Summer TV 2008.

The weather is beautiful and how seriously television-obsessed am I that good weather gets me all excited for good summer TV?

I saw a commercial for TNT’s The Closer (July) and Kyra is just as cute as a button. Now here’s a show I think I’ll end up buying on DVD. I’ve actually never watched the first season, so I’d like to see it, and I love the characters so much, I wouldn’t mind watching seasons 2 and 3 again.

HBO’s Big Love has been in the news because of the real-life raid of a polygamist sect in Texas. No info about when the new season begins, but I’m starting to look forward to it.

Tonight, the season 1 encore of Burn Notice begins (every Thursday at 11 p.m. on USA). I missed Burn Notice last summer, but I’ve only read terrific things about it. Usually, that means a show is pretty decent. I actually did try to watch the first episode online several months ago. I was only slightly entertained until about twenty minutes in when the lead, Michael Weston, takes a call from his mother. I don’t remember what she said, but his reaction to that call hooked me. Nothing like an international spy with mother issues. Unfortunately, my connection failed after that. So I’m giving it another go by taping it every Thursday night. Of course, I can just buy the DVD set in June, but my concern about buying a DVD set for a show I haven’t watched is that this could easily be a great show I just don’t get (coughTheSopranoscough). I like shows about spies, but what if this turns out to be really male-oriented? (Internet Movie Database has a bunch of quotes from Burn Notice I find amusing.)

I have the same concern about Mad Men. What interests male reviewers may not interest me, no matter how great it is. A show about advertising executives in the 60s “when guys wore narrow-lapelled suits, guzzled bourbon before and after meetings, and smoked like a Neil Young guitar solo” just doesn’t scream Must-See TV for me. Mad Men is another show everyone is raving about, but the rave reviews seem almost nostalgic (even though the reviewers are probably in their twenties and thirties) for the days when white men ran Madison Avenue without fear of sexual harrassment lawsuits and lung cancer. 

I’ll have to take a look to see if any female reviewers love this show… Here we go: Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times – I assume Alessandra is a woman – says of Mad Men “Everybody read Reader’s Digest. Jews worked in Jewish advertising agencies, blacks were waiters and careful not to seem too uppity, and doctors smoked during gynecological exams. Women were called ‘girls.’ Men who loved men kept it to themselves. The magic of “Mad Men” is that it softly spoofs those cruel, antiquated mores without draining away the romance of that era: the amber-lit bars and indigo nightclubs, soaring skyscrapers, smoky railway cars and the brash confidence that comes with winning a war and owning the world. It’s a sardonic love letter to the era that wrought ‘The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit’ and ‘The Best of Everything,’ but homage is paid with more affection than satire.”

I don’t believe I’ll see the “magic” or “romance” in this show, but I’m willing to try. The season 1 encore of Mad Men begins this Sunday (every Sunday at midnight on AMC). The encore has actually been airing for a while, but it starts at episode 1 again this Sunday.

(A review from LA Weekly in which the reviewer says Mad Men gave him the creeps. Parts of the review, however, raised my interest.)

I’m mildly looking forward to the return of Entourage. After diligently taping every episode last season, I missed the season finale and didn’t care. I realized I’m only watching for Jeremy Piven and his assistant. (I loved Jeremy Piven when he had a two minute scene in Singles and when he starred in PCU. It’s a pleasure to watch his wacky self in a role that was made for him.) But I do enjoy the inside look at the life of a newly successful actor and his coattail-riding crew.

April 1st.

It can’t be April. What the hell is going on with Time? How can anyone possibly get anything done when it’s already tomorrow? My friend Mr. Prince believes we, the people, have screwed up the Earth so badly, Time is wonky. I think he’s on to something.

So, what’s new?

My book, Whiskey Road: A Love Story, is out next month.

A couple of Sundays ago, one of my close friends, Stacey Prussman, had a full page photo and article about her life as a bulimic in The New York Post.

Last week, my friend Sue Shapiro invited me to her journalism class at The New School to meet her students. (Sue wrote a bunch of excellent books including the memoirs Five Men Who Broke My Heart and Lighting Up.) We gave out a few galleys of my book.

My husband and I attended Lori Tharps’s reading from Kinky Gazpacho at our local Borders. She still has the best voice ever.

We saw Spike Lee over the weekend in our neighborhood. (His neighborhood first, I think.) He looked like…Spike Lee. I knew it was him a block away. I smiled when he looked up, but he didn’t smile back. I’m not sure he knew I was smiling at him.

There are too many TV shows I want to watch right now because I’ve been reading so many great things about them. Like Burn Notice, Mad Men, The Tudors, New Amsterdam, Battlestar Galactica, John Adams and Frontline. Mad Men and Burn Notice aren’t even airing now, but there have to be marathons of the first seasons scheduled before their summer season 2 runs begin.

And, hell, Masterpiece Theater is airing a new A Room with a View and a miniseries called Cranford. Two weeks ago PBS aired Madama Butterfly live from the Met, as well as Hansel and Gretel. I’m not much for opera, but it was nice to see these productions for free. This week, they’re offering up Romeo et Juliette.

I wanted to write a bit about the new Sense and Sensibilty (the first part aired Sunday night), but decided it wasn’t worth writing about. It wasn’t bad, but there isn’t much to say about it. We finally watched the last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, a show several people told me I would love. I’d considered buying the DVDs (we don’t have HBO) and I’m so glad I didn’t. Not my thing, actually. I wanted to choke Larry David.

And there are too many books I want to read! How will I get to them? Not only the novels and health books I’ve purchased. I’ve just found free classics online. Is this illegal? There’s Edith Wharton, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, PG Wodehouse… I used to love to read the classics. Not so much anymore, but a recent interest in The Gilded Age has left me wanting to read fiction by people who actually experienced it.

Speaking of too many books, last week’s Publisher’s Weekly reports the number of books being published each year is approaching 300,000. There’s a call for publishers to cut down on the number of titles they’re putting out, but I haven’t looked for a breakdown of how many books each year are novels. I stay out of this conversation because I think it’s weird to hear a writer say publishers should publish fewer books. I’ve heard several writers say it, and I always wonder if they’re willing to give up publishing their books to make room for better stuff. You know they aren’t, right? Because they think their books should be published.

Last week’s Publisher’s Weekly also ranks the 2007 bestsellers – always fascinating. Can you guess how many copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows J.K. Rowling sold?


That means she made roughly $40 million. Not including audio rights, film rights, paperback rights, etc. Directly after J.K. Rowling in young adult books is Stephenie Meyer’s third novel, Eclipse. Eclipse sold 1,112,660 copies.

Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns is number one on the fiction hardcover list with 2,201,865 copies sold in 2007. Jodi Picoult sold 609,000 copies of her latest novel in hardcover. Ten more of her books are on the paperback list for a total of over 2 million paperbacks sold.  Which goes to show you what can happen when a publisher chooses to get behind a book 100%. (Oh, sure, the books should be good, too, but how many good books go unread because no one heard about them?) Eat, Pray, Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert sold 4,274,804 copies of her memoir in trade paperback.