Thanksgiving was death day in TV land.  TVSquad reports that ALIAS has been cancelled.

UPDATE: USA Today confirms the news. The series will end with a "big finish" in May.

"Alias is not going to wind down as it comes to an
end, it’s going to rev up, and we’re going to make it the event it deserves to
be," ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson said in a statement.

CBS Reaches Threshold of Patience

TVSquad reports that CBS has cancelled THRESHOLD, one of the three alien invasion dramas launched this season (SURFACE and INVASION have both been picked up for the back nine).  Carla Gugino was terrific  in KAREN SISKO, but her talents were wasted in THRESHOLD, which tended to be the same episode every week.  Let’s hope she gets a third shot at a TV series…and that the next one works.


Sarah Weinman stumbled on this hilarious review of George R. R. Martin’s new book A FEAST FOR CROWS. Apparently, it should have been titled A FEAST OF NIPPLES.

A FEAST FOR CROWS has to be the most nippletastic book I’ve read
since, oh, Candy. It felt like not a page went by that a pair wasn’t
being pinched, suckled, eyed, prized, fondled, lopped off (seriously) or
otherwise palpated. Boys’ nipples, girls’ nipples, big brown nipples, fulsome
nipples, nipples like black diamonds, lactating nipples, male pepperoni-style
nipples. All kinds of nipples. It makes me wonder if a retread of Lord of
the Rings
isn’t in order, with 100% more detail on the hobbit nipples.

Cluck Cluck

I’m heading down to La Quinta soon for Thanksgiving with my family. My brother Tod and his wife Wendy are hosting the feast this year, to be attended by my mother, my sisters, and their families. I heard that steak and lobster are on the menu, along with some Julian Apple Pies and other assorted diet-busters (alas, no turkey this year). Over the next couple of days, you won’t find me around here muhc, I’ll be hanging out with my Mom at the nickel slots at the Fantasy Springs Casino or catching THE ICE HARVEST (based on our friend Scott’s terrific book) with Tod at the local multiplex.

Doubling Up on Mediums?

Variety reports that Lifetime has shelled out $1.3 million an episode for MEDIUM reruns, which is interesting, considering the network pays  only a little more than that for new episodes of MISSING, their first-run show about an FBI agent/medium who finds missing persons. In fact, MISSING is their only remaining first-run series. So the question I have for psychics out there, crime-solving and otherwise:…will Lifetime double up on mediums and keep MISSING, or does this pricey rerun deal spell doom for the show?

Can You Introduce Me to a Showrunner?

I got this email today:

I have a
friend who’s pitching a show to NBC and they want him to deliver a sitcom
writer/show runner.  Do you know of any looking for

The sitcom writers I know are interested in pitching shows of their own — besides, I would never pass along their names and contact information to a stranger.
I suspect the reason why NBC wants your friend to bring in a showrunner is
because they have no faith in him to deliver a series. The network needs someone
they can trust…and your friend doesn’t have the experience or skill yet.

Showrunners work hard to earn that trust — it takes years of work on sitcoms to get it. Naturally, writers who have reached that point in their careers are reluctant to let someone ride on their hard-earned coat-tails — unless it’s someone who
brings something worthwhile to the table like a star with an enormous following or
a successful stand-up comic with a development deal.

Most showrunners can get pitch meetings on their own. They don’t need your friend, or his series ideas, for that.


Missing_s2TVShowsOnDVD reports that the Complete Second Season of MISSING, starring Vivica A. Fox,  will be released on DVD  January 24th (I was one of the writer/producers on the first two seasons).  Lions Gate Television seems to be  skipping right past the first season, which starred Gloria Reuben, and I really don’t blame them.

Sunday On The Road

My 10-year-old daughter Madison wanted to hang out with her Dad today, so we both went down to Irvine for my talk with the Orange County chapter of Sisters-in-Crime. My brother Tod was there, too, and we talked about the craft and business of writing with the lovely ladies for two-and-half hours…and then Madison and I schlepped up to Hollywood in bumper-to-bumper traffic for the MONK season wrap party at the Lucky Strike bowling alley.

We chatted with showrunner/creator Andy Breckman, and producers Tom Scharpling, David Breckman and David Hoberman, as well as USA Network head honcho Jeff Wachtel. My old friends Terry Erdman and Paula Block, authors of the upcoming MONK COMPANION, were also there. Andy made Madison’s day by taking her picture with Tony Shalhoub and Traylor Howard (I’ll be sure to post the pictures when they arrive).

Madison says she learned a lot from our talk and that she had a great time at the party, so it looks like she may be tagging along with me more often… which is fine with me!

Still More Dollars and Sense

Authors everywhere are getting their royalty statements in the mail, sparking a lot of blog talk about money. Bestselling novelist Tess Gerritsen says you don’t need to look at an author’s royalty statement to figure out how much he’s probably making:

If you follow the announced deals in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY or the
online website PUBLISHERS MARKETPLACE, you’ll start to get an inkling
of what multi-published authors are getting. But you can also guess,
knowing typical royalty rates, what an author is probably worth in real
dollars. With major publishers, hardcover royalties tend to run around
12 – 15% and paperback royalties tend to be around 6- 10% of cover
price. So a writer who’s sold 25,000 hardcover copies has earned
$75,000 in royalties in hardcover sales alone, and his next book deal
should certainly reflect that. His next advance should be, at a bare
minimum, $75,000. (And we’re not even talking about paperback earnings
yet, which will be on top of that.) More likely, the next advance will
take into account continued growth, and will probably reach well into
six figures.

But once you get into the stratosphere of NYT-bestselling authors, the
numbers may no longer be anchored to real sales figures, but may soar
much much higher. From my own observations of the business, authors who
consistently place in the bottom third of the NYT list (Positions # 11
– 15) are worth at least a million dollars a book, North American
rights. We’re talking combined hard/soft deals here, since most
publishers now retain paperback rights. If you consistently place
#6-10, your deals go even higher, into multi-million dollar range. Once
your books consistently place in the top third, the deals become wildly
unpredictable, because now we’re talking Harry Potter and Dan Brown
territory. Eight-figure book deals are not out of the question.

Of course, what you get really depends on how good your agent is. Novelist Laurie King left this comment on my post about author Sara Donati’s royalty chat:

[A] typical royalty division (for regularly discounted books sold in the US
market) is along the lines of 10 percent for the author on the first
5000 books sold, 12 1/2 percent on the next 5000, and after that 15
percent. Or more if, as you say, your numbers mean you can dictate to
your publisher what you want. Then 7 1/2 percent on trade paperback, 10
percent on mass market.