Archive for May, 2009

Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life Airs in HD

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Iowa Public Television (IPTV) will air the two-part mini-series, “Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life,” on Sunday, May 31, at 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life

My longtime filmmaking cohort Phil Dingeldein and I recently went to Des Moines to the HQ of Iowa Public Television, where we edited our feature ELIOT NESS: AN UNTOUCHABLE LIFE into a two-part mini-series. The episodes cover Chicago (“Capone’s City”) and Cleveland (“Butcher’s Town”) with only minor changes to the material as presented on the currently available DVD from VCI Home Entertainment.

What is really exciting, however, is that we were able to do HD masters. The feature (starring my frequent accomplice Michael Cornelison) was shot in Hi-Def, but our limited budget did not allow us to master it that way. Thanks to IPTV, we now have both the feature and the mini-series in HD format…and it looks wonderful.

Soon IPTV will be offering the new two-part version of NESS to PBS stations nationally. I’ll have more details later, but when the time comes, I will encourage you to approach your local PBS stations and request airings of the mini-series version.

P.S. Don’t know if anybody’s out there noticing, but I am doing weekly updates now. Not quite a blog, but please check in once a week. News next time about THE LAST LULLABY.


Selected Clips from Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life

G.I. Joe Prequel Above And Beyond in Bookstores Now!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Here is an advance look at the covers of the two GI JOE novels I have coming out this summer. GI JOE: ABOVE AND BEYOND is a prequel and GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA is the movie tie-in novel.


Matt Clemens helped plot and research the prequel, a process we have used on our CSI, BONES, DARK ANGEL and CRIMINAL MINDS novels. He and I are working together on a serial killer novel for Kensington that will be out next March. We wanted to take the approach to a forensics thriller that we’ve honed on CSI and CRIMINAL MINDS into something of our own.

This is the first time Matt will share byline on a cover with me (other than our short story collection, MY LOLITA COMPLEX — we’ve published co-bylined short stories for around ten years). Our title was KILLER TV, but it’s been changed (with only minimal screaming and kicking by us) to YOU CAN’T STOP ME. Kensington is really tops at publishing this kind of novel (they’ve done well by my pal John Lutz, a great writer) and we will be doing at least two books for them.


The Last Lullaby Midwestern Premiere

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

THE LAST LULLABY will play at the Showcase Cinemas 53 in Davenport, Iowa, on Friday May 15 through May 21. For the first two evening showings on Friday, director Jeffrey Goodman and I will introduce the film and do Q and A after. Tickets are on sale online (Friday night showings: 7:00 / 9:30). The film’s next Iowa booking is at the Fleur in Des Moines, where it will play June 5 through June 11 — again, Jeffrey and I will be there opening night.

The midwestern premiere of THE LAST LULLABY at the Collins Rd Theatres in Cedar Rapids went very well indeed — we had a very nearly full house for the 7 pm showing, when Jeffrey and I introed the film and followed up afterward with a Q and A.

The Last Lullaby Collins Road

Hard to believe, but this is the first face-to-face meeting between Jeffrey and myself, and years of long-distance collaborating first on the short film “A Matter of Principal” and then on the feature-length expansion, THE LAST LULLABY. He is a very friendly guy, low-key and very sharp.

A question that keeps coming up is whether the film is based on the novel THE LAST QUARRY. The answer is — sort of. The detailed answer is convoluted, so I usually just say, “Yes.” The truth is, THE LAST QUARRY is a novel based on my first draft screenplay for Jeffrey, itself an expansion of my short story, “A Matter of Principal” and my screenplay from the short film derived from it. The title THE LAST LULLABY reflects the novel’s title, obviously, and the novel and film are very similar, but not exactly so. That reflects me doing a second draft after getting notes from Jeffrey, another writer doing a draft for him when the film moved from California to Louisiana, and me doing a final polish. So it evolved away from the novel version.

The other question that comes up is, “Why is Quarry (Tom Sizemore) called Price in the film?” For the same reason Parker is “Walker” in POINT BLANK — to limit the film to a once only use of the character, not to license the entire series. Anyway, Quarry uses aliases all the time — “Quarry” is itself an alibi.

The Cedar Rapids screening was my first chance to see the film in a real theatrical setting — right down to popcorn with real butter, a point of pride for theater owner Bruce Taylor — and seeing THE LAST LULLABY in its full thirty-five millimeter (and of course nine millimeter) glory was a thrill. Quarry was born around 1971 at the Writers Workshop in Iowa City, where the first two chapters of what would become THE BROKER were discussed by a mostly horrified class. To see him come to life on screen so many years later, in a definitive portrayal by Tom Sizemore, is a real thrill for me.

Here are a few recent reviews/stories on the film:

The Gazette Online: “deliciously mixes old-fashioned film noir with newfangled violence.”
Shreveport Times Online: “bold, brilliant and inventive”
KWQC-TV’s Linda Cook: “A strong character study with a fascinating leading man”


The Last Lullaby to Premiere in Cedar Rapids, IA

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Announcing the Midwest theatrical premiere of THE LAST LULLABY this Friday, May 8, at the Collins Road Theatre, Cedar Rapids, IA!

The Last Lullaby

THE LAST LULLABY, director Jeffrey
Goodman’s version of my novel
has been doing very well on the film festival circuit over the last year or so.
On the weekend of April 3 & 4, the film came to my home turf, where it won Best
Professional Feature (The Gold Eddy Award) from the
Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival. I
introduced the film, which was given the honor of the prime Saturday
evening slot (8 pm). The audience at the
Collins Road Theatre (no,
neither the road nor the theater was named after me) seemed to love it.

This festival win has special resonance because the short Quarry film, “A Matter of
Principal,” that was expanded into THE LAST LULLABY (and THE LAST QUARRY, for that
matter), had won Best Short Film at the same festival in 2003. In 2004, director
Goodman, having done so well with the short, commissioned me to a feature-length
version and started the ball rolling, or anyway got it rolling further. I did two
drafts of the screenplay, another writer did another draft when the production moved
to Louisiana and locations shifted, then I came in and provided extensive notes that
amounted to a sort of last-minute polish. The film differs in some respects from THE
LAST QUARRY, but I really like it. Tom Sizemore, baggage and all, is a wonderful
Quarry (herein called “Price”), and there’s a lovely modern noir atmosphere. We showed
it at the last Bouchercon to nice response, and it’s been an official selection of
numerous festivals with some impressive wins.

There will be a limited theatrical release starting in May. It will primarily be
showing in cities where the film has done well in fests, or where there’s a tie to the
film — meaning Louisiana (Jeffrey’s home state and the site of the filming) and Iowa
(my home state) will be on the list, with its Midwestern theatrical premiere at the Collins
Road Theatre on Friday, May 8. Director Jeffrey Goodman will join me at the 7 and 9
PM screenings to present the film, and take questions and answers from the opening
night audience. THE LAST LULLABY will also be showing in the Quad Cities the following week —
stay tuned for more details.

The original Quarry short, written by me and directed by Jeffrey, is part of my
anthology DVD, SHADES OF NOIR (essentially the bonus DVD on the boxed set of my indie
stuff, THE BLACK BOX).

THE LAST LULLABY Official Trailer