Bond Gets Bold

Variety reports that  Marc Forster, director of MONSTER’S BALL and FINDING NEVERLAND, has been hired to helm the next James Bond film, which will star Daniel Craig. This is an unusually edgy choice for the  legendarily conservative Bond producers and shows how dedicated  they are to continue redefining 007 for a new generation (these are the same producers who stuck with director John Glenn for several Bond films and  turned  away overtures from the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg). CASINO ROYALE scriptors Paul Haggis, Neil Purvis & Robert Wade are once again teaming up on the script. Purvis & Wade are Bond veterans… they also wrote the last few Pierce Brosnan 007 films.

Fast Track Pre-Sales

FAST TRACK isn’t finished yet but we’ve already scored a few advance sales. Here’s the news from World Screen International.

BERLIN/LOS ANGELES, June 18: …and action! Distribution has sold the English-language action drama Fast Track: No Limits, co-produced by Action Image and ProSieben in Germany, to France’s M6, Japan’s Comstock Group and China’s Beijing Time Entertainment.

Fast Track: No Limits is the first English-language action drama shot in Germany. Set in the world of urban street racing, Fast Track: No Limits is a story of a group of characters that include a rookie cop, a trophy wife, a fugitive getaway driver, and a young female mechanic, who believe that car racing in abandoned industrial areas is the only way to know that they’re alive. Fast Track: No Limits was written and executive produced by the award-winning American showrunner Lee Goldberg.

"M6 is an excellent partner and the perfect channel as it fits exactly with the target audience for Fast Track: No Limits," commented Gavin Reardon, the president of …and action! Distribution. “We are also delighted with our sales to the Comstock Group and Beijing Time Entertainment, especially given the success of automotive-oriented action programming in Asia.”

Flop Playhouse

Ken Levine fondly remembers the good old days when the networks would burn off their busted pilots during the summer, either sneaking them on unannounced  or as episodes of anthologies with names like "Comedy Theatre" and "CBS Summer Playhouse."  I miss those shows, too. It was those stealth airings of scrapped programs that sparked my love affair with busted pilots when I was a kid and ultimately resulted in my book UNSOLD TELEVISION PILOTS.

Seeing the pilots was a remarkable opportunity to second-guess network programmers and to try to understand their thinking when they crafted their schedules. Most of the time, there was a good reason the pilots didn’t sell…but every now and then, I’d catch a terrific show and feel cheated that it wasn’t picked up.

Watching those flop pilots was  fascinating and a highlight of my summers. I looked forward to it all year (though flop pilots occasionally aired during the regular season, too, usually as TV movies or, near May, as episodes  of existing series).  I used to tape them all on audio cassette (yes, I am a geek) and once video came along, I recorded them all on VHS. Those tapes became the basis for two network specials that I produced — THE GREATEST SHOWS YOU NEVER SAW for CBS and THE BEST SHOWS THAT  NEVER WERE for ABC. Over the last year, I’ve transferred that collection to DVD.

These days, busted pilots are never aired and it’s getting harder and harder even for TV insiders like yours truly to get their hands on screeners. And when you do get one, it feels like you are being slipped stolen property. 

Read more

The Mailbag

Reynaldo would like a shortcut to getting published that doesn’t involve getting  rejection letters:

I am aspiring writer and just beginning to venture out in the world […]but I don’t want to face mounds of rejection letters. What can I do? Is there some honest publishing houses I can trust other than Traditional? What about companies like "Lulu"?

If you really want to be a writer, you have to learn to deal with rejection. That’s part of the job. If you can’t handle that, then you should forget about being a writer. But if flushing your money down the toilet is what you really want to do, Lulu is a good option. At least Lulu doesn’t pretend to be anything but what they are: a vanity press.

Jeff wants to know how he can get a book or TV show written about his hilarious life without writing it himself.

I have a very funny life and my friends and family think my stories are hilarious. They think I should do something with them, like a novel or a TV show, because my stories are the funniest  things they have heard in years. But I am not a writer. How can I get a book or TV show with my great stories without writing it myself? How can I find a writer to team up with who can write my stories for me?

Everybody’s lives and relationships are  funny and dramatic and could probably make good novels or movies in the hands of a talented writer. But you need an exceptional story to attract the interest of an established and experiened writer. You could always try contacting screenwriters or novelists that you admire and see  if they would be interested in your story…but, to be honest, I think your chances  of succeeding are very,  very slim. You might want to sign up for some writing courses and take a stab at it yourself instead.

Jeff isn’t the only guy with a hilarious life. Wendy’s life is also hilarious…all she needs is a writer to tell her stories. She’s been a bit more aggressive than Jeff  in trying to make that happen.

Hi. I came across your blog over the internet.  I’m wondering if you can advise me even though you don’t know me. My husband and I are very successful real estate investors. I’m not a writer.  But, that being said, my friends think that the stories I have with my adult children are so hilarious, that they have been jotting down these stories for years.

[…] Anyway, I got inundated with calls and emails from strangers, as well as friends telling me this is the funniest thing they ever read and I should do something with them.  So…not really knowing anyone in the business, I contacted a guy I know who has a son that is a comedy writer in Hollywood.

[…] I didn’t expect much, so you can imagine my shock when he sent me a lengthy email back and telling me that these stories are very funny and he can see them as a tv show very easily. He showed me how to write a Treatment.  Naturally, I got really excited, so I started making a lot of calls.  I called several retired Hollywood writers I could find.  These writers were from TV shows like "According to Jim", "Cheers", etc.  Some were very nice and read my unpolished Treatment.  They all had very positive response and felt it is something that can be marketable.The problem is that I am not a writer and I cannot write a script.  Do you think I should try and find a writer to team up with?  Someone with a good agent?

Wendy, if your story was as  hilarious and marketable as you say it is, one of the comedy writers you’ve already contacted would have asked if he could team up with you or run with it himself.  The fact that one of  those writers didn’t ask should probably tell you something…

Mr. Monk and the Early Reviews

Monkandtwoassist_2 It’s still a few weeks before MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS  hits bookstores, but already a few reviews are starting to appear. Kirkus reviewed the book, but it was  more of a synopsis than anything else. I can’t honestly tell whether they liked  it or not.  I guess that’s better than them hating it. I didn’t have that problem with Ed Gorman’s review…he obviously liked it:

There is some especially good detection here as well as some of Monk’s most impressive battles with germs. Goldberg not only writes the novels, he also writes some of the TV scripts. His affection for the series shines through in these novels that are so rich with humor and character.

Thanks, Ed! Benjamin Bouldon at Gravetapping says, in part:

Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants is a humorous whodunit. It is written in the voice of Natalie, who—in this novel especially—feels very much like Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick Dr. Watson, and it is great fun to watch her struggle through the twists and turns of the plot. She is often just as lost as the reader when confronted with the powerful deductive abilities of Adrian Monk, and the wonderfully outlandish murders he solves.

Mr. Goldberg does an admirable job of portraying the characters. The novel is at its best when the entire gang is on hand—Captain Stottlemeyer, Lieutenant Disher, Monk, Natalie, and Sharona. The dialogue is pitch perfect, and the atmosphere of the television series is captured very well, except, instead of a single episode it feels like a two-part extravaganza.

Thanks, Ben! Mark Baker at Epinions writes, in part:

If you’re at all a fan of the show, you’ll love this book. Since Lee Goldberg has written episodes of the show with both assistants, his characterizations are spot on. Not that it is any surprise since all of Mr. Goldberg’s books feature great characters. And there are some great moments that explore the relationships more than can be done on the TV show. This book does a good job of filling in the story around Sharona’s departure from Monk’s life, and she comes out of the novel looking pretty good.

Thanks,  Mark! I hope the rest of the reviews that come in are just as positive.

All Together Now

Fast_track_day_thirteen_004_5 My family arrived  in Berlin on Thursday and my daughter couldn’t wait to get to the set. She’s made herself right at home, as you can see in the picture.  So far, the response from the studio and the network to the dailies has been very enthusiastic, so I’m optimistic about our chances  to go to series. We wrap production on the pilot at the end of next week, and then I go off to France on vacation before returning to Germany in mid-July to do my cut. After that, I head off  to Lohr for five days to teach another Writer’s Room class  with a major American showrunner (whose name I will  share once  things have been firmed up) and then it’s off  to Munich to present the final cut of the pilot to the network in early August.  But now that my family is here, I’m not in such a big hurry to get back home…

The one thing I am missing is the chance  to go out and promote the hardcover release of MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS. If I wasn’t shooting FAST TRACK, I would have arranged full a schedule of booksignings in July & August.  But I still have MONK work to do… I have to start writinng my outline for my sixth novel.

Eight Shooting Days Left

_sth8342 We wrapped our tenth day of shooting at about 11:30 on Sunday night, right on schedule. So far, the production has gone very smoothly and we’ve only had to push two scenes to later in the shoot. That’s not to say we haven’t our little crises (an actor dropped out due to illness two days before shooting, one of our cars wasn’t delivered on time, etc.), but overall it has been a pleasure. The dailies are terrific and both the studio and network are very, very pleased…so I’m a  happy man.

Mondays and Tuesdays are our weekends, so after we wrapped on Sunday, half of the crew — including most of the cast, the director, the a.d., the second unit team, the line producer, and myself — went to a bar in Prenzlauer Berg and had an in impromptu little party. I stayed until 4:30 a.m.  but just about everyone else stayed until 6:30 in the morning. I haven’t stayed up that late in a bar since  college (but then, as now, I was drinking only water or Diet Coke). I don’t know if this show is going to rejuvenate me or kill me…but I had a great time. This has got to be the nicest group of people I’ve ever worked with. Not a single jerk in the bunch.

I spent the day… or what was  left of it… on Monday doing domestic chores like laundry, groceryLogo_fast_track_color_2_2  shopping,  and getting my hair cut before meeting the cast in my room in the evening to show them the dailies and share the good feedback from the studio and network. Afterwards, I went on my own for dinner to a tiny little Italian restaurant and then took a long walk, finally winding up back home around 1 a.m.

Today played tourist, visiting the  Berlin Wall museum at Bernauer Strasse, then heading out to Lake Wannsee for a drive and a long walk. Tonight I got together again with the cast for dinner and nice walk through Mitte.

Tomorrow we start shooting again. This is going to be a big  week for me. On Thursday, my family finally arrives…and not a moment too soon. Two months is way too long  for me to be away from them. It hurts too much. I can’t wait to have my daughter on the set with me on Friday!

(The photo on the upper left is me with  two of our stars, Andrew Walker and Alexia Barlier, with Soccx, who perform one of their songs, "Scream Out Loud," in a sequence in FAST TRACK: NO LIMITS. On the upper right is one version of our new, improved  logo. You can click on the images for larger views).

What It’s Like

339_chair Writer/producer Lisa Klink has launched a new blog about breaking  into television and how to stay in once you’ve done it:

There are already plenty of books, websites and blogs about TV writing. So why read this particular blog? If you’re like I was when I was trying to break into TV, you’re an advice junkie, seeking as much guidance as possible from as many sources as you can. I’m hoping you’ll find it useful to hear from someone who’s currently working in the business – not at the top, not at the very beginning, but somewhere in the middle of her career.

It doesn’t matter where you are in the business, Lisa’s blog is sure to be a fun and fascinating read.