Press Tour Madness

The winter press tour, when the nations TV critics descend on L.A. for press conferences and parties, has started and Matt Zoller-Seitz and Lisa De Moraes are writing about the madness. De Moraes writes:

Winter TV Press Tour 2006 had not begun auspiciously.

than 100 of the Reporters Who Cover Television, from around the country
and even Canada, descended on Loopyville West this week to spend two
weeks discussing Ideals and the Future of Television at the gorgeous
old Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel.

It was a homecoming of
sorts for the group, which for a decade had held its semiannual confab
at the Huntington, chatting up suits and celebs in freezing ballrooms
by day, dining on the networks in the Horseshoe Garden at night —
followed, weather permitting, by a little late-night viewing from room
balconies of TV celebs swimming and engaging in other activities in the

But, as with so many other beautiful relationships —
Brad and Jen, Jessica and Nick, Renee and Kenny — this one began to
crumble and about three years ago reporters decided to take their
business to a hotel across the street from a Hooters in Hollywood.
Monday night, at the National Geographic Channel Check-In Party, they
celebrated their return to the site of so many happy, happy times.

next morning the tour officially got underway when Billy Ray Cyrus and
his 13-year-old daughter, Miley, got up onstage to hawk their new
Disney Channel series, "Hannah Montana." It’s about a girl who, unknown
to her fellow students, lives a double life as pop singer Hannah
Montana, entertaining legions of prepubescent fans with songs written
by her manager-dad.

It’s hard to focus on Ideals and the Future
of Television after you’ve just watched a clip of Billy Ray Cyrus —
who will now try to do for the Neo-Prince Valiant with Tips and Streaks
what he did in the ’90s for the mullet — singing:

I like to sing,

I like to dance,

But I can’t do it with poopy in my pants.

Billy Ray said he swore after doing Pax’s "Doc" he’d never do another
series but decided to audition for the "Montana" role after reading the
script because "it all begins with what’s on the page."


(Thanks to Alan Sepinwall for the heads-up)

TV Execs Actually Read Books

GalleyCat reports that there seems to be a flurry of books being adapted into TV series. In addition to the midseason shows LOVE MONKEY (based on the book by Kyle Smith) and EMILY’S REASONS WHY NOT (based on the book by Carrie Gerlach), there’s more on tap. DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER (based on the book by Jeff Linsay) is being developed by HBO and YOUNGER (based on the book by Pamela Satran) is being developed for Lifetime by my friend Debra Martin Chase, who sold the same network MISSING (based on the books by Meg Cabot) and produced the book-based features SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS and PRINCESS DIARIES.

Market Widens for Tie-ins

Two interesting Publisher’s Weekly articles about the tie-in business — "Where
the Fans Are:  New formats broaden the base for tie-ins"
and "Breaking Out of the Box:  Original novels
based on popular TV series are finding a ready market"
— are
now up on
the IAMTW site. The articles
are from 2003, but are still relevant today.

"DVD has changed the landscape because fans can go back for what they missed,"
concurred Hope Innelli, v-p and editorial director of HarperEntertainment.
"Tie-in books, therefore, have to serve a different purpose."

Many of
these books keep fans happy by shedding more light on the characters, filling in
plot gaps or turning back the clock. For example, the lightning pace and
Washington insider backdrop of the Fox series 24 left a lot of unanswered
questions at the end of last year’s premiere season. "We created a backstory in
conjunction with the writers that explains how key characters got there in the
first place and reveals why the revenge plot unfolded. That’s just not on the
show," said Innelli.

Original novels can also exist in entirely
different time frames, taking the audience to places the shows can’t go…

…To some extent, the mushrooming of prime-time shows that run concurrently with
syndicated reruns, along with the rise of DVD series collections, have already
conditioned viewers to operate in parallel timeframes. Law & Order, for
example, regularly shuffles its cast, though everyone shows up on cable reruns.
"Readers are savvy enough to recognize that the books have their own
continuity," said Clancy.

Read more

Extending the 24 Franchise

The gimmick of the Fox series 24 is that the stories play out in real time over 24 hours. Entertainment Weekly reports that the producers of 24  are seriously considering a feature film version that would follow a story that unfolds in real time over two tense hours. They also forsee the possibility of extending the 24 brand into spin-off series, ala LAW AND ORDER and CSI, with any number of different heroes in different settings in stories that play out over a single day.

I see a real difference between the LAW AND ORDER branding and what has been done with CSI. The three LAW AND ORDER shows are essentially stand-alone, unique series that share the same name, music cues, and style. The three CSI shows, however, are exactly the same show set in different cities. 24 could, concievably, strike a middle ground between the two approaches to branding…only the storytelling device is the same and everything else is different. But will viewers tire of the real-time gimmick? They haven’t lost their interest in the three identical CSIs yet…

DaVinci Mania

On the eve of the release of the DAVINCI CODE movie, Publishers Weekly reports that the book is finally coming out in mass paperback…with a five million copy first printing (that’s few more than the print run for my new book, MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE).

Anchor Books will print a total of 5 million copies of the paperback edition of The Da Vinci Code
when the company publishes the mass market and trade paperback editions
of the huge bestseller. The company has confirmed Friday’s PW Daily report that it will release the paperback editions of Da Vinci
March 28, about seven weeks ahead of the release of the movie on May
19. The mass market edition, which Anchor is calling the movie tie-in
edition, will sell for $7.99, while the trade paper will have a $14.95

In addition, Broadway Books will issue a 200,000 copy printing for the trade paperback edition of The Da Vinci Code Special Illustrated Edition on March 28. And leaving no stone unturned, Broadway will print 200,000 copies of the trade paper edition of The Da Vinci Code Illustrated Screenplay May 19, while Doubleday will release 25,000 copies in hardcover.

Sloppy Continuity

Tonight I finally got around to watching last week’s LAW AND ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT.  There’s a big debate about whether or not seeing someone shoot someone makes you more comfortable shooting someone yourself. At the end of the episode, a lawyer asks the A.D.A. if she really believes that theory. The A.D.A. makes a speech about how her daddy taught her how to shoot guns and she hasn’t shot anyone yet… then again, she says,  she’s never seen anyone gunned down in front of her. But regular viewers of the show know that isn’t true. Three or four episodes back, the A.D.A. saw an entire courtroom full of people gunned down in front of her — a judge, a witness, two guards, two cops and two gunmen. In fact, NBC re-ran that episode tonight.

I can’t believe the producers would have made such a huge continuity gaff. All I can figure is that that last week’s episode was shot before the other one and, for whatever reason, and was aired out of production order. If that was the case, I don’t understand why the producers didn’t cut the speech or loop a new line. That’s just sloppy.

In Jennifer’s Shoes

Jennifer Weiner wonders on her blog  why audiences didn’t embrace the movie version of her book, IN HER SHOES.

It wasn’t enough to make a well-crafted, beautifully written,
wonderfully acted, heartwarming, uplifting drama. If that was true,
CINDERELLA MAN would have made a hundred million dollars, and IN HER
SHOES, although cursed with a surplus of estrogen and all of the
built-in dismissiveness that comes free with the label “chick flick”
along with it, might not have been far behind.

But these days,
to actually get butts in seats, you need sex or violence, or violent
sex (or violent, furtive gay sex, a la BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN). You need
raunchy humor, a shocking surprise ending, a real-life singer’s
addiction portrayed by an actor who developed a real-life addiction.
You need a whiff of scandal – Jessica Simpson, pre-divorce; Tom Cruise,
post-couch, Brangelina. You at least need romance. Or, barring that, an
animated chicken, or a pubescent wizard (believe me, I spent a lot of
time kicking myself for not having included either in the novel).

film about relationships between women, not women and men, that
featured not much sex, very little violence, no drug use, no
dismemberment and not much to slap the clammy flab, didn’t have much of
a chance.

For the record, I enjoyed the movie. I think it failed because it was soft and, with movie-going  as expensive and hassle-filled as it is,  it didn’t offer anything you couldn’t see for free at home. I bet a lot of folks stuck it on their "wait for the DVD" list.