Thrilling Photos

Author M. Diane Vogt took these Thrillerfest pictures of me with Lee Child and my daughter Maddie with R.L. Stine and kindly passed them along (Click on the photos for larger images). Maddieandstine
The scariest thing about RL Stine was that he was wearing all-black when it was 110 degrees outside. He probably lost 30 pounds just walking from his car to the convention center.

Mr. Monk Goes to Dinner

My latest Natalie Blog is now up on the USA Network site.

The other night, just for the heck of it, I invited Monk out to dinner with Julie
and me. That meant, of course, that we had to stop by his apartment on
the way to pick-up a set of dishes and silverware that he could bring
with him to the restaurant in a special, padded picnic basket.

We’d Be Fools Not To

I’m a big Robert B. Parker fan. That said, BLUE SCREEN is probably one of his worst books. For one thing, it’s a Sunny Randall novel, his weakest series and a bland imitation of Spenser. And like most Sunny Randall novels, it’s a meandering, uninvolving story that feels as if he was making it up as he went along (at least he only used the phrase "we’d be fools not to"  once in this book and not as the end of a chapter for a change).  Parker has his PI working for a self-involved celebrity (something he’s done several times with Spenser and once before with Sunny), which only adds to the "been there/done that" feeling that pervades this listless book.

But what ultimately makes BLUE SCREEN more than just a disappointing book in a so-so series is that Jesse Stone, the hero of his third ongoing series, is teamed up with Sunny in this story and neutered in the process. Which is a tragedy, because the Jesse Stone books have been (with the exception of SEA CHANGE) Parker at his very best, harkening back to his early Spenser novels.  They’ve also provided the basis for a trio of terrific Tom Selleck TV movies.

The Jesse Stone character in BLUE SCREEN is  cringe-inducing. Then again, just about everything in this book is cringe-inducing, from the cutesy banter to the endless attention given to Sunny’s dog (I won’t even go into the cameo appearance by Susan Silverman).  Unfortunately for us Jesse Stone fans,  the book seems aimed at merging the two series into one, something I hope Parker will reconsider.  We’d be fools not to.

Emmy Nominations Announced

For the most part, it’s all the same faces and all the same shows in the Emmy nods this year.  I was really hoping that BATTLESTAR GALACTICA would get the recognition it deserves…but the conservative Academy members just aren’t ready to embrace a genre show (as far as I know, BUFFY was largely ignored by the Academy, too). I’m sure it’s the name of the show that makes them cringe and the fact that there are space ships in it. A show with a name like "Battlestar" can’t possibly be worthy of an Emmy statuette for anything except special effects…right? And what about DEADWOOD?

The best drama nominations went to GREY’S ANATOMY, HOUSE, THE SOPRANOS, 24 and THE WEST WING. No surprises there (though they are certainly all deserving of the honor). But c’mon, is there some obscure Emmy rule that THE SOPRANOS and THE WEST WING have to be nominated every year? Those two shows have received accolades again and again… yes, we know they are great shows. It sure would be nice to shake things up a bit and acknowledge other great shows… like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and DEADWOOD.

That said, I am thrilled to see my friends Terry Winter (SOPRANOS), Howard Gordon (24), and Matt Witten (HOUSE) up for statuettes and to see Tony Shalhoub getting another not for his  great work on MONK.


Mr. Monk and the Rave

The folks over at The Monk Fun Page, the ultimate Monk fan site, have given my book MR. MONK GOES TO HAWAII a rave review.

Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii is filled with inspired goofiness, rich characterizations, an intricate mystery and a lot of fun. You probably won’t want to put it down until it’s over and that’s way too soon.

[…] This one is also told from the perspective of Monk’s assistant Natalie
Teeger. In fact the author has settled so comfortably into her voice you almost
expect to see her name on the cover. This is the kinder, gentler Natalie she’s
grown to be on the show. This is the Natalie I’d like to spend more time with:
funny, strong, loving and vulnerable.

I was thrilled by the review, because I know how discriminating the folks at the Monk Fun Page are when it comes to anything "Monk."  So far, they only spotted one error…but what’s frustrating about it is that it’s a mistake that I know I corrected and yet it still, somehow, got through anyway. Oh well. 

If you’re a Monk fan, you really have to check out the Monk Fun Page...and I’m not just saying that because they’ve been so kind to me and my books. It’s filled with information, interviews, and background on all things Monk.


Head Shots

Posterwire explains the arcane picture approval process for movie posters, which can lead to an actor’s approved head-shot being grafted onto several different bodies.

B0006b2a2o01_ss500_sclzzzzzzz_v109967533Using the same head on different bodies isn’t uncommon (and sometimes a necessary evil).

[…] Most well-known movie stars have approval (either contractually or as a
professional courtesy) over ALL photography of themselves available to
a film’s marketing campaign. For example, when images from a film (in
unit shots, special shoots, etc.) become available, the images are first given to the actor for approval. Contact sheets (also known as proof sheets)
of all the photography are sent to the actor, which are then sent back
with a lot of red Xs — known as "kills" — marked through photos that
the star (or more likely, their manager) don’t want used. This can be
frustrating for designers working on the project if some/most/all of
the best shots are "killed". This power to "kill" can be taken a step
further when a star (or producer, director, etc.) has approval over the
movie poster design of the final one-sheet. This is why one of the
first questions asked by many art directors on many key art projects
is: "Who has approval over this movie poster?"

What I don’t get is why they sometimes airbrush the actor’s face to the point that they barely resemble themselves. Take, for instance, the picture on the left of Tony Shalhoub (click on the picture for a larger image) from one of the Monk DVD sets.  What have they done to his face??

UPDATE 7-7-06: Here’s the original version of the photo used on the DVD box.Monktape_1

“Please, please plunge your magnificent Starsky in my eager Hutch…”

Every so often, I check out my stats to see how readers are finding their way to this blog… which is how I discovered Hurt/Comfort Recommendations , a site that explores the s&m fantasies of fanficcers who like to see their favorite characters beaten, injured, or stricken with a deadly disease and then sobbed over and soothed, preferably while the characters are nude and sticking their tongues in each other’s orifices. There are several "essays" about hurt/comfort on the site and recommendations to fanfiction like this:

Picking Up The Pieces by Annie (Starsky/Hutch, NC-17)-
This is the definition of yummy for me 🙂 It follows a rather typical
plotline (that I am certainly guilty of following in several stories,
myself) but the overpowering hurt/comfort elements and adorable
characterizations really save this. The hurt at the beginning is
wonderful- it’s got all the elements that I adore. And when the comfort
portion comes around, it does so with understanding and emotion and hot
hot sex. Who could ask for more?

Here’s a sample of the yummy:

"No?" Starsky queried. "How many guys who didn’t love you would touch
you the way I do, as often as I do? How many guys who didn’t love you
would hold you in their arms and let you puke all over them after you’d
been hyped on Horse, huh?" Starsky smiled to take the sting from his
words but his eyes were grave and steady. "How many guys who didn’t
love you would be so glad when they found you alive pinned under your
car that it was all they could do not to kiss you then and there? Huh?
Tell me, babe. How many?" He leaned forward and slowly pressed his
mouth to Hutch’s, placing the lightest of caresses there.

I’m ready to puke and I’m not even hyped on Horse.  Just imagine her take on how Huggy Bear earned his name…

The Age of Instant Video Is Here

I don’t usually rave about products on this blog, but I can’t contain my enthusiasm for this nifty new gadget that we bought our daughter for her birthday. It’s the Pure Digital Point-and-Shoot Video Camcorder. It’s the size of an iPod and every bit as simple and ingenious. You just point and shoot. It’s that easy. There’s nothing to learn. (It’s also cheap…$125 at your local Target store or on Amazon). There’s a record button, a play button, and a delete button.  And a little rocker button that doubles as a zoom and volume control. You can watch videos instantly on the tiny color screen. The Point-and-Shoot runs on two AA batteries, holds 30 minutes of video, and plugs into your computer with it’s built-in USB cable (and, if you like, automatically loads easy-to-use video playback, management, and emailing software on your hard-drive). Within seconds, and I mean seconds, you can email your videos all over the planet.  It’s amazing. One minute after she unwrapped the present, my daughter became the next Sofia Coppola, directing epics all over the house.  I don’t understand why this wonderful product hasn’t become the Next Big Thing…or am I so out-of-touch that it already has and I missed it?