TV when I come back."

"Well, that'll certainly be interesting. You mind clearing up the whole SNL thing on here, by the way? Management's still a bit shook."

"Yeah, I know, it was a bit off the wall the thing I did. But I do have an explanation. Just give me some time to form it."

"Well, you better think fast. We're on in a minute or two."

"In that case, I'll improvise a little."

"Alright then. Remember though, be a bit clean. You're on morning TV, so just remember that."

"Tom already warned me, and I'm pretty sure I can handle this. You've seemed to forget I'm on primetime TV."

"Yeah, on Friday nights. The death slot is still the death slot."

"Not while I'm on. Check the ratings the last few weeks, it's looking pretty alive out there to me."

Tom broke up the heated discussion.

"Hey guys, save it for the cameras. We're on in 30 seconds."

Everyone braced themselves.

The cameras went to the couches.

"Well, every tabloid has been restless since his sudden reappearance on last week's episode of NBC's Saturday Night, when the unexpected return of Freddie Prinze to American TV screens caused a wave of speculation. Well, wonder no more, because we have the man himself here to explain everything. The superstar comic joins us today. Freddie, let me just first ask, what's been going on with you?"

"Well, I've been around the New York area for quite a bit. Caught up with some friends around. And I'm getting along with my wife. So, all in all, it's been a solid time to be around."

"Good to hear, you've clearly brightened up since we last heard from you. Now everyone's been wondering about this Saturday Night crash thing, and we want to know personally, how on earth did that happen?"

"Well, it's actually a bit of a funny story. See, I was getting some food from a stand in Manhattan, thinking about what to do, when a lightbulb goes off in my head, and I immediately think dropping down here. I was in the mood for being a troubled spirit that day, so I dropped everything to go up and visit around the studios."

That interview on Today seemed to stretch forever. Freddie explained the entire set of events that happened that Saturday, got into details for what TV shows and specials he'd be working on, with "Chico" being an obvious one to start off with, talked a bit about the whole Carter invitation and examined in rather deep detail through discussion, his appeal to Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico, getting into one of the most interesting political pieces of the decade at that point, and looking into the civic mind Prinze possessed.

Finally, Brokaw and Pauley decided to ask him about how he's handling things at home.

He handled it well, despite how personal the question ended up being. It really hit the heart.

"Well, my son's almost one year old, and it feels a bit weird. I'm a young father, and being that in this day and age is a rather heavy risk, with the celebrity status making it hard to spend time with him. Tied up with all that Hollywood work makes being there a tough job to crack. At least my wife's still there for both of us. We were hitting a rough patch around the end of last year, and it was really coming to a head, things between us. Then this break happens, and it caught her off guard. She was so relieved. We've been doing better since then. Maybe me and her can come back on the show for another interview. Make visiting this place a habit."

"Well, we'd love to have you here in New York again."

"Thank you for the invite, I'll take it whenever I feel I got time."

"No problem."

A little after that, the interview ended.

Then, Prinze left for where he was staying in New York.

He got his stuff, his wife and his son.

They were leaving soon enough. First by taxi, then by plane.

They had a destination to get to, and quick.

The president was waiting after all.

January 20th, 1977


Washington, D.C.

A TV played footage of the recent inauguration in a hotel room, as Freddie got into a cheap blue tuxedo he bought at a store shortly before his flight.

His wife calls out to him.

"Hey, listen, while you're there, you think you can get the kid an autograph from the President?"

"Honey, assuming they don't mistake me for the janitor, I can probably manage."

"You're an honoured guest of the staff of the President, and you think they'll throw you out?"

"It's Washington, they're not used to seeing a well dressed Hispanic kid in a place like that."

"You might have a point. Just stick with a group, and they might be able to catch on."

"Thanks for the good talk. I'll see you around."

"Alright then. Oh, one last thing, Freddie!"


"Don't drink too much."

He went to argue about this, but then recognized something important.

Despite his habits of hard drug use and harder alcohol use, the amounts had lowered significantly over the course of his time off Hollywood sets, and had pretty much nearly crashed down as he went over to New York for the winter.

It had reflected in the increased presence he had between being with his wife more often, and finally getting around to raising his son, trying to be a better father.

He had certainly grown, and while he knew the habits could only be held back for so long, he'd managed to regain control of himself for a long period of time, and was proud of himself.

And he damn sure was not gonna throw that all away.

"I'll keep to a classic three martini lunch. How does that sound?"

"As long as it doesn't fill you too much, that'll be great."

They kiss as he gets his room key, his invite envelope, and a hat.

"You think you can handle the kid while I'm gone?"

"Sure. Knowing you, all I gotta do is put on some show with a lot of cars. Maybe one of those action shows you don't stop watching."

"Sounds about right. I'll see you later."

He kisses her on the cheek, then heads out of the room.

He went down to the hotel lobby, meeting up with his friends. Jimmie Walker, Tony Orlando, Jose Feliciano, Gabe Kaplan and that one kid he once fought with, John Travolta were all there. They had arranged a limousine service to pick them all up. Inside the limo, was enough champagne to knock out an entire basketball team.

They had made it, they were some of the biggest young stars in America, and they would spare no expense in showing off their success.

Initially scheduled for the night before inauguration day, the gala was put off for the day of, deciding that the first days Carter had, just before, and right on the big day should be relatively relaxed.

The gala was to be reported on by newspapers, but not televised.

The televised celebrations would go on the next night, as they planned to have a party celebration for that day too. The gala was split in half, reasoning that the wackier shenanigans should stay unviewed until after inauguration happened.

So, that was that.

600 stars would organize there, and stay there, until the morning of the 22nd.

But for now, the party was just getting started.

President Jimmy Carter was there, and he was dying by laughter.

He could barely breathe. His wife, Rosalynn, tried to keep him in his seat, but she could barely stand either.

There they were, some of the funniest young comedians in the land, doing a comedy routine so ridiculous many of the guests were falling out of their seats.

Prinze, Kaplan, Walker, Travolta and Orlando were organized on that stage, essentially doing a short talent show act. It was a routine about a line at a sports game.

The improv was spectacular. Rough around the edges due to the short time it took to think it up, but still rather good for a first time performance.

Despite the gala not being a televised special presentation, a few TV insiders, cameras in hand, were there to record some of the big headline events for either news events later that week, or future variety pieces.

As the audience kept laughing, they kept going. After the routine ended and the applause came in, each performer, with the exception of Travolta, an actor, and one who preferred to stay away from the mic after he went through his bit, did a quick 5 minute piece.

The audience was giving up cheers and standing ovations by the end of all of it.

As the last one ended, Prinze ran back up on stage and gave out a few words to the crowd.

"We've got some interesting stuff cooking up in the back, so we'll be out for a few minutes. We'll be back here, and I swear, we will have a lot more with us. Thank you!"

The crowd broke into thunderous applause.

As the crowd began to dance as the band came back to life, and those who were not dancing chose to converse or drink...

Prinze, Feliciano and Orlando snuck themselves to the back of the venue, as they began to talk amongst themselves.

Prinze brought up the elephant in the room.

"I just got word that our band set is here. Question is, are we really ready to do this?"

Feliciano and Orlando were rather quiet. Then, Orlando, ever the more brave one decided to jump in on a decision.

"Let's do it. We have nothing much to lose. We already have the instruments."

Jose got a bit cynic, as his last time performing anything even close to a national performance like this, nearly ended up in a full blown disaster for his career.

"We're about to perform a bunch of showtunes in Espanol in front of the President. Are we sure we're ready for whatever happens out there?"

They paused for a long moment, as they began to look at the instruments near them. For Tony, a pair of maracas. For Freddie, a drum set. And for Jose, an acoustic guitar.

After a long, slightly heavy period of thoughtful silence, Freddie decided to break it up with a bit of humor.

"Let's just hope they like spiced beef and jumping beans."

The three decided that it was go time or no time.

Before Freddie could join Tony and Jose however, he was tapped on the shoulder by a White House security officer.

"Anything wrong, man?"

The guard spoke.

"We got a strange character saying he knows you. Says his name is Blake? We don't know what to do."

Freddie knew. That was Nat! He came all the way from New York to see him.

He knew what to do.

"Bring him here. I want him on this stage with me."

Fifteen minutes later, and Nat Blake, an unknown trumpet man from the streets of New York City, was gearing up to play a concert for the ages.

He had geared up, and headed out with Freddie, as the four set out to make history.

The crowd cheered as the three stars came back. And quite a few of them began to scratch their heads and turn their eyes towards the newcomer with the trumpet and the bright jacket.

The four each had an instrument in their hands, except Freddie, who rushed to the drum set.

There were microphones across the stage.

Prinze rushes up to one of them, near the drums, and begins to speak to the puzzled crowd.

"Sorry we took so long ladies and gentlemen, and thanks for keeping your seats warm. Now many of you have been wondering what exactly we have planned here. And trust me, we do have an answer. Now you've probably heard at least us three, and for two of us, it's because you hear us singing. Now around Christmas time around the end of last year, me, José and Tony decided to try out singing as a group to a private gig. It worked, so we thought to try it out here. So here we are, trying it again. We just hope you'll enjoy what we're about to do."

The crowd broke into applause, as the four men got their instruments up to speed, finishing their setup. They began to play a familiar piece.

La Bamba, the signature standard of Latino rock legend Ritchie Valens, and a Chicano folk staple.

But with the distinct New York trumpet of Blake, and the three vastly different singing styles of the stars on stage, combined with fast, uptempo, bongo-like jazz-influenced drum playing and solid electric guitar work from Feliciano and a surprising acoustic guitar piece from Orlando, a man widely considered a singer and not much more, all tied up by Prinze getting off the drums due to being tired and using maracas going into the last pieces made a distinct sound the likes of which the crowd had never really heard before, being a particular combination of progressive rock influences, a blues-inspired electric sound, a folk-driven acoustic rhythm, a slight hint of classic rockabilly tastes and a uniquely Latino flavour of pop.

The crowd was floored by the shocking performance by the time it all ended. Then they clapped.

A lot of them didn't know what they had just witnessed. But a lot of them were young, and a lot of them knew new talent quite obviously.

They were impressed. The older folks didn't quite get it, but saw some clear skill.

The performance was a success. And then it got better.

They then moved on to the songs they wanted to go for.

A medley of their choice.

Beatles songs from the latter end of their career, from Rubber Soul to Abbey Road.

Blues rock, mainly stuff from the Rolling Stones and B.B. King.

Disco, in the form of the songs of Earth, Wind and Fire, the Jackson 5 and the Bee Gees.

They played it all.

It was effectively a near completely improvised hour and a half concert show. Prinze's drum playing baritone, Tony's solid multi-talented soprano, and José's tenor being combined with an electric backtrack, combined with the surprising trumpet talents, with jazzy undertones, by the young up and comer that happened to be Nat Blake, proved to be an impressive combo that shocked the ballroom.

It ended with effectively a salute to the biggest counterculture acts of the hippie generation, with the music of Carlos Santana and his eponymous band, the Grateful Dead and the Jimi Hendrix Experience being played.

When it was all said and done, the crowd was amazed.

Despite this being a White House-related events, many of the guests there were young campaign volunteers, young political prodigies, and young celebrities, thanks to the rather youth-driven campaign the honest and moderate Carter managed to drive. Thanks to this, despite insiders and old, rather establishment stars showing up, the field was mostly a lot of young guys, and many of them fans of the type of music that Prinze and company just provided.

Almost immediately after their final salute and concluding thanks, they rushed off the stage to a lot of handshakes and congratulations and praise.

TV cameras caught everything. What they didn't catch, tape recorders did.

Some celebrities questioned if this would be the start of a new group and when they should expect an album. Others asked if they were going to go on tour.

One guest of the ball in particular, had a few choice words to say.

Prinze and Orlando were walking to find a place to sit, or at least a place to drink, when they bumped into a familiar looking man, with round glasses, long straight hair and a distinct wit.

"Easy there fella, my other suit's still in London!"

"Oh, no issue, we're just trying to find a place to get a-"

Tony stopped dead in the middle of his sentence. There, in the middle of a ballroom in Washington, stood arguably the biggest musician in the world.

"Hey, I know you two! You're the guys that played that band bit out there! You lads did a good set out there."

Tony could just barely muster out a "thanks, thanks a lot".

Prinze was distracted with finding his ID to make sure he'd be served at the bar, when he stopped to recognize that Orlando, his friend, freezed up for quite a bit.

He was going to ask what exactly was wrong with him when he suddenly noticed a familiar looking face. A square face with a stone jaw, and round glasses to contrast.

He stopped and decided to say hi, going in for a wave and then a handshake.

"Hey, hello, hi there. I'm Freddie, this guy near me is Tony. It's a pleasure. So you enjoyed our stuff?"

The Liverpudlian legend decided to comment on the performance a bit further.

"Yeah, it was quite interesting. See you guys went the route of my old band of mates, with all the experimentation on the floor. Although I will admit it sounds more like the Dead than it does us fab guys."

Tony then decided to acknowledge the obvious, and give thanks.

"Well, it's a rather high amount of praise coming in from the leader of the greatest band to ever do it himself. It's a great honour, Mr. Lennon."

The Englishman laughed a bit.

"Please, we're at a party, just call me John."

And there Tony and Freddie stood. At a party. At the president's team's request. Talking with John Lennon.

José came in not too long after, and they all got to conversing about life and such, celebrity statuses, contract deals and artistic pressures being notable pieces of convo.

As the conversation got thicker, another figure came in to surprise Prinze.

Muhammad Ali came in with a hell of an entrance, hitting Prinze in the arm.


"Got to have your reflexes up, Fred!"

After a play fight bit, the two greeted each other and he joined in with the singers as they all talked.

Yoko eventually showed up, since Lennon pretty much never went anywhere without Ono by his side.

Nat finally decided to come around, after he was done making friends with campaign staffers and the odd celebrity model, to join Prinze and company, plus their other celebrity guests in the circle.

Eventually, word must've spread about the concentration of talent in a corner, as the bunch managed to find themselves greeted by the man of the hour himself.

Rosalynn was the first to show up, followed shortly thereafter by the peanut farmer, the governor of Georgia, the great moderate, and now the chief of the land. Oh, and her husband too. She's the First Lady after all, and First Ladies don't tend to show up anywhere without their loving husbands in tow.

"Fellow men. Fellow gentlemen. Welcome to DC."

They turned to find their eyes directed at the White House's big couple themselves.

Tony decided to speak first.

"Mr. President. Mrs. Carter. Good evening. Thanks for having us over."

Prinze was stunned. He now officially had the bragging rights of saying, and could give the story of, how he met the president of the United States of America.

And so did Tony and José. For the three, they were various degrees of floored, honoured and blessed. For John, he was just thankful that the commander in chief in now this time didn't hate his guts or wanted him deported.

The good fortunes continued all night.

The names kept showing up, and the conversations kept going.

Prinze met and saw a lot of people. Talked to them, drank with them, danced with them.

He got a lot of signatures in a book for his young son, with notes in hand.

And true to his word, he got the signature of the president inked out in that same book.

That night, going to and crossing through to morning, he returned to his hotel room.

He placed his things, gifts from the event included on whatever he could find.

He decided to wake his wife up in his own charming way. A kiss on the forehead.

"Hi there."

His wife looked up at him.

"What now?"

"I'm back from the gala."

"You're late coming back."

"The party didn't end until 2:30. I took a bit getting signatures."

She stopped, then realized what that meant.

"There's no way you actually got the-"

Freddie cut her off.

"Yes, yes I did. The president's signature is in my notebook. And it's not the only one."

He shows her the book's inside, revealing signatures and notes from President Jimmy Carter, John Lennon, some of Prinze's celebrity friends, more than a few Hollywood stars such as Bacall and Davis, baseball star Hank Aaron, boxing legend Muhammad Ali. It was like a get well card from the Hollywood galaxy.

She obviously stumbled to figure out the right words to give to such an event.

"How did- why did- where did you- how could you- when did you- what?"

"It's a long story, very long. Beside it's late, I'm tired, you're barely awake and we have to be at the White House tomorrow morning."

"Tomorrow? What do you mean by tomorrow?"

"They're doing another party for the president, but instead of being an informal gala, it'll be some mix between a formal ball and a TV special. We've been invited, so you might want to bring the kid."

She paused for a moment's notice.

She finally just sighed and sort of giggled a bit.

"And here I thought going back home to LA would be stressful. I'll find a dress and see what I can do, but just promise me something before I do."

Freddie half twitched his eyebrows up, in confusion.

"What would that be?"

"When it comes to sudden surprises, just stick to being allowed to host the Tonight Show."

He thought about it for quite a bit.

He finally spoke on the comment.

"I'll try. Thanks for the look in."

She smiled a little.

"No problem. Good night."

"See you in the morning."

Before he went to sleep however, he thought about something back at home.

While he was in New York, his interest towards the late President Kennedy peaked during semi-regular visits to the Public Library.

He finally caved, and bought a few books. Profiles in Courage, A Thousand Days, A Nation of Immigrants, Why England Slept- he got into the works, words and history of Kennedy hard in New York. He stopped watching the Zapruder film as much to analyze the assassination, as he did read about the man that became the president of popular myth. He got into the policies, the behaviours, the ideas.

And it didn't really stop. He didn't want to. He was openly interested. It had already made his already quite political self a bit more informed and was in the process of refining itself into a more progressive man and a more active player in political action.

So when he had time to himself, he began reading these books before bed. Just for curiosity's sake.

Tonight, in the early morning, in that Washington hotel room would be no different.

Except he invited his wife to join on in.

She rather quite reluctantly accepted.

And so there they sat, reading A Nation of Immigrants.

It piqued their interest.

They then decided they weren't going to sleep yet.

Freddie was interested, and now so was his wife.

The Prinzes had some time to kill, and they decided sleep would not stop them.

Besides, they had like a day or two left in DC, then it's back home to California on the west coast, and all the celebrity madness and TV schedules
and gossip junk and star action that came with it.

Hollywood lights and LA stresses were waiting for them back home, so why really worry about what might happen here?

They can figure it all out in the morning. It'll be fine.

The White House might understand.

The man already did, so why not the White House?
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