Monday, July 16, 2012

Skating Around the Web

R.I.P., Donald J. Sobol, author of the Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown series of children’s mysteries. Sobol was 87 years old. In an Associated Press obituary, Sobol’s son “said his father’s story was one of perseverance. His first Encyclopedia Brown book was turned down two-dozen times before it was finally published.”

• I also bid a sad adieu to Academy Award-winning actress Celeste Holm, who died yesterday at her apartment in Manhattan. She was 95. Holm hit it big with her roles in Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), Come to the Stable (1949), and All About Eve (1950). But she also guest-starred on a number of TV crime dramas, including Columbo, Magnum, P.I., The Fugitive, The Name of the Game, Matt Houston, and Spenser: For Hire, as well as in the 1972 pilot for The Delphi Bureau and the 1974 teleflick The Underground Man, which was a pilot for a Lew Archer series starring Peter Graves. Ivan G. Shreve Jr. has a great deal to say about Holm’s radio career here. (UPDATE: Terence Towles Canote offers up his own two cents about Holm here.)

Over at Killer Covers, I look at the mounting controversy surrounding a new book cover that so obviously owes its inspiration to Raymond Hawkey’s famous black-and-white design for the 1962 edition of The IPCRESS File, by Len Deighton.

• Michael Shonk has posted, in Mystery*File, a terrific review of the 1971 TV pilot, Banyon, which starred Robert Forster as a Depression-era gumshoe in Los Angeles, and also featured Darren McGavin and José Ferrer. That better-than-average (in my opinion, anyway) pilot begat a short-lived NBC series, produced by Quinn Martin, who managed to turn what could have been an interesting show into one filled with too many hard-boiled clichés.

• A show less worth remembering: Mrs. Columbo.

• Today is your opportunity to help out Steven Kerry Brown, a former special agent with the FBI and the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating, who needs some help in paying his bone marrow transplant bills. Fortunately, assistance can be rendered in the form of buying books.

• Lesa Holstine has posted a brief wrap-up of last week’s Poisoned Pen conference, held at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.

Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein calls this anti-Mitt Romney spot “one of the most devastating attack ads I’ve ever seen.”

• And a shortlist of 11 nominees has been announced for the 2012 Rusty Hevelin Service Award (aka The Munsey). A winner will be named during this year’s PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio (August 9-12).

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