Casino Royale Theme

William Simon sent me this link to a Chris Cornell song "You Know My Name" from for the new 007 movie CASINO ROYALE.  I hope this isn’t actually the theme song…because if it is, it’s the dullest 007 title tune since Garbage’s "The World is Not Enough."


The Hollywood Reporter gave a deservedly rave review to my friend David Breckman’s hilarious pilot UNDERFUNDED, which the USA Network is quietly burning off tonight at 8 pm.  It’s about a spy for the Canadian Secret Service and it’s great fun, closer to THE ROCKFORD FILES than GET SMART.

Why is it that nothing about Canada can be taken seriously? Is it the
speech pattern that ends everything in "Eh"? The fact that the populace
seems so sweetly guileless and lily-white? The complete lack of
pretension? Whatever the case, the Great White North takes one on the
chin again in this lighthearted and surprisingly entertaining subtle
procedural spoof, a rare TV movie that plays it all for laughs.

is a production freak of nature: a movie filmed in Canada (Vancouver)
that’s actually about Canada, featuring no name stars and a scrappy,
unassuming, take-nothing-seriously tone that proves mostly endearing.
Kudos to USA for greenlighting something this far outside the telepic

Now if only USA would greenlight the series…

Another Clueless Moron

This advertisement was in Variety yesterday (click on it for a larger image): 


All Nick has really done with his $5000 is announce that he’s a clueless moron to all the entertainment industry executives enjoying their morning bowel movement.

But in his own way, he has performed a public service. His advertisement is actually a primer on how NOT to sell your novel, TV series, movie, game show, photography, music, or 1997 Honda Civic to Hollywood.

(Oh, and here’s a helpful hint to all the future Spielbergs, Camerons, Eastwoods and Nicks out there — before you set out to write your next book, TV series, movie, game show, song, or ad in Variety, you should know that an apostrophe S doesn’t make something plural).

I couldn’t resist checking out his site. Among his projects for future Spielbergs, Camerons and Eastwoods is a treatment for THE RETURN
, which he registered with the WGA in 1994 despite the
fact he doesn’t own the underlying rights.  Since then, he’s apparently changed his name from Nick Oliva to Nick Bold, perhaps to embrace the new boldness of his writing. I also read the first five pages of his important new book. Here’s one of my favorite passages (the italics are his):

I felt my heart pounding in an uncontrollable tidal surge of affection as we sat and laced up our skates.

And this:

She embraced herself and gracefully slid her hands down opposite arms, creating bountiful cleavage that she stared into before looking over to me, offering herself with an outward shrug of her right shoulder much the way a cat lifts its bottom.

He’s threatening to give this novel away free, but I think even that is charging too much. I wonder if Nick is a member of the Colonial Fan Force? If not, he should be.

UPDATE 11-20-06: He ran the ad again today…because there were typos on his website.  He didn’t bother to correct the grammatical errors in his ad, though. What a moron.

She’ll Be Back

Variety reports that Lena Headey has been cast in the title role of THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, the Fox pilot based on the TERMINATOR movies. I’ve never heard of her, have you? Headey takes over the role from Linda Hamilton, who I had an enormous crush on as a kid.  David Nutter is directing the pilot, and he has an unbroken record of success, so it’s a safe bet you’ll see this on the air in the fall. Josh Friedman wrote the script, and he’s no slouch, either.

Without a Tie-in

I was part of a panel discussion yesterday at the Writers Guild with
Jan Nash, executive producer of WITHOUT A TRACE. In the midst of the
discussion, she mentioned how difficult it has been coming up with
tie-in novels for her show. Her frustration, she said, was that none of
the books have been able to capture the highly-visual nature of the
franchise…and that in prose, the books come across as simply "a
flat missing persons story" that doesn’t feel at all like WITHOUT A
TRACE. The problem, she said, has been coming up with a way to make the
books as distinctive as the series, to find a story-telling frame-work
that matches the unique flashback gimmick of the show. I don’t know if
her creative frustration with the books has anything to do with the
rumored licensing problems between Warner Brothers Television and Warner Books, which recently shelved the three completed tie-in novels that they commissioned and were planning to release in 2007.

I understand what Jan is talking about. I faced the same issue when I tackled the MONK books. How could I convey the humor and the melodrama when so much of what makes Monk work is visual? I think that I solved the problem by telling the stories first-person from the point-of-view of Natalie, Monk’s assistant. That gave me a framing device that allowed me to "observe" Monk from a distance and, at the same time, add a level of intimacy with the characters that isn’t possible on television. So while my books don’t mimic the experience of watching MONK, they have their own unique voice that offers a fresh experience for fans of the show and one that makes stories stand apart from other mysteries. At least that was my goal.


My boxed set of the real first season episodes of BAYWATCH arrived from the UK this weekend. I’d forgotten how good the production values were and how truly awful the writing was (and yes, I am talking about my own scripts). The theme song from the first season was Peter Cetera’s "Save Me," and the title sequence was carefully cut to match the song. Cetera’s song is gone and some awful crap by Kim Carnes has been slapped on in its place.  The problem isn’t so much the song, but the fact that the moves in the song don’t match the edits in the main title sequence so it feels out-of-sync, like dubbed dialgoue that doesn’t follow the movements of the actors’ lips. What I don’t get is why they couldn’t substitute "Save Me" with the "I’ll Be There" theme from the syndicated seasons…

Hanging with the Sisters

I am off to the Writers Guild this morning to host a panel at a day-long Sisters in Crime seminar for published authors on writing television mysteries and adapting books to film. The authors in attendance are curious about how mysteries are written for TV,  how to get their books optioned, and why books often get changed so much in adaptation. My fellow panelists are writer/producers Paul Levine (JAG etc), Jeff Melvoin (ALIAS etc), Javier Grillo Marxuach (LOST etc), Matt Witten (HOUSE etc) and Jan Nash (WITHOUT A TRACE etc). Paul, Matt and I are also published authors, so we know a little something about what the authors in the audience are feeling. It should be a very interesting day.

UPDATE: I just got back and I had a wonderful time. Our panel followed one that included such luminaries as screenwriters Ron Bass and Bryce Zabel (with whom I just spent a week in Germany). My fellow panelists were witty and wise, providing insights, knowledge, advice and plenty of laughter. I also got a chance to meet folks like Anne Perry, Marcia Talley, Libby Hellman, Carolyn Hart and Sujata Massey and see old friends like Rhys Bowen, Robin Burcell and Rochelle Krich. I don’t know about the attendees, but I certainly had a wonderful time.

Sales Echo Short Film

The LA Times reports today about novelist/screenwriter Terrill Lee Lankford’s short film based on the first chapter of his buddy Michael Connelly’s new novel ECHO PARK. The film has been posted on YouTube and Connelly credits it with giving him his best first-week sales numbers yet.

"I do believe this was a tool in getting people excited," said
Connelly, a former reporter at The Times. "It was on the Internet, it
was on YouTube, before the book was out. It sharpened excitement. So
when the book came out, they were ready to buy it. "

The short film features my friend novelist Gar Anthony Haywood in his first acting role… he proves to be a natural at it, easily out-shining the professionals in the cast with his quiet, self-assured performance. Note to Gar: get a theatrical agent pronto. 

I’ve got to go now. I’m rushing over to to get myself a copy of Lee’s HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS.  I wonder why, in all the years I’ve known him, Lee has never mentioned that film before…