By Bil Paul
1300 Pembroke Way
Dixon CA 95620
Cell 650 267 0169
After the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento announced their charges against Carissa Carpenter – the self-styled movie studio exec who last popped up in Dixon – many finally had their curiosity assuaged.
As the author of a book (now looking for a publisher) covering her episode in Dixon, the questions most often posed to me have been: “Where is she now?” and “Has she been arrested?” Now I can say, “She was arrested in southern California – and with 32 counts of fraud and lying against her, she’s out on bail.”
While interviewing 20 officials, business people and residents for the book, I definitely learned some things about Dixon and about Carpenter.
Many Dixonites, I discovered, had a deep yearning for turning their town into a movie Camelot. It seemed that the bigger the fabrications from Carpenter, and the more chutzpah she exuded, the more Dixon wanted to buy into her dream. Residents saw their property values going up, movie stars dining downtown, and jobs and internships for their families. This dreaming came not only from residents, but from the mayor and city manager as well. City Manager Lindley had visions of backlots in Camelot, too, and was sucked into Carpenter’s vortex. He and the mayor kept saying they were treating Morning View studios like any other business coming to town, but the prospect of a $2.8 billion project somewhat blinded them to the realities of a non-performing and lying businesswoman. The city manager especially became her shill.
Those most skeptical, I found, were most of the landowners in the area where the studios were to be built. Some were out-of-towners, and most signed letters of intent to sell their land to stay on the good side of Dixon’s city hall, not because they ever expected to be paid by Morning View LLC. They basically asked, “Where’s the beef?” The beef turned out to be out-of-date tofu. The other skeptics were often those with journalistic backgrounds.
I also looked into Carissa Carpenter’s personality and psyche, and came to the reasonable conclusion that she’s a sociopath (the term which seems to have replaced “psychopath”). She fits much of the criteria: She appeared to have no empathy or compassion for others (notably those she took money from), she had high levels of self-confidence and folksy charm, she focused intensely on her projects, and she loved to take action and promote herself. Carpenter also used health issues to explain away difficulties and garner pity.
What’s interesting is that Carpenter’s personality and enthusiasm are so over the top, I’m sure there are still people in northern California who think she, in her heart of hearts, actually planned to build a grand movie studio.
Through this experience, Dixon may have better learned to love itself for what it is – and not what it could’ve been with a Lucasfilm-like mega-studio on the edge of town.
Note: paul is a book author and photographer, retired from a career performing public relations for the U.S. Postal Service. His past books include the anthology Mailmen’s Dog Stories and a series of bicycle touring guides. The working title for his book about the Morning View studios in Dixon is The Train Never Stops in Dixon: Carissa Carpenter and Her $2.8 Billion Adventure.