Archive for the ‘Books & TV’ Category

Bechdel and the LATE NIGHT Bump

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Fun Home  CD_funhome2015_194x194

Continuing his somewhat incongruous attention to books, Seth Meyers featured graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel on yesterday’s Late Night show, devoting the entire second half to her book Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2006) and its Tony-winning Broadway musical adaptation.

Meyers asked Bechdel to share the impetus behind Fun Home. Although it’s covered in the book, Bechdel’s recounting added emotional depth to  the story of  her coming out while in college and how that ultimately revealed her father’s hidden homosexual infidelity. He died shortly after in an accident that may have actually been a suicide.

That sad moment was balanced against a scene from the play, staged on Meyers set, in which the Broadway cast performed “Changing My Major.”

This may set a precedent in the amount of time devoted to a book by a late night talk show host.

Holds are spiking in some libraries beyond ratios of 6:1 while a few libraries we checked had copies on the shelf.

A cast album is also available:

Tesori, Jeanine, composer, Fun home: a new Broadway musical(PS Classics)

Alison Bechdel on LATE NIGHT

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Fun HomeSeth Meyers has brought something unusual to late night TV, authors.

Tonight, he goes another step further, featuring graphic novelist Alison Bechdel as well as a scene ftrom the Tony Award winning play based on her book Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2006). According to TheatreMania, this will be the first time a Broadway show has been performed on Late Night.

Jon Stewart’s Next To Last Week On THE DAILY SHOW

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

True to form, two of the four guests featured by Jon Stewart during his next-to-last week as host of The Daily Show are authors.

Last night, it was historian David McCullough, filling in at the last moment for presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who inexplicably backed out of his scheduled appearance. Cruz missed his chance if his goal was to promote his book, A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America (HarperCollins/Broadside Books; 6/30/15). McCullough’s The Wright Brothers,(S&S, 5/5/15), already a best seller, jumped up Amazons’ sales ranking as a result of the appearance.

On Wednesday Stewart will bring back one of his favorite guests, Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her latest book is The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, which they discussed when it was published in 2011.

Goodwin’s first appearance on the Daily Show, at the end of 2005, was to discuss her previous title Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Since then, Goodwin  has been on the show several times, bringing her perspective on the history of the presidency to discussions of George W. Bush’s final State Of The Union speech (lacking substance, he appears as if “he’s ready to go back to the ranch”), whether Obama would win the 2008 election (“Yes”), then his first hundred days (Goodwin, “he’s doing pretty well”; Stewart was more skeptical) and his first State of the Union address (“he’s failing to articulate a clear legislative vision”)


Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

A BBC TV series based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Tales, titled The Last Kingdom, after the first book in the series, is to premiere on BBC America on Oct. 10.

No full trailer yet, the following is just a teaser:

The Last Kingdom tie-in
Bernard Cornwell
Harper Papberbacks: September 22, 2015
9780062438621, 006243862X
Paperback; $15.99 USD

The ninth book in the series Warriors of the Storm, is coming in January (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe).

Seth Meyers’s Literary Salon

Monday, July 20th, 2015

An unexpected venue has begun featuring novelists. The Wall Street Journal writes that Seth Meyers has created a “Late Night Literary Salon” on his TV show that boosts book sales.

When Hanya Yanagihara the author of the literary doorstopper, A Little Life, (RH/Doubleday, March) was invited to appear on the show, she assumed someone was playing a joke on her. Fortunately, she accepted. Meyers spoke to her for over six minutes, a long time for television and the interview caused sales to rise an impressive 54% according to BookScan. Meyers’s interview with Marlon James for A Brief History of Seven Killings (RH/Riverhead, 2014) resulted in a 31% sales bump. Those spikes are nothing, however, compared to the 500% jump Linda Fairstein saw after her appearance for Terminal City (Penguin/Dutton, June).

Other authors have not fared as well. Joshua Ferris’s To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Hachette/Little, Brown, 2014) did not rise, but even so he told WSJ that “plugging a book is often a humbling enterprise… being on Seth’s show was the opposite. It was a gift.”

Meyers apparently reads very widely and picks the authors he wants to meet. As Marlon James says of his booking on the show, “I first just thought, well, my publicist is working overtime, which she is. But the idea that behind his booking was simply that he fell in love with these books just kind of blew my mind … it’s just not one of those things you expect.”

Meyers has featured authors who are no strangers to TV, such as Stephen King and George R.R. Martin as well and, according to the WSJ, Judy Blume and Junot Díaz are up soon.

A sample, below, in which Martin knights Meyers.

Jon Stewart Book Binge,
Final Day

Friday, July 17th, 2015

We end our tribute to Jon Stewart for his attention to books and reading as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with one of our favorites. This one is not an author interview, but a segment in which Stewart quotes the “Statement of Purpose of the Boston Public Library,” perhaps the only time it’s ever been quoted on national television.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart returns from hiatus next week. On Thursday, Stewart will interview Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author of Between the World and Me (RH/Spiegel & Grau). In his New York Times column today, “Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White,” David Brooks calls the book “a mind-altering account of the black male experience. Every conscientious American should read it.”

Stewart’s final day as host is August 6. His replacement Trevor Noah debuts on Sept 28. Here’s hoping he’s a reader.

Jon Stewart Book Binge, Day Eight

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

As part of our celebration of the many authors Jon Stewart has featured during his 16 year tenure as host of The Daily Show, today we present his 2006 interview with movie critic Roger Ebert.

The book was The Great Movies II, but the conversation veered off in to some weird territory as they discussed Stewart’s upcoming gig as the host of the Oscars as well his checkered career as an actor. Giving one of his films,  Death to Smoochy the ultimate backhanded compliment, Ebert had written in his review, “To make a film this awful, you have to have enormous ambition and confidence, and dream big dreams.”

Closer to Screen:

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 11.14.57 AMPotter fans rejoice! Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find, the next trilogy in the Harry Potter film series, is moving closer to the screen now that director David Yates has issued an open call for auditions to fill the role of Modesty. CNN reports that Yates is searching for a female actress aged 8-12, who could become a household name like Hermione.

The film trilogy, the first of which is due out on November 18, 2016, follows the story of Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

The Warner Bros. films, as Flickering Myth suggests, have a good chance of  replicating the look and feel of the HP movies. J. K. Rowling wrote the screenplay and the director, producer, production designer, and executive producer all worked on multiple HP films.

As we reported earlier, the movies are based on a Hogwarts textbook (a real edition of the fictional text was published in 2001, with a special charity edition out last month) and follows Scamander’s search for magical creatures.  IMDb neatly summarizes the plot: “The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.”

Jon Stewart Book Binge, Day Seven

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Continuing our celebration of the many authors Jon Stewart has featured during his tenure as host of The Daily Show, we present the following interview with Studs Terkel for his book, And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey (Norton, 2005). He died 2 years after his interview, at age 96.

Terkel may have been, as he said, “deaf as a post,” but clearly his greatest joy was listening to ordinary people.

Jon Stewart Book Binge, Day Six

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Today we continue our look at Jon Stewart’s coverage of books on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. As we noted earlier, after 9/11, Stewart began to feature authors on several topics he became known for, almost as if he were educating himself along with his audience.

One of this favorite targets has been tv news coverage. At the end of 2002, he interviewed Ann Coulter for the first (and only) time about her book Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right. Clearly in disagreement with her points (including that there “are several bad Republicans, but there are no good Democrats”), he ended by saying that talking to her felt  “like when I see something on National Geographic. I don’t understand, but I like to learn.”

Time warp note: Coulter mentions a LexisNexis search the way we would a Google search today.

The following year, he continued exploring the topic with several other authors, from conservatives Dick Morris (Off with Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business) and Bernard Goldberg (Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite) to Al Franken (Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right) and journalism professoe, Eric Alterman (What Liberal Media? The Truth About Biaxs and the News).

Jon Stewart Book Binge, Day 5

Monday, July 13th, 2015

With Comedy Central’s The Daily Show on hiatus until next week and Jon Stewart’s impending exodus from the show coming on August 6, we’ve been looking at some of  the many authors Stewart has featured on the show.

Stewart often features authors he disagrees with, but sometimes they find common ground.

Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan appeared on th show in December of 2001 for her book about Ronald Reagan When Character Was King (Viking), Stewart disagreed  with her assessment of Reagan (“I still have my McGovern button”), but did not argue with her sense that, after 9/11, Geroge W. Bush showed signs go going from a dilletant to a leader.

In 2008. when she returned to talk about her book, Patriotic Grace: What It Is And Why We Need It Now, (HarperCollins) both were disillusioned with Bush. About the economic crisis, Noonan said the President was acting “more like a commentator on the events, rather than a leader of the events.” Stewart responded, “He seems like … it’s his senior year of college, it’s the last three months, and he’s been playing ultimate frisbee all week and they throw him out there and he’s just like, ‘What are we doing today? Economic collapse? What the hell, I”m out of here in three months, who cares.’ ”

Stewart ended by saying he is very upset by the lack of real discourse on important issues and asks for reassurance, Noonan expresses the hope that “This economic crisis will break this thing out of the stupid, small narrow rut we are in and maybe each of these men [Barack Obama and John MCCain who were running for President at the time] will come forward and be their best selves and make this campaign serious.”

Jon Stewart Book Binge, Day 4

Friday, July 10th, 2015

We’ve been missing Jon Stewart’s coverage of books and authors while the Daily Show has been on a two-week hiatus. The show returns Monday, July 20. Then we have to face August 6, Stewart’s final day as host and hope that his replacement will continue the tradition.

To tide us over, we’ve been digging around in the archives for some of our favorite moments. Since today is a Friday, we thought it was a good day for a light hearted segment from 2009 when Jeff Bezos struggled mightily to convince Stewart that the Kindle is a good thing (WARNING: Includes regular maniacal laughter. Viewer discretion is advised.):

Jon Stewart Book Binge, Day 3

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

On Day 3 of our tribute to Jon Stewart for his focus on books and reading during his 16-year tenure on the Daily Show, we look at his interviews with a woman he calls “one of my favorite authors of all time,” Sarah Vowell.

Her next book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States (Penguin/Riverhead) won’t be published until October, well after Stewart exits the show on August 6th, but he used the Fourth of July holiday as an excuse to feature it, even though he couldn’t use his signature line, “It’s on the bookshelves now!”

Vowell used the opportunity to elicit a rare hug from Stewart, by tricking him in to re-enacting a tender moment between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Vowell appeared for the first time on the show in 2002 for her third book The Partly Cloudy Patriot. Stewart featured her for every one of her books since, often twice (once for the hardcover and again for the paperback).

Her funniest and most poignant appearance, however, was not with Stewart, but with his stand-in John Oliver and not for her own book, but for one by her good friend, David Rakoff who died of cancer weeks before he finished his novel Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish (RH/Doubleday). That appearance turned the book into a best seller.

A full list of Vowell’s appearances on the Daily Show, with links, after the jump.


Jon Stewart Book Binge, Day Two

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

As part of our tribute to Jon Stewart for his mpact on books and reading during his 16-year tenure on the Daily Show, today we look at an author who has appeared several times on the show, Walter Isaacson.

His first appearance was in 2003, when he was leaving his position as head of CNN. Stewart took the opportunity to knock the network, something that has become a recurring Stewart theme.

Isaacson also mentioned that he was at work on his third book, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, which he come back to discuss the following October. In 2009, he was back for his next book, a biography of Albert Einstein.

Two years later, he revealed some behind-the-scenes moments from his interviews with Steve Jobs while writing Jobs’ biography (which is the basis for the movie coming in this October).

Stewart Countdown

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

In less than a month. on August 6, Jon Stewart signs off from the Daily Show. You can binge on the last 16 years via the Web site “Your Month of Zen.”


Stewart is beloved in the book industry for the number of serious books he has featured and his ability to sell them to his audience.

In the his years, however, Stewart rarely featured authors and when the did, they were celebrities and/or comedians. The first was Joy Behar who stopped by as part of her book tour for Joy Shtick. That same year Stewart interviewed Donny Osmond for his memoir Life Is Just What You Make It.

It wasn’t until two years later that he featured his first political books, both of them satirical, P. J. O’Rourke‘s The CEO of the SOFA and Jeff Greenfield’s  Oh, Waiter, One Order of Crow!

As he predicted at the time, 9/11 changed the course of the show, and that included his turning to authors on more serious political issues. His first guest after 9/11 was New York Times columnist, Frank Rich. In the next year, he began to hit his stride, starting with Sebastian Junger in January discussing his Vanity Fair article on Afghanistan (later expanded into the 2010 book War).

On a lighter note that year, Stewart interviewed author Elmore Leonard for his book Tishomingo Blues (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2002) and clearly had a grand time watching as Leonard stole the show.