Monday, June 25, 2012

Bullet Points: Musings and Memories Edition

• If you live around Harrogate, England, you have the opportunity to enter a contest sponsored in part by the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which is to be held this year at the Old Swan Hotel, July 19-21. If I understand this challenge correctly, the goal is to compose “crime stories [of] no more than 300 words” long that can be featured in local buses. Entry details are here.

• Suddenly, G.K. Chesteron’s parish priest-cum-sleuth seems to be everywhere. Penguin’s handsome new 768-page volume, The Complete Father Brown Stories, is due out at the end of next month. And Mark Williams, who played Arthur Weasley in the “Harry Potter” films--has reportedly been cast
as Chesterton’s protagonist in a 10-episode BBC-TV drama set to air in early 2013.

• By the way, Omnimystery News mentioned in its item about Weasley’s hiring that “A pilot for a U.S. crime drama, Sanctuary of Fear with Barnard Hughes as Father Brown living in Manhattan, aired in 1979 but was not developed further.” While I don’t remember watching that pilot, YouTube hosts its introductory segment, which I am embedding on the left. Guest starring Kay Lenz and Fred Gwynne, it couldn’t have been all bad. Does anyone out there remember seeing that teleflick?

• The online mag Obit features a good background piece on Patricia Highsmith’s career and her tendency toward “violent thoughts.”

• Writers Gary Phillips and Tony Chavira are combining their respective Webcomics--Bicycle Cop Dave and Brand & Reese, both of which were published on the Los Angeles housing/development Web site a single volume,titled Beat L.A., which they hope to produce through the crowd-funding site Kickstar. You can learn more about their project, and help contribute, here.

• The Web site ForeWord Reviews has announced the winners of its 2011 ForeWord Book of the Year Awards in dozens of categories, including Mystery and Thriller/Suspense. In addition, the Editor’s Choice Prize for fiction was given to a murder mystery, All Cry Chaos, by Leonard Rosen (The Permanent Press).

• Author J. Sydney Jones presents, in his blog, an excellent interview with British writer Michael Jecks, the author of 31 books in his Knights Templar series and a “master of the medieval murder mystery,” to quote Jones. You will find their exchange here.

• I remember Doug McClure best for his roles in Checkmate, Barbary Coast, and even The Judge and Jake Wyler, but prefer to overlook performances in such films as this one.

• Another thing I recall fondly: CBS newsman Christopher Glenn’s Saturday morning “In the News” segments, which were geared toward young people and broadcast from 1971 to 1986. In case you didn’t know, Glenn died in 2006 at age 68.

• Mark your calendars, folks: This year’s Poisoned Pen Conference, organized by Arizona’s Poisoned Pen Bookstore, will take place at Phoenix’s historic Biltmore Hotel on Friday, July 13. Guests scheduled to participate include Joseph Kanon, Timothy Hallinan, Alex Kava, Jesse Kellerman, Martin Limon, and Dana Stabenow. The price to attend is just $20. More information is available here.

Happy (if belated) anniversary to Snubnose Press!

• I’m tardy too in sending out best birthday wishes to Lindsay Wagner, who not only starred in The Bionic Woman (perhaps not her finest moment, all things considered), but put in two appearances on The Rockford Files. Wagner turned 63 years old last Friday.

• And there’s more for Rockford fans: The Second Annual Rockford Files Fest will be held on Saturday July 21, at Paradise Cove in Malibu, California. Among the guests taking part in this celebration will be Jon Winokur, the co-author (with James Garner) of The Garner Files; Garner’s longtime stuntman, Roydon Clark; and Ed Robertson, author of Thirty Years of The Rockford Files: An Inside Look at America’s Greatest Detective Series. If only I lived in Los Angeles ...

• Robert Mitchum, Richard Dreyfuss, Shirley MacLaine, and Jimmy Stewart (partly because of his 1973-1974 CBS-TV mystery series Hawkins) are all featured on Flavorwire’s rundown of “10 Movie Stars Who Bombed on TV.” Speaking of Stewart, if you pay close attention to Flavorwire’s clip from his 1971-1972 sitcom, you’ll spot actress Kate Jackson--beautiful and bare-midriffed in her early 20s (pre-The Rookies, pre-Charlie’s Angels)--guesting as a college student in a fix.

• I, for one, had forgotten that Michelle Pfeiffer starred in the very short-lived, 1980 police drama B.A.D. CATS. “An obvious ripoff of Starsky & Hutch (and executive-produced for the same network by Starsky’s Aaron Spelling), B.A.D. CATS pitted the two male detectives--one blond and one brunette, natch--of the Burglary Auto Detail, Commercial Auto Thefts squad (!) against various hijackers, terrorists, dope fiends, and auto thieves,” writes Marty McKee. “Because Nick and Ocee happen to be former race car drivers, their method of busting crime involves endangering innocent civilians and destroying lots of private property.”

• Even the British are struck by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s reputation for mendacity. “Granted, presidential candidates are no strangers to disingenuous or overstated claims; it's pretty much endemic to the business,” observes The Guardian’s Michael Cohen. “But Romney is doing something very different and far more pernicious. Quite simply, the United States has never been witness to a presidential candidate, in modern American history, who lies as frequently, as flagrantly and as brazenly as Mitt Romney.”

• It will be good to see 1940s comic-book industry troubleshooter Jack Starr return in Seduction of the Innocent, by Max Allan Collins, due out from Hard Case Crime in September.

• Michael Connelly, Robert Dugoni, and David Ellis are the nominees for the 2012 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

• And I really do have to rent the DVD set of Burke’s Law sometime. That cop series, originally broadcast on ABC-TV from 1963 to 1965, seems to have lots of fans, but I’ve only seen a few episodes.


Marty McKee said...

SANCTUARY OF FEAR received a VHS release (long OOP, of course). Hughes is perfectly cast, and he and Kay Lenz work well together in this light mystery, which probably would have turned into a pretty good series.  Maybe it (and the shortlived NERO WOLFE series with William Conrad) was a bit ahead of its time, as the later success of MURDER, SHE WROTE demonstrates.  Crime dramas of the late 1970s were action-oriented, and it’s unlikely Hughes would have been chasing anyone down a dark alley or squealing tires through Manhattan. 

RJR said...

I remember seeing Barbard Hughes as Father Brown. I can only guess that it was this pilot. It wasn't too bad.

I have the first half of season one of Burke's Law, but I hate when they sell the seasons that way. I'm going to wait until the entire series is combined into one box. I bought the first two aseasons of Mannix anf then stopped. Now they've packaged the first 5 seaons together.


Winifred said...

My favourite Father Brown was Kenneth More a really great actor.

Remember watching Lindsay Wagner as the Bionic Woman with my two children who loved it as well as The Six Million Dollar Man. Never saw any of the series of those who film stars who bombed on TV. Presumably BBC & ITV didn't buy into them. Have to say it was often a puzzle to me why some US series were cancelled. It wasn't that the actors were bad or the scripts. In the case of David Janssen & Harry O it must have been downright stupidity on the part of some TV executive. What a plonker! Hope whoever was responsible eventually got their come-uppance somewhere.