A desperate Madison Avenue advertising man travels back in time to secure the perfect piece of a campaign that could save his crumbling career. In 1907 Rhyolite, Nevada, he's the ultimate con artist looking to pull a fast one. Instead, he finds the self-respect he buried years ago and a woman who is equally out of place in time. Romance/Comedy/Adventure/Fantasy—yes, all of that—is wrapped around a journey to find direction in life.
Carl Johnson is textbook arrested development. In his forties, his career has faltered—partially because of his own lack of motivation, and partially because he married the boss' daughter to get ahead. He and his sidekick buddy, Joe Dixon, amuse themselves by misleading small-time advertising clients with their office of props. One moment Carl appears as the consummate outdoorsman for a fishing tackle rep.; the next he’s a hippy revivalist for a vegetarian beans executive. But now the ride is over. Carl's ill-fated marriage has unraveled, and even his office chicanery seems to be misfiring. His mother-in-law, who sits upon the throne of this advertising firm, prepares to terminate Carl and Joe. By chance, Carl unknowingly impresses Leo Bartsen, the CEO of Bartsen Industries, one of the largest multinational corporations and a coup for any ad agency. Bartsen gives Carl's firm a chance to pitch his account, on the condition that Carl heads the project. This all-or-nothing chance is exactly what Carl needed. Long jealous of contemporaries who have met with greater success and even won the prestigious CLIO award (the Oscar of the ad world), Carl summons his talents. The pitch he creates calls for a spokesperson in the form of a particular gold-rush prospector, a symbol tied to the history of the Bartsen company. But when nobody he auditions fits the bill, Carl stumbles upon a Native American legend that tells how one can travel in time. No problem. Carl, the opportunist, will travel back to the Death Valley gold-rush days and borrow the historical prospector for his campaign. Much to his surprise, the Native American ritual actually works (with a few catches). But Carl is totally unprepared for what he finds in 1907 Rhyolite, Nevada. Fresh desert air and rattlesnake bacon weren't on his agenda. Carl is mistaken for a local newspaper editor and comes across the daughter of the very man he came to steal. Past her teen years, she's an old maid by the standards of the time and sees Carl as her ticket out of town (she has no idea how far out of town). As they try to con one another, their mutual dislike melts into mutual attraction. Carl finds himself playing an unwitting role in the formation of Bartsen Industries. He’s then forced to choose between returning with his pitchman, or saving the woman he loves.
NOTE: Rhyolite, Nevada (named after a mineral compound), is an actual gold-rush-era ghost town in the Nevada desert, replete with ruins and an authentic history ready to be recreated for this period piece.
GENRE: Comedy Action Adventure
LOCATIONS: New York, USA, present; Rhyolite, Nevada, USA, present and 1907
WRITER: Charles Miller
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Gene Fowler