Archive for the ‘Books & TV’ Category

Get Ready for the End,

Monday, August 31st, 2015

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Season six of Downton Abbey marks the end of the popular series. It begins airing in the UK on September 20, 2015 and will hit US airwaves on January 3, 2016.

Writing for Deadline Nancy Tartaglione, who caught the first episode of the final run at a press screening in London, reports “While I’m sworn to secrecy, I can reiterate that it’s pretty much everything a Downton fan would hope. There’s drama and emotion packed into the launch and enough intrigue to indicate how things may move forward as the seminal show draws to a conclusion after six years.”

A trailer, released yesterday, tugs at fans’  heartstrings, as it says goodbye in multiple ways.

That requires an antidote, “The Dowager Countess of Grantham’s 27 Tips on Etiquette”:

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 11.51.15 AMIn advance of the U.S. premiere comes Downton Abbey – A Celebration: The Official Companion to all Six Seasons by Jessica Fellowes (St. Martin’s Press; Nov. 20, 2015). It includes interviews with the cast and crew, an episode guide, and plenty of lush photos.

Jessica Fellowes, who is the niece of Downton’s creator Julian Fellowes, has written three other books that will likely see renewed demand: A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, and The World of Downton Abbey.

Moving Ahead

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

9780684826974The HBO series, Lewis And Clark, based on the book Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, (S&S, 1996) has faced some challenges, including wildfires on location and the firing of both the director and director of photography over creative differences three weeks into the production.

But HBO is still “undaunted,” declaring that filming will resume in the spring, according to Deadline, starring Casey Affleck as Meriwether Lewis and Matthias Schoenaerts as William Clark. The series is being produced by Tom Hanks’s company, Playtone, along with Brad Pitt’s Plan B. Entertainment.

ROOTS Remake

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

9781593154493Referred to as an “up-and-coming British actor” by Deadline, Malachi Kirby has just landed the lead role as Kunta Kinte in A+E Networks’ remake of the seminal 1977 TV series Roots, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alex Haley (cover of the 2007 Thirtieth Anniversary Edition, left). LeVar Burton played Kinte in the original series.

Playing author Alex Haley in the series is Laurence Fishburne. In the original, James Earl Jones played Haley, appearing in the first episode of the series.

Set to begin shooting next month in South Africa and New Orleans, it is expected to air some time next year.

Kirby is known in the U.K. for his role in the TV series East Enders. He also starred as the younger brother in the 2013 British film Gone Too Far. The trailer, below, includes an eerie foreshadowing of his future role.

JUST KIDS To Showtime

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.18.09 PMShowtime has bought the rights to adapt Patti Smith’s memoir, Just Kids (Harper/Ecco, 2010) as a limited series. reports Deadline.

Along with John Logan (Penny Dreadful), Smith will both write the screenplay and produce the series.

Just Kids recieved rave reviews and won the National Book Award Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.14.54 PMfor Nonfiction. It chronicles Smith’s friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and their creative lives as young artists.

M Train (RH/Knopf; BOT), Smith’s next memoir, is coming out on Oct. 6th.

Showtime Options LOVING DAY

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.59.34 AMShowtime has optioned Mat Johnson’s novel Loving Day (RH/ Spiegel & Grau; OverDrive Sample) as a potential comedy series. According to Deadline  talks are “underway with high-end writers to collaborate with the author on penning the adaptation.”

About a mixed race man and the daughter he never knew he had, the novel has received a fair amount of critical attention:

NPR’s reviewer, Michael Schaub, heaped praise on it, calling it a “beautiful, triumphant miracle of a book.”

Jim Ruland’s review in the Los Angeles Times was equally strong, “To say that Loving Day is a book about race is like saying Moby-Dick is a book about whales. Indeed, the subtitle to Mat Johnson’s exceptional novel could read “the whiteness of the mixed male.” [His] riff on racial identity starts as a scene, turns into an episode and morphs into a motif that never lets up. His unrelenting examination of blackness, whiteness and everything in between is handled with ruthless candor and riotous humor.”

Writing for The New York Times, Baz Dreisinger calls it a “ribald, incisive the novel … [that] ultimately triumphs because it is razor-sharp, sci-fi-flavored satire in the vein of George Schuyler, playfully evocative of black folklore à la Joel Chandler Harris — yet it never feels like a cold theoretical exercise. Loving Day is that rare mélange: cerebral comedy with pathos.”

TV Turns to Magic, Monsters
and Myths

Monday, August 17th, 2015

It’s no surprise that the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones is spawning a whole new appreciation for the genre in the TV world. Variety trumpets that “Game of Thrones Leads Fantasy TV’s Transformation from Geek to Chic” noting,  “On tap for the 2015-16 season are no fewer than five series based on literary works that deal with magic, monsters, mythical realms or heroic quests.”

Those five series listed below:

MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles — ten episode series to begin January, 2016. Based on Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, the first in the book series is Sword Of Shannara, but the first in the TV series will be based on the second book Elfstones Of Shannara. Tie-in — see our movie and TV tie-ins.

Syfy’s The Magicians  — twelve episode series to begin January, 2016. Based on Lev Grossman’s  The Magicians fantasy trilogy (The Magicians, 2009; The Magician King, and The Magician’s Land). No tie-ins have been announced.

ABC Family’s Shadowhunters — Early 2016. Cassandra Clare’s YA series beginning with The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, (S&S/ M.K. McElderry Books, 2007). It was also made into a movie in 2013. Plans to turn it into a franchise when it flopped at the box office. the producers think it will do better as a TV series. Tie-ins — see our movie and TV tie-ins. Web site:

NBC’s Emerald City — 2016, A “modern reimagining” of Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz, with stories drawn from all 14 books in the series. No tie-in has been announced.

Starz’s American Gods — 2016. Based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2001). No tie-in has been announced.

Philip K. Dick, The Small Screen Version

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 11.38.59 AM  Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 11.40.14 AM

Philip K. Dick is having something of a moment … yet again.

Long beloved in the SF world, his novels and short stories have also long been adapted into movies including Total Recall, The Adjustment Bureau, Minority ReportBlade Runner and A Scanner Darkly.

Now Dick is poised to make a splash on the small screen with a TV version of Minority Report (actually a sequel to the movie starring Tom Cruise, which was in turn based on the 2002 short story by Dick). airing on FOX beginning Sept. 21 and an adaption of The Man in the High Castle streaming via Amazon Prime starting Nov. 20 (poster at left, above and the cover of the most recent reissue of the book, HMH, 2012. No tie-in has been announced).

The Man in the High Castle, an alternative history in which the Axis powers won WWII and are ruling America, is getting a lot of attention. We wrote about its premier at Comic-Con, Entertainment Weekly is on board with frequent coverage, and the series is getting play in both mainstream media and specialized blogs.

Jeff Jensen writing for Entertainment Weekly reviewed the entire Amazon line up under the headline “Amazon pilot reviews: The Man in the High Castle is king” and said of the opener “this well-cast, well-acted, swell-looking pilot is by far the most polished of the group. It’s engrossing despite its stately pace, and a triumph of world building. [It] could be Amazon’s first successful attempt at big saga TV.”

Amazon says it is their most-watched pilot to date, reports Newsweek, also quoting executive producer Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) “[the story] raises all kinds of questions about reality and what it means to be human in an inhuman world … The chance to dramatize it was just irresistible.”

Den of Geek has posted an interview with several of the executive producers, including Dick’s daughter Isa Dick-Hackett, David W. Zucker (The Good Wife), and Spotnitz. When asked just what it was about Dick’s writing that makes it so perennially popular his daughter replied:

He would be astounded that we’re sitting here talking about titles of 50-60 years past. Maybe people have caught up to his work. I think with every film adaptation the following grows and hopefully it brings people back to the written work. When he talked about technology it wasn’t just about the technology itself. It was about the how it impacted human beings and what it means to be human. What is reality? Those are universal questions and I think it is part of the draw.

The first episode of The Man in the High Castle is currently available free on Amazon. Trailer, below.


Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

WestWorld pbkThe promo is beginning for the HBO series Westworld.

Headlines such as HBO’s Westworld Looks Like a Thrilling Take on Michael Crichton’s Sci-Fi Parable may make it sound like it’s based on a book, but the reference is to Crichton’s film, which he wrote and directed in 1973.

There is a book connection, however. The screenplay was published as a mass market paperback at the time of the movie.

Just for fun, here’s the trailer for the original movie.

The series is set to begin some time in 2016. No tie-in has been announced.


Monday, August 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 10.12.08 AMGrady Hendrix’s Horrorstör (Quirk; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) is now a “put pilot’ for Fox (translation: “one that will definitely air”) with plans to create an hour long series inspired by the quirky book.

Horrorstör, with a cover resembling an IKEA catalog and a nifty layout replete with furniture ads, was a September 2014 LibraryReads pick. It follows the fate of several workers of a big box home store who discover the company warehouse was built on top of a prison and is now haunted.

The TV show tweeks the haunted house plot to create an ongoing story. Deadline Hollywood reports thatthe store actually preys upon its customers’ desires to a supernatural degree, selling products that make their wishes and fantasies come true in unexpected and insidious ways.”

The O.C. and Gossip Girl creator Josh Schwartz is part of the production team, which also includes Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind). An air date has yet to be set.


Monday, August 10th, 2015

Two of HBO’s most successful series feature cities in crisis, The Wire, about the drug wars in West Baltimore and Treme about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The creator of both, David Simon, next turns his attention to Yonkers, New York in the 1980’s when the racially divided city was further torn apart by a court-ordered public housing project.

Show Me a Hero, a six-part series set to debut this coming Sunday, August 16, is adapted from the book of the same title by journalist Lisa Belkin. The NYT says it “arrives at a particularly relevant moment” as debates over public housing continue to rage.

Oscar Isaac stars as Mayor Wasicsko. The cast also includes Catherine Keener, Jim Belushi, Bob Balaban and Winona Ryder.

Belkin’s book is being released in a new edition, with an afterword that examines Yonkers today.

Show Me A Hero : A Tale of Murder, Suicide, Race, and Redemption
Lisa Belkin
Hachette/Back Bay Books:September 1, 2015
Paperback; $17.00

Jon Stewart’s Final Book Shout Out

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I9781579656232_0f768n his final week hosting the Daily Show, Jon Stewart uncharacteristically did not interview any authors, but he did a shout out to a book coming in October, Do Unto Animals, (Workman, Artisan), by an author he knows well, Tracey Stewart.

As a result the book has been rising on Amazon’s sales rankings and is currently
at #7.

Stewart’s final episode airs tonight. The show resumes on Sept. 28 with Trevor Noah as host.

BEASTS OF NO NATION, To Hit Theaters and Netflix

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

In the on-going battle between the big screen and the small screen, Netflix made a splash by buying the rights to a major new movie, directed by Cary Fugunaka and starring Idris Elba. Beasts of No Nation. It is based on the 2005 novel by  Uzodinma Iweala about child soldiers in West Africa.

There’s one problem. To be eligible for Oscar consideration, the movie has to open in theaters. While many theaters refuse to book movies that will be released simultaneously on cable, Netflix has managed to make a deal with Landmark Theatres to premier the movie in 19 cities on the same day it begins streaming on Netflix, October 16.

The first trailer was just released:


Beasts of No Nation Movie Tie-in 
Uzodinma Iweala
Harper Perennial: September 29, 2015,

The author won New York Public Library’s 2006 Young Lions Fiction Award. The book won  praise from a wide range of publications, including the NYT Book Review

Director Fugunaka was scheduled to direct Stephen King’s It, but dropped out weeks before production. Next up for him is a TV adaptation of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist for TNT. The author recently joined as producer.

On the Way

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 8.01.40 AMBritain’s Carnival Films, the production company behind hits such as Downton Abbey and Agatha Christie’s Poirot is gearing up for a second season of Grantchester, to air on PBS Masterpiece in 2016, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Based on the short stories by James Runcie, the first season drew from the collection Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (Bloomsbury; Movie-tie in ed.; OverDrive Sample). The new season appears to be based on Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night (Macmillan/Bloomsbury; OverDrive Sample; the publisher tells EarlyWord that a movie tie-in is likely, but has not yet been announced).

If you missed the first season, Grantchester features a dishy village vicar who solves crimes around his tiny hamlet outside of Cambridge, England and ventures further afield as well. Full of jazz music, anguished flashbacks to WWII, and frustrated romance, the sprightly paced 1950s set whodunits showcase well-drawn characters, a fabulous setting, and a not quite cozy tone.

Reviews were generally positive on both sides of the ocean when season one debuted. The Telegraph wrote “Stop it, I’m hooked. Sign me up. I’ll give you my cat and house to see what happens next.”

The LA Times called the show “guilelessly entertaining” and said that while it “lulls more than it grabs [like a] good sermon, you may think you’re only barely listening until you realize you’re fully immersed.”

The New York Times had a different view, however, claiming that Grantchester will be “breezy fun for fans of the form, though the more discerning will be put off by how rudimentary the actual murder mysteries are after being squeezed into 50 minutes (half the norm for this type of show). Others are liable to find it faintly ridiculous, more of a haiku than an actual drama.”

The show created demand for the book and holds spiked at some locations beyond a 3:1 ratio.

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.”

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.