I realize that yesterday’s announcement of the Redshirts TV series was a little light on the details on my end — I was literally about to walk out the door for the day when I saw it — so for those of you who were craving additional detail, here you are, in a handy Q & A form.
Dude, did you know?
Yes, and yes, someone did actually ask me this, although to be fair I think it was more of the excitement of the moment than actual cluelessness.
To expand on that answer, yes, I did know, because it’s my book and nothing regarding my intellectual property gets done (legally, anyway) without my consent. I was caught a little by surprise by the specific timing of the announcement, but I knew the announcement was coming.
Why didn’t you let us know?
Because part of the deal with signing for a TV series is that you keep quiet until the official announcement. Also, you know. You don’t want to announce something before all the “i”s are dotted and “t”s crossed. And that takes a bit of time. And also patience, which I am not good at, but oh, well.
How long has this been going on?
There’s been interest in Redshirts pretty much from the moment it dropped. I remember being on tour, landing in LA and getting three e-mails in rapid sequence, one from my editor telling me we hit the NY Times hardcover bestseller list, one from a producer telling me he wanted a meeting, and another from my film/tv agent telling me I need to call him immediately. So that was nice. We spent a lot of time fielding offers on this one.
This particular deal got into high gear after Redshirts won the Hugo. After that happened, in relatively quick order (for Hollywood) Jon Shestack and Ken Kwapis put together a package and pitched it to FX, who took it on. And then came the Great Contractual Negotiation Period, which in Hollywood can last for some time, out of which we are now just emerging.
(This is, incidentally, a useful data point for people who argue whether or not winning a Hugo means anything outside the SF/F nerd tribe; in this case, yes, it really did. I expect this will start another round of gnashing and fuming and wailing about the award.)
How do you feel about the others involved in the deal?
I feel very good about them. I’ve known Jon Shestack for some time; he’s been a fan of my work for years, which is a positive thing when it comes to adapting a book for the screen. Among everything else Ken Kwapis has done, he directed the finale of The Office, and has likewise directed episodes of Parks and Recreation, Malcolm in the Middle, Freaks and Geeks and The Larry Sanders Show. He gets how humor works on television. And FX — well, they’ve been on a roll recently, haven’t they, with their shows? There’s nothing here I don’t like.
(There is one other principal involved: Alexandra Beattie, who is Ken Kwapis’ producing partner, and who I know little about other than her imdb page. However I have no doubt she is awesome.)
One of the reasons these things take time is that there is no point doing a deal just to do a deal; you want to have people working on it that you think can do justice to the material and who can actually get it out to the world. This is a good team. I’m happy to hand my work over to them and work to get it on screen.
How involved will you be with the series?
I’ll be an executive producer and consultant for the series, which means I will be involved to a fair degree. More than that I can’t say, not to be mysterious about it but because these are early days and we still have a lot to figure out, not the least of which is what my schedule is going to be for the rest of 2014. I have a book to write in there somewhere, you know.
Are you going to move to LA, sleep with starlets and get hooked on blow?
The answer to all the above is “probably not.” Depending on my level of involvement I may eventually spend more time in LA than I do, but have no plans to move on a permanent basis. I’m a little old and set in my ways to start doing cocaine. And regardless of any personal desire to sleep with starlets (which is pretty low in any event), I don’t imagine any starlets will wish to sleep with me. That’s fair.
When will this make it to TV?
Dunno. We have a lot to do, including finding writers, producing a script FX likes, and so on. Having a deal in place doesn’t mean you’re on screen in a flash. I’d like to think it will take the time it takes to get it right.
Are you worried they are going to ruin the book?
No. The book is done and won’t change, for better or worse. The TV series will be an adaptation of the book, and will follow the book to a greater or lesser extent depending on the needs of the series. You should right now get used to the idea that the series will not exactly mirror the book.
Also, keep in your mind that changes that might happen won’t automatically suck. TV is a different medium than novels; each have advantages and disadvantages. We’re going to make a version of Redshirts for television that (hopefully) takes maximum advantage of the medium’s potential.
Hey, you should cast [insert name here]!
We’re not at casting yet. Be assured I have my own wish list for people to be in the show, which I will communicate to the others involved. There’s no guarantee people on my wish list will make it into the show, however, for all sorts of various reasons (they may not be available. They may not want to be involved. They may be attacked by an ice shark between now and then. Etc).
I will totally sleep with you to be involved in this series.
Thanks! I’m taken. And, yeah. Not the way I do things, I gotta say.
How do I get involved with this series, not involving sleeping with you?
If you’re a writer? I suppose you would have your people get in touch with Kwapis/Beattie’s people. Everyone else: Wait, I think. They’ll cast/staff as appropriate to whatever stage we’re at.
I should note that I am not at this point (or, really, likely in the future to be) responsible for any staffing decisions. So trying to butter me up or work through me on this is not likely to have the result you want, and will probably eventually annoy me.
Did you make piles of money off your deal?
(Yes, people ask.)
I’m happy with the deal financially, otherwise I wouldn’t have signed it. Beyond that I’m going to keep mum about the details, if you don’t mind (and even if you do). I will say that as with most deals involving Hollywood, the real payday is on the backend. So let’s hope it gets done.
I think Redshirts was awful and you don’t deserve this.
Ha! Sucks to be you, then.
That’s great about Redshirts, but don’t you also have a deal in Hollywood for Old Man’s War? What’s up with that?
Finally: Thank you, everyone, for all your congratulations and good wishes yesterday and today. I’m really happy about this. And I’m glad you all seem to be happy about it too.