Goodbye, TelevisionWeek

Television Week, the publication formerly known as Electronic Media, is ceasing publication and will continue as a website.
This is sad news for me. Back in the late 1980s, I was a reporter for Electronic Media. My biggest scoop was breaking the news about Paramount's revival of STAR TREK as first-run syndicated series — a story which the studio initially denied (USA Today later picked up my story and then Paramount reluctantly confirmed it). I also reported extensively about the birth of the Fox Network. It was an exciting time for me and I learned a lot about the nuts-and-bolts of the television business. Electronic Media catered to station programming execs and the syndication marketplace and often went into far more depth than either Variety or the Hollywood Reporter on TV biz stories. I don't think Electronic Media ever got the attention or respect that it deserved for its business journalism…though I often saw newspapers using their stories as jumping off-points for articles of their own. 

UPDATE 5-6-2009: The Franklin Avenue Blog has a detailed remembrance  & appreciation of EM.

TREK Screenwriters Are Tied-in

The LA Times asked Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, screenwriters of the new STAR TREK movie, to pick their favorite TREK tie-in novels. Surprisingly, these guy actually had some, proving their Trekkie street cred. Their choices were:

"Best Destiny" by Diane Carey (Pocket Books, 1993). "A beautiful imagining of Kirk's childhood and how it shaped him to love the stars."

"Spock's World" by Diane Duane (Pocket Books, 1988). "If Mr. Spock is your favorite character, this is amust read. The relationship he forges with Dr. McCoy finally gets the nuanced treatment it deserves." 

"Prime Directive" by Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens (Pocket Books, 1990). "One of the best incarnations of the original bridge crew, with every character given equal consideration and full development, against the backdrop of a real-deal science fiction story." 

"Ex Machina" by Christopher L. Bennett (Pocket Books, 2004) "A great example of how a 'Trek' novel can fit within 'canon' while existing between the movies we love."

The Mail I Get

MarchauthorsmallFacebook is quickly becoming over-run by people promoting their books…or at least it seems that way from my mailbox. Every day I get cringe-worthy new examples of how not to promote your book. Here's one that I got today from a self-published author:

I just wanted to send greetings from New Orleans and to thank you for adding me as your friend on Facebook. I am an author with a new suspense thriller,
Time Couriers, recent recipient of AmazonClicks Author's Choice Award for March 2009!

Touting yourself as an "AmazonClicks" award-winner is like screaming "I am pathetic!!" as loudly as you possibly can. 

AmazonClicks is an utterly meaningless and honorless non-accolade that has nothing whatsoever to do with  It's basically a popularity contest among nobodies set-up by a fledgling e-book publisher:

These are the only awards, voted for by ordinary readers and peer authors, where world beating best sellers compete against brand new and often unknown titles from talented writers sometimes struggling to gain recognition for their work.

We also list the winners of all the major literary awards so you can choose from the very best books available. […]
A wide range of thought provoking, amusing, thrilling and heart wrenching works are always nominated. The list shows these initially in the order they are received and then they are rank ordered by votes cast. 

[…]From the hundreds of nominations that can be received each month, only the top titles, most voted for, are listed – an award in itself! 

Participation in the voting and nominations for the AmazonClicks Authors Choice Award is open only to people with an ISBN number of their own. 

The Author's Choice Award is to give peer recognition and so we need to establish the votes for this award are coming from other authors, that is why we ask for an ISBN number of one of your works.

[…]Each person has one vote except authors who can vote once in each category so they get two. A vote will continue to be counted to support a book until that book wins an award in one of the categories (Reader's or Author's Choice) after which is will be removed from that category but may remain in the other if it has also been nominated there.

Well, those were the rules. The response from readers and authors this month has been so low, that AmazonClicks is combining the two "awards" into one. 

After much deliberation, we have decided to merge the Readers and Authors Choice Awards to one monthly 'AmazonClicks Award' for the most popular book. Due to the low votes in April, this will be effective immediately. The good news is that the competition goes on.

That's a relief.  What any of this idoicy has to do with Amazon is beyond me, except that they want to imply a connection where one doesn't exist. 

While this awards hokum isn't a scam in the classic sense — nobody is conning people out of their money — it still preys on the insecurity, naivete and desperation of aspiring authors. 

These self-published authors are so hungry for validation, for acknowledgment of any kind, that they'll jump at anything, no matter how insipid, that offers even the illusion of acclaim and recognition.

Instead, by touting this inane "award," the aspiring authors are humiliating themselves and creating new obstacles to overcome in their quest for publishing success and professional recognition. No reputable agent, editor, or reviewer will ever take an author seriously who considers an AmazonClicks "award" an honor worth touting. 

I feel sorry for this guy.

UPDATE 5-5-09
: Pete, the guy behind the AmazonClicks "awards," isn't too pleased about my comments. He says, in part:

basically he accuses us of trading off Amazon's name and running meaningless awards. I'm guessing he's never won an award and is envious of those of you who have attracted hundreds of votes for your titles. If you come across this sort of vitriol, I suggest you just ignore it because his is only one tiny, unknown voice against the many that have praised your achievements.

What's interesting is that now he's going to change the site's name (to scrap the implied connection to Amazon) and is dropping his plans to start an e-book business.

rather than give fuel to the mindless ramblings of people like the aforementioned, I intend to change the name in the near future. […]After long consideration and polling onions around the Internet, I've decided not to pursue the eBook or any other type of selling on line. The new awards site will be just that, exclusively awards.

This is a sharp detour from just a week ago, when he had very different "onions" to report:

A number of surveys, polls and requests for feedback have been conducted to evaluate the eBook proposition and I'm pleased to report overwhelming support in favour. So wheels are now in motion to set this up

Gee, I wonder what changed. I'm sure that his new awards (WalmartClicks? BarnesandNobleClicks? PetCoClicks?) will be just as meaningful, coveted, respected, and renowned as AmazonClicks was.

The Price isn’t Right

Lots of scripted shows in recent years have moved their production from Los Angeles to New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Toronto, Vancouver and even Bogota, Colombia . But you know things are really getting bad when even the cheap, non-scripted shows are fleeing the state. The LA Times reports today that the gameshow "Deal or No Deal" is saying "no deal" to California and high-tailing it to Connecticut.

The syndicated game show, hosted by comedian Howie Mandel, has been based out of the Culver Studios in Culver City for the last 3 1/2 years. But the show, which is produced by Endemol USA and distributed by NBC Universal, will shift production this summer to a studio in Waterford, Conn., to take advantage of that state's film and TV production tax breaks. Most of the 250 people who now work on "Deal or No Deal" will lose their jobs.

Connecticut offers a 30% production tax credit for films and digital media productions. NBC Universal, whose corporate parent General Electric Co. is based in Fairfield, Conn., already has announced plans to move three of its talk shows into a new production facility in Stamford, Conn.: "The Jerry Springer Show," "The Steve Wilkos Show," both from Chicago, and "Maury," from New York.

What's next to go — "The Price is Right?" "Ellen?" "The Tonight Show?" This is very bad news for all sectors of the entertainment industry in Southern California.

Author Photos for the Dead

N1283367977_30270780_7984 Can you believe that picture? It's the author photo and profile picture for Judith Gilbert, a stranger who asked to be my friend on Facebook today.  That picture looks like something you might see at a funeral home. She looks like she died and went on to horse heaven (I'm surprised that she didn't work a few unicorns, doves, and cats in there, too).  

I have a hard time reconciling that author photo with the cover of BLOOD HUNT, her latest e-book (the guy is either having an orgasm or trying to pass a very large gall-stone).

I'm sure Judith is a very sweet lady (and I'm not just saying that because she's a kick-boxer who could break me in two if she got pissed) but she might want to rethink the image she's creating for herself. She might start with one that doesn't make her seem, well, dead.