Archive for the ‘Books & TV’ Category

Trending: Time Travel

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

9780307908797_9e581“The shelves of every library in the world brim with time machines. Step into one, and off you go.”

So says Anthony Doerr in his engaging and story-filled NYT‘s Sunday Book Review (online now, in print Oct. 2) of James Gleick’s Time Travel: A History (PRH/Pantheon; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Fittingly for a book that considers the concept of time travel, including how it has been imagined and used in literature, Doerr begins his review by sharing his favorite time travel stories (a key one is Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”) and then moves on to Gleick’s history, calling it,

“a fascinating mash-up of philosophy, literary criticism, physics and cultural observation. It’s witty (“Regret is the time traveler’s energy bar”), pithy (“What is time? Things change, and time is how we keep track”) and regularly manages to twist its reader’s mind into … Gordian knots … he employs time travel to initiate engrossing discussions of causation, fatalism, predestination and even consciousness itself.”

Time is a subject bound to be at the forefront this fall. In addition to Gleick’s book there is Now: The Physics of Time, Richard A. Muller (Norton) and a surprising number of TV shows on the subject. So many that it has lead the WSJ to call time a “hot concept” for the upcoming season, writing, “Television networks are consumed with time-shifting in every sense.”

Shows about time travel include Frequency, Legends of Tomorrow, Making HistoryTimeless and Time After Time (adapted from the 1979 novel by Karl Alexander).

Not exactly time travel, more deja vu,  are the many remakes and spin-offs of older shows. WSJ lists “Taken (a prequel to the Liam Neeson revenge movies) and Emerald City (billed as an edgier Wizard of Oz fantasy). Then there are the franchise expansions, with spin-off The Blacklist: Redemption and a fourth (fourth!) addition to the Chicago line of dramas from Dick Wolf (Chicago Justice) … Lethal Weapon (Fox), and Training Day (CBS) … Fox’s Prison Break sequel and a series based on 43-year-old horror classic The ExorcistMacGyver.”

All this led Jimmy Kimmel, WSJ reports, to say: “All your favorite VHS tapes are now becoming shows.” It leads Glamour magazine to point out “The past is a franchise.”

I LOVE DICK To Series

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Amazon’s hit series, Transparent,  won a second Emmy for Best Comedy Series earlier this month and the show’s creator, Jill Soloway won her second Best Director Emmy. Good timing, as the third season premiered just a week later.

Soloway is now set to create a new series. Amazon Studios announced today that I Love Dick, based on the cult novel by Chris Kraus, published by the indie press Semiotext(e) in 1997, has been ordered to series and will  begin streaming in 2017. It stars Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Hahn, who also stars in Transparent.

Profiling the production, New York magazine writes that Soloway turns “one of the most compelling cult novels of the last 20 years into a television show with the potential to be as groundbreaking in its examination of gender politics as her first.”

The cult status of the book was explored last year in a piece in the New Yorker and the Guardian celebrated its UK debut last fall.

The pilot is still available free on Amazon Prime. Below is the trailer.

Hitting Screens, Week of Sept. 26, 2016

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Making a splash at the box office over the weekend was Disney’s heavily-promoted Queen of Katwe, in a limited run. The adaptation of a book with the same title about a chess champion, it will expand to more theaters over the coming weeks. Also expanding to more theaters is the Australian hit adaptation, The Dressmaker.

mv5bmta1ndg2mzm5ndleqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mda5otg5mtkx-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_9781594749025_ba21eLeading films opening at the end of this week is Tim Burton’s adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Based on Ransom Riggs’s eerie photo-fantasy hit novel, it stars Samuel L. Jackson, Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Chris O’Dowd, Ella Purnell, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp and Judi Dench.

Early reviews are not enthusiastic. The Hollywood Reporter says that during the first hour of the movie, it “appears Tim Burton seems well on his way to making one of his best films,” but after that special effects take over and undermine the story. Predicting the movie will “generate some robust initial business based on the built-in teen fan base as well as Burton fans, but whether it’s enough to spur sequels to the two remaining books in the trilogy is an open question.”  The novel is currently #6 on The USA Today Best-Selling Book list.

There are multiple tie-ins.

mv5bmjmzodexndezml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdg3njiyote-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Denial is a courtroom drama about the legal fight to prove the Holocaust occurred. It is based on Deborah E. Lipstadt’s book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier and is directed by Mick Jackson. Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall star.

It centers on a libel case brought against Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, by David Irving, a Holocaust denier, who posts videos Variety says are like watching “the hate version of a man claiming that the Earth is flat.”

Its debut at the Toronto Film Festival brought mixed reviews. Variety calls it “a curiously awkward and slipshod movie that winds up being about nothing so much as the perverse, confounding eccentricities of the British legal system.”

The Hollywood Reporter says it is “compelling” and “sensitively dramatized” and that “Rachel Weisz’s arresting, combative Lipstadt, a shining woman warrior, is a role she will be remembered for.”

A tie-in is out: Denial: Holocaust History on Trial, Deborah E. Lipstadt (HC/Ecco).

mv5bmtcymzc1mji5mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmze4ody2ote-_v1_sy1000_cr007041000_al_Comic fans can rejoice as Luke Cage, a live action series on Netfilx, finally airs. It is based on the comic superhero which first appeared in 1972’s Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.

Mike Colter plays Cage, a role he first created on the Jessica Jones series, also on Netflix.

Deadline Hollywood says it is “one of the most socially relevant and smartest shows on the small screen you will see this year. In fact, with star power deluxe from lead Mike Colter and House Of Cards alum Mahershala Ali as the villainous Cornell Cottonmouth Stokes, the 13-episode first season is one of the best shows on the air and on the horizon.”

A tie in is out: Luke Cage: Avenger, Mike Benson, Adam Glass, Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Miller, Dalibor Talajic, Leinil Francis, Billy Tan and, Eric Canete (Hachette/Marvel).

mv5bmje0nduyotc2mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwodk2nzu3ote-_v1_sy1000_cr006791000_al_ A Man Called Ove opens as well. The film, based on Fredrik Backman’s book of the same name, is directed Hannes Holm (who also adapted the novel) and stars Rolf Lassgård.

Sweden has already picked it as their entry for this year’s Foreign Language Film Oscar race, reports Deadline Hollywood.

The Daily Beast examines the novel’s word-of-mouth success.

Reviews for the film are glowing with Variety calling it “irresistible … A touching comic crowdpleaser that may call for a tissue or two by the end.”

mv5bmjqwntq2mzmzov5bml5banbnxkftztgwmzgwmtk2ote-_v1_sy1000_cr006921000_al_9781571745774_fe035Milton’s Secret is based on the children’s book Milton’s Secret: An Adventure of Discovery through Then, When, and the Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle and Robert S. Friedman with illustrations by Frank Riccio (Red Wheel Weiser Conari/Hampton Roads).

Directed by Barnet Bain, it stars Donald Sutherland, Michelle Rodriguez, Mia Kirshner, David Sutcliffe, and William Ainscough.

So far, there are few reviews for the film about being present and aware and creating a happy family.

DARKTOWN Gains Attention

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

9781501133862_bc1ceNPR’s Morning Edition this week featured Thomas Mullen’s newest novel, about Atlanta’s first black officers.

Inspired by a 1947 Newsweek article estimating “that one-quarter of Atlanta policemen were, in fact, members of the Ku Klux Klan,” NPR calls Darktown (S&S/Atria/37 INK; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) “a blend of history, mystery and violence.”

The new officers faced tough restrains. They operated out of a YMCA for fear they would cause a riot at police headquarters, “they could only patrol the back neighborhoods; they weren’t supposed to set foot in the white parts of town,” Mullen says. “They couldn’t drive squad cars; they had to walk their beat with a partner” and were not allowed to arrest white people.

NPR notes “some of the tensions described in Darktown — like the ability of white police to injure or kill black citizens with impunity without being charged or punished — sound disturbingly familiar.”

Mullen plans this as the first in a series with each book focusing on new officers who replace those that retire “as the story of Atlanta’s racial coming-of-age moves into contemporary times.” The second book is expected in fall 2017.

In a publishing twist, NPR reports that Mullen’s agent “circulated his manuscript without his name or photo attached.” Mullen, who is white, has lived in Atlanta for 15 years. The influential Dawn Davis of Simon & Schuster bought the book for her imprint. She told NPR she found the blind submission forced her “to read it just as a piece of literature … I couldn’t look up what kind of reviews the author got, I couldn’t look up anything about the author. What his previous books were, even — or if it were even a man. I had to just kind of read it, and explore it for what it was.”

It  is already heading to the small screen. In what Deadline Hollywood terms “a very competitive situation,” Sony won the rights to the novel for a TV project headed by the high-powered producer Amy Pascal and Oscar winner Jamie Foxx.

The Washington Post review suggests it could transfer well to TV, calling it “gripping,” “unflinching,” “complicated crime fiction that melds an intense plot with fully realized characters.”

The New York Times adds “One incendiary image ignites the next in this highly combustible procedural, set in the city’s rigidly segregated black neighborhoods during the pre-civil-rights era and written with a ferocious passion that’ll knock the wind out of you.”

Librarians and booksellers agree; it is a September LibraryReads and Indie Next selection.

Bookers on Screen

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

9781510719217_2caa3Another of the 2016 Man Booker Prize shortlist titles had made the first step towards adaptation.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Graeme Macrae Burnet’s historical crime thriller His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae (Skyhorse; OverDrive Sample), has been optioned for a TV series.

The Scottish production company Synchronicity Films, known in the UK as the force behind Not Another Happy Ending, has bought the rights.

Originally published by a tiny 2-person house Saraband, the novel earned praise from The Guardian, which said “The book’s pretense at veracity, as well as being a literary jeux d’esprit, brings an extraordinary historical period into focus.”

Skyhorse picked it up for US publication after its Booker nod.

Another of this year’s shortlist titles, Ottessa Moshfegh’s literary thriller Eileen, as we noted earlier, is being adapted by screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson, “Hollywood’s Go-To Scribe for Thrillers” for producer Scott Rudin, known for his many successful literary adaptations.

If the projects make it to screens, they will follow in the footsteps of adaptations of previous Booker titles. Hilary Mantel’s two winners Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies were made into a BBC/PBS Masterpiece series. Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally became the now iconic 1993 film Schindler’s List. Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi were also successfully adapted.

Hitting Screens, Week of
September 19, 2016

Monday, September 19th, 2016

While Sully still soars at the box office, other book-related movies were considered flops, including the heavily promoted Bridget Jones Baby.

mv5bmja4mzaxntc5of5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjgzmde4ote-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_  9780143129066_aa751

Five adaptations open this week, three films and two TV shows, beginning with a movie that has been an enormous success in Australia, but has taken a perplexingly long time to make it to the U.S. The Dressmaker stars Kate Winslet as a fashionable Australian woman who returns to her rural home, shaking things up and getting revenge. It was the second highest grossing Australian film of 2015, losing out to  Mad Max: Fury Road.

Amazon bought the US film rights reports Variety, and will release the film in a limited number of theaters on the 23rd, before making it available via streaming.

In the U.K. and Australia, much was been made of Liam Hemsworth’s nudity in the film. As it arrives in the U.S. attention is turning to the age difference between Winslet and Hemsworth (and the fact that Winslet dares to play a woman five years younger than she is).

The book was published in the U.S. for the first time last year, when it was expected that the film would get its U.S. release,  The Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham (PRH/Penguin; Penguin Audio; Thorndike Large Print;  OverDrive Sample).

mv5bnzq0mdg2nty4n15bml5banbnxkftztgwotk2nzu3ote-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_9781501127182_5e089Disney’s big movie, Queen of Katwe opens in limited release Sept. 23rd, expanding to more theaters the next week. Starring Lupita Wyong’o, who won an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, David Oyelowo (Selma), and newcomer Madina Nalwanga, it is directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding).

Vanity Fair calls it a “Bright and Inspiring Success,” while Roger Ebert.com says it is “thoroughly crowdpleasing.Collider writes that the Disney production “stands alongside some of the studio’s best efforts, and it’s the best family film involving chess since the charming 1993 film Searching for Bobby Fischer.”

A tie-in is out: The Queen of Katwe: One Girl’s Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion, Tim Crothers (S&S/Scribner; Mass Market, (S&S/Pocket Books; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).


mv5bmtuxnjg1ody3ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwodeynjuzote-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_9780399591426_ad32bGoat also opens on the 23rd. Directed by Andrew Neel, starring Ben Schnetzer, Nick Jonas, and Gus Halper, it is a college fraternity film that traces a series of brutal induction rituals and the strain they place on two brothers. The Hollywood Reporter calls it “A harsh but gripping study in uncontrolled male aggression.”

The Guardian writes that it is  “a pointed, astute and unflinching look at unbridled machismo and its consequences … everything is designed to provoke disgust – and there’s a lot to be disgusted with.”

Variety says “this testosterone-drenched indie-movie adaptation feels like something that might have come out under the MTV Films banner a decade ago (back when the book was published), as director Andrew Neel can’t quite decide whether to indict or endorse the hard-partying behavior on display — painfully aware that half the audience has pledged or will pledge the Greek system.”

A tie-in has been released, Goat (Movie Tie-in Edition): A Memoir, Brad Land (PRH/RH; OverDrive Sample).

y648mv5boduxndu3mdm1ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjm3ndc0ote-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_The Exorcist TV series begins playing on Fox on the 23rd, over 40 years after the film adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel.

Cosmic Booknews says it is “a propulsive psychological thriller” and Cavalcade says it “delivers on both scares and drama. Though not always compelling, it manages to be consistently engaging.”

The series stars Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, and Geena Davis. A tie-in has not been released but 2011 marked the release of the 40th Anniversary Edition (HC).

MV5BMTc0NjYxNDkzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM2NjQyNTE@._V1_SY1000_SX1000_AL_On the 25th Poldark, Season 2, begins airing on PBS Masterpiece, starring Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Heida Reed. Of season one, The New York Times wrote:

Sweeping, stirring, rousing, lush. These are the sorts of adjectives suggested by Poldark … It’s the kind of show in which every plot twist appears to require a shot of someone pounding on horseback along the Cornish coast, close to the cliffs and outlined against the sun … Another adjective that comes to mind is shameless, in the sense of nonstop audience-pandering melodrama. But there’s good shameless and bad shameless, and Poldark is reasonably good stuff, milking the emotions and pleasing the eye without unduly insulting the intelligence.”

The series is based on the Poldark novels by Winston Graham. There are a number of tie-ins and associated titles.

 

Oh, Dear! Count Olaf Returns

Friday, September 16th, 2016

mv5botg3ode2nzgtodfkms00odhlltgzodktzmy2nzu5ndc5nwu4xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynju0njk5nzc-_v1_Neil Patrick Harris co-hosted Live! With Kelly this week and spilled some Lemony Snicket news.

He has been in Vancouver this summer, playing the lead in Netflix’s adaptation of Daniel Handler’s books,  A Series of Unfortunate Events.

He tells Kelly that the new adaptation will be “super dark … it is a much darker take on the material than has been seen before” but also “fun” and “exciting.”

The older version he references is the 2004 film, starring Jim Carrey. It compressed the 13 book series into a single movie. Harris reports that the Netflix series will treat each book in 2 episodes, so the show will be much more expansive. The cast and crew have finished filming the first four titles.

The plan is to create what is called a “four-quadrant show,” one that appeals to a range of audience demographics including kids, teens, 20-somethings, and adults.

He also says the series is Netflix’s most expensive production to date.

Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) is the executive producer and directs half of the episodes.

There is no trailer yet and Harris declined to say much more, but Flickering Myth has some more details, including photos of Harris in costume.

The series is expected to begin on Jan. 10, 2017.

Meet MOANA

Friday, September 16th, 2016

mv5bmji4mzu5ntexnf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzy1mtewmdi-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_The “world premiere first look” at the trailer for Disney’s next major animated movie, Moana was featured on Good Morning America yesterday.

The story features Moana, a Polynesian teenaged girl, voiced by Hawaiian native and movie newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, who sets sail in the South Pacific to find Maui, a shape shifting demi-god, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, to enlist his help to save her community.

The score features songs co-created by Lin-Manuel Miranda who tweeted the trailer’s premiere.

As The Hollywood Reporter wrote recently, the studio is the now the one “to beat when it comes to nonwhite leads,” citing this movie as well as the diverse casting for A Wrinkle in Time and the upcoming African chess drama Queen of Katwe, starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, opening in September.

9780736435741_f3789There are many tie-ins, most set to publish on Oct. 4, such as Moana: The Deluxe Junior Novelization (Disney Moana), RH Disney (PRH/RH/Disney).

For a full list see our catalog of tie-ins.

Late Night Literati

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

9780385542364_b2a61Last night, Seth Meyers turned his attention from celebrities to an author he’s been a “fan of for a long time,” Colson Whitehead and his book The Underground Railroad (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOT).

Although he features authors on his show relatively rarely, Meyers is known for reading widely and for personally selecting the books he features.

The book is currently at #2 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction best seller list, after 5 weeks.

First segment:

Click here for the second segment.

THRONE OF GLASS, Pilot Ordered

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

9781599906959_d015d  9781619636064_7aaa9  9781619636071_99e66

A new throne may be coming to television.

Hulu has ordered a pilot for a potential TV series based on Sarah J. Maas’ best-selling YA books, Throne of Glass, to be titled after the fourth book in the series, Queen of Shdows. The series is being developed by the Mark Gordon Company, which also produced Ray Donovan  for Showtime and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.

The fifth title in the planned six-book series was just published, Empire of Storms (Macmillan/Bloomsbury USA Childrens).

9781619635180_8b131It may be a race to see which Maas series gets adapted first. Rights were acquired last November to the author’s second series,  A Court of Thorns and Roses (Macmillan/Bloomsbury USA Childrens, May 2014).

The second title in that series, A Court of Mist and Fury was released in May of this year and landed at #1 on the NYT Young Adult Best Seller list. It is currently at #7 after 18 weeks.

Hitting Screens, Week of Sept. 5, 2016

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Opening today is the film adaptation, The Light Between Oceans. When we previewed it last week, there were few reviews. They are pouring in now, and it’s getting high marks for gorgeous cinematography, but less for plausibility, or even the ability to jerk tears (see Entertainment Weekly‘s review, as well as the New Yorker‘s). In terms of box office, The Hollywood Reporter doesn’t hold out great hopes, especially since Labor Day weekend tends to be quiet in theaters. The book, however, is already benefitting from the publicity, zooming up USA Today‘s best seller list to #3, its highest position on that list to date.

MV5BMTg5NTUwNDIyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjI2OTc3OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_9780062561206_f3864The big film opening next week is Sully, based on Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2009), a memoir by the man who piloted an airplane to safety on New York’s Hudson River after its engines were disabled by a bird strike.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Tom Hanks in the lead role, with Laura Linney as his wife, it opens on Friday, Sept. 9.

Tie-in: Sully : My Search for What Really Matters, Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, III, Jeffrey Zaslow (HarperCollins/Morrow,  August 30, 2016). It is currently at #5 on the NYT paperback nonfiction best seller list, two weeks.

MV5BMTY2MTA0MDUyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzkxNjA4OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,759,1000_AL_ 9780143126232_a4e59Queen Sugar begins airing on Oprah’s OWN channel Sept. 6 and 7th in a two-night premiere.

The series is the number one People pick for the week, called an “unusually fine, seductive new series.” Entertainment Weekly gives it a B, recommending it for people tired of the usual melodramas, because it offers “a refreshing point of difference: a family saga on which loved ones labor together for individual and shared redemption.”

The series is based on the novel Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile (Penguin/Pamela Dorman; Thorndike; 2014; see our chat with the author just prior to the book’s publication). As we wrote earlier, the story takes place in Southern Louisiana and features three sibling who inherit their father’s sugar cane plantation. It was selected as a book of the week by Oprah’s O magazine, saying, “In Queen Sugar, two bulwarks of American literature—Southern fiction and the transformational journey—are given a fresh take by talented first-time novelist Natalie Baszile.”

The two-part premiere is directed by Ava DuVernay (Selma). Upcoming episodes have all been assigned to female directors, many of them first-timers. The series has already been renewed for a second season.

MV5BOWM1OGQ1NjEtYzU1My00ZGY4LTg4NjQtN2JiNWIxYWEzMjIwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjIyMjI3NDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_9781783298839_2aedaQuarry begins playing on Cinemax on Sept. 9th. As we wrote earlier, it is a dark and moody adaptation of Max Allan Collins’s noir 1970s era series about a hit man. The eight-episode run will star Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) as a Marine who comes home to Memphis after the Vietnam War and gets caught in a world of violence and corruption.

Tie-in, Quarry – TV Tie-In Edition, Max Allan Collins (RH/Hard Case Crime, Sept. 27; OverDrive Sample). Publisher Hard Case Crime has recently re-issued the original Quarry novels with their signature retro covers. The latest is Quarry in the Black (RH/Hard Case Crime; October 4, 2016).

isbn9781408705629Churchill’s Secret begins playing on PBS’s Masterpiece on Sept. 11th. It stars Michael Gambon (Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy) as Winston Churchill as he suffers a debilitating stroke.

The series is based on a true story and is directed by Charles Sturridge (Brideshead Revisited), Romola Garai (The Hour), and Lindsay Duncan (Sherlock), along with many others PBS fans will recognize.

It is an adaptation of Jonathan Smith’s KBOThe Churchill Secret (Little/Brown, U.K., not published in the US.)

MV5BMTczNTM1NzU1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODAxNTU1OTE@._V1_Ithaca opens in limited release on the 9th, after a poorly reviewed run at film festivals. Giving a flavor for the critics take, The Hollywood Reporter said it was “almost a casebook study of how not to transpose “literature” to film … heartfelt yet sodden … wordy and static.”

Given its big name star line up, it might have expected a better reception. It is directed by Meg Ryan, written by Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers) and based on by William Saroyan’s 1943 novel The Human Comedy. It stars Alex Neustaedter, Jack Quaid, Meg Ryan, Sam Shepard, Hamish Linklater and Tom Hanks.

There was no tie-in.

GOMORRAH Airing On
Sundance TV

Friday, August 26th, 2016

MV5BMTQ4NDM0MjI5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTE2MDUxMjE@._V1_One of Italy’s most popular TV shows has just started airing on the Sundance Channel. Gomorrah is a mob family crime drama adapted from a book, but  it is not of the romanticized Godfather variety. The LA Times calls the show “Aggressively dark, focused to the point of claustrophobia and often all but choking on its own authenticity, Gomorrah shocks the system like a real Italian espresso after years of skinny vanilla lattes.”

The Hollywood Reporter says it pays homage to The Wire, writing it has a “dark greatness” and continuing it is “exceptionally cinematic, from cramped interiors in the Naples slums to exhilarating car chases rapid-cut from rooftop to passenger-side to hood-mounted angles. There’s an intimacy to family dinners and a freshness to remote Italian village scenes that add a layer of visual allure … it requires concentration on the subtitles, but it’s also completely riveting and worth the effort.”

9780312427795The series is based on Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System, Roberto Saviano, translated by Virginia Jewiss (Macmillan/Picador; Tantor Media; OverDrive Sample). The publisher recently updated the cover with advertising linking it to the TV series.

It came out item years ago, and was a sensation in Italy, with the Guardian characterizing its strong sales there (in a country that is not as book mad as others) as “a literary phenomenon of almost Potteresque proportions.”

Giving a sense of the flavor they write that the book begins with an grisly image, as a shipping container’s doors suddenly burst open spilling out,

“forms [that] seem at first like shop-window dummies, crumpling and shattering as they smack into concrete. But the truth soon sinks in: they are frozen cadavers, the corpses of Chinese workers.”

The LA Times points out the book has also served as the basis of a “critically lauded 2008 film” and says that the author “10 years after its publication [still] remains in hiding tells you all you need to know about the veracity of the tale, and the sort of people it involves.”

Saviano won the PEN/Pinter international writer of courage award in 2011, but could not collect it in person given the grave threats on his life. Journalist and filmmaker Annalisa Piras accepted on his behalf, reports the Guardian, saying “Saviano “has been living in a prison … in Naples they call it ‘cappotto di legno’ which means living with a coffin. It’s not something that can be revoked. There are records of these death penalties being enacted 40 years after the event.”

Streaming Pigtails

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

9780099582649_e3de4Netflix, which has been busy setting up collaborations with Disney and providing The Little Prince a home, is now turning to Canada for a childhood classic, Anne of Green Gables.

The New York magazine reports that Netflix has picked up the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s production of Anne, created by writer Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad), producer Miranda de Pencier (Beginners), and director Niki Caro (Whale Rider).

The show will begin with a two-hour premiere to be followed by eight episodes, all airing sometime in 2017. The Netflix press release says it will range further than Lucy Maud Montgomery went, “ANNE will also chart new territory. Anne and the rest of the characters will experience adventures reflecting timeless issues including themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.”

Amazon Loves DICK

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

9781584350347-mediumAmazon Studios introduces three new titles in their “pilot season” this month. Unlike other networks, where pilots are seen by a few executives who decide which will go to series, Amazon invites viewers to get in on the action and vote for their favorites, with one exception. Woody Allen’s Crisis in Six Scenes is going directly to series.

Of the three pilots released this month, one bears a title that sounds more like it came from a bathroom stall than from a book. I Love Dick is based on a cult novel by Chris Kraus, published by the indie press Semiotext(e) in 1997.

Directed by Jill Soloway, the creator of the award-winning Transparent, which begins its third season next month, it stars Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Hahn, who also stars in Transparent.

Profiling the production, New York magazine writes that Soloway turns “one of the most compelling cult novels of the last 20 years into a television show with the potential to be as groundbreaking in its examination of gender politics as her first.”

The cult status of the book was explored last year in a piece in the New Yorker and the Guardian celebrated its UK debut last fall.

Amazon recently debuted two other pilots based on books, The Interestings, based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel, is not going to series, but The Last Tycoon, based on an unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is scheduled to begin streaming this fall.

New George R.R. Martin TV Series

Monday, August 8th, 2016

9780765365071_0d1999780765335623_96301George R.R. Martin announced on his live journal blog on Saturday that his long running Wild Cards “series of anthologies and mosaic novels” is headed for television, adding, “Development will begin immediately on what we hope will be the first of several interlocking series  to be produced by Universal Cable Productions (part of NBCUniversal and the group behind Mr. Robot, The Magicians, and 12 Monkeys). Presumably, this is the continuation of a deal first announced in 2011, when the adaptations were planned for the big screen.

Wild Cards began in the late 1980s and has continued  through a series of 22 books (plus graphic novels, comics, and even games extending the stories). Martin describes it as “a universe, as large and diverse and exciting as the comic book universes of Marvel and DC (though somewhat grittier, and considerably more realistic and more consistent), with an enormous cast of characters both major and minor.”

Dozens of writers contribute to the series, described by Martin this way,

“on September 15, 1946 … an alien virus was released in the skies over Manhattan, and spread across an unsuspecting Earth. Of those infected, 90% died horribly, drawing the black queen, 9% were twisted and deformed into jokers, while a lucky 1% became blessed with extraordinary and unpredictable powers and became aces.”

No word yet on which of the many stories will be adapted and Martin won’t be working on the project due to his exclusive deal with HBO. He reports that “Melinda M. Snodgrass, my assistant editor and right-hand man on Wild Cards since its inception … is attached as an executive producer.”

To those outside the Martin fan-world, the books are not as well-known as A Song of Ice and Fire, the basis of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and many are out of print. Tor has re-released books 1-5, some with new material. Book 6 due out in 2017.

The Wild Cards site gives information on the books and characters. Martin keeps readers up on the series on his website, and, in a 2010 interview on the Newsarama.com, he offered some further details.

Below Macmillan/Tor re-releases:

9780765365071_0d199 9780765365088  9780765326171_6c2b8

9780765335586_6d699  9780765335593_11b80

Wild Cards I 2012, Mass Market

Wild Cards II: Aces High, 2013, Mass Market

Wild Cards III: Jokers Wild, 2014, Trade Paperback; Mass Market

Wild Cards IV: Aces Abroad, 2015, Trade Paperback

Wild Cards V: Down and Dirty2015, Trade Paperback

Wild Cards VI: Ace in the Hole [No cover yet], February 28, 2017, Trade Paperback

A brand new novel arrives in August:

High Stakes: A Wild Cards novelAugust 30, 2016, Hardcover