Mr. Monk est flatté

French journalist & critic Thierry Attard raves about MR. MONK IS MISERABLE in a lengthy and detailed review. He says, in part:

Mr. Monk is Miserable, his latest Monk tie-in novel, is a perfect sample of the art of this master storyteller. Should you be a fan of the Monk tv series or not, as the show itself regularly flirts with the self-conscious formulaic Tony Shalhoub one-man show. But the talent of Lee Goldberg is to build totally original novels with familiar figures. His reinventions of Adrian Monk's frustrations and anxieties are so wonderfully and joyfully crafted that many of his readers already wish an adaptation of his new Monk Book for the television series. 

[…]Mr. Monk is Miserable is a wonderful and fun book with an intrigue devised like a clockwork mechanism. Lee Goldberg's vision of Paris and of the French is sharply realistic.

[…]It's a mystery story with a difference, and all the wit (there are shades of Mark Twain in Paris with Monk's exploration of the City of Light), the humor and the writing skills of a master novelist.

Merci Beaucoup, Thierry!

It’s 1980 again

Hot on the heels of THE BIONIC WOMAN and KNIGHT RIDER, ABC has greenlighted a pilot for a "reimagined" version of V, the NBC alien invasion series that starred Mark Singer,  Robert Englund and Jane Badler (pictured on the left). Variety reports:

The new "V" centers on Erica Evans, a Homeland Security agent with an aimless son. When the aliens arrive, her son gloms on to them — causing tension within the family.
Like the original, show centers on visitors who say they've come to help the Earth — but their motives are nefarious.

V writer/creator Kenneth Johnson isn't involved in this version, which will be written and produced by Scott Peters from THE 4400.

Brutal Irony

No sooner did Publishers Weekly editor-in-chief Sara Nelson write in her weekly column that she was feeling hopeful that the wave of industry firings was over than she got laid off herself. Reed Publications, parent company of PW, announced that all three of their publishing industry trade magazines will now be run by one editor, Brian Kenney. Meanwhile, Reed also announced that thirty staffers were pink slipped today at Variety, their entertainment industry trade publication. 

Two Web Pilots. Do They Represent The Future…or The Past?

Here's The Remnants from writer/director John August…this one cost $25,000 to produce.

And here's Fusion, from writer/producer Richard Manning….this one cost less than $10,000 to produce.

Both are slickly produced and well-written. But are they the future of television? It seems to me like the majority of scripted, drama web pilots have a sci-fi slant. Is that a requirement of web shows simply because they are viewed on a computer screen? 

Every "webisode" and web drama I've seen all look like re-purposed TV shows rather than story-telling & film-making that takes advantage of the unique qualities and resources of the medium they are using. Why are we sticking so rigidly to the TV formats and techniques in this new medium?

What do you think? Would you click on new episodes of these shows every week? Would you pay to subscribe to them?

UPDATE: You can also catch the FUSION pilot here.

A Bourne Again Holmes

Somebody is going to write a book on how the Bourne movies have reshaped action heroes. First James Bond got Bourne Again (in CASINO ROYALE), now it's Sherlock Holmes' turn. The new Holmes, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., is going to be as brawny as he is brainy. The New York Times reports:

Sure, he will still be smarter than everyone within a three-planet radius, and he will retain his uncanny ability to intuit whole life stories from the tiniest speck of dust on a shoe. But he will do those things while being a man of action, a chaser, shooter and pummeler of criminals — “like James Bond in 1891,” Joel Silver, one of the film’s producers, said last fall.
[…]The new Holmes is rougher, more emotionally multilayered, more inclined to run with his clothing askew, covered in bruises and smudges of dirt and blood. […]But when he applies himself, Holmes is as fast with his body — he is a bare-knuckle boxer, a crack shot and an expert swordsman — as he is with his mind.

Can a Bourne Again Robin Hood, Tarzan, and Popeye The Sailor be far behind?

Is Free, “Ravenously Referential” Fiction the Future of Publishing?

A lot of folks have sent me a link to Lev Grossman's essay in Time Magazine that proclaims that:

Saying you were a self-published author used to be like saying you were a self-taught brain surgeon. But over the past couple of years, vanity publishing has becoming practically respectable.

He's the only person, besides a vanity press huckster, I have ever heard voice that opinion. He tries to back it up by citing a couple of the extraordinarily rare examples of self-publishing success. He neglects to mention, just like the vanity-press hucksters do, that these are extremely rare cases that represent a miniscule percentage of the self-published books printed every year.

But I'm not surprised he neglects that fact…and so many others in his essay. He's the same guy who thought Lori Jareo, the dimwit who self-published her STARS WARS fanfic and sold it as a novel on Amazon, was some kind of "unsung hero." He's also notorious for trying to jack up the rankings of his novel on Amazon by posting scores of fake, five-star reviews.

He believes that publishing books on paper, paying authors advances and giving booksellers the opportunity to return unsold books are old-fashioned practices that are so "20th century" and will soon become extinct in favor of  – drumroll please — fanfic.

Put these pieces together, and the picture begins to resolve itself: more books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic, far outside the charmed circle of New York City's entrenched publishing culture.

[…]Not that Old Publishing will disappear–for now, at least, it's certainly the best way for authors to get the money and status they need to survive–but it will live on in a radically altered, symbiotic form as the small, pointy peak of a mighty pyramid.
[…]The wide bottom of the pyramid will consist of a vast loamy layer of free, unedited, Web-only fiction, rated and ranked YouTube-style by the anonymous reading masses.

And what will that fiction look like? Like fan fiction, it will be ravenously referential and intertextual in ways that will strain copyright law to the breaking point.

Only someone who thinks Lori Jareo is a pioneer, and who wrote a novel about a "Boston slacker who has trouble distinquishing between reality and Star Trek," could make that prediction with a straight face. 

He's looking at publishing from within the insular world of science fiction and fantasy fandom, which bears little resemblance to reality. I don't think the majority of book-readers today– the millions who can't speak Klingon and never heard of Joss Whedon — would embrace the "ravenously referential" and poorly-written world of free literature that he desperately hopes the future of publishing will become.   

I agree with him that publishing is changing, and I suspect that ebooks and print-on-demand will be a big part of the future of the industry, but I doubt that wide popular and critical acceptance of self-publishing and fanfiction will be the ultimate result. To put it in terms Grossman would understand, I think commercial publishing, brick-and-mortar bookstores, and authors being paid for their work are practices that will "live long and prosper" in the face of new technology and new means of communication.

Mr. Monk and the Psych Signing

Today I did a booksigning at the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood with Bill Rabkin, author of the PSYCH novels. Our other scheduled guest, Steve Cannell, had to cancel at the last minute due to a family emergency. The fine folks at Hansen's Cakes provided an amazing MR. MONK IS MISERABLE cake that tasted every bit as good as it looked (though I hated to cut into it).

A nice crowd showed up that included our mentor Michael Gleason and his wife Jan, Amazon reviewer Mark Baker, my cousin Danny Barer, the three Richardson women, some old family friends and many avid readers. TV writer and novelist George Mastras, whose signing preceded ours, stuck around to share some of his Hollywood experiences (he writes for the TV series BREAKING BAD and sister writes for MAD MEN) and to have a slice of the incredible MONK cake.

Bill and I shared some anecotes from our experiences in television, told some stories about The Hoff, and talked about writing our books. Bill had a funny encounter with a fan…but I will let him talk about that on his blog (if he chooses to). P1240022

I signed lots of books, ate too much cake, and probably told more stories than I should have. I'd like thank Linda and Bobby, and new owners Pam Woods and Kirk Pasich, for making us all feel at home.

Back to Press

The third printing of MR. MONK IS MISERABLE in hardcover is now showing up on book store shelves. MISERABLE is on it's way to topping TWO ASSISTANTS, the previous bestseller among my MONK hardcovers, in just it's first seven weeks of release. Considering the current state of the economy and the book biz, I am surprised and gratified by the brisk sales. The publisher is so pleased that they are considering moving up the release of MR MONK IN TROUBLE from Jan 2010 to December 2009 as a result. I think the book has done so well because people were looking for humor, the comfort of a familiar character, and a "world" where every problem gets resolved in these scary, hard times…and its cheaper than most hardbacks.