A wife plots her husband's death with her lover -- and the camera
back to reveal the scene is part of CRIME ALERT! the television show which
re-enacts crimes and broadcasts the identity of the criminals asking the
audience for help in tracking them down. The camera loves WADE ANDERS,
CRIME ALERT's handsome spokesman. Wade is thrilled by the show's success
and happily plans future episodes with his producer "MAX."
Wade meets his PR person at a fashionable Hollywood restaurant and plots
his next career move as well as a photo shoot for Celebrity Profile magazine and his
popularity in the television community is obvious -- as well as observed by veteran TV
news journalist and chain smoker BUD CLARK.
Bud enters the CRIME ALERT studios. People assume he's there to sell a
story to the show, but Bud has more ambitious plans. In a one-on-one
confrontation with Wade, Bud reveals that he's the man who would have
had Wade's job on the highly rated show -- if Wade hadn't mounted a
successful smear campaign with the network head JAKE SALZBURG. Wade
counters with an accusation that Bud's drinking problems were well
known to everyone. Bud pulls out his "trump" card, a sleazy skinflick
entitled "HOLLY DOES HOUSTON" starring a very young Wade Anders. Bud
plans to make it his lead story -- and suggests that Wade meet him at
his home the next day at 6PM to discuss the matter further. Wade is
left in his make-up chair, staring at the unfinished pack of cigarettes
Bud left behind.
Wade says goodnight to Henry, his assistant, who offers to come in
on Saturday to work with Wade. Wade magnanimously tells him to enjoy
his weekend -- he'll work alone. Wade also says goodnight to Max.
She reminds Wade about the party at her house the next day and Wade
promises he'll be there.
That night Wade goes into his production office making sure that he's
seen on the surveillance tapes. Then he methodically takes cigarettes
out of the pack Bud left behind and doctors them with an eye dropper.
Then he re-places them in the pack. On Saturday he returns to the
production office, waving hello to the gardeners. He re-edits the
surveillance tape to reflect his alibi. He also removes a computer
diskette of an old CRIME ALERT and slips it into his pocket.
Wade is greeted by Bud's golden retriever as he drives pulls into the
driveway. The dog jumps up on the door of Wade's immaculate Mercedes
Benz much to Wade's irritation. Bud shows Wade the "HOLLY DOES HOUSTON"
tape and demands his take-over of the show in exchange for silence
about the tape. While Bud's back is turned Wade puts the doctored
cigarettes on his desk in place of the pack he's been smoking. Wade
proposes that they share the job of hosting the show, but Bud
As Wade spins out his scenario, Bud begins to choke, begging for help.,
then dying. Wade replaces the ashes in Bud's ashtray with ashes he
retrieved from Bud's visit to the studio. He then slips the diskette
into Bud's computer and copies "Escape to Death" onto the hard drive
and erases the Wade Anders expose. He puts a printed copy of the story
under Bud's inert body and places a "smoked" cigarette in his hand.
Shortly thereafter Wade appears at Max's party with a bottle of champagne.
The familiar cough of misfired engine announces the arrival of Columbo
in his Peugeot at the murder sight. He's also greeted by the friendly
golden retriever. In Bud's office, Columbo immediately begins to notice
things -- the ashes and butts in one ashtray don't match the cigarette
butts in the ashtray on Bud's desk. The desk cigarette butts don't show
the nicotine stain on the filters. He prints out the story on the
computer, but notices a difference between that story and other stories
Bud has written. He instructs a Sgt. to check the paper under Bud's hand
for latent prints.
At Bud's office at KRVA, Columbo is told by Bud's assistant that he
sometimes records notes on stories he's pursuing. She's puzzled because
his micro taper recorder doesn't have a tape in it, and she knows she
put on in on Friday. Columbo asks her to open the computer files on Bud's
stories. There is no "Escape to Death" in the files.Columbo asks about
Bud's activities on Friday - the assistant tells him that he left the
office for about a half hour to see Wade Anders.
After wandering around the CRIME ALERT stage Columbo is directed to Wade
who is being interviewed for Celebrity Profile. Wade is busy channing
the interviewer and that process is interrupted when he sees Columbo
lurking at the edge of the set. Colunbo asks Wade for a moment of his
time. They step into Wade's office where Columbo tells him how excited
he is about meeting the CRIME ALERT host -- "Mrs. Columbo and I watch
your show all the time."
Columbo takes the "Escape from Death" story out of an envelop and shows
it to Wade, comparing it with other stories Bud Clark wrote. Wade
suggests that perhaps someone pother than Bud typed the story. As they
pass the printer, Columbo stops for another demonstration -- this time
proving that a page can't be torn from the printer leaving fingerprints
on just one side (as in the page found on Bud's desk). Wade compliments
Columbo on his "good work."
The lab confirms Columbo's suspicions. Bud Clark was murdered -- by an
overdose of nicotine sulfate.
CRIME ALERT films the capture of the two criminals profiled in the
beginning of the show. Wade does the on camera lead-in story and is told
by Henry that Lt. Columbo called in to say he was tracking down some
leads. Wade comments that Columbo is determined to get a story on the
show. CUT TO the makeup trailer where the show's hairdresser is trying
to talk Columbo into a new look. Columbo doesn't want to hurt his old
barber's feelings. He vacates the chair while Wade gets a touchup.
Columbo shows Wade the cigarette butts -- and points out the difference
between the two. Wade comments that perhaps Columbo should host the show.
Columbo is gathering Bud Clark's "effects" from his office. He finds
a book on tape and Bud's assistant says that her boss would sometimes
listen to books on tape in the car. Columbo says that's a good idea for
himself, except that he doesn't have a tape deck in his car. But it
makes him think
Columbo opens Bud Clark garage and looks at the tapes in his car. He
doesn't find what he's looking for -- until he plays the tape in the
car. It's a recording of Bud's voice, a list of reminders including a
reference to an adult book and a follow-up on a porno story.
Columbo goes to Arnie's adult book shop and finds himself standing next
to a guy in a raincoat just like his. Columbo questions Arnie about Bud.
Arnie tells Columbo that he and Bud were in the anny together. Arnie
found a skinflick starring Wade Anders and though Bud would get a kick
out of seeing it as Wade aced Bud out of the CRIME ALERT job.
Columbo goes to Wade's production bungalow and is ushered in to a
lavish office filled with antiques. When Wade walks in Columbo request
an autographed picture for his wife. But the real reason he's come is
to tell Wade that Bud Clark was murdered, poisoned by nicotine sulfate,
introduced through a cigarette. Columbo points out that the cigarette
in Bud's hand and those in the ashtray had never been smoked. There
were no nicotine stains on the filters. How is it possible? Wade says
that he has the utmost confidence in Columbo being the right man to
At an Emmy like rehearsal Columbo narrowly avoids destroying the stage
number. He finds Wade, a scheduled presenter, waiting off stage. Columbo
suddenly asks Wade if he knows who the first actress to be on a
postage stamp was? Grace Kelly is the answer but Wade is becoming
impatient. Get to the point. Columbo wants to know where Wade was on
Saturday. Wade says that he was in his production office -- and just
as Columbo is leaving the auditorium Wade tells him that the surveillance
tapes might be of help.
Columbo and Wade Anders pull their cars into the production office
parking lot at the same time causing a collision. Wade is openly
irritated with Columbo, especially when Columbo points out the damage
to his car.
Wade gives Columbo the surveillance tape. His secretary reminds him
about the policemen's ball. Columbo says he always goes with his wife
-- she's already picked out a new dress.
At the ball Wade compliments Columbo on his tux and Columbo admires
Wade's expensive dress shirt. Columbo takes Wade aside privately to
mention that Bud Clark knew of a "party film" in which Wade had
participated as a young actor. Wade admits he was in the film and asks
if Columbo thinks Bud was going to try to blackmail him.but reminds
Columbo that it was a long time ago. Wade asks Columbo to be discreet.
Columbo is picking up Dog from the groomer. The groomer says that Mrs.
Columbo asked for a special pedicure for the dog. That rings a bell for
He uses the phone to call his office to request a photographer, a macro
lens and the surveillance tape. He views the surveillance tape several
times in the police lab.
Back at the studio, Wade is reviewing several CRIME ALERT segments. After
his staff leaves Columbo approaches him, asking him to look at the
surveillance tapes. If you could just play it once again, sir. Wade
doesn't notice anything, but Columbo points out that when he comes in
the hedges are trimmed, but when he leaves (supposedly six hours later)
the hedges are overgrown. Hedges don't grow back in six hours so his
entrance and exit occurred on two different days. Then Columbo signals
and Bud Clark's golden retriever is brought into the room. Columbo asks
Wade if he's ever seen the dog. Wade says he hasn't seen the dog and he
has never been to Bud Clark's house. Columbo points out that the dog is
missing a claw. And Columbo noticed that there were scratch marks on
Wade's car door. And pictures of the scratched car door match the dog's
claws. Wade glares at the dog, "Man's best friend. Well, at least it will
be a good story for Crime Alert." "No," says Columbo,"I think it will
on the 11:00PM news."