Works of Burke, Lippman coming to TV?

“CHATSWORTH, CA–(Marketwire – April 15, 2008) – GigaPix Studios has secured the rights to a group of mystery and crime novels from two New York Times best selling authors, James Lee Burke and Laura Lippman, and is launching its new television platform, MovieBooks, according to David Pritchard, CEO of GigaPix.

Lippman’s titles include “Charm City,” “No Good Deeds,” “In Big Trouble,” “Butcher’s Hill,” “By A Spider’s Thread,” “Another Thing to Fall,” “The Sugar House,” “Strange City,” and “Baltimore Blues.”

Burke’s “Cimarron Rose,” “Heartwood,” “In the Red Moon of Ponies,” and “Butterroot” are part of the package.

MovieBooks is a branded limited series for television based on books from best selling authors. Each limited series will be at least six hours based on a single title, “a format allowing for a rich and unabridged adaptation,” said Pritchard.

“MovieBooks goes beyond the traditional film adaptation of novels and provides the audience with a true chapter by chapter telling of the author’s story. This format allows us to showcase the true storytelling strength of each author and not compromise their talents through compression.”

Pritchard emphasized that the flexibility of the format makes it ideal for any television format, ranging from broadcast networks, basic cable and premium cable networks, fitting into a range of programming slots.

“MovieBooks is ideally suited for on demand and digital delivery. Each hour or episode can be released on a weekly basis through digital formats like Tivo, iTunes, Amazon and UnBox, or through cable video on demand services. A continuing storyline through each series ensures multiple downloads and views from the audience wishing to see the complete story of each book.”

Mike Pavone has been set to produce a slate of MovieBooks series. Among other credits, Pavone was a producer on “Prison Break” and “Side Order of Life.”

Negotiations are ongoing with a number of television and cable outlets, according to Pritchard.

Lippman was a newspaper reporter for 20 years, including 12 years at The Baltimore Sun before leaving daily journalism in 2001.

Burke’s work has been awarded an Edgar twice for Best Crime Novel of the Year. His novel, “The Lost Get-Back Boogie,” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Joel Gotler of Intellectual Property Group negotiated both book deals.

For more information about GigaPix Studios, please visit: http://gigapixstudios.com”

Essentially,these deals cover Lippman’s Tess Monaghan and Burke’s Billy Bob Holland series.

I really like the idea of novels becoming mini-series rather than single films. I think that shows like Dexter (based on a novel), The Wire and Damages have shown that telling a story over several episodes can work. It allows more detail to be included.

The talk of digital downloads concerns me, as I don’t think the download industry has evolved to the point where it can be profitable as the sole source of revenue; but as long as series are purchasedby either cable or network TV, they should be able to establish a big enough budget to maintain an acceptable standard of quality. If simply pursued as online products, I think expense limitations would hurt the overall quality.Plus, am I the only one that thinks that the name “moviebooks” sounds gimmicky?

One other thing: There are some things that work very well on the printed page thatsimply don’t translate to the big screen. While I like the idea of adhering to original story, I would hope they give the screenwriter the freedom to make any changes that are needed to make the project as good a series as the books are novels.

With more cable networks pursuing original programming, this sounds like it really has potential. FX, Lifetime, TNT, USA…all of these networks have been increasing their programming. USA already has multiple crimes series with Monk, Burn Notice and Psych, and would seem like an excellent home for either of these.

I don’t know if I think that network television will commit to mini-series based on crime novels.