Archive for the ‘Books & TV’ Category

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.

MV5BOWEzNWZkZWMtMDc2Ni00NTQxLWI5YzMtMDFjODFkNDAwNTkzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjIyNjMzODc@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_Anne with an E begins its eight-week run on Netflix starting May 12, with a two-hour premiere. It is a new version of L.M. Montgomery’s beloved childhood classic, Anne of Green Gables.

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.

BBC/PBS Adapting LITTLE WOMEN

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

The BBC has announced that it has put into production 11 new series. Several are adaptations of favorite books.

9780375756726_61463Variety reports that the creator of Call the Midwife, Heidi Thomas, will adapt Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women. The group that created Wolf Hall is producing.

A joint project with PBS Masterpiece, The Huffington Post reports the three-hour miniseries will start production this July.

In a press release, Thomas, said the story’s “humanity, humor and tenderness never date, and as a study of love, grief and growing up it has no equal. There could be no better time to revisit the story of a family striving for happiness in an uncertain world … we hope to deliver a new screen version that will speak to contemporary audiences, meet the expectations of the book’s ardent fans and bring a whole new generation to this great classic.”

9780198702641_cf09fAlso in the works at BBC Drama, the producers who created Victoria will take on a new adaptation of H.G. Wells’s SF masterpiece, The War of the Worlds. The writer who created the TV version of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is on board. Filming will begin in early 2018.

Vikram Seth’s critically acclaimed novel, A Suitable Boy is also being adapted. Set in India, the story revolves around efforts to create an arranged marriage.

9780141182131_e7fd8Announced earlier, the BBC is currently producing a four-part adaptation of E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End, set to air on the Starz channel in the US some time this year.

The other shows are not likely to appear until 2018 or later.

 

 

HANDMAID Wins A Second Term

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

9780525435006_a03ffHulu has announced that The Handmaid’s Tale will return for a second season.

In a statement the streaming service said:

“The response we’ve seen to The Handmaid’s Tale in just one week since its premiere has been absolutely incredible. It has been an honor to work with this talented team of cast and creators to develop a series that has struck such a chord with audiences across the country … We can’t wait to explore the world of Gilead and continue Margaret’s vision with another season on Hulu.”

As New York magazine notes, the renewal means “the series will move beyond the scope of Margaret Atwood’s original novel, from which it has already started to diverge.”

While the news is not shocking based on the show’s success and media attention thus far (not to mention Moss’s long term series contract for the show), it does mean the series will continue to move off book, and perhaps, as New York magazine suggests, give room for the sequel Atwood has hinted might be coming.

E! News reports it was the most watched premiere in Hulu’s history and it has been quickly swept up in popular culture with many media outlets offering the type of per episode recap usually given to established hits such as Game of Thrones.

A Grittier Anne (with an “e”)

Monday, May 1st, 2017

MV5BOWEzNWZkZWMtMDc2Ni00NTQxLWI5YzMtMDFjODFkNDAwNTkzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjIyNjMzODc@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_Look out for flying pigtails. Anne of Green Gables is returning, this time in a Netflix adaptation called Anne With an E (previously titled just Anne). Set to begin airing on May 12, it gets an in-depth cover feature by the New York Times Magazine.

The article credits Anne’s enduring appeal to the sense of comfort her story offers young readers, as if they have “found a kindred spirit,” exactly as Montgomery intended.

It is intriguing, even unsettling, therefore that the new version, created by Breaking Bad‘s Moira Walley-Beckett ,introduces a grittier Anne, one dealing with the trauma of an abusive childhood, which may cause “Viewers familiar with the books and previous adaptations [to feel] that the emphasis is on the wrong syllable, while also finding something provoking and substantive in the new pronunciation.”

If what readers remember is a cheerful novel, or a romantic story, or even period frilly dresses and teacups, then buckle up. The NYT writes this new version is “much darker. Extrapolating from asides in the text, Walley-Beckett has fleshed out minor characters; given major ones back stories; drawn out themes of gender parity, prejudice, isolation and bullying.”

Walley-Beckett hopes the show will be meaningful to those who have long loved the story and those at the perfect age to meet it for the first time but she tells the NYT, “My bottom line is: Go deep and make the show worthy of watching … There are other versions of ‘Anne’ out there for 5-year-olds.”

Nevertheless, claims Walley-Beckett her version “is a highly lovable and yummy pleasure to sit down with at night.”

Netflix has released a few clips. The following shows some of the darkness beneath the surface.

To TV: WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

9781455588220_ced4bMindy Kaling has optioned the rights to Alyssa Mastromonaco’s recently released memoir, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House (Hachette/Twelve; OverDrive Sample) reports Deadline Hollywood. In it, she writes about her time as Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff for operations in the White House.

Plans are in the works to turn it into a TV series with Kaling producing. No word yet on who will star but Jezebel says that it “sounds like it’ll be right up Kaling’s alleyThe Mindy Project minus the doctor stuff with a dash of Veep, a hint of The West Wing, minus any House of Cards Underwood-ian touches.”

The publisher calls the book “less political diatribe than a gossip session with an older sister,” which is fitting as Mastromonaco and Kaling are friends, introduced, says Deadline, by Obama himself.

As we posted, the book spent two weeks on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list and got attention when it was published last month. People reviewed it, saying it is “brimming with … humorous, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, as well as up-close-and-personal moments with Obama that shed new light on who he is as a leader, man and friend.” New York Magazine ran an interview, as did USA Today.

To Screen: THE BLACK COMPANY

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

9780765324016A ground-breaking fantasy series begun in 1984 has taken the first steps in the journey to the small screen.

Eliza Dushku, who starred as Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, has optioned the rights to Glen Cook’s action-based epic, The Black Company series, reports Deadline Hollywood. She will star “in the pivotal role of the dark sorceress, The Lady.”

The series consists for four opening novels followed by various collections, the most recent of which is The Many Deaths of the Black Company (Macmillan/Tor/Forge; 2010; OverDrive Sample). Deadline writes that Tor will publish a new volume in 2018, Port of Shadows.

In 2005, Jeff VanderMeer interviewed Cook for The SF Site, writing Cook has “carved out a place for himself among the preeminent fantasy writers of the last twenty-five years with classics such as the Dread Empire trilogy and The Black Company novels. His work is unrelentingly real, complex, and honest. The sense of place that permeates his narrative and his characters gives his ‘fantasies’ more gravitas and grit than most novels that feature contemporary settings.” He goes on to quote Steven Erickson, “The thing about Glen Cook is that he single-handedly changed the field of fantasy — something a lot of people didn’t notice and maybe still don’t. He brought the story down to a human level, dispensing with the clichés and archetypes of princes, kings, and evil sorcerers.”

Deadline summarizes of the novels:

“[They follow] the exploits of the Black Company, an elite mercenary unit that carries out the often nefarious deeds of the highest bidder across a Tolkeinesque landscape. When these hard-bitten men discover the prophecy that the embodiment of good has been reborn, they must re-examine their loyalties. The Lady (Dushku), who rules over the Northern Empire, uses the Black Company to further her domination of a power structure rife with usurpers.”

THE HANDMAID’S TALE: Critic’s Rave

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

9780525435006_a03ffHulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986; tie-in ed., PRH/Anchor, 2017; OverDrive Sample) premiered Wednesday, to glowing reviews.

The NYT calls it “spectacular” and says that the show “argues — with an assist from current events — that progress is neither automatic nor irreversible.”

The Washington Post headlines, “The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t just timely, it’s essential viewing for our fractured culture.”

The Guardian writes “It’s a horror, and it’s a thriller, but it is, at its core, a warning, about how oppression can creep up on you, and what happens when women’s lives are no longer their own.”

NPR says it is “chilling … a horror show unveiled in slow motion … In a country where sexual harassment scandals regularly land on the front page, the patriarchy of The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t feel so far-fetched, which is the most horrific thing about it.”

Elle magazine takes an interesting approach to the book, asking a range of women authors how it shaped their “ideas of feminism, fairness, and dystopia.”

Louise O’Neill, author of Only Every Yours recalls reading when she was 15 and wondering “How is it possible that this book was written in 1985… and yet so little has changed in the last 15 years.” Reading it again this year, she’s asking the same question.

Sady Doyle, author of Trainwreck says the lessons of the book “set the table for how I would look at gender and power as an adult. I’m more glad than ever for the book as it’s become more necessary.”

Rhimes Goes Back In Time

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

9780385743501_fb17bThe next drama by Shonda Rhimes, to premiere at the end of May on ABC, is something of a departure for the hitmaker behind Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. Set in the world of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, after the two doomed lovers have died, Still Star Crossed 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.”

The date is delayed from its expected midseason launch reports Deadline Hollywood.

No tie-in has been announced.