Now Somebody is Watching

Variety reports that a bootleg video of the unsold NBC/Universal WB sitcom pilot NOBODY’S WATCHING  "mysteriously" showed up on YouTube, where it has become a viewer favorite. The studio almost immediately gave YouTube the okay to keep the pilot up and is already considering offering it for sale on iTunes. Meanwhile, the producers are hoping the buzz leads to their sitcom getting a second chance on one of the networks.

Maybe I’m too cynical, and have written too many mysteries, but this whole thing feels very premeditated to me…it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that the producers or the studio were the ones who "mysteriously" uploaded the bootlegged pilot to YouTube.

YouTube, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to mind being used in this way. The pilot is content, after all, and I suppose YouTube is just glad any time a studio calls with something besides a cease-and-desist order.

Following Your Muse

Novelist Keith Snyder posed an interesting question in the comments to my John Irving post. He wonders:

Personal muse-following vs. doing what you’re paid to do can coexist in theory, but in practice, how well does it work?

For me, it’s worked well. I "follow my muse" with the MONK and DIAGNOSIS MURDER books and have a great time. With the DM books, for example, I have been able to challenge myself and take some moderate risks with the franchise. The books are usually told in the third person and are set in present day. For THE PAST TENSE, I set half the book in 1962 and told it first person from the hero’s POV. That was risky for me in a lot of ways but I think it turned out to be the best book in the series so far. For MONK, I chose to write the books in first person from a woman’s POV, something I have never done before and that, at first, scared the crap out of me. But it also made the books stand out from the TV series and, in many ways, made them my own. So it’s possible to challenge yourself in a work-for-hire environment and still do the job you were contracted to do.

I also think it’s possible to when you’re freelancing a script for a TV series…which is also work-for-hire. Our first TV job was a freelance episode of SPENSER FOR HIRE. They bought our SPENSER spec… which was a comedy. It was a SPENSER, but unlike any SPENSER they had done before. A freelance script assignment usually begins with <i>your</i> idea, and you’re hired because it’s something that staff hasn’t come up with themselves yet. So, from the get-go, the script comes from "your muse." Of course, lots of other people get involved from that point, but   every one of our freelance scripts has been a big challenge for us.  I like to think that those scripts  — for shows like MONK, NERO WOLFE, SLIDERS and the upcoming series PSYCH — gave the producers who hired us what they wanted but also expressed our unique voice.

Baywatch coming to DVD

TVShowsonDVD reports that BAYWATCH is coming to DVD…beginning with seasons two and season three. What happened to season one?

The first season of the show, which I worked on as a story editor, aired on NBC (and had a different theme song — Peter Cetera’s "Save Me"). After the show was cancelled, the series was revived in first-run syndication and became the most popular show in the world.

When the series went into reruns, those NBC episodes weren’t part of the package (so much for my dreams of big BAYWATCH residuals) and haven’t been seen in years. Now those first season shows are being billed as "lost episodes," and instead of being released as a set, will be doled out one or two at a time as "bonus features" on the boxed sets of the nine syndicated seasons (I wonder if they will go the cheap route and replace the Peter Cetera theme with the syndicated series theme to avoid paying for licensing). So the only way to get the complete first season is to buy all the other sets. There’s no way in hell I’m going to do that…

What Should I Do With Hundreds of TV Guides?

My Mom is moving to a smaller place close to the beach… so I am cleaning out my garage to give her some storage space. And I have come to the painful realization that it’s time to get rid of my 100s of  TV GUIDES. I don’t have the time or patience to scan each cover and sell’em individually on eBay… so I am coming to you, my loyal readers, for suggestions on what to do with them.  Is there a library I could donate them to, perhaps?  And while you’re at it, have you got any ideas on what I should do with:

  • 600 copies of BEYOND THE BEYOND?
  • 100s of publicity and set photos from movie & TV press kits? (the kits themselves are long gone)
  • A few hundred issues of STARLOG magazine?

I’ve got four weeks until she moves her stuff into my garage…

Like a Needle in a Haystack

Author Jerry B. Jenkins has some very good advice about removing cliches from your writing over at Writer’s Digest. Yep, Writer’s Digest. Hard to believe.

Clichés come in all shapes and sizes. There are just as many clichéd
scenes as phrases and words. For instance, how may times have you seen
a book begin with a main character being "rudely awakened" from a
"sound sleep" by a "clanging" alarm clock? Have you written an opening
like this yourself? Wondering where to start, you opt for first thing
in the morning. Speaking of clichés, been there, done that. We all
have. Don’t ever do it again.

Compounding that cliché is having
the "bleary-eyed" character drag himself from his bed, squinting
against the intruding sunlight. And compounding that is telling
the reader everything the character sees in the room. What comes next?
He’ll pass by or stand before a full-length mirror, and we’ll get the
full rundown of what the poor guy looks like.

Are you cringing?

Touched by a Blog

The multi-talented Bryce Zabel has felt the viral force of the blogosphere to rapidly spread information…or he’s felt the awesome power of STAR TREK. You decide. A funny thing happened after he posted his rejected STAR TREK REBOOTED treatment

this blog averages only about 100 hits a day[…] These
are distinct "visits" from unique people and not just "page views" (we
get about 180 of those).
Yesterday, "For What It’s Worth" received 8,758 hits.

LOST Novel Author Outed

Variety has revealed that "Gary Troup," the fictional author of the LOST tie-in novel BAD TWIN, is actually acclaimed novelist Laurence Shames.

Insiders say writers on "Lost" were asked to provide a list of elements that Shames could incorporate into the novel. But the author had his own vision and wound up including only a few of the elements.

[…]Show staffers also were frustrated that the book referenced copyrighted elements for which the publisher had not sought clearances, saying it would make it difficult to use those elements on-air.

But Hyperion told ABC that, like all publishers, it doesn’t normally seek clearances on copyrighted items in its novels. The house also said the book’s production schedule could have been held up if such clearances were sought.

You Just Know This Idiot Loves FanFic…

My brother Tod has a weekly feature on his blog in which he skewers the "fucktards" who write Letters to Parade seeking answers from the fictional Walter Scott. Well,  Tod could probably do the same with some of the people who write to TV Guide.

Take Susan A. Davis of Newport, Vermont for example.

She’s peeved about the season finale of CSI, which showed Grissom and Sara in bed together in the closing moments of the episode. TV Guide called it a shocking season finale. But since I only watched two episodes of CSI this season, I didn’t realize I was supposed to be shocked. I just figured the two characters were doing the nasty monkey together now. I wasn’t shocked. In fact, I didn’t care. But let’s get back to Susan A. Davis of Newport, Vermont. She wrote:

The writers ought to sit in a corner with their faces to the wall and chant the following: Don’t mess with canon. Don’t mess with canon. Don’t mess with canon.

"Canon" is a term that fanfic writers like to use to refer to the backstory established in the TV shows, movies, books and comics that they are ripping off.  So what makes Susan A. Davis of Newport, Vermont a raging fucktard is that she doesn’t seem to grasp that  she was watching  the actual, original, CSI tv show…not reading CSI fanfic or CSI/X-Files cross-over fic or CSI slash fic or even the William Petersen Real Person Slash Fic that she probably loves.  Because if she did comprehend that she was watching the actual, original, CSI tv show, then she’d know that canon is whatever the creators of CSI say it is.  The writer/producers decide who the characters are and what they are going to do…they create the canon.

You may not like what the writer/producers come up with, you may think they’ve jumped the shark and fucked it, too… but it’s what’s happening on the actual, original, CSI tv show, which is still written and produced by the same folks who did the pilot, and that, Susan A. Davis of Newport Vermont,  makes whatever they do "canon."

So, I submit that Susan A. Davis of Newport, Vermont, should sit in a corner with her face to the wall and chant "I am a fucktard, I am a fucktard, I am a fucktard…"