Doug Lyle Likes to Kill People

Doug Lyle may be Orange County’s most prolific serial killer.

He’s smashed 18-wheelers into station wagons, tossed dynamite into mine
shafts, hung victims by their ankles, or plain, old-fashioned shot them.

He is also a willing accomplice to hundreds – perhaps thousands – of other

That’s the opening of a great profile of Dr. Doug Lyle in today’s Orange County Register and his work as a consultant to mystery writers like me. Without him, Dr. Mark Sloan would be an LA screenwriter in his early 40s.

Crimetime Television

From Variety today…

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES creator Marc Cherry is teaming up with CHUCKY creator Don Scardino to develop an "hour-long suspense" drama for ABC called KILL/SWITCH (which features a "dead heroine").  Cherry is also mulling a DH spin-off called VICIOUS CHEERLEADERS.

24 creators  Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran are developing a private eye series for FOX. The series is described as a modern-day LA CONFIDENTIAL and will track a single case for 13 episodes.

Surnow said he and Cochran were also inspired by everything from "The Maltese
Falcon" to Raymond Chandler.

"We’re going to steal from as many movies as possible," Surnow quipped.
"There’s a wonderful, visual style to it that we haven’t really seen on TV. What
we like about film noir is it’s very sexy – we hope to do to that genre what we
did with the spy genre."

Meanwhile, things aren’t looking good for the critically savaged E-RING, which was fourth in it’s timeslot, and the ratings for CSI:NY were down 37% compared to last season.

The Plotting of LOST

There are creative squabbles on every show. Former LOST producer David Fury has made his public in a recent Rolling Stone interview, and my friend Javi, supervising producer of the show,  isn’t happy about it. But the squabbles aside, Javi’s lengthy post (which refutes Fury’s assertions) offers a fascinating insight into the development of LOST. While the details are unique to LOST, the process is applicable to most TV shows I’ve ever worked on…especially when it comes down to how individual episodes are crafted:

a good example of how the writers room works in a series such as
"lost"- and one that is extremely appropriate to this situation – is
the creation of the story that eventually became david’s emmy-nominated
episode "walkabout."

now, let me make one thing perfectly clear.
david wrote the living hell out of that episode. he deserved the emmy
nomination (and in my opinion, the emmy itself) for an episode which is
rightfully hailed as a turning point in the series and a signature
moment of "lost."

however, like all episodes of this – and
almost any television show – that story was "broken" in the writers
room. it was discussed, conceived and divided into acts and scenes in
an environment where a group of writers sat together, shared their best
ideas and thoughts, and collectively filtered out the chaff to come up
with the best possible version of that story: which david – to his
complete credit – then turned into one of the best hours of tv that i
have ever seen.

More on Bond

Lkc2SamVariety reports that screen tests are ongoing this week for the new James Bond. The latest front-burner names, as reported here a few days ago, are Daniel Craig and Henry Cavill, with a couple new faces thrown in the mix: ER’s Goran Visnjic and Aussie actor Sam Worthington. The lack of stars in the running (like Clive Owen) is due, Variety reports, to the producers’ unwillingness to pay gross points to their leading man. They want to snag their next 007 for a fraction of the $25 million paid to Pierce Brosnan.

Used Books — The Hot New Thing

Publisher’s Weekly reports that used books are rapidly becoming one of the biggest growth areas in the bookselling business.

In findings that will surprise few in publishing, the Book Industry Study
Group report on used books found a rapidly growing segment that is likely to
continue to be one of the biggest growth areas in the industry. The size of the
used book market for non-education books– trade and professional titles–was
$589 million in 2004, while sales of used textbooks added another $1.6 billion,
putting the total used book market at $2.2 billion last year, a 11.1% increase
over 2003. Total unit sales were 111.2 million last year, with trade and
professional unit sales hitting 72.6 million, while education unit sales were
38.6 million.

Growth in the last few years has been fueled by online retailers. BISG estimated
that sales of used books through online retailers rose 33% in 2004, to $609
million, while sales through bookstores rose 4.6%, to $1.57 billion. In the
trade/professional segment, online used book sales were $429 million last year,
while sales through bookstores were $115 million. Sales through other outlets,
such as yard sales, were $45 million.

Wait a minute… sales of used books at garage sales are netting $45 million? I think I’m going into the used book business. There’s also some scary news in the report for authors:

Used books are now considered mainstream and the industry is approaching a point
where consumers may choose to delay their purchases of a new book for a few
weeks–until a used copy becomes available.

I’m Outta Here…Maybe

There’s an enormous fire raging about three miles from my house in Calabasas, California. Two neighborhoods close to mine, on the north side of the Ventura Freeway,  have been evacuated.  No one has told us to leave yet, but we’ve already made a short list of what we will take if we have to go… family photos & home movies, important documents, my external hard-drive, my daughter’s three favorite stuffed animals. In the mean time, I can sit here in my home office and watch the smoke moving in our direction…

Firefighters are doing everything they can to halt the fire at the freeway, because if the flames jump to our side, it’s a clear shot to the dry hills of  Malibu…which is exactly what happened a few years ago.

How to Fire Your Agent

Screenwriter Craig Mazin shows you how it’s done.

I recommend doing it on the phone. I don’t say this because it’s the cowardly
move. It’s not. I say this because agents are extremely well-trained in the art
of not letting clients fire them. Don’t kid yourselves…the stories of meetings
that began with clients saying “you’re fired” and ended with “okay, you’re still
my agent” are legend at the big firms, and they have many ways of breaking

As usual, Craig has lots of good advice. Take notes.

Two and out

HEAD CASES was cancelled by Fox after only two episodes, but it’s hardly the first series cancelled so abruptly. It joins an infamous list, compiled by TrivialTV, that includes such forgotten failures as BIG SHAMUS LITTLE SHAMUS, CHARLIE LAWRENCE, FOUR CORNERS,  THE PAULA POUNDSTONE SHOW, PRINCE STREET, SLEEPWALKERS, THE MIKE O’MALLEY SHOW, and RYAN CAULFIELD: YEAR ONE.

What’s it Worth to You to See Me Put on Deordorant?

Idea3Despite it being "an overwhelmingly positive experience," The Waking Vixen is giving up her job as a sex worker:

"Of course, it remains to be seen whether I can maintain “retirement” or whatever
– it’s probably not going to be a clean break. In many ways, sex work is pretty
addictive – the hours, the piles of cash money, the control over my body and
those of others. It’s really difficult to see my days in terms of hour-long
sessions, and to constantly think – hmm, could I get paid for what I’m doing
right now? From peeing to eating to squeezing my nipples, I’m always wondering
about how much that’s worth."

Yeah, me too.  Especially when I’m staring at the blank screen, twisting my nipples, trying to figure out what to write next. Deep down, I think she’s really a writer. I mean, who among us scribes hasn’t had this thought before:

"it’s hard to turn away from it, to think about the eventuality of having to work
with clothes on."