My latest "Natalie Blog" is up on the USA Network’s MONK website… and is inspired by something terrible I actually did to my sister Karen.
Month: February 2006
Honolulu Part 2
It was a bright, sunny, cloudless day. Before going to my signing at Barnes & Noble, we drove to Kahala Beach and took a long walk, ogling the amazing homes. I didn’t sell a single book at my signing (it was Super Bowl Sunday after all), but they had plenty of my books on hand, the staff was great, and I had very pleasant conversations some (non-buying) customers. I don’t mind that there wasn’t a turn-0ut — I’m sure the signed copies will be prominently displaced and I’m telling people at every library talk to go to the Barnes & Noble if they want to buy my books.
We were met at the store by librarian Cindy Chow, who showed up in black leather astride a purple motorcycle, ready to lead my family and I on a little sight-seeing tour before my talk at the Kaneohe Library. We followed her in our rental car. She took us up to the Pali Lookout and then down to Kailua Town, where we had a shave ice and took another walk on the beach.
Much to my surprise, we had a crowd waiting for us at the library when we walked in promptly at 3pm. There were people of all ages there and they asked lots of good questions. I ended up staying until the library closed to answer them all (I have a feeling those books at B&N won’t be there for long). Afterwards, Cindy took us to a nice restaurant overlooking the mountains.
Tomorrow, I don’t have a library signing until the evening, so we’re getting out of Waikiki and starting the day at Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling. Cindy will pick me up at the hotel at 4 pm to make our 6 pm library talk in Pearl City (apparently the traffic here is terrible). I wonder if I’m gonna have to ride on the back of her bike…
Honolulu Part One
We had to get up at 4:45 am to make our 8 am plane, so we were bleery-eyed and tired on the flight. I only managed to write four pages of my MONK book before I gave up and read a few chapters of a Shell Scott novel. The flight was comfortable though — in fact, the coach seat on American Airlines was more comfortable, and the service was far more friendly, than First Class on Continental (but no Academy Award nominees sat next to me. There was a development exec two rows over, though, reading scripts and ignoring her crying baby).
I’ve been to Oahu dozens of times…but I’ve only stepped outside of the Honolulu airport to take the Wiki Wiki shuttle to Inter-island terminal on my way to Kauai, Maui or the Big Island. So this is my first real visit to Oahu.
On our first day, we didn’t get outside of Waikiki, where there are two ABC Markets on every block. It doesn’t matter how upscale or downscale the block is, ABC is there. And if the ABCs are spaced too far apart, there’s a Whalers Market tucked in-between for good measure. The Hawaiians or the hordes of Japanese tourists must have a pathological need for over-priced groceries (we felt like we were visiting a beachside resort in Tokyo).
Our hotel, the Outrigger on the Beach, is nice, the room is spacious, and you can’t beat the location for walking around Waikiki. In a moment, we’re hopping in the car to head out to my signing at Barnes & Noble, some sight-seeing, and then my first library talk of the week.
Mr. Monk and the Flattering Blog Post
Dunnyman’s Castle gave MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE a very flattering review. What he liked best about it was that it was written from Natalie’s POV:
… now this character makes more sense than ever. We know
she’s a widow, and that she has to work pretty hard to keep things
together for her and her daughter. What you don’t know from the show,
is how much of her own issues with losing her husband she sees
reflected in Monk’s own demons. It’s quite touching to see how she
reveals more and more of those troubles while relating to Monk’s own
issues in a way the Sharona Fleming character never could. (If the
decision to change characters was based solely on money, bad move guys,
if you had the Natalie character on the back burner and realized you
could do a lot more with her, then kudos on a job well done.) I
challenge anyone who flat out says that the Sharona character was
better to read this book, and see if you still feel that way.
I’m glad that readers have responded so warmly to Natalie’s voice in the book. That was the biggest risk I took.
Directing Is a Drag
Director Lee Tamahori ("Die Another Day," "Along Came a Spider") was arrested in Hollywood for prostitution and not simply because he’ll direct whatever dreck comes along if the paycheck is high enough. They’re saying he’s a a real whore.
According to law enforcement,
Tamahori was allegedly dressed in drag, approached an undercover
officer who was in his car, entered the vehicle and offered to perform
a sex act for money.
Defamer’s comments on the arrest were amusing.
After the assuredly harrowing experience of directing xXx: State of the Union,
even Orson Welles would rather swear off Hollywood’s dirty money, dig
out his mother’s best evening gown, and go looking for supplemental
income on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Hey, it could have been worse. Tamahori could have been arrested with Eddie Murphy or Hugh Grant in his mouth.
THE F WORD
Showtime is staging an unusual promotional event, inviting fans of THE L WORD to help a writer on the show pen a spec script for an episode. The press release calls it "the first network-sanctioned collaborative fan event."
During the sponsored, multi-week event,
the show’s millions of fans will be invited to collaborate on an
original script for the show. Each week, fans will write short scenes
based on an instructive "scene mission" provided by the writer from THE
L WORD. Each week, fans will vote on their favorite scenes. At the end of each week,
the winning scene will be added to the script in progress. The process
will repeat each week with a new "scene mission" until the entire
script is complete.
Once the script has been pieced together, the L WORD writer will
perform a final polish to complete it. Contributors of highly rated
scenes and other winners will be featured prominently online during the
event, giving them a taste of online fame. FanLib’s innovative system
enables Showtime to maintain control of THE L WORD brand while
establishing an incomparable consumer generated media community where
fans can interact with each other and with their favorite show.
A couple of people who emailed me about this called it a "breakthrough for fanfic." It’s not. The key phrase in the release is that the program "enables Showtime to maintain control of THE L WORD brand." In other words, this "fan event" is a licensed tie-in, done with the full participation, consent, and control of the network, studio and writer of the show.
At the conclusion of the event, Showtime and FanLib will publish a free
commemorative eZine (a downloadable digital magazine) featuring the
completed script, plus a number of alternative scenes and editorial
features including profiles of the winning contributors and other
participants. Each fan whose work is included in the eZine will receive
an exclusive gift package from the show and the sponsors of the event.
The eZine will be distributed online to all of the participants and
voters and other members of the show’s online community as a pass-along
memento of the event.
Though the script will not be produced as part of the show’s upcoming
third season which will have wrapped production before the start of the
event, Showtime and the producers of THE L WORD have the option to
produce the finished script in the future.
It will be interesting to see how "event" works out, if the fans embrace the corporate managing of their fanfic, and if the cobbled-together script is the least bit readable. My guess is that the L WORD writer is going to take a pretty heavy pass through the material and that it will probably never be shot.
I Hope Absense Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
A heads-up to my regular readers and procrastinators…
I’m leaving Saturday for a week in Hawaii, where I will be speaking at a bunch of libraries about writing. I’ll also be working on my third MONK novel and my next MONK script so it’s very likely that, starting today and stretching into the next few weeks, I won’t be posting to the blog nearly as often as I usually do.
Mr. Monk and the Creative Process
Writer Jack Bernstein does a great job describing what it’s like breaking a story with the writing staff of MONK.
I arrived in Newark on a Sunday evening at 6 p.m., having weathered the
embarrassment of going through security with my inflatable writing
partner. I had been given the choice of staying in a hotel in Manhattan
or Summit, N.J. It was a no-brainer. Soon after checking in to my
deluxe micro-suite at the Summit Super 12, I got a phone call from Monk
Executive Producer Andy Breckman. Andy told me that
they were going to start at 11 a.m. Monday morning and was that a
problem? I told him if he wanted to start that early, I guess I could
…The creative process is difficult to describe, mostly because I don’t
really understand it. I think I’d have better luck understanding a
lecture on biomolecular kinetics from a beaver, but honestly, where
would you find a beaver that understands biomolecular kinetics? I mean,
really understands? So basically, the creative process consists of all
of us shouting out ideas for the story until Andy scratches his head
and says, "That might work" and writes it down. Your initial reaction,
of course, is to think, "Really? You actually think that would work?"
Which translates to, "Yeah, I think it would work, too."
Jack is a very funny writer. He and I worked together many years ago on a short-lived series called DEADLY GAMES. That was an odd show. The scripts were hilarious but the episodes were never as good as what was on the page thanks to bad casting (the star, whose name I have forgotten, was wooden), bad directing and a pitifully low production values.