Archive for the ‘Books & TV’ Category

Hitting Screens, Week of June 26, 2017

Monday, June 26th, 2017

The upcoming weekend brings the latest in the family film franchise, Despicable Me 3 (see our earlier story for tie-ins), the debut of one adaptation and the continuation of a James Patterson TV series.

Fresh from winning Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival, only the second time a woman has done so in 71 years, Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled opens in theaters on June 30th [CORRECTION: the film opened in 4 theaters last week and did well. It expands to 500 locations on Friday].

Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst star in the film about a group of women sequestered in a Southern girls boarding school during the Civil War and the wounded Union soldier who arrives at their doorstep. (See our earlier post for more on the novel and its adaptations).

Reviews vary widely. Entertainment Weekly calls it “a film that radiates with thrilling, deliciously dark southern gothic flair” and CNN credits it with being “a small-scale movie that exalts old-fashioned movie-making qualities, yielding a refreshingly understated alternative to a sea of summer blockbusters.”

On the other hand, USA Today writes, “While Coppola creates some gorgeous imagery, the drama amounts to an overly pretentious version of a sudsy made-for-TV movie, complete with bodice ripping.”

Coppola appeared on CBS This Morning to promote the film, talking about the cast and her vision for the story.

Tie-in edition: The Beguiled: A Novel (Movie Tie-In), Thomas Cullinan (PRH/Penguin; OverDrive Sample).

James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge’s Zoo returns to CBS for its third season on June 29; it stars Nonso Anozie, Nora Arnezeder, Billy Burke, Kristen Connolly, and James Wolk.

The first two seasons focused on how the animal kingdom turned on humans and began hunting them down. Humans developed a gas to stop them, but it had an unpleasant side effect. Rotten Tomatoes describes new series, “Ten years after the animals were cured but at the cost of sterilizing the human population, a new threat rises in the form of ‘the hybrids,’ an army of unstoppable lab-made creatures focused on destroying mankind.”

There was a tie-in for season one, the Zoo story was extended as one of Patterson BookShotsZoo 2, and is also a graphic novel. There is no tie-in for season 3.

Rumor Control: DOWNTON Movie

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Rumors of a Downton Abbey movie have resurfaced.

Michael Edelstein, president of NBCUniversal International Studios, said at an event in Singapore this week for Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, that the company hopes “to assemble 20 cast members from the popular TV series” for a new film, currently set for 2018.

The headline of the AP story, however makes it sound much more definite, “NBC says ‘Downton Abbey’ movie production to start in 2018.”

The news seems to have taken much of the cast by surprise. A film version has been rumored for years.

Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith Crawley, told the AP “Well, tell my agent, because we’re still waiting to know. We’re hoping that will happen soon.”

“Oh, well, you’ve got confirmation before us. We have no idea if that’s happening,” said Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy.

Creator Julian Fellowes was hopeful, responding “I think we’ve got a film in us. I hope it happens.”

As we posted earlier, Fellowes and Elizabeth McGovern are already booked for now, working on the Masterpiece’s production of The Chaperone, based on Laura Moriarty’s 2012 novel, which is set to begin filming soon in NYC.

 

Hitting Screens, Week of June 19, 2017

Monday, June 19th, 2017

There are no film adaptations opening this week but four TV series based on books premiere.

Grantchester returned yesterday for season three on PBS Masterpiece.

James Norton (Happy Valley) stars as vicar Sidney Chambers with Robson Green playing Inspector Geordie Keating. The two get caught up in even more mysteries as Sidney must decide if he will follow his heart with his long lost love or follow his church and abide by his moral calling.

The newest book in the series was published in May, Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James Runcie (Macmillan/Bloomsbury USA; also in trade paperback; OverDrive Sample). It is stickered to connect it to the PBS series although it is not a direct tie-in to the new season.

Queen Sugar premieres on Tuesday, June 20.

See our earlier post for full details, and note there is a tie-in:

Queen Sugar: A Novel (TV Tie-In), Natalie Baszile (PRH/Penguin; OverDrive Sample).

The TV adaptation of Stephen King’s novella The Mist debuts on Spike TV on June 22. It details the terror that grips a community when a strange vapor invades a small town.

The story is contained in the new edition of Skeleton Crew: Stories by Stephen King (S&S/Pocket; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The Washington Post includes it on their rundown of “Summer TV 2017,” giving it a C+ and calling it “a 10-episode Walking Dead-type survival of the fittest.”

Entertainment Weekly offers insights into the newest creepfest of a trailer.

Preacher returns to AMC for season 2 on June 25. It is based on the comic series of the same name by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.

GQ calls the original an “iconic and maniacally violent comic book from the 1990s about faith and God and true love and the American dream,” but found the first season of the TV show “uneven” and the final episode “a bummer.” They offer several ways season two can be redeemed.

Entertainment Weekly was kinder, giving season one a B and writing “For all its frustrations, season 1 was always funny and always fun to watch.” The NYT was on board too, writing it “packs apocalypse, horror, religion, dirty realism and dime-store westerns into its glass jar, then sets the whole bloody mixture on purée.”

There is no direct tie-in. The comics ended in 2000 and have been published in trade paperback collections, hardcover editions, and most recently, expensive absolute editions (archival quality restored and recolored versions collecting an entire comic run in one or two volumes). Absolute Preacher Vol. 2 by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (DC Comics/Vertigo) was just published, priced at $150.

Alone And Adrift

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

CBS Sunday Morning featured A Speck in the Sea: A Story of Survival and Rescue by John Aldridge and Anthony Sosinski (Hachette/Weinstein Books; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) as their cover story this week.

In this harrowing but ultimately triumphant story, John Aldridge falls off his boat in the early hours of the morning while fishing in the Atlantic. After surviving sharks, cold, and twelve hours in the open ocean, the Coast Guard spotted him clinging to a rope. The rescue pilot told him they never find men alive, they just find bodies.

The story was widely reported, most notably in a 2014 NYT Magazine cover story. The Weinstein company bought both the book and the film rights.

The book came out in late May. Publishers Weekly calls it “hair-raising” and a “page turner.”

No word yet on when the film will premiere but it has some big names attached on the production side, including the producers behind Moneyball and Paranormal Activity.

To TV: Alex Rider

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Anthony Horowitz’s bestselling Alex Rider novels, featuring a teenage spy recruited by MI6, are a step closer to becoming a TV series, reports Deadline Hollywood.

The UK indie studio Eleventh Hour Films is working with ITV to develop a “large-scale family series.” Deadline reports that the plan is to develop a “long-running series that’s re-imagined as an older-skewing family event drama. The adaptation will look to open the adult storylines to deliver a character-driven series that pushes the boundaries of the genre.”

Each book in the series will be treated in one season, starting with the second book, 2001’s Point Blank. The first book, Stormbreaker, has already been made into a film.

The 11th book in the series will be published in the US on Oct. 10, 2017, Never Say Die (PRH/Philomel Books).

No casting news or premiere date have been released.

HBO Nabs TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Following the major success of Big Little Lies, HBO has signed up another series adaptation of a book, this one based on Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), Entertainment Weekly reports HBO won the project in a “competitive bidding war.”

As we posted earlier, Julia Roberts will star as Eleanor Flood in her first TV role since HBO’s The Normal Heart. Flood wakes up one morning, according the the HBO press release, “determined to be her best self, but then life happens. Taking place over a single day, it’s a rollicking portrait of one woman’s fumbling but valiant attempt to navigate the knotty perils and sly grace of modern life.”

Semple, no stranger to TV herself (she worked on Beverly Hills, 90210, Mad About You, Suddenly Susan, and Arrested Development), is writing the script.

No news at this point on when the project will debut or who will join Roberts in the cast.

HBO’s newest purchase and its hit adaptations of Big Little Lies and Game of Thrones are just three of its literary projects. The network is also partnering with an Italian studio and will air the adaptation of My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.

HBO is, of course, just one of many outlets keen to grab book-to-screen projects. The Verge has a rundown of why book adaptations are getting more frequent, and getting better.

Hitting Screens, Week of May 29, 2017

Monday, May 29th, 2017

After a long slog to the screen, the Amazonian Princess finally premieres on June 2 in Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious franchise) as the newest DC Superhero. Star Trek‘s Chris Pine plays her romantic interest and ally and Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, and Danny Huston round out the cast.

Early takes are glowing. Entertainment Weekly reports that the film is “being hailed as a ‘blast,’ ‘so good,’ … the best to date from the DC Extended Universe. Also receiving widespread praise is Wonder Woman herself, with Gadot described as ‘absolutely phenomenal’ and ‘a legit movie star.'”

Collider writes, “Full reviews are still under embargo for the time being, but the lucky few in the first screening audiences were given permission to post reactions to social media … with the most common refrain being that Wonder Woman is the best DCEU movie thus far.”
Tie-ins include:

Wonder Woman: The Official Movie Novelization by Nancy Holder (PRH/Titan Books; OverDrive Sample)

Wonder Woman: The Deluxe Junior Novel by Steve Korte (HarperCollins/HarperFestival; OverDrive Sample; also in a pbk. edition)

Wonder Woman: I Am an Amazon Warrior, Steve Korte, Lee Ferguson (HarperCollins; OverDrive Sample)

Wonder Woman: Meet the Heroes, Steve Korte, Lee Ferguson, Jeremy Roberts (HarperCollins; OverDrive Sample)

It’s also a good time to pull out the 2014 title, The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Fourth graders Harold Hutchins and George Beard, along with Captain Underpants himself, fly into movie theaters on June 2, when the animated film version of Captain Underpants premieres. It is based on the best selling 12-book series by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic) and stars Kevin Hart, Jordan Peele, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, and Kristen Schaal.

PW offers a feature on the series and its path to the movies. No reviews are available yet but there has been plenty of media attention for the theme song by “Weird Al” Yankovic.

In addition to the many books in the series, the Official Handbook (Captain Underpants Movie) by Kate Howard (Scholastic; OverDrive Sample) was recently released.

On the small screen, Still Star-Crossed premieres on ABC Monday, May 29. A new Shonda Rhimes project, it is a costume historical set in the world of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The story picks up after the deaths of the two lovers, as their families continue to battle one another and is a departure for the hitmaker behind such very contemporary shows as Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy.

It is based on the novel Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub (PRH/Delacorte, 2013 – currently listed as OP). Kirkus gave the YA novel a starred review, calling it “A perfect blend of the intimate and the epic, the story both honors its origin and works in its own right … [a] spectacular sequel.”

Critics have not been as kind to the TV version.

Entertainment Weekly gives it a C, calling it “a sluggish, stilted mess.”

Variety says it is “too wispy and indistinct to make much of an impression … The show has all the earnest energy — and stilted moments —you’d expect to find in a high-school play, albeit one with a uniformly swoon-worthy cast and an exceptional budget for candles and corsets.”

CNN has already written it off, saying it “feels like an over-reach, a show for English lit majors whose parting won’t evoke much sorrow, sweet or otherwise.”

No tie-in has been announced.

GoT7, First Full Trailer

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Minutes after it was released yesterday the first full trailer for Game of Thrones became the #1 trending video on YouTube, where it remains today.

Hollywood Life breaks down of the key elements and Entertainment Weekly uncovers new revelations. Even a brief animated gif of the leader of the White Walkers gets a thorough analysis.

Season seven begins on July 16 and will consist of seven episodes.

Beginning with the previous season, the TV series has now moved beyond the books. As a result, there is no tie-in.

Call Them “Successor Shows”

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Reacting to fan’s questions and concerns, George R.R. Martin wrote a blog post on the news that HBO is planning a spinoff series for Game of Thrones, in the process he both made some news and corrected the initial stories.

As we posted, early accounts reported that HBO was considering four different series, with Martin working on two of them. Martin says HBO is actually considering five different ideas and he is working on all of them.

He cautions that HBO is highly unlikely to proceed with all five, “At least not immediately. What we do have here is an order for four — now five — pilot scripts. How many pilots will be filmed, and how many series might come out of that, remains to be seen.”

Martin also objects to the term “spinoff,”

I don’t think it really applies to these new projects. What we’re talking about are new stories set in the “secondary universe” (to borrow Tolkien’s term) of Westeros and the world beyond, the world I created for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE …  None of these new shows will be “spinning off” from GOT in the traditional sense … Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel. Some may not even be set on Westeros. Rather than “spinoff” or “prequel,” however, I prefer the term “successor show.” That’s what I’ve been calling them.

He will not say what the shows will be about (Tor.com speculates on that issue), but does address the question on everyone’s lips, “I AM STILL WORKING ON WINDS OF WINTER and will continue working on it until it’s done.”

TWIN PEAKS Prep

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks, David Lynch’s iconic TV show (1990 to 1991), premieres on Sunday, May 21. In the run up to the launch there has been wall-to-wall coverage.

New York magazine re-ran a story first published last fall on the novel by the series co-creator Mark Frost, The Secret History of Twin Peaks (Macmillan/ Flatiron, 2016; OverDrive Sample). In a spoiler-filled piece they say the novel fills in characters’ backstories and clears up questions about the series finale. This October, Frost will publish a sequel, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier (Macmillan/ Flatiron; Macmillan Audio).

Entertainment Weekly has started a podcast and published a “speed-binge” guide to understanding the series.

The NYT has multiple stories on the cult hit and its revival, including coverage in the  “Watching” column and episode recaps. USA Today and The Washington Post cover the show as well.

The Nerdist gives their opinion on what the new show needs to do to succeed, including the small matter of “Change TV Storytelling Again.”  Time looks at how the original did just that in  “Creators of Lost, Fargo, The Sopranos and Other Shows on How Twin Peaks Influenced Them.” On the same theme, The Atlantic offers a deep dive into “the immeasurably influential series.”

Finally, The Hollywood Reporter ranks all 30 episodes of the original show and io9 offers a list of “10 Things to Watch, Read, and Eat to Get Mentally Prepared for the New Twin Peaks.”

Opening the Conversation on Teen Suicide

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The controversy surrounding the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, which some say “glamorizes” teen suicide, has brought new attention to the YA novel it is based on, one that has been challenged since it was published ten years ago.

Last night, Nightline showed another side of the story, reporting on a group of Michigan high school students who used the show as the inspiration to talk publicly about the events that made each of consider suicide, creating a video for their fellow students titled “13 Reasons Why Not.”

The result has been a dramatic change in the school’s culture, one that was deeply needed, says one of the participants in the project. As the book’s author Jay Asher has said, it is much more dangerous to try to shut down the conversation than to bring it into the open.

MR. MERCEDES Gets Air Date

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

The TV adaptation of Stephen King’s 2014 novel Mr. Mercedes has wrapped. It will air on August 9 on AT&T’s Audience Network, a satellite service most widely available via DirecTV.

David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies) created the series and Jack Bender (Game of Thrones; Under the Dome) directs multiple episodes. It stars Brendan Gleeson (28 Days Later) as the detective who comes out of retirement to stop the serial killer, Mr. Mercedes, played by Harry Treadaway (City of Ember).

A mass market paperback tie-in edition comes out on July 25, Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (S&S/Pocket; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) [art work not available, the above image is from the 2015 mass market edition].

A departure for King, the novel is less horror than hard-boiled. The NYT review lauded “King’s affectionate awareness of the hard-boiled tradition and his point of departure from it” adding “King is clearly having fun, and so are we.” It won the 2015 Edgar Award for Best Novel.

As we posted earlier, this is only one of many King adaptations in the works.

To Screen: THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Well-known for hating screen adaptations of her work, Ursula K. Le Guin just sold the rights to one of her most famous novels, the 1969 Hugo and Nebula award winning The Left Hand of Darkness, an iconic work of feminist science fiction.

The studio Critical Content (responsible for the TV version of Limitless), reports Variety, will create a limited series based on the book with Le Guin serving as a consulting producer.

The novel is part of her Hainish Cycle and explores the ways sex and gender shape a culture. Variety speculates that the audience avidly following Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale will seek out Le Guin’s story as it is another “allegory about sexual politics and power.”

If your collection needs fresh copies, the novel has been republished a number of times, most recently in October 2016 in hardback as part of the Penguin Galaxy series with an introduction by Neil Gaiman: The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin (PRH/Penguin; BBC Audio; OverDrive Sample).

This is the second time this year that Le Guin has agreed to sell the rights to her work. In February she sold the 1966 SF novella Planet Of Exile, also part of the Hainish Cycle.

Hitting Screens, Week Of May 8, 2017

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Two very different adaptations begin airing this week, both on streaming services.

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As we summarized last week, advance publicity indicates the new version will be grittier than readers remember.

As the show’s creator, Moira Walley-Beckett tells the CBC News, “I feel that this Anne is entirely different … We’re off-book … This is a very grounded, real version of the story. Life in Prince Edward Island in the late 1800s was a hard, gritty, scrappy life. It was messy, it was covered in red mud … It’s not doilies and teacups, it’s life.”

The relatively unknown Irish-Canadian actress, Amybeth McNulty, plays the title role. R.H. Thomson (Chloe) and Geraldine James (Sherlock Holmes) play Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert.

The few advance reviews are raves. The Globe and Mail say it is “striking and fresh … It imagines rather than remembers or reveres previous versions, no matter how beloved they were. This Anne should be approached and appreciated in the same spirit – it’s a sublimely reinvigorated Anne of Green Gables.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer, writes “With an ‘e’ for exceptional, Walley-Beckett got it right.”

There is no tie-in, but the book is in print in multiple editions from various publishers.

MV5BMjJlZWYyNTUtMTE1OC00ZTVlLTg4YzgtNzk2MmIzNWFkODk1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjYxMDUzODc@._V1_Based on a cult novel by Chris Kraus, published by the indie press Semiotext(e) (reprinted by MIT press in 2006), I Love Dick starts airing on Amazon on May 12.

Jill Soloway, who created the Emmy-winning Transparent for Amazon, returns as co-creator and director. The series stars Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Hahn.

The press release details the plot: “Chris (Kathryn Hahn) is a frustrated New York filmmaker who finds herself marooned in Marfa, Texas, where her academic husband, Sylvère (Griffin Dunne), has a writing residency. Amid the dusty silence, art snobs, and tumbleweeds, she meets renowned scholar Dick (Kevin Bacon). An infuriating and beguiling exchange with this enigmatic, macho character unleashes in her a dramatic awakening.”

It debuted at Sundance and reviews thus far are generally strong. The Guardian says it is “innovative, well-acted and visually sumptuous.” Variety says it is “a treasure trove of charged moments, an intriguing dance of provocation, creation, and self-reflection. It digs to the roots of desire with unflinching curiosity. It is a daunting show to step into, with its scathing critiques and blunt personalities. But there is something cleansing and freeing about its unvarnished intimacy.” Reflective thought pieces are also piling up, from Slate, New York magazine and The New Republic.

There are some naysayers. The Hollywood Reporter calls it “Messy and not very likable,” summing it up with, “You might want to commit to something/someone else.”

There is no-tie in. For those who want to know more about the ground-breaking book, The Guardian wrote about it when it was published in the UK, saying it is “the book about relationships everyone should read.” The New Yorker wrote about it in 2015, calling it a “white-hot text.”

GOT Spinoffs?

Monday, May 8th, 2017

UPDATE: In a blog post, Martin corrects several details in these stories.

HBO is searching for a way to keep viewers tuned in and paying subscription fees once Game of Thrones, their landmark and most popular show, ends sometime next year.

Entertainment Weekly reports that the network has “taken the highly unusual step of developing four different ideas from different writers …  a potentially massive expansion of the popular fantasy universe.”

George R.R. Martin is involved with two of the four projects, teaming up with Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service, X-Men: First Class) on one and with Carly Wray (Mad Men) on the other. The other two are being worked on by Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island, Fox’s Minority Report) and Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale, L.A. Confidential).

None of the projects are finalized or greenlit yet and HBO will only say that the potential follow-ups will “explore different time periods of George R. R. Martin’s vast and rich universe.” The NYT warns “The earliest a new season of ‘Thrones’ could come would likely be 2019.”

In March, Mashable reported that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have no plans to write any of the follow-ups but will serve as executive producers on any further GOT project. Martin will serve as EP as well.

That role, as well as his active involvement writing and developing two of the potential projects, raises the question of when Martin’s print series will be completed. He has previously admitted that other duties and events take time away from novel writing. After failing to meet several deadlines, he finally told his fans “it will be done when it’s done.” Vanity Fair goes so far as to say “even if he has, as some suspect, turned in his manuscript for The Winds of Winter, the final book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series—A Dream of Springmay be deferred indefinitely.”

Meanwhile, Game of Thrones returns on July 16 for its seventh season.