Sunday, December 04, 2011

Of Penny, Shatner, and Mr. Wolfe

Canadian author Louise Penny has won the 2011 Nero Award for her sixth Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novel, Bury Your Dead (Minotaur). This announcement was made last evening during the Black Orchid Banquet, in New York City. The Nero Award is presented annually by the New York-based Nero Wolfe fan organization, The Wolfe Pack.

The other nominees for this prize were Ice Cold, by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine); The Book of Spies, by Gayle Lynds (St. Martin’s Press); The Midnight Show Murders, by Al Roker and Dick Lochte (Delacorte); and Think of a Number, by John Verdon (Crown).

Last night’s banquet also brought news about the winner of this year’s Black Orchid Novella Award (BONA), “presented jointly by The Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine to celebrate the novella format popularized by [Nero Wolfe creator] Rex Stout.” The 2011 BONA has gone to James Lincoln Warren for “Inner Fire.” He’ll receive $1,000 and his tale will be published in AHMM this coming spring.

* * *

Speaking of Wolfe, Mystery*File today reminds us of an apparently aborted plan to bring Nero and his legman, Archie Goodwin, to television--way back in 1959. That proposed CBS show was to have starred William Shatner as the energetic Archie (seven years before he debuted on Star Trek) and Kurt Kasznar as the house-bound Wolfe. According to Wikipedia,
Nero Wolfe was co-produced by Gordon Duff and Otis Guernsey, with Edwin Fadiman as executive producer. Written by Sidney Carroll and directed by Tom Donovan, the pilot was filmed in Manhattan in March 1959. Three or four episodes of the half-hour series were filmed, with a jazz score composed by Alex North.

Nero Wolfe was to air Mondays at 10 p.m. ET beginning in September 1959. But in April, CBS announced that the new comedy series Hennesey would occupy the time slot.

In June 1959,
Baltimore Sun critic Donald Kirkley reported that the Nero Wolfe pilot had been, “in a way, too successful”:
Everything seemed to point to a sale of the series. A facsimile of the brownstone house in which Wolfe lives in the novels ... was found in Grammercy Square. But when the film was made and shown around, it was considered too good to be confined to half an hour. There was a new shuffle and deal, and in consequence, an hour-long, new pilot is now being photographed in Hollywood.
In October 1960, William Shatner was reportedly still working to sell the first television adaptation of Nero Wolfe to the networks.
Wolfe and Goodwin later featured in two small-screen series, one starring William Conrad and Lee Horsley in 1981, the other with Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton (2000-2002).

READ MORE:‘Two Stage Actors Signed by C.B.S.-TV,’ March 14, 1959,” by Tony Renner (Pfui).


Anonymous said...

I don't get why Louise Penny books keep winning all the awards. They are okay, certainly not the best book I read this year.

Yvette said...

Interesting info on the heretofore unknown (by me) attempt to get Nero Wolfe on the air. The TV air, that is. William Shatner as Archie?

It might have worked. Kurt Kaszner as Wolfe?


I love the Nero Wolfe books and reread them all the time.