When a Reward Isn’t a Reward

I love anecdotes like the one writer/producer Earl Pomerantz shares on his blog today about the "reward" CBS gave him for the success of his sitcom MAJOR DAD:

Maybe you can help figure out what the reward was. I still don’t get it.
The deal went like this: I would write two scripts as the prototypes for two television series. CBS would guarantee that one of those scripts would be produced as a pilot.
Unless they didn’t like either of them. (Oops. There goes the guarantee.)
If they were unhappy with both shows, as a consequence of, you know, obliterating the guarantee, CBS would be required to pay a financial penalty.
To the studio I was working for.
Not to me.

They don't teach you about this sort of  stuff in film school…which is a shame, because that's the kind of knowledge you really need to know to survive in this business. I'm still trying to learn it myself…

Come for the Self-Promotion, Stay for the Pie

William Rabkin has launched his own blog and starts it off with a humorous post ribbing author Neale Donald Walsch for stealing someone else's work. I love Walsch's excuse:

“All I can say now — because I am truly mystified and taken aback by this — is that someone must have sent it to me over the Internet ten years or so ago,” Mr. Walsch wrote. “Finding it utterly charming and its message indelible, I must have clipped and pasted it into my file of ‘stories to tell that have a message I want to share.’ I have told the story verbally so many times over the years that I had it memorized … and then, somewhere along the way, internalized it as my own experience.”

I am thinking of internalizing John Grisham's next novel as my own experience. I'd like to internalize his wealth as my own experience, too, but haven't figured out how to do that yet.

It’s Not Easy Doing a Show About a Talking Car That Fights Crime

Gary Scott Thompson, showrunner of the rebooted KNIGHT RIDER, talked to MediaWeek about the hard road the show has traveled. The biggest problem has been NBC's tinkering with the concept and the abrupt decision, based on plummeting ratings, to cut back the number of episodes ordered and to  make the show more like the David Hasselhoff original than a Galactica-esque " reimagining."

(Thanks to TV Squad for the link)

Get PSYCHed Out

William Rabkin's first tie-in novel PSYCH: A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO READ comes out today. It's also his first novel of any kind, so I think it merits mention and a hearty CONGRATULATIONS!  The book is absolutely hilarious and sharply plotted…and I'm not just saying that because he's my oldest friend and we've written together for twenty-some years (including an episode of PSYCH). If you are looking for a few hours of belly laughs and a clever, twisty mystery, I strongly recommend the book. 

UPDATE: Bookgasm gives the book a rave review. They say, in part:

Truly capturing the show’s manic energy, the book feels like a super-sized episode with some touches that might have been toned down if this were translated to the screen.[…]Rabkin, who has written for the show, seems to have a lot of fun playing with these characters and throwing in enough pop-culture references to delight the fans — particularly any child of the ’70s and ’80s. This being the first of the tie-in novels, I can only hope they let Rabkin continue, since he truly understands not only the relationship of the characters, but his pacing and their voices come through so clear in his style.

The Business Lunch, R.I.P.?

I guess that next time I see my editor, I'm the one who is going to have to buy us lunch. The New York Times reports:

Nobody expects one of the staples of the business — the long lunch — to die off completely because of these straitened circumstances. But publishers, editors and literary agents, who have often been among the best diners in the city, are now reconsidering their favorite restaurants.
“We’ve all naturally been thinking about whether it’s absolutely essential to have a lunch here or there,” Mr. Burnham added, “or whether it can be a phone call or a meeting.”

Murder One Murdered

Bookseller reports the very sad news that owner/author Maxim Jakubowski's legendary Murder One bookstore on Charing Cross Road in London is closing down, a victim of plunging sales.

"Over the last few years our sales have deterioriated," he said. "I was planning to retire this year, but this is earlier than expected. For the benefit of staff, publishers and suppliers, I would rather close the shop now and go out voluntarily with my head held high and no debts."

It was a great store with a knowledgeable, mystery-loving staff. I visited the store whenever I happened to be in London, which was every two or three years (though I managed to stop in three or four times in 2006-2007). I always left with an armful of books. I discovered a lot of great authors there over the years…and not just U.K. folks like Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, and Derek Raymond. My introduction to U.S. author Daniel Woodrell's work was a UK edition of THE ONES YOU DO that Maxim recommended to me. London isn't going to be the same for me without Murder One.

You can find lots of tributes to the store at Sarah Weinman's site.

Click on TV History

There's a nice piece in the Los Angeles Times today on the Archive of American Television. They even mention my interview with Dick Van Dyke:

Fans of classic TV likely will find much of interest in the full interviews, which somehow seem to reveal more than the usual celebrity Q&A, possibly because the informal video format allows more of a celebrity's personality to shine through. Van Dyke, for instance, is charmingly Rob Petrie-esque in his 2005 interview, whereas Dick Clark, interviewed years before his debilitating 2004 stroke, reveals his driven, media-entrepreneur side. […]Fred Silverman's lengthy interview provides a rare glimpse of the mind-set of a top network programmer.

Mr. Monk and the Next Title

Anybody have some good ideas for the title of a MONK book that hasn't already been used already for an episode? 

The next two book titles are MR. MONK AND THE DIRTY COP and MR. MONK IN TROUBLE. But I have no idea what the title of the one after that will be…
I'm open to suggestions!

UPDATE 1-11-2009I've received dozens and dozens of titles both here and on my Facebook Monk page. Out of all those titles, I've chosen:


for the tenth book. I've already come up with a plot (which Monk creator/showrunner Andy Breckman has approved) and will submit it to my editor tomorrow.

I don't want to give away too much…so I'll just say that Mr. Monk goes broke and that his whole life is up-ended as a result.

So Dave, whoever you are, please let me know your last name so I can credit you in the book for coming up with the title.

I want to thank everyone for contributing so many terrific titles…two or three of which I still might use for future books (like MR. MONK GETS EVEN, MR. MONK IN THE RYE, MR. MONK GOES TO WASHINGTON, etc.)

Cleaned out  
UPDATE 4/29/2010:
MR. MONK IS CLEANED OUT will be published in July.


Some Things Never Change

From the Wall Street Journal:

Dark days are upon the book industry. Last month alone, Random House announced a massive restructuring; Simon & Schuster laid off 35 staffers; the adult division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt stopped acquiring manuscripts for the rest of the year; and HarperCollins sent comedian Sarah Silverman a contract worth $2.5 million to write her first book.

(Thanks to Bill Crider for the link)