More Lit Detectives Coming to British TV

Broadcast Magazine reports that author Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks is coming to television…in two-hour movie for the UK's ITV network from Left Bank Pictures, the same folks responsible for the fine WALLANDER series. The first book to be filmed, which will serve as a pilot for more, will be AFTERMATH. Meanwhile, the same company is producing three  movies based on Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen novels RATKING, VENDETTA, and DEAD LAGOON for the BBC…as well as a second season of WALLANDER tales.

Two Jews in Kentucky Part 3

It’s been a busy two days in Owensboro at the International Mystery Writers Festival. Yesterday, I did an interview with Fox WTVW about the Festival and my MONK books, did some last minute  tinkering with the Angie Awards script, attended several of the “Live Radio  Theatre” plays, chatted for awhile with actors Gary Sandy (who guest-starred in a DIAGNOSIS MURDER episode that I wrote), Amy Walker, and Firesign Theatre’s Phil Proctor while dining on some fine Moonlite BBQ, and then spent several hours observing my buddy David Breckman shoot his short mystery film “Murder in Kentucky” with local actors and technicians.  All in all, it was a lot of fun.

Tonight, I hosted a dinner presentation honoring Sue Grafton and interviewed her with questions supplied in advance by the audience. She was terrific…funny, informative, and very entertaining. I’ll post pictures from the event as soon as I get my hands on some. Then Sue, her husband, and I attended a live broadcast of the “Live Radio Theatre” plays, which were aired on the local NPR affiliate. Several theatre bigshots from New York flew in for the plays to measure their Broadway and national tour potential. I hear the response was already wildly enthusiatic. 

Tomorrow night, I’m moderating a panel with Sue, authors Will Lavender and Laura Benedict, and then  later that night I’ll be hosting the Angie Awards, where events will include David and Sue being commissioned as Kentucky Colonels by the Kentucky Secretary of State.  My hosting duties actually require a little bit of acting, something I haven’t done much of before, so it should be an interesting experience for me…and, hopefully, an entertaining one for the audience!

Two Jews in Kentucky Part 2

The day started with a BBQ brunch at the Moonlite BBQ. I was disappointed this time…the meal didn't live up to my memory of the place or my high expectations. Did I just imagine how good it was last year? After lunch, I browsed at the two used bookstores in town, didn't buy anything, then went down to the Riverpark Performing Arts Center  to lead a workshop on TV writing and sign some books. That was fun. 

Afterwards, I chatted for an hour with the Firesign Theatre's David Ossman and Judith Walcutt, their son Orson (who placed Mapes in the stage version of THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE), and the very talented Amy Walker, the  woman of a thousand voices

I did a quick rewrite of the script for the Sunday Awards show, then ran out for some more BBQ, this time at a place called Old South BBQ, that was even more  disappointing that Moonlite was. I changed my clothes and returned to the Riverpark Center to host an outdoor screening of THE BEST TV SHOWS THAT NEVER WERE. It was so great to see that with an audience and to hear their laughter. 

While I was doing all of that, David Breckman was writing and casting his short film, which he will be shooting tomorrow in Owensboro. The script is terrific (a light-hearted murder  mystery,of course, set in a theatre) and the cast and crew are absolutely thrilled to be doing it. David took some of the folks out for a late night snack and their enthusiasm was palpable. They see this as an amazing opportunity. I'm going to enjoy watching them all at work.

Tomorrow, I actually have the day off, but I am going to spend it at  a desk somewhere at the Riverpark Center, working on my movie script, but I'll be available if David needs a hand. I might also catch two of the four plays being  performed during the Festival. 

Saturday I'm leading a panel with Sue Grafton and hosting a dinner  in her honor, and then Sunday I am hosting the awards ceremony. I shall report back to you tomorrow.  

Who is the Clueless Moron now?

Back in 2004, under the heading "Clueless Morons," I blogged about a group calling themselves the Colonial Fan Force, who took out a full-page ad in Variety clamoring for a BATTLESTAR GALACTICA movie starring the original cast. The ad read, in part: 

Millions of fans still dream of seeing the Battlestar Galactica roam the heavens once more in a big screen continuations of the epic story that began in 1978 with the original cast and characters leading a new generation of warriors

I wrote:

Yeah, right… there are millions, no TENS of millions, of fans clamoring for the return of Herb Jefferson, Laurette Sprang, Dirk Benedict, and Richard Hatch (who is not nearly as powerful an actor as the nude guy of the same name on "Survivor"… nor as successful). I suspect the real audience is about 100 fat guys in their 40s, who at this very moment are busily duping all their Heather Thomas videos onto DVD..

[…]I am always amused by the losers who spend their comic book money on pointless ads like this (or, worse, the ones who publish a synopsis of, or excerpt from, their unsold screenplays)

[…] the folks at "The Colonial Fan Force" urge the readers of Variety (most of whom are entertainment industry professionals) to write writer/producer Glen A. Larson and Tom DeSanto, a guy who once tried to launch a movie version of the TV show. This shows just how little the people who paid for this ad understand about how the business works…and even sillier when you consider the SciFi Channel is already in the midst of shooting a new "Battlestar Galactica" TV series from NBC/Universal Studios with an all-new cast led by Edward James Olmos.

And that was the nicest thing I had to say about the Colonial Fan Force. 

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the joke is on me. Today Variety reported that Universal, Glen A. Larson, Bryan Singer and Tom DeSanto are mounting a feature film version of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA that will be a "complete re-imagining" that is unrelated to the recently wrapped series.

While this isn't the reunion the Colonial Fan Force was clamoring for, and it's happening after the end of the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA series, and it isn't the result of a letter-writing campaign, it is a feature film and it's likely to be closer to the original series than the SciFi Channel series was.

So who is the clueless moron now? It looks like it is me.

Two Jews in Kentucky

MONK writer/producer/director David Breckman and I arrived in Owensboro, Kentucky today for the International Mystery Writers Festival. Everybody has treated us wonderfully but I've only been here a few hours and already have an anecdote to share (or, as David said afterward, "as it was happening, I knew I was living an anecdote that I would be telling for years."). After a screening of MONK clips on a giant, outdoor screen, a fan came up to us with his family and asked us to signed his set of MONK dvds.

"I just knew Monk was written by Jews," the fan said.

"Excuse me?" David said.

"Breckman, Goldberg, you're Jews," he said. "Monk is so Jewish.  Jews write the best stuff in Hollywood.  All the greatest entertainment comes  from Jews. Star Trek was created by a Jew.  We just love what you Jews do."

The man obviously meant well and to compliment our work, and he was nervous, so we didn't take offense. David signed the box:  David Breckman, a grateful Jew.

David is a super busy Jew these days.  In addition to his MONK works, he's also got pilots at USA and NBC. He'll also be writing, casting,  shooting and screening a ten minute  mystery between now and Sunday. It will be done entirely with local actors and aspiring film-makers, so it should be a lot of fun. Jews are so talented.

MWA Teams with Writer Beware

The Mystery Writers of America announced today that its co-sponsoring Writer Beware. I’m sure it will be no surprise to regular readers of this blog to learn that I spear-headed this effort.  I’m thrilled that we’re able to help support Writer Beware…and I hope it leads to other professional writers organizations following our lead. Here’s an article I wrote for the MWA newsletter about it:

The Mystery Writers of America is joining the fight against writing scams by contributing $1000 towards Writer Beware, a website & blog created by the Science Fiction Writers of America to expose fraudulent publishing practices and educate authors on how to protect themselves from being swindled.

“We are pleased to be able to support the important work that Writer Beware is doing on behalf of all writers, professional and aspiring, by exposing scams aimed at defrauding authors,” said Frankie Bailey, the MWA’s executive vice president.

Writer Beware’s website, which was launched by SFWA in 1998, can be used by20any writer anywhere, regardless of whatever genre, fiction or non-fiction, that they work in…or their professional standing. And Writer Beware blog offers up-to-the-minute information on specific scams and schemes, along with essential advice for writers. They also help authors who have questions about individual agents, publishers, or contests.

“We are not only showing our support and making Writer Beware stronger, but sending a message to scammers that we won’t stand by and let them take advantage of authors,” said Lee Goldberg, the MWA board member who will act as the MWA liaison with Writer Beware.

“It’s vital that organizations like SFWA and MWA team up on these kinds of challenges,” said Russell Davis, President of SFWA. “We can accomplish far more working together than we can working on our own, and I hope other organizations will see this as an invitation to join in these types of group efforts.”

I will be reaching out to the International Thriller Writers and the Romance Writers of America to ask them to join us in supporting Writer Beware and fighting scammers.

UPDATE: Publishers Weekly has picked up the news…which is great. The more word spreads about Writer Beware, the less likely it will be that people will be taken advantage of by scammers.

Me on Me

The second part of Lori Ham's interview with me is now up on her No Name Cafe site. Here's an excerpt:

Café: What do you like best and which is harder — writing novels or TV? 

Lee: They are entirely different experiences. Television is very much a group effort and what you are writing is a blueprint that lots of other people are going to use as the basis for their creative work, whether it’s the actor, the director, the production designer. And when you write a script it’s not locked in stone. It’s going to change. It’s going to change because everybody has notes. It’s going to change because production concerns force rewrites. It’s going to change because of actors and directors. 

A book is entirely my own and unaffected by production concerns or actors. I’m the actors, the director, the production designer […] It’s not a blueprint. It is the finished product and it won’t change much once I am done with it. It’s not a group effort — I plot it myself and I write it by myself. It’s entirely in my head and I live it for months. Creatively speaking, there’s a big difference between writing prose and writing a script. In a book, you are seducing the reader. You are bringing them into your imagination and holding them there for as long as they’re reading the book. You construct everything. You construct the sets, the wardrobe, the world. You’re God. You can even read a character’s thoughts.