Tvshowsondvd has the latest news on the first season boxed set of DIAGNOSIS MURDER, which  will be released on  Sept. 12.  So far, it looks as though they won’t be including the original pilot (which aired as an episode of JAKE AND THE FATMAN) or the three TV movies which preceded the hour-long series. The set will include a flier advertising my seventh DM novel, THE DOUBLE LIFE, so that should be reason enough to buy it!

Reviewing the Script

The LA Times did something today that newspapers and major magazines never do — they reviewed a published screenplay of a recent film, Akiva Goldsman’s adaptation of THE DAVINCI CODE. The book critic’s opinion of the script is  secondary to the extraordinary nature of the review itself, which probably never would been printed (or even assigned) if not for the fact that the film had one of the biggest opening weekends in movie history. Which, perhaps, is why the anonymous editor felt it necessary to preface the review with his rationale for publishing it:

"The Da Vinci Code" is not just a mega-selling book, not just a
crowd-drawing movie, it’s also, at $21.95, an "illustrated screenplay"
replete with storyboards, stills from the movie, musings by author Dan
Brown and the movie’s principals and boxes of production trivia (such
as " ‘The Da Vinci Code’ had 25 revisions over six months" and
"Twenty-four rue Haxo doesn’t actually exist in Paris.") At the heart
of the "official making-of-the-movie book," though, is Akiva Goldsman’s
script. The Times asked film and book critic Charles Taylor to consider
how it plays on the page.

Screenplays are published all the time but are never taken seriously (or noticed at all) by  the general media, only by the script-craft magazines. Does this mean we’ll start seeing more published screenplays reviewed by the LA Times? I doubt it. But still, in its own way, it’s something of a watershed event.

Close Encounters of the Writer Kind

Author Martha O’Connor bumped into one of her favorite authors in the grocery store:

I stared for awhile (she probably thought I was nuts), just to make sure I was right. Anne Lamott lives in Marin County, about
five miles from me. In fact, I am almost certain I saw her driving her
car once about a year ago.  Anyway, I was pretty sure it was her. I got in line to pay; Anne
Lamott was paying at a nearby register. As she was leaving I stopped
her and said:

Me: Excuse me, are you Anne Lamott?
AL: Yes (smiles)
Me: I
just have to tell you how much I love your work, especially your
writings on faith and spirituality. They’re the kind of books you can
just read over and over again.
AL: Well, I’m so glad (humble smile, seems genuinely happy to hear this)
Me: I know you’re on your way somewhere but I just had to tell you that.
AL: No, it’s OK. (smiles again) Thank you so much for telling me!

Oddly, since I have told this story a few times, every single person has asked me why I didn’t say something about MY work…. "I’m a writer too, may I send you a copy of my book?" something like that. To be honest, it didn’t even cross my mind.

(Now, I’m sure Joe Konrath, the book promotion machine, would dismember me if he knew I didn’t take the opportunity to do so, but it would have polluted the moment with horrid
black dreck and mold. All wrong. Ya know?)

Yes, I know. She did the right thing. The moment wasn’t about selling herself. It was about telling another person how much you admire them and the positive impact their work has had on your life (and what would Martha have gained by telling her that she, too was an author? It would have made a special moment seem insincere and self-centered). I’ve been lucky enough to have had several experiences like that over the years and, at the risk of sounding like a geek, it’s magical. And on those occasions I’ve rarely, if ever, mentioned my own connection to the entertainment or publishing industries.

But there are authors I know (and I’m not saying Joe is one of them) who see every encounter as a book-promotion opportunity…and they come across as obnoxious and self-involved. And they miss out on some very special moments…like the one Martha had. More often than not, it’s better just enjoy the opportunity to meet people without feeling compelled to promote you own work.

Shuffling the Deck

Now that all the broadcast networks have announced their fall schedules, NBC has reassessed their competitive position and completely reshuffled their lineup. Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, told the NY Times:

"It’s unusual for us," Mr. Reilly said of the wholesale changes in the
prime-time lineup. "We go first, and we are fourth. Unusual
circumstances lead to these kinds of measures." Such sweeping changes
in a network’s schedule so soon after it had been announced have
happened rarely, if ever.

[…]NBC ultimately ended up making changes every night except Saturday and Sunday.

advantage of shifting so many shows after the advertiser presentations
known as the upfronts was the opportunity to find some weaker spots in
the schedules of CBS, ABC and Fox, Mr. Reilly said.

…which raises the question among some industry observers: Did the network get the jitters or was their initial schedule a fake to begin with?

Publisher Gets Into TV Biz

The New York Times reports that Harper Collins is teaming up with fellow News Corp. company 20th Century Fox to develop TV series based on their books. First up is a series based on Lisa Scottoline’s legal thrillers and another inspired by Elizabeth’s Noble’s THE READING GROUP, which follows a year in the life of a
women’s book group "whose members begin
to see their lives mirrored in the works they
discuss." The studio has hired Karen Glass, a former vp at Buena
Vista Productions, to work in the HarperCollins’ NY offices to sniff out projects on their book list.

(Thanks to Buzz, Balls and Hype for the heads-up)

The Wheelman

Duane Swierczynski’s THE WHEELMAN is a fast-moving, darkly humorous cross between PULP FICTION and 24 , a non-stop blur of turnabouts, double-crosses, coincidences, cliff-hangers and switch-backs.  At first the dizzying, relentless pace of the plot is exhilirating, funny and addictive…full of quirky characters and sudden violence… but about 3/4s of the way through, it becomes tiresome and repetitive (it doesn’t help that the characters themselves are going around in circles).  While there’s much to admire in Swierczynski’s tight prose, sharp dialogue and colorful characters, he gets too caught up in his own cleverness, letting his plot spin into nothing.  Ultimately, the book is a ride that doesn’t take you anywhere… a race without a finish line.  But there’s no doubt Swierczynski has got the talent, and the voice, to write a great crime novel. And I wouldn’t be surprised if his next one is it.


I’ve been immortalized as a hitman in Victor Gischler’s new book SHOTGUN OPERA:

He was born Lee Goldberg in Sydney, Australia, but it had been many years since anyone had called him by that name. His stage name was Jack Sprat. He changed it after meeting the Fat Lady during a boardwalk carnival act in Atlantic City. Mavis was big and soft and beautiful, and Goldberg — now Sprat — fell in love.

They were married three months later and the stage names were a no-brainer. Jack Sprat was five feet five inches tall, all spindly hard muscle and sinew, a bald head and a big nose that gave him the appearance of a vulture.

He’s got my manly nose and sinewy bod down right, but the rest isn’t quite accurate.  I’veDm6a_1
returned the favor in my new book THE DEAD LETTER, where Victor shows up as a hitman, too:

Victor Gischler, known as The Do-er to the underworld of gun monkeys and the casual readers of the classifieds in Soldier of Fortune magazine, drove his growling ’68 Mercury Cougar up to the Monterey Bay
area from his home-base in Fontana, California, where he liked to hang out with his fellow members of the John Birch society, the Aryan Brotherhood, and the Boy Scouts of America.

[…] he’d show them both the glorious American eagle tattooed on his belly, its talons clinging to his hairy navel, and they’d be overcome by patriotism and lust. They might even fight with each other over who got to have him first.

I haven’t seen Victor’s belly but if he doesn’t have an American eagle tattooed on it, he should get one.

KUNG FU returns… again

Variety reports that Warner Brothers is mounting a big screen version of the TV series KUNG FU. This is not the first time the studio has tried to wring more money from the cult hit…they did a KUNG FU returns reunion movie with David Carradine, a busted pilot with Brandon Lee (KUNG FU: THE NEXT GENERATION), and a made-in-Canada syndicated series with Carradine and Chris Potter (KUNG FU: THE LEGEND CONTINUES). What makes this development noteworthy, however, is that they haven’t signed either Owen Wilson or Ben Stiller or Colin Farrell to star in it yet.