Justina Muchado has left our show and Mark Consuelos has stepped in. Production began this week on our second season…and just let me say, Vivica Fox rocks.

Lifetime’s ‘Missing’ finds Fox, Consuelos

FBI skein’s new season premieres in July


Former sudser star Mark Consuelos is going primetime, joining the cast of the Lifetime drama “Missing.”
Casting of Consuelos comes in the wake of news that Vivica A. Fox (“Kill Bill”) has also come aboard the skein. Her character replaces that of original star Gloria Reuben in the second season of the show.

“Missing” revolves around FBI investigator Nicole Scott (Fox), who has teamed with a young psychic to help track down missing persons. Consuelos, husband of morning talkshow host Kelly Ripa, will play an FBI agent and former colleague of Fox’s character.

New season premieres in July.

Consuelos is a vet of the ABC soap “All My Children,” in which he starred opposite Ripa. He next appears in Miramax actioner “The Great Raid” with Benjamin Bratt and Joseph Fiennes. More recently, Consuelos did a multi-episode arc on NBC’s “Third Watch.”

“Missing” is produced by Lions Gate TV in association with CHUM TV. Glenn Davis, William Laurin and Debra Martin Chase are exec producers.

Edgar Winners

And the Winners Are…

Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin (Little, Brown)


Death of a Nationalist by Rebecca Pawel (Soho Press)


Find Me Again by Sylvia Maultash Warsh (Dundurn Group)


Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson (Bloomsbury)


The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (Random House – Crown Books)


“The Maids” – Blood on Their Hands by G. Miki Hayden (Berkley Prime Crime)


Acceleration by Graham McNamee (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Childrens)


Bernie Magruder & the Bats in the Belfry by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum)


The Practice – “Goodbye”, Teleplay by Peter Blake & David E. Kelley


Dirty Pretty Things by Steve Knight (BBC, Celador Productions, Jonescompany)

A Sweet Kid

In the LA Times, a despondent father (who also happens to be a Orange County Sheriff) laments that his teenage kid, arrested for raping an unconscious woman and penetrating her with a bottle, a pool cue, and a cigarette, is just…

“The most kind, caring, sweet kid you’d ever meet in your life.” He says he believes his son is guilty of nothing more than acting thoughtlessly.

“They’re all basically good kids who got themselves into a stupid, terrible situation,” Haidl said.

Did I mention these good kids also video taped their rape?

The defense has argued that the sex depicted on the video was consensual and that in the days before the gathering the girl had willingly engaged in sexual activities with all three.

I find it amazing that Sheriff Haidl can be so blind about his own son. I wonder if he is as sympathetic to the other rapists his deputies have arrested.

Does he really expect ANYBODY to feel sorry for his “sweet caring son” and his sicko buddies?

UPDATE (MAY 4): More news from the LA Times. Now the sweet kid and his lawyers are alleging the under-age girl was only pretending to be unconscious and wanted to be gang raped… and violated with pool cues, lit cigarettes, and a Snapple bottle. It’s not a new strategy to blame the victim for her own rape…but this is reprehensible.

In opening statements, the defense portrayed the girl as a sex fiend whose life had spun out of control, and the prosecutor told jurors that the videotape will reveal the youths as arrogant, selfish assailants. But both sides characterized the incident, in Haidl’s Corona del Mar home two years ago, as the culmination of a series of bad choices by the girl.

Both sides agree that on the day before the party, the girl went to Haidl’s house, where she smoked marijuana, drank heavily and had sex with at least two young men. The next day, she returned alone.

Each juror was handed a binder with 48 color photos from the videotape. The photos show the defendants — Gregory Scott Haidl, 18; Kyle Joseph Nachreiner, 19; and Keith James Spann, 19 — alternately having sex with the girl and sodomizing her with a Snapple bottle, an empty fruit can and a lighted cigarette.

In the video, after the boys have sex with the apparently unconscious girl on a couch, they are shown moving her to a pool table. Spann affirms with a gesture that the girl has blacked out — and the sexual antics continue, the prosecutor told jurors. Later, the boys mug for the camera, giggle and dance to the blaring rap music. Haidl slaps the girl’s stomach in time to the beat.

In the final photo, the girl — still appearing unconscious — is pictured after urinating on the pool table. Lawyers for the three suspects conceded that the events occurred. She pretended to be unconscious, the defense argued, because she knew that if the video were discovered, people would think poorly of her for allowing boys to treat her in such humiliating fashion.

Attorney John Barnett, representing Nachreiner, said jurors must view the tape in context with what he called the girl’s sexually free-form lifestyle

Block on Signings

Sarah Weinman clued me in to this terrific article by Lawrence Block on signing and touring…

The whole signed-books issue got accelerated with the 1992 publication of John Dunning’s Booked to Die, which noted that books simply signed by the author had more collector value than those inscribed to a specific reader. Almost immediately, I noticed an upsurge of buyers who murmured “Signature only, please.” It’s much quicker just signing one’s name, and not having to write “To Cathy, I’ll never forget that heavenly night in Sioux Falls.” And was that Cathy with a C or Kathy with a K, and does it end in Y or I?

“Thank you, John Dunning,” many of us said under our breath when another signature-only appeared. But there was a downside. If more folks were content with a simple signature, they were also intent on getting their entire collection signed.

Larry is being a bit disingenuous… as much as he questions the value of signed books and the desire readers have to get their books signed, he’s certainly taking advantage of the market more deftly and agressively than any author I know. Not only does he tour extensively to support his books (as he should), he also runs a small business through his website and his newsletter — and literally out of the trunk of his car — selling signed copies of his backlist and other editions. It’s rare to find an UNSIGNED Block book. So while he may question the whole signed-book-mania, he’s certainly profiting from it and, no doubt, hoping the craze doesn’t wane. Who can blame him? I admire his writing and his salesmanship. But given the way he’s embraced the signed book market, I found the tone of his entertaining piece a bit puzzling…

Book Fest

I had a wonderful time at the Los Angeles Festival of Books. In addition to meeting lots of terrific readers and fans, I also got to catch up with some of my favorite writers and friends like Paul Levine (who just finished writing a new novel), Denise Hamilton (favorably compared to Chandler in the LA Times this weekend), Steve Cannell (who told me he’s releasing all his old shows on DVD, including the late great COBRA, which I worked on for him), Victor Gischler (visiting LA for the first time and catching a prizefight while he was at it), Barbara Seranella (taking her wicked sense of humor out for a test drive), Roger Simon (playing with his new camera), Gayle & Dennis Lynds (Lit royalty from Santa Barbara), Dick Lochte (with whom I love talking shop), Kent Harrington (his DARK RIDE is a noir classic and he’s probably sick of me telling him that all the time), Richard Barre (a great writer and now editor at Capra Press), Gregg Hurwitz (a newlywed), GM Ford (also a newlywed), Scott Phillips (still high from the news his ICE HARVEST is now filming), Tom Nolan (his Ross McDonald biography is a must read), Eric Garcia (just back from the set of the new ANONYMOUS REX TV series), Terry Erdman (Mr. Star Trek), TJ Parker (sharing some of his adventures in television), Mary Yukuri Waters (a wonderful short story writer) Jerrylin Farmer (who always gives me great advice…though this time we shared broken bone horror stories), Nathan Walpow, Gary Phillips, Rhys Bowen, Aimee Bender, Leonard Maltin, Tom Taylor, SL Stebel, and John Morgan Wilson. I also got to meet and chat with Bruce Wagner, Raymond Benson (now writing the Bond books), Sean Doolittle, Leslie Silbert, Joanne Fluke (great cookies!), Rachel Resnick (author of “Go West Young Fucked Up Girl”), Diane Wagman, and John Connolly.

By far, though, the highlight of the weekend for me was the hour or so I spent after the book awards chatting with Donald Westlake (first with Dick Lochte, who introduced us, then later with my brother Tod and Denise Hamilton). We talked about writing styles and techniques, the book business, screenwriting, and the movie adaptations of his work. We also talked about some of our favorite authors and he shared some marvelous anecdotes about Rex Stout, Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Evan Hunter and my buddy Richard S. Prather. I was wowed. He’s a living legend and a hell of a nice guy, too.

For pictures from the Fest, check out Roger Simon’s blog or Aldo Calcagno’s site.

It’s a Mystery

I was reading the Publishers Weekly close-up on mysteries, which reminded me of a pitch meeting we had a few years ago at a basic cable network, before MONK burst on the scene. I pitched a mystery series, a blend of reality and scripted tv, to the new development exec. He interrupted me in middle of the pitch.

“Wait a minute,” he said. “You want to do a mystery every week?”

“Uh, yes,” I said.

“It can’t be done,” he said.

“What do you mean?” I asked, genuinely confused.

“I mean, you can’t tell a new mystery every week,” he said. “It’s just not possible.”

“Of course it is,” I replied. “I’ve done it. Diagnosis Murder was a mystery.”

“No, it wasn’t.”

“Yes, it was,” I argued.

“Nobody can do a mystery every week,” he said. “It’s ludicrous.”

“Murder She Wrote, Law and Order, CSI, those are all mysteries,” I said.

“No, they aren’t.”

“Okay,” I said. “What is your idea of a mystery?”

“Scooby-Doo,” he replied.

“That’s an animated Saturday morning cartoon,” I said.

“Exactly,” he said.

One Arm Free

I got the cast on my left arm off today — I feel like a new man. I got a new cast on my right arm and an x-ray peek at the new titanium elbow. It’s not a very elegant device — kind of barbaric looking with the long, pointed, screws and the "ball" imbedded in my bone. Buy hey, if it works, who cares what it looks like underneath the skin. On the surface, I have a hell of a scar. It will make me look rugged. The cast on my right arm comes off in 15 days and then the real fun begins, figuring out just how much motion/use I will get back. But at least I know I can type and sign my name.

Slash Fanfic

It’s as old as fanfic — slash fic. That’s when Kirk and Spock do The Nasty…and so do McCoy/Scotty, Josh/President Bartlett… you get the stomach churning picture. Gotta love fanfic. Anyway, there’s even Diagnosis Murder slash fic. Can you imagine? Why would you? Why would anyone? One particularly upset fan rails on a blog against a new DM slash story.