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Archive for November 2008

Guardian and Observer clean up at music journalism awards

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Radioheads Thom Yorke on the cover of OMM which won best editor last night

Radiohead's Thom Yorke on the cover of OMM which won best editor last night

Newspapers The Guardian and The Observer stole the show at last night’s 2008 Record Of The Day Awards for Music Journalism and PR (phew) when they walked away with five gongs. The Word was named magazine of the year.

Caspar Llewellyn-Smith, editor of Observer Music Monthly bagged the editor of the year award for the second consecutive year. The Guardian was celebrated for it’s music content winning best music coverage in a national newspaper and best podcast. The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis was named record reviews writer of the year and The Observer’s Kitty Empire won the 2008 live reviews writer award.

Other winners included Dog Day Press (best independent PR company) and Polydor (best in-house PR department).

The highlight of the eveing came when legendary British music journalism Jon Savage was honoured when he received the outstanding contribution to music journalism award.

Representing the artdesks up and down the country was Pennie Smith who picked up the outstanding contribution to music photography award.

MBC PR co-founder Barbara Charone won the outstanding contribution to music PR awards and

The awards took place at Conway Hall, London.

The full list of the 2008 Record of the Day Award winners is as follows:

  • Live Reviews Writer of the Year: Kitty Empire – The Observer
  • Best PR campaign for a breakthrough UK Act: Tony Linkin at Coalition PR for Glasvegas
  • Best PR campaign for an established UK Act: Lewis Jamieson at Hall Or Nothing PR for Elbow
  • Record Reviews Writer of the Year: Alexis Petridis – The Guardian
  • Best Music Coverage in a Newspaper: The Guardian
  • Business and Technology Writer of the Year: Ben Cardew – Music Week
  • Best PR campaign for an established non-UK Act: James Hopkins at Columbia Records for Kings of Leon
  • Best PR Campaign for a Breakthrough Non-UK Act: Ash Collins at Toast PR for MGMT
  • Best Podcast: Guardian Music Weekly
  • Best Editor: Caspar Llewellyn Smith – Observer Music Monthly
  • Best Independent PR Company: Dog Day Press
  • Best Independent PR individual: Nathan Beazer at Dog Day Press
  • Best Digital Publication: NME.COM
  • Best in-house PR person: Andy Prevezer at Warner Bros Records
  • Best In-House PR department: Polydor Records
  • Artist and Music Features – Writer of The Year: Simon Cosyns and Jacqui Swift – The Sun, Something for the Weekend
  • Breaking Music Writer: Paul Lester
  • Magazine of the Year: The Word
  • Best Blog: 20 Jazz Funk Greats
  • Best Online PR: Scruffy Bird
  • Outstanding contribution to music journalism: Jon Savage
  • Outstanding contribution to PR: Barbara Charone – MBC PR
  • Outstanding contribution to music photography: Pennie Smith

That classic image of The Clash's Paul Simonon captured by Pennie Smith

If you’re into your music journalism you’ll know who this guy is below (he’s the legendary Beatnik muso Lester Bangs for any of you who don’t):

Discussion:
Are you thinking of a career in music journalism? Are you already writing music pieces? Want you share them? Leave a comment with your experience in the music journalism world here (the editor is a freelancer for Drowned in Sound when it suits him so he’ll be keen to chat on the subject)

Words: Dean Samways

Mafia boss grandfather inspiration for first novel

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The Grandfather Clause by Phil Genovese

The Grandfather Clause by Phil Genovese

Speaking to Reuters, author Phil Genovese revealed he took little pride in his family’s criminal connections.

Despite his resentment the grandson of mob boss Vito ‘Don Vito’ Genovese has managed to turn his childhood memories and experiences into fiction in his first outing into the publishing world.

His debut, the self-published novel The Grandfather Clause was 10 years in the making, mostly down to the fact that he only wrote the book’s material on Sunday afternoons when he was able to sneak away from family.

The book focuses on a New Jersey boy who eagerly looks forward to his grandfather’s visits but later learns that his elderly relative is the leader of a New York crime family. Further into the book the now adult protagonist finds he had to penetrate his grandfather’s world.

Genovese was actually brought by an accountant mother and father in Jersey and has only sparse memories of his grandfather, the Genovese crime family boss, who passed away in prison at the age of 71 in 1969.

The full interview is included below:

Q: When did you start to write?

A: “I am in my mid-50s and started out thinking some day I may like to write a book but I came out of school not really knowing what I wanted to do and ended up being an executive in a mobile transportation company. In 1996 I bought the first family computer and thought maybe this could enable me to write.”

Q: Is it autobiographical?

A: “Not really. I had built a story in my head over the years commuting in the car about someone like me with an infamous grandfather who led his father’s life rather than his grandfather’s but had an occurrence that caused him for a brief period to go back to his grandfather’s world.”

Q: It took 10 years to finish. Did you enjoy it?

A: “I can’t make a living from it but it brings me some peace and enjoyment. I published the book with an online publisher so I still own the rights to this book. I went the traditional route and secured two agents along the way and got the usual slew of rejection letters and an offer from a big publisher but the advance was very light and not a lot of promotion. They tend to focus on the big-selling authors. It’s a very crowded market with about 200,000 books published a year.”

Q: Does your name help with publicity?

A: “My last name does get me engagements. People think I will tell them some dark secrets about the mafia. But I was just nine years old when my grandfather went to jail.”

Q: Did your father mind you writing the book?

A: “My parents were supportive. I respect the work my father has done in his life and the sacrifices he has made to redistinguish our family name. From a young age he separated himself from his father and opened an accountancy practice and went on to become a member of the town council. All his good and hard work was built on his reputation and not on his father’s.”

Q: How did you view your heritage?

A mugshot of Don Vito Genovese

A mugshot of Don Vito Genovese

A: “Growing up we were always cognitive of it and tried to tread a certain line. We never denied our heritage but it is not something we are proud of. Am I taking advantage of it with the book? Perhaps, but only to sell my book and get people to read it. If we count up all the ugly and painful moments in my family’s life they are all related to my grandfather. Schoolyard fights, prejudice in the job market were all directly attributed to his legacy and the stain he left on the Genovese name.”

Q: What do you remember about your grandfather?

A: “We’d go to his house at noon and he was just getting up. They had a night life. I remember him being well dressed, in a tie a lot. You always knew there was something going on with him in the special way people referred to him and the whispering.”

Q: Have you had much reaction to the book?

A: “There has been strange emails from people saying we are related and saying Vito was my father. When I mention this to my father he says: “Who knows?.” In the start I would always give them a response saying I was not aware of anything but not now.”

Q: And you are working on your second book?

A: “It is called The Termination Clause. Some of the characters continue into the second book but I have created a new protagonist. It is like this book in that it has a core plot involving the mafia but there are other things too.”

Q: What is your advise to other aspiring writers?

A: “I would suggest carving out hours of the day to write and recommend you do the same thing for trying to get published or promoting a book. I decided to do online publishing as I wanted to get the book out and move on. Maybe the second book will be picked up and become a bestseller. Dozens of authors self-published their first book.”

If The Grandfather Clause reads anything like The Godfather film begins we’re in for a treat:

Discussion:
What’s your favourite crime novel? Does the literary world need another mobster book? What makes a great crime thriller?

Words: Dean Samways.

Writer pens the death of The Dark Knight

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An image from the Batman RIP series by Grant Morrison. Image by Tony Daniel courtesy of DC Comics

Image by Tony Daniel courtesy of DC Comics

It’s almost unthinkable; the death of a superhero, but Scottish graphic novelist Grant Morrison has inked the plot to end all the plots: the demise of the Dark Knight.

In the latest issue of the long running Batman comic series, Batman RIP, Morrison depicts Gotham’s decline into chaos as Bruce Wayne and the Caped Crusader disappear into the ether. It transpires that our hero is caught in a helicopter crash as he attempts to catch Simon Hurt, the volume’s villain.

The infamous cape and cowl belonging to Batman are discovered by his former sidekick Nightwing, prompting rumours that Gotham’s savoir is no more.

Six months down the line a Gotham City police officer is mercilessly tortured by a member of the Black Glove gang before conceding defeat in pain and describing how Batman and Robin met their end.

In an interview Morrison said this would definitely be the end of Bruce Wayne’s Batman, adding: “People have killed characters in the past but to me, that kind of ends the story.

“I like to keep the story twisting and turning. So what I am doing is a fate worse than death. Things that no one would expect to happen to these guys at all.”

Morrison was also given the unbelievable task of killing off Superman in DC’s All Star comic series.

Batman RIP is released as a hardcover volume on 4 February 2009.

Have a look below for an exclusive interview with Grant Morrison for dccomics.com:

…and for the author’s viewing pleasure, some action from The Dark Knight (Whoop!):

Discussion:
How would you kill off Batman? It’s not as easier as writing Peggie Mitchell out of the Eastenders script that’s for sure. Anyone currently penning a story for a graphic novel?

Words: Dean Samways

Father Ted writer bags an Emmy

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Graham Lineham - creator of Father Ted and The IT Crowd

Graham Lineham - creator of Father Ted and The IT Crowd

The comedy genius behind Father Ted, Irish writer and director Graham Linehan (blog) picked up an Emmy in New York this week for his Channel 4 show The IT Crowd (blog).

The sitcom, starring Irish actor Chris O’Dowd and set in the IT department of a fictitious British company, picked up the International Emmy for Best Comedy

Linehan is the writer and director of the hit comedy series.

His previous successes include Black Books, starring Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey (blog). Linehan teamed up with Moran to pen the three series about a surly London bookshop owner. During it’s run Black Books won two BAFTAs for Best Situation Comedy in 2000 and 2005, and a Bronze Rose at The Festival Rose d’Or of Montreux in 2001.

The 36th International Emmy awards gala was held on Monday night at New York’s Hilton Hotel. The winners were chosen from 40 nominees from 16 countries.

These prestigious awards recognise excellence in TV programming produced outside the States.

British broadcasting dominated the awards, while Argentina and Jordan celebrated their first Emmy victories.

Argentine production Television Por La Identidad won the award for TV Movies or Mini-Series. It tells the story of the country’s ‘disappeared’ pregnant women from 1976 to 1983, and their resultant search for their children.

British television won most other competitive categories topped off with gongs for David Suchet and Lucy Cohu who won the top acting honours.

Suchet, best known for his role as Agatha Christie’s Poirot, won for his performance as the doom media mogul Robert Maxwell in the BBC’s Maxwell and Cohu collected her award for Forgiven, in which she played a suburban housewife who discovers her husband is sexually abusing their daughter.

Britain’s take-home also included Best Drama Series for BBC show Life on Mars and the Arts Programming Emmy for Channel 4’s Strictly Bolshoi.

Nick Park’s creation Shaun the Sheep won Best Children’s and Young People’s Programming while mountaineering disaster epic The Beckoning Silence was named Best Documentary.

Click here to read The Guardian’s piece in praise of The IT Crowd.

To see Chris Morris‘ (Smokehammer blog) funniest bits from The IT Crowd have a gander below:

Discussion:
Are you fans of Linehan’s work?  Is anyone out there working on a comedy script at them moment?

Words: Dean Samways

Costa Book Awards shortlist announced

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Some of the nominees in the running for the Costa Book Award 2008 (picture by The Guardian)

Some of the nominees in the running for the Costa Book Awards 2008 (picture by The Guardian)

The shortlist for the 2008 Costa Book Awards has been announced. The prestigious award attracted 616 entries this year, which have been narrowed down to four books in five categories.

Judges on this year’s panels (three judges per category) include author Lisa Jewell, actress and writer Pauline McLynn, journalist, writer and broadcaster Michael Burke, poet and broadcaster Roger McGough CBE; and writer Victoria Hislop. The final judging panel will be announced in mid-December.

The winner of each category will be announced on the 6 January 2009 with the overall winner of the 2008 Costa Book Award announced on 27 January at a lavish awards ceremony in London.

The shortlisted books are:

Costa First Novel Award:

Costa Children’s Book Award:

Costa Biography Award:

Costa Novel Award:

Costa Poetry Award:

Have a look at the award video for the winner of last year’s accolade, A.L. Kennedy, by clicking below:

Discussion:
So what do you think of the shortlists?  Are there any omissions you’re particularly surprised about? Has anyone read any of the listed books? What did you think?

Words: Seamus Swords

I Am Legend writer to pen for Smith and Spielberg

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Mark Protosevich - Hollywoods latest hot scriptwriter

Mark Protosevich - Hollywood's latest hot scriptwriter

The writer of last year’s top zombie flick I Am Legend, Mark Protosevich, is in talks to pen the Hollywood remake of Oldboy, the ultra-violent Korean drama.

Big guns Will Smith and Steven Spielberg are behind the reworking of the Chan-Wook Park‘s incredibly brutal original story.

It follows the 15 year imprisonment of a man who is held for no apparent reason. A vengeful blood fuelled mission ensues once he is freed of his shackles as he hunts the individual who incarcerated him.

Oldboy is ranked 116th in IMDB’s Top 250 is the second film in Park’s The Vengeance Trilogy, a series that includes Sympathy For Mr Vengeance and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance.

It is reported that Will Smith pushed for Spielberg to meet with Protosevich because of his admiration for the writer’s I Am Legend script.

Protosevich also wrote the screenplay for Marvel’s upcoming Thor, which is, rather amazingly, going to be directed by English Shakespearian theatre-type Kenneth Brannagh.

Have a look at the beautiful I Am Legend and bloodcurdling Oldboy below:

Discussion:
Is anyone a fan of the I Am Legend script?  In places it portrays desperation in a manner not seen very often before. For example, what did you think of the ‘Fred? Is that you?’ and DVD rental mannequin dialogue?

Words: Dean Samways

Highest earning novelists revealed

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J.K. Rowling (PA)

J.K. Rowling (PA)

American high society rag Forbes has released what it deems to be the top 10 highest paid authors today.

Released last month there are few surprises as to who tops the list. J.K. Rowling took the number one slot earning an estimated $300 million with her closest rival, detective novelist, James Patterson (Along came a Spider) earning only $50 million.

Writing mainstays Stephen King, Tom Clancy and Danielle Steel make up the rest of the top five, proving their books are as popular than ever (and as predictable and dusty to – Ed). Could this be down to the fact they are half price every Christmas in the WH Smiths sale?

Will Rowling rake in the same amount next year now her Harry Potter series has come to a close? One thing is certain, she has set a president for high earnings in the literary world.

Here is the top 10:

  1. JK Rowling, $300m
  2. James Patterson – $50m
  3. Stephen King – $45m
  4. Tom Clancy – $35m
  5. Danielle Steel – $30m
  6. John Grisham – $25m (tie)
  7. Dean Koontz – $25m (tie)
  8. Ken Follett – $20m
  9. Janet Evanovich – $17m
  10. Nicholas Sparks – $16m

For all you Harry Potter fans out there, and we know there must be some, we have pinched and pasted all five parts from the amazing documentary about the author by James Runcie below. The filmmaker spent a year following the author as she penned the final installment in the Potter series. Enjoy:

Discussion:
So does JK Rowling justify earning so much from her work? Is Harry Potter really all that good or is it simply media generated hype assisted by the Hollywood machine?

Words: Seamus Swords

‘Disappear Here’ please, for all our sakes Peaches

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Peaches Geldof - Disappear Here Editor

Peaches Geldof - Disappear Here Editor

It’s no surprise that this particular story has got our goat at The Scribbler.

But most in the print media should be annoyed by the news famous for being nothing ‘indie it girl’ Peaches Geldof has been set the challenge of launching a magazine, whilst the MTV cameras follow the sordid charade (watch at your peril).

Peaches has described the magazine, Disappear Here, as “underground and anti-mainstream”, Sugar Ape anyone?

The program has been met with a lot of negative criticism, largely due to a daddy’s girl waltzing into an industry that many will spend years toiling in just to get a byline.

Another major criticism of the show has been Peaches highly unprofessional approach to others. Editor’s naturally have a degree of authority on a publication but let us not forget that Peaches’ only experience of writing was a poorly written column in The Daily Telegraph (How did she get that job? – Ed).

Put simply Peaches looks set to offend a lot more people with her new program (for as long as it runs). But at least we can take heart in all the little attacks on the show and its trumped up offensive protagonist.

One blogger put it best with this simple equation: Geldof + no clue + posse of idiots = turd sandwich.

Of course what’s even more disturbing is that Bloc Party‘s name has been tarnished by the show. Disappear Here is lifted from one of the Brighton band’s tracks.

To see the band talk about the track Song for Clay (Disappear Here), which is also named after the character in Bret Easton-Ellis’ Less Than Zero, glance below:

Yes the show aired on MTV One back in October but as it’s just been aired on Freeview friendly TMF we thought we’d run this little number.

Expect a full scale rant in the next few weeks as the fate of Disappear Here is revealed for our viewing pleasure.

Discussion:
Has anyone seen this hideous brand of broadcasting? Is anyone surprised Disappear Here is an MTV One production? What did you think of the show?

Words: Seamus Swords

Author of Jurassic Park passes away

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Michael Crichton died on Tuesday aged 66

Michael Crichton died on Tuesday aged 66

Michael Crichton, the million-selling author has died of cancer.

Crichton who made scientific research terrifying and irresistible in the thrillers Jurassic Park, Timeline and The Andromeda Strain, died Tuesday in Los Angeles at the age of 66.

“Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand,” his family said in a statement.

“While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us — and entertained us all while doing so — his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes.”

He was an experimenter and populariser known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of The Andromeda Strain or the dinosaurs running riot in Jurassic Park. Many of his books became major Hollywood movies, including, most notably, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun and Disclosure. Crichton himself directed and wrote The Great Train Robbery and he co-wrote the script for the blockbuster Twister.

In 1994, he created the award-winning TV hospital series ER. He’s even had a dinosaur named for him, Crichton’s Ankylosaur.

A stille from The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park

A still from The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park

“Michael’s talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of Jurassic Park,” said Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg, a friend of Crichton’s for 40 years. “He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth.

“Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no-one in the wings that will ever take his place.”

John Wells, executive producer of ER called the author “an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful.

“No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation.”

In recent years, he was granted a White House meeting with President Bush, perhaps because of his scepticism about global warming, which Crichton addressed in the 2004 novel, State of Fear. Crichton’s views were strongly condemned by environmentalists, who alleged that the author was hurting efforts to pass legislation to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

If not a literary giant, he was a physical one, standing 6 feet and 9 inches and ready for battle with the press. In a 2004 interview with The Associated Press, Crichton came with a tape recorder, text books and a pile of graphs and charts as he defended State of Fear and his take on global warming.

“I have a lot of trouble with things that don’t seem true to me,” Crichton said at the time, his large, manicured hands gesturing to his graphs. “I’m very uncomfortable just accepting. There’s something in me that wants to pound the table and say, ‘That’s not true.'”

He spoke to few scientists about his questions, convinced that he could interpret the data himself. “If we put everything in the hands of experts and if we say that as intelligent outsiders, we are not qualified to look over the shoulder of anybody, then we’re in some kind of really weird world,” he said.

A new novel by Crichton had been tentatively scheduled to come next month, but publisher HarperCollins said the book was postponed indefinitely because of his illness.

A portrait of legendary American writer Mark Twain

A portrait of legendary American writer Mark Twain

One of four siblings, Crichton was born in Chicago and grew up in Roslyn, Long Island. His father was a journalist and young Michael spent much of his childhood writing extra papers for teachers. In third grade, he wrote a nine-page play that his father typed for him using carbon paper so the other kids would know their parts. He was tall, gangly and awkward, and used writing as a way to escape; Mark Twain and Alfred Hitchcock were his role models.

Figuring he would not be able to make a living as writer, and not good enough at basketball, he decided to become a doctor. He studied anthropology at Harvard College, and later graduated from Harvard Medical School. During medical school, he turned out books under pseudonyms. (One that the tall author used was Jeffrey Hudson, a 17th-century dwarf in the court of King Charles II of England.) He had modest success with his writing and decided to pursue it.

His first hit, The Andromeda Strain, was written while he was still in medical school and quickly caught on upon its 1969 release. It was a featured selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and was sold to Universal in Hollywood for $250,000.

“A few of the teachers feel I’m wasting my time, and that in some ways I have wasted theirs,” he told The New York Times in 1969. “When I asked for a couple of days off to go to California about a movie sale, that raised an eyebrow.”

His books seemed designed to provoke debate, whether the theories of quantum physics in Timeline, the reverse sexual discrimination of Disclosure or the spectre of Japanese eminence in Rising Sun.

“The initial response from the (Japanese) establishment was, ‘You’re a racist,'” he told the AP. “So then, because I’m always trying to deal with data, I went on a tour talking about it and gave a very careful argument, and their response came back, ‘Well you say that but we know you’re a racist.'”

Crichton had a rigid work schedule: rising before dawn and writing from about 6 a.m. to around 3 p.m., breaking only for lunch. He enjoyed being one of the few novelists recognised in public, but he also felt limited by fame.

“Of course, the celebrity is nice. But when I go do research, it’s much more difficult now. The kind of freedom I had 10 years ago is gone,” he told the AP. “You have to have good table manners; you can’t have spaghetti hanging out of your mouth at a restaurant.”

Crichton was married five times and had one child. A private funeral is planned.

Watch an hour long interview with Michael Crichton when he talks openly about his sceptical views on global warming and his book Next:

Words: Dean Samways & AP

Obama, Where Art Thou?

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Barack Obama by Callie Shell for Time

Barack Obama by Callie Shell for Time

Yes, yes that’s right, not even the pages of The Scribbler provide shelter from US Election 08; possibly the grandest media spectacle since two winged metallic cylinders struck twin concrete giants at the beginning of history.

Today we wanted to divert your attention to one Guardian blogger who has very astutely picked up on Presidential candidate Barack Obama‘s fine choice of words in his rallies, related printed word and speeches.

Of course we’re not saying he’s the next Homer or that he’ll one day pen a work as important as A Dozen Tough Jobs by Howard Waldrop, but what we are saying is that his eloquent employment of the English language has created somewhat of a mini play within a much play.

His puns and metaphorical verses to describe the far from elegant qualities of Hilary Clinton are particularly amusing. His recent soundbite highlighting the electorates desire to ‘look under the hood and kick the tires’ perfectly and immediately connects with middle-America’s obsession with the automobile as he strives to convey his hardiness and reliability.

For an insightful analysis of Obama’s subtle poetry read Adam O’Riordan‘s piece for the Guardian here.

A perfect example of his flair with words lies below for your viewing pleasure:

Discussion:
Just how important is it for a Presidential candidate to be as linguistically gifted as Obama? Anyone looking forward to his autobiography already?

Words: Dean Samways