Gil Mille

This has been a sad year in the world of television and film music — already we’ve lost Jerry Goldsmith, David Raksin, Fred Karlin and Elmer Bernstein. Now Variety reports that composer Gil Mille has died. Mille is perhaps best known for his TV scores for KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, NIGHT GALLERY, THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, and THE QUESTOR TAPES as well as the feature film THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, among others.

I’m a huge fan of TV and film music… I listen almost exclusively to soundtracks as I write. I’ve been listening to a lot of Goldsmith, Raksin, Karlin and Bernstein over the last few month…Mille never quite attained their legendary status and wide appeal, but his scores were powerful, ground-breaking and memorable. He will be missed.

Book News from Lee

Today, I finished the first draft of DIAGNOSIS MURDER #5: THE PAST TENSE… and I’ve sent it off to my writing/producing partner Bill Rabkin (with whom I exec produced Diagnosis Murder) and my brother Tod, the literary novelist, for their opinions, suggestions, and brutal edits. Bill & Tod will also be subbing for me here while I recuperate from surgery.

I also am pleased to annouce I’ve sold my book THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE to Five Star, the fine folks who brought you my novel THE WALK. The new novel will be published in hardcover some time next year. It’s a dark-comic mystery about a detective who learned everything he knows about being a PI from watching TV shows and reading paperbacks…and discovers the hard way just how different reality and fiction really are.

I’m going to take a few days off for a speaking engagement and two book-signings in Palm Springs this weekend before going into the hospital for surgery on my arm next week…though that date could change. I’ll know more after I see my doctor on Monday.

Rob Lowe and Joe Pantoliano

Both Rob Lowe and Joe Pantoliano have starred in two TV series in two consecutive seasons… IN THE LIONS DEN (Lowe), THE HANDLER (Pantoliano) and DR. VEGAS (Lowe & Pantoliano).. and all three shows bombed. Do you think anybody will be hiring them to star in a TV series any time soon?

Merry Christmas

Novelist Victor Gischler has posted “Eleven Silver Johnnies,” a horror story, on the net, that begins like this:

I knew this guy, Johnny Christmas, from the garage. Of all the grease monkeys, he was best, a big, thick-necked, hammy-handed man, and he could spit and smoke and cough up phlegm like it was a career. He farted and swore and laughed, and he could bring down a charging rhino with his salami breath. That was Johnny Christmas.

To read more, click here.

CBS runs Numbers

The diagnosis isn’t good for DR. VEGAS…. CBS has picked up the mid-season series NUMBERS, starring Judd Hirsch as an FBI agent who solicits the help of his mathematician brother to solve crimes. Sounds like CSI meets MONK. Other cast members David Krumholtz, Sabrina Lloyd, Peter MacNicol, Rob Morrow, and Navi Rawat.

NBC Woes

According to Variety, NBC is pulling FATHER OF THE PRIDE off the air during sweeps, and while they haven’t admitted this, the long lead time and the fact they haven’t already ordered more episodes guarantees that there is absolutely no way they can make more than 13 episodes this season… and odds are strong for cancellation. (Especially since — and I didn’t know this — the deal with Dreamworks has the network paying ALL costs for the show, not just a license fee.)

Also, LAX is only going to air twice in its new timeslot during November — and if it bombs again this Wednesday, it could be pulled entirely. Looks like Heather Locklear’s winning streak has finally been broken…

The Statue of Liberty is Cracking Up

I’ve complained a bit about the cover of my book BEYOND THE BEYOND… a whine that earned me a place in Sarah Weinman’s Mystery Scene story on writers who blog…

But while visiting my Mom this weekend down in Palm Springs, I was reminded of a book cover I really liked… the cover of her first book, “The Statue of Liberty is Cracking Up.” Statueoflibery
It was the publication of her non-fiction book that made me realize that my own dreams of becoming a writer could come true, too. She proved to me it was possible to sell a book… if you believed in yourself and were willing to work hard at achieving your goals.

Nets Turn to Books

The networks are looking to their bookshelves this development season…

Variety reports that JUDGING AMY producer Hart Hanson is writing a pilot for Fox based on Kathy Reich’s series of Temperance Brennan novels about a female forensic anthropologist in Montreal (Reichs is also a forensic anthropologist).

But it sounds like they are making a few changes for TV…

Lead character, named Marjorie Miles, will have a team of experts to help her solve the mysteries of the bones, including a reconstructive artist and bug experts who can uncover clues about a case by analyzing the creatures surrounding a corpse.

As with Reichs, Miles also will be a writer, though that won’t be a key part of each episode. “It’ll be more of a pain-in-the-ass obstacle that she’s written this book,” which includes characters like the people she works with, Hanson said.

CBS, meanwhile, is developing a pilot based on Elisabeth Cosin’s novel “Zen and the Art of Murder,” about a PI named Zen who toiled in LA. Cosin is wriiting the script… in addition to being a novelist, she’s also a TV vet with writing credits that include BUDDY FARO and LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT.

How Do I Write a Treatment?

I received this email today:

I am trying to pitch a movie. My question: Is there a specific format for an outline or treatment? Is there someplace I could get a sample of either or both?

Unless you are an established screenwriter, or are teamed up with a well-connected movie producer, there is no point in writing up an outline or a treatment. No one will ever read it or meet with you. You are better off writing the script…or the book… and trying to sell that to the movies.

On the other hand, if you are an established screenwriter or aligned with a hot producer, you still don’t need an outline… a simple, punchy, two-page  "leave-behind" after your verbal pitch will do.

If they want an outline or a treatment, they can pay you for one.

That’s my advice, any way. Then again, most of my experience is in television, not feature film. You might visit screenwriter John August’s blog and pose the same question to him.

UPDATE: For details on how to write a series treatment, click here.