The Writing Fool

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on a few writing projects.

I finished up a script based on my book MY GUN HAS BULLETS and sent it to some friends.

I wrote my outline for MR. MONK AND THE BLUE FLU and sent it off to the powers-that-be…now I am waiting for approval so I can start writing the book.

I wrote an article for an MWA chapter newsletter in the mid-west on writing the MONK books.

I wrote two more entries for my "Natalie" blog, which will be going live on the USA Network website in a couple of weeks.

Last night, I finished the first draft of a script based on my book THE WALK…now I am going to set it aside for a week or two and read it fresh before attempting the rewrite.

What’s ahead?

Today I’m trying to come up with an idea for my short story for Robert Randisi’s latest crime anthology, which is due in March, and once I’ve done that, maybe I’ll have an inspiration and figure out what my eighth DIAGNOSIS MURDER book is going to be about. And I’ve got a couple of more "Natalie" blogs to write…

Later next month, Bill and I start work on our spec pilot and will probably be tackling another MONK episode, this one based on my book MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIRE HOUSE.

A Good Omen for the New Year

Book critic Oline Codgill of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has given me my first review of the new year… here’s an early peek at her Jan. 1st column and her review of THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE:

Anyone who has watched television during the past 10 years probably has at least
more than a passing knowledge of Lee Goldberg’s work. As an author, Goldberg’s
name may not come easily to mind. But as a writer/producer, Goldberg’s credits
include Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Nero Wolfe, Hunter, Spenser: for Hire and
The Cosby Mysteries. He has also written a couple of comic mysteries and
the thriller The Walk.

Credits aside, it’s always what can you do
for me today. And Goldberg does quite a lot in the amusingly hard-boiled The
Man With the Iron-on Badge
. In this novel about a Los Angeles security guard
for a wealthy, gated community, Goldberg delivers a clever riff on the
traditional private eye novel, resplendent with witty and dark turns.

Twenty-nine-year-old Harvey Mapes is approached by one of the residents,
Cyril Parkus, to follow his wife. The spouse, Lauren, is so perfect that even
Harvey wonders how much of her is real.

He has little illusion about his
job — "I’m there to give the illusion of security. I don’t have a gun, a badge,
or even a working stapler." But this undercover assignment will give Harvey a
new view of his work. Not knowing anything about following someone, Harvey
immerses himself in detective lore — watching a Mannix marathon on TV
Land, reading detective novels by Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, Robert Crais —
and tries to pass himself as John D. MacDonald, the best-selling author of
detective fiction who’s doing research. Of course, it would help that he knew
what the D. stood for in MacDonald’s name; or realized that everyone he talks to
knows who MacDonald was.

When the path he pursues following Lauren takes
a dark, twisted turn, Harvey refuses to give up. Along the way he will learn
about the lives of others and about himself.

Goldberg’s penchant for
complexity keeps the story on a twisted keel, and with his background, The
Man With the Iron-on Badge
should make a lively movie of the week.

Thanks, Oline!

Law & Goyim

My friend author Rochelle Krich is steaming mad over a LAW AND ORDER episode a couple weeks back that portayed orthodox Jews in a less than flattering light.

We have an Orthodox Jewish rabbi dispensing unOrthodox theology and upholding the fiction behind the family chumash.

We have Eric, a greedy Jew who engineers the desecration of a Jewish book that results in someone’s death.

We have Barry, an Orthodox Jewish killer, all-around
louse, and frequenter of lap dancers who recants his testimony against
Eric when he learns the chumash isn’t "the one."

My father lied to me, he says. It’s all a lie.


Greed, brazen immorality, hypocrisy, lies.

According to Law & Order, that’s Orthodox Judaism.

I saw the episode and it didn’t offend my Jewish sensibilities, mainly because I’m a bad Jew and LAW AND ORDER portrays everybody as immortal, hypocritical, and dishonest. It’s a murder mystery and every character is a suspect. For that to be possible, everyone has to have a motive. It isn’t the job of the writers to portray every racial, political, economic, cultural and religious group in a positive and accurate light — in fact, they do the opposite and on a weekly basis. They didn’t single out Orthodox Jews — if they had, then perhaps I would share my friend Rochelle’s anger.

The Single Greatest Idea for a TV Series EVER!

I got this email from Dan yesterday:

Lee, I just came across your blog.  I know you are a busy person so I will keep
this short and sweet…


1. Perhpas it wouldn’t be with google, but google is so hot, you
would think they would be interested in this
2. Essentially, this idea would
be an interactive tv gameshow/reality gameshow
3. People can play along
online for prizes
4. We would add a reality portion to this game show with
contests extending weeks at a time

(I would hope to create a little
craze like Millionaire/Reality TV Shows…even though they are on the down

These points don’t explain much…but from what you heard, does
this sound intriguing?

That is a brilliant idea for a show, Dan.  So innovative, fresh and unique. It’s got incredible potential.  It’s even better than my great TV show idea:

IDEA: MURDER COPS  (I registered the idea with the WGA).

1) It’s about two homicide detectives who are very different from each other.  (This could be in any city…though NY and Las Vegas are getting kind of overdone).
2) They solve really puzzling murders ala CSI and BLUE’S CLUES.
3) The stories are very twisty and clever.
4) It’s shot in a cool and innovative way with lots of style.
4) I see a big TV star like David Duchovny in one of the parts, maybe Beyonce, too.

(I would hope to turn it into a successful franchise like CSI or LAW & ORDER…even though there are, like, three each of those shows already).

Dan goes on to ask:

Any quick ideas on how a treatment should be written for a show like this?

Yes, Dan, I have a few. In general, it’s nice to actually have a series concept in mind before writing a treatment. Unfortunately, you don’t have a concept. You barely even have an idea.  You’d like to do a game show that people at home can play along with and that is tied in some way to Google. Come to think of it, that’s not even substantial enough to qualify as a notion.

Secondly, you may own the domain "Google Gameshow," but I suspect you don’t own Google. It’s not wise to try and sell an idea that’s based on an underlying property or trademark you don’t actually own.

Third, you obviously have no experience as a TV writer or producer,  so I doubt anyone would be interested in seriously considering your idea.

Fourth, why are you asking me about a gameshow treatment? I have never written or produced a gameshow. How would I know the answer to your question?

Fifth, if  you have an idea for a TV show, it’s probably not wise to email other writers about it, especially those with blogs who regularly ridicule complete strangers who email them their ideas for TV shows.

Walking Tall

The long wait is finally over. The 1981 TV version of WALKING TALL is coming to DVD in a boxed set that includes all seven episodes of the show,  which starred Bo Svenson as Sheriff Buford Pusser, a role originated on screen by Joe Don Baker. Svenson starred in the two theatrical sequels (Brian Dennehy starred in an earlier, unsold pilot for the series).  This just goes to prove they’ll put any TV series on DVD — unless I wrote and produced it.

Lord of the Yawns

Even for free, Peter Jackson’s KING KONG isn’t worth the admission price.

Jackson could easily cut an hour-and-a-half from this movie — and, in doing so, perform a service for all of mankind. But I suspect that even at half the running time,  KING KONG would still be an insanely dull and pointless remake (seven hours into the movie, my daughter leaned over to me and asked "Are we there yet?").

The special effects are amazing, I will give Jackson that, but no amount of CGI wizardry can make up for the failings of the story, dialogue and characters.  All the actors, particularly Jack Black, seem completely lost, unsure what they are supposed to be playing. But you can’t really blame the actors. You have to blame the writer/director. The characters aren’t nearly as fleshed out,   interesting, or believable as the CGI monsters. At least you understand why the dinosaurs and insects are doing what they’re doing. During the ordeal, I  also wondered about my own motivation — what the hell was I still doing in the theater? But against all my better judgment, and the pleading of my loved ones, I stayed. I endured.

The movie isn’t even good enough to wow a ten-year-old.  I know,  because my ten-year-old told me so. 

"Spongebob Squarepants is a lot more fun," she said as we finally fled the theater, "and shorter, too."

How Dense Can a Person Be?

Anybody who reads this blog knows I’m not a supporter of "fanfic," that I think it violates the legal and artistic rights of authors, and that I take every opportunity to point out how inane and offensive most of it is.  So you can imagine my amusement when I got this  email today:

Hey Mr. Goldberg–
I know this is going to seem really random but there is no
way around it. You made a post a while ago about a fanfic writer
named ‘cousinjean’
. I don’t really care about the whole situation
surrounding her asking for money, more I was wondering if you knew any way to
get in contact with her. I don’t want to harass her, I just wanted to know
if she still had a site up with her work on it because some of it I
never got to finish reading and the link doesn’t seem to work any longer.

This request is really bizarre. It’s sort of like asking a Jew to direct you to some really rocking anti-Semitic screeds. Yeah, sure, Trish, I’ll be glad to.

A Christmas Present from the Chicago Tribune

Yesterday,  Santa left a nice review for MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE from the Chicago Tribune under my tree:

Lee Goldberg, who novelized the Dick Van Dyke character in TV’s "Diagnosis Murder" series into an interesting human being, now bravely marches into territory already staked out by some fierce competition–Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, the early Harlan Coben–and comes out virtually unscathed in what appears to be the start of a series about an overeducated and oversexed Southern California security guard named Harvey Mapes.

Hired by one of the residents of the gated community where he works to follow the man’s wife, Mapes rises to the occasion–often. He also finds himself in deeper and darker water than the community’s oversize pool offers.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah

It sure is convenient for us families of mixed religions when the holidays fall on the same day.  Our family got together a few days ago in La Quinta for an early holiday (for various logistical reasons) at my Mom’s house. But this morning it was just me, my wife Valerie, and my daughter Madison opening presents under the "Holiday" tree.

We got Maddie a kick-ass digital camera that makes ours look like a shoebox camera (and is about 1/4 the size and a 1/4 as expensive), the pair of Ugg boots she’s been wanting, and some DVDs and books that were on her list. She got us some chocolate bars, some home-made artwork, and a pack of one-of-a-kind gift certificates good for things like reading me a story, making diner, a week of doing dishes, and a night of "peace and quiet."

I hope your holiday was a nice as ours. I wish you, and your family, the very best in the new year.