Monday, June 03, 2013

Bullet Points: Comings and Goings Edition

• During this last Saturday’s Weekend Edition program, National Public Radio host Scott Simon talked with Max Allan Collins about the new, 18th Mike Hammer private-eye novel, Complex 90 (Titan), one of several Hammer adventures that Collins has finished since the death of that character’s creator, Mickey Spillane, in 2006. Collins has spoken on a number of occasions with The Rap Sheet, so much of what he tells Simon won’t be new to regular readers of this blog. Still, it can be quite moving to actually hear Collins remark on Spillane’s life and that elder author’s influence on his own writing.

• Meanwhile, Canada’s Howard Shrier talked with CBC Radio about his latest Jonah Geller novel, Miss Montreal (Vintage Canada), which the network explains “is based in Montreal [Quebec] and covers almost every controversy the province has dealt with in the last few years.”

• USA Network has announced that the spy/crime drama Burn Notice--which returns this Thursday night--will end its popular run after the 13 episodes that make up this last, seventh season.

• Curious, I don’t remember seeing any publicity before now about a private-eye drama called King & Maxwell, and yet that series is scheduled to premiere next Monday, June 10, on TNT-TV. Deborah Lacy of Criminal Element explains that the principal players, “Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, are based on characters created by David Baldacci. ... Both are former Secret Service agents who made huge mistakes that ended their careers. Recovering alcoholic Sean King’s mistake occurred when the presidential candidate he was protecting was assassinated. Yikes. Not sure how you get over that one. Former Olympic athlete Michelle Maxwell’s charge disappeared on her. Still, not great to lose the man you are protecting.” Jon Tenney (from The Closer and Steven Bochco’s short-lived Brooklyn South) will star as King, with the fetching Rebecca Romijn portraying Maxwell. A preview of the show is here. It’s only too bad that King & Maxwell is going head to head on Monday nights against A&E’s terrific Longmire.

• By the way, if you’re having trouble (as I am) keeping this summer’s schedule of scripted TV mystery series straight, check out Michael Shonk’s rundown of debut times and dates in Mystery*File.

• The excellent Web site Television Obscurities is preparing to mark the end of its 10th year of “discussing obscure television programs and forgotten aspects of television history.” The actual anniversary of its launching in 2003 will be June 11, but the Webmaster (whose name doesn’t seem to be listed anywhere on the site) is planning “a week-long celebration that will kick off on ... Sunday, June 9th. It will include a look back at the early days of the Web site, a list of my personal favorite obscurities, a preview of the monthly columns I’ll be launching in July, a call for ideas for future articles, and more.” Tune in this coming weekend for the start of the festivities.

• One more reason to party: On June 9 and 10, Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes will commemorate its fourth anniversary. Begun by “a couple of P.I.s who also happen to be writers” (one of whom has since become a criminal defense attorney), that blog will celebrate by re-posting some of its readers’ favorite articles and offering free downloads of the e-books How Do Private Eyes Do That? and How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths.” Check back here on June 8 for more information.

• Congratulations to Patti Abbott, Hilary Davidson, and a dozen other crime-fictionists whose stories have been chosen to appear in the inaugural issue of The Malfeasance Occasional, a thrice-yearly collection of original short works to be published by the Web site Criminal Element. Issue No. 1 of the M.O. was originally supposed to be released in December 2012, but its launch has been delayed several times. Current expectations are that the debut edition--carrying the theme “Girl Trouble”--will appear this summer.

• Republicans really aren’t popular with young voters.

• I somehow missed spotting last week’s announcement of which mystery novels won the 2013 Audie Awards, “recognizing distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment.” Fortunately, Omnimystery News has the results.

• This makes me miss made-for-television films: a 1968 adaptation of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Jack Palance. At least for the time being, you can watch that full two-hour Canadian production here. Palance’s performance is alternately brilliant and melodramatic.

Here’s a TV film I never thought I’d see again: the 1973 pilot for Poor Devil, starring Sammy Davis Jr. as “a bumbling assistant to Satan ... [who] gets one last chance when he’s assigned get the soul of a down-and-out retail department store accountant (Jack Klugman).” Adam West (Batman) appears as Klugman’s boss.

• Oh, and one last long-forgotten screen gem worth watching: the February 1971 pilot film for Longstreet. That short-lived ABC-TV series starred James Franciscus as Mike Longstreet, an insurance investigator in New Orleans who, even after being blinded by a bomb blast that killed his wife, continued his investigative efforts with some help from a German Shepherd seeing eye dog named Pax. At last check, YouTube also offered the first full episode of Longstreet, “The Way of the Intercepting Fist,” which guest-starred a then comparatively unknown martial-arts expert named Bruce Lee.

Oline Cogdill has some nice things to say about the recently cancelled TNT-TV cop series, Southland.

• What might this mean to the future of crime fighting, and to the boundaries of privacy? “On Monday,” reports Pacific Standard, the U.S. Supreme Court “gave the OK to the controversial practice of cops collecting DNA samples from crime suspects under arrest. In a 5-4 ruling, the justices decided that swabbing a person’s cheek prior to their conviction of any crime did not constitute an unreasonable search—so long as the suspect was under arrest ‘for a serious offense’ and had been brought ‘to the station to be detained in custody.’”

• British critic/author Mike Ripley is back with another “Getting Away with Murder” column for Shots. This month’s installment includes remarks about Paul Doherty’s 100th novel, the sometimes “distinctly odd” translation of Massimo Carlotto’s At the End of a Dull Day, James Bond’s Diamond Jubilee, Florence-set thrillers, and the Macmillan Crime Party held recently at London’s Goldsboro Books.

• June 27 will mark 40 years since the release of Live and Let Die, the film that introduced Roger Moore as the third actor to play British super-spy James Bond on the silver screen. Beyond its opening theme, sung by Paul McCartney, and its boat chases through Louisiana bayou country, what I remember best about that picture was the magnetic presence of then 22-year-old actress Jane Seymour, who played a “beautiful virgin tarot expert” named Solitaire.

Perfect for fans of the annual Malice Domestic convention.

• I’m sorry to hear that Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey), one of the U.S. Senate’s “great progressive champions,” died this morning at age 89. “His obituaries will note,” writes Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly, “that he was the last remaining World War II veteran in the Senate (John Dingell of [Mich.] and Ralph Hall of [Texas] remain in the House). More remarkable to me is that Lautenberg made his first attempt at elected office in 1982 (a successful Senate bid), at an age (58) when most people are planning retirement.” Lautenberg, who’d been ill for some while, had already announced that he was retiring after his present six-year term in the upper chamber, and fellow Democrat Cory Booker, presently the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, seems the most likely candidate to succeed him. More here.

• Finally, I must note the deaths of two people connected in different ways to the crime-fiction community. The first is Catholic priest-turned-prolific novelist Andrew M. Greeley, who may be best known to readers of this blog for creating the part-time sleuth Father Blackie Ryan, but who was also an outspoken critic of George W. Bush’s Iraq war. Greeley died on May 28 at age 85. (More about him here.) ... Also, TV and film actress Jean Stapleton breathed her last on May 31 at age 90. Although history will likely remember her best for her portrayal of a long-suffering wife in the TV series All in the Family, Wikipedia recalls that the lead role of mystery novelist/amateur detective Jessica Fletcher in CBS-TV’s Murder, She Wrote “was initially offered” to Stapleton, “who turned it down stating that, after nine years of playing the ditsy but well-meaning Edith Bunker on All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place, respectively, she did not want to be tied down to another television series. Doris Day was offered the part afterwards, and also declined.” (Angela Lansbury eventually agreed to star in Murder, She Wrote.) Stapleton’s résumé isn’t otherwise thick with roles in mysteries and thrillers, but she did appear in episodes of The Defenders, Naked City, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I will never forget Edith Bunker. It was one of the most original, poignant and rich portrayals ever on TV. Now could Edith have been Edith without Archie. I am not sure. But only a Jean Stapleton could make you believe that anyone could love him.