The Gift

Institute History


Jason Farrel, a man in his early thirties, is the only journalist in history to win and then have to give back the Pulitzer Prize. His award-winning story was, in fact, a hoax. Jason is now reduced to working on the only newspaper that would hire him, the San Francisco Star. The Star is a National Inquirer-type weekly that deals in sensationalized stories of the rich and famous and such bizarre accounts as visits from outer space. Jason, knowing his career as a "real" journalist is over, struggles to make the best of his situation. If this is all that is left, then he'll be the best there is. His editor describes him as the best liar in the Northern Hemisphere.

Jason, however, is tormented—a man moving in the opposite direction from that which he was intended. Beneath his hard exterior there still exists a great sensitivity towards human suffering; a sensitivity and intelligence that should have been the heart of a great journalist. Jason is painfully aware of his impotence now, as well as his own self-serving nature. Day in and day out, Jason struggles in his role as "human interest" reporter. He interviews the fattest man in the world, he collaborates on a story that Howard Hughes may still be alive and romantically involved with Dolly Parton, and so on and so on. One afternoon, an attractive young woman, Teri Soren, comes to the Star in the hopes of getting a prediction published. "The Golden Gate Bridge is going to fall into the ocean," she tells Jason, "from an earthquake." Jason regards her as just another of the crackpots and borderline crazies that come to the paper. Teri's one exceptional trait, however, is a body he can't take his eyes off. As a ploy for seeing her again, Jason agrees to do a story on Teri to help establish her as a psychic. Their first evening together leads to the sexual encounter he had hoped for. As they are about to make love, however, he is disturbed to find Teri trembling beneath his touch. She claims to be having one of her "visions." Though Jason refuses to believe in this sort of thing, he is oddly moved by something in this woman. He comforts her that night but declines the opportunity to make love.

Evidence begins to mount that Teri may indeed be a genuine psychic. The editor of the Star sees an opportunity now. Teri is just what he's been waiting for: the Star's own psychic and media personality. "She's young and beautiful," he says. "She even posed nude once, a nice touch. 'Nude Psychic Reveals All!'" He orders Jason to do a series on the earthquake story.

What evolves is the question of just who is using whom, or if, in fact, Teri has the "gift." Jason is torn between his growing feelings for her and his conviction she is a con artist. Some sense of integrity begins to stir within him. Jason balks at his role as the "best liar." Proposed headlines about an earthquake, even in a paper as blatantly irresponsible as the Star, are too much. Jason agrees to do the story but works even harder now to discover how Teri makes her predictions and thereby discredit her. He investigates her as though he were a "real journalist" again. By taking a stand, Jason comes again to believe in himself. He finds redemption for himself, as well as for Teri.


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