It was quite the journey, and a fun story which I’ll share at a later date about how I got connected with director Des Doyle and his crew of ‘can-do’ producers from around the globe, but the outcome is a book baby I am very proud of – Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show (please ignore the old title as this is the correct one). It’s out now and can be purchased at:
What is the book exactly?
We like to think of it as the extended cut of the Showrunners documentary that opens in the US on October 31st in the US and VOD. The brilliant film looks at the rise of the showrunner in television with interviews from some of the greatest creatives working in television today including: Joss Whedon, Ron D. Moore, Shawn Ryan, Hart Hanson, Janet Tamaro, Jane Espenson, Robert and Michelle King and many, many more. The book allows us to feature a lot more of the fascinating conversations and insights that just couldn’t fit into the 90 minute film. Whether you are a student of TV, a fan of certain writers, a TV binge junkie or just someone who is interested in the creative process…we think our book is for you.
Here are some excerpts from the book to whet your appetite:
Filmoria – Working with Writers
RogerEbert.com – Being Creative within TV’s Act Structure
MTV News – Joss Whedon: The Unexpected Rebel
Flickering Myth – The Future of TV Writers
I’m very proud of my latest book collaboration with Titan Books and Blue Sky Studios:
The book celebrates the art from both Rio films (the upcoming sequel is out in theaters on April 11, 2014) with incredible landscapes, character progressions and background stories on the real world inspirations for director Carlos Saldanha’s ode to his beloved birthplace.
Titan Books also has a limited edition version of the book that is just gorgeous. It’s limited to 500 copies and is signed by Saldanha. Grab a copy, they won’t last long!
I’m also geeky excited that we already have a RioWiki page (I said I was a dork!) and you can peruse quite a few galleys from the book there. (The feather cursor WINS!)
Plus, ParkaBlog has given us a lovely unboxing and review. Thanks!
I’ll leave you with the opening to the first film because birds that samba are always welcome:
My latest book project has been announced! It’s the official companion book to Des Doyle’s Showrunner’s documentary due in theaters later this year. The book will feature interviews and outtakes from the film which features exclusive interviews from Joss Whedon, Ron Moore, J.J. Abrams, Terence Winter, Shawn Ryan, Damon Lindelof, Jane Espenson and many more. The book will be out this fall but you can pre-order it now from Amazon.
It’s been one heck of an exciting year for our book baby, FRINGE: SEPTEMBER’S NOTEBOOK. We can’t thank the fans and critics enough for their excitement and support for it. Paul Terry, Noreen O’Toole and I have loved every fan interaction, tweet, and Facebook message we got in reference to it all year long.
We also got another end of the year gift when Amazon awarded the book their 2013 Best Books of the Year: Humor & Entertainment distinction.
We hope the book appeared as a gift for many this holiday season (or you decide to use your precious gift cards on it in soon Now Paul Terry and I will wait for the book gods to gift us with our next joint project.
Here’s to a wonderful 2014 to everyone. A new start, an open heart and hopefully some strawberry milkshakes
For all my fellow The Hunger Games fans, I got to write the cover feature for the December issue of SCI FI Magazine which is out on stands the week of October 14th. Katniss is looking more than a little concerned on the cover, but new director Francis Lawrence is quite calm even though he inherited the huge gig after departing director, Gary Ross, left a vast hole last year.
Inside he talks about his vision realized in the aesthetics of the film, his take on where Katniss is post games especially in reference to Peeta and Gale, and then shooting the new Arena in Hawaii and in IMAX.
Here are two exclusive interview snippets from my story to whet your whistle to please buy a copy (scans really kill print journalism and long form stories that is our forte!) We’d love to see THG fandom pick up a copy and support our love for the series too!
“Appearance was the whole thing. I knew the emotional animal that I wanted her to become because that’s the easiest thing to transcribe. Books are two dimensional and films are these three-dimensional bleeding characters that are human. We started with the books and Suzanne Collins was involved in every step of the process and I think she saw the audition and said, “That’s Johanna Mason!” so I think we had a good starting off point.” – Jena Malone on here approach to playing Johanna Mason.
“[Peeta] is in less of Part One, obviously like the book, but there are appearances and then the final appearance is pretty striking.” – Francis Lawrence discussing Peeta inclusion in Mockingjay Part 1 due to his lack of physical presence in the books.
Again, please link to this story when tweeting and tumbling! Thanks so much! xo
To all of the devoted Fringe fans that purchased the Fringe: September’s Notebook Limited Edition, it’s come to our attention via social media addressed to us in the last 24 hours that there is an issue regarding the signatures included that were promised by Insight Editions.
As authors of the book, our official inclusion in the project ended when we turned in the final manuscript back in November 2012. Aside from providing a list of recommendations that could make up the extras for the LE, we’ve had absolutely nothing to do with the LE: when it was announced, it’s price point, it’s shipping date or the final product. We don’t receive copies, thus the first one either of us viewed with our own eyes was at Tara’s SDCC signing. The LE case at the booth only featured the book, the empty amber case and no signatures. We’ve never seen a finished copy outside of recent social media images and we are not included signers of the book.
We labored on September’s Notebook with our hearts and souls every day for a year (which is the same one included in the LE. just with a leather cover) and we are despondent that any fan is disappointed – much less angry - regarding any part of it. We stand by the core book and hope fans who purchased the regular edition still feel as though it’s a worthy keepsake that celebrates the show. As for the LE, Insight Editions is responsible for every aspect of the LE and they are the only ones privy to the information you seek. We suggest you reference all questions and complaints to them as Paul and I honestly have no answers or information about what is going on with the edition sizes, the signatures or the amber.
Tara Bennett and Paul Terry
We’ve earned some very nice reviews, so once you see the movie this weekend (which is a lot of fun and I actually recommend the 3D for once, no lie), considering picking up a copy of the book to really enjoy the incredible work the animators created at Blue Sky.
Starburst: “The Art of Epic does not simply look pretty. Bennett’s prose is also a joy to read; the input from the Blue Sky team being expertly woven into the text and enlightening and inspiring throughout. The Art of Epic is luscious in its level of detail; in short, it’s epic.”
Geek News Network: “*Gasp* “Beautiful!”
SciFiFX: “What author Tara Bennett has done here is a public service. On one hand, Blue Sky Studios doesn’t get nearly enough praise for their work, being one of the primary competitors against the giant of Pixar. Think of this book as a signal flare to the world that perhaps notice of their artistry is long overdue.”
City of Films: “Great art, interesting stories, and good sturdy paper (hey, that stuff’s important!) Definitely recommended for film and art fans.”
Shelf Abuse: “The Art of Epic is one of the finest art books I’ve had the pleasure of perusing in some time.”
Wondrous Reads: “Titan have once again delivered with The Art of Epic, and it’s the best movie art book I’ve seen since last year’s The Art of Rise of the Guardians.”
The Art of epic hit shelves about a month ago and my publisher, Titan Books, shared some of the book’s incredible concept art with a few websites of which you can view full gallery previews when you click on the individual images:
I had the great honor of doing the only Fringe series post mortem with writer/producers Alison Schapker and David Fury for SFX Magazine Issue 234 (buy it here). Even with a nice multi-page spread I had a lot of leftover material and my lovely editors (Rich Edwards and Nick Setchfield) gave me the thumbs up to post everything we couldn’t fit into the magazine right here. There’s some great insight into the writing of the last season, answers to some fan questions and more.
Please DO NOT excerpt from this article without direct linking back to this story and DO NOT reproduce the interview on your site in its entirety. Thank you and enjoy….
Tara: As writers, what did you want to explore in S5 – either emotionally or mythology based?
David Fury: I think part of the challenge and the fun was finding opportunity to pay off so many things that had been built into the show’s mythology from the first season. In 13 episodes, we somehow had to sum up the entire series. Even though we were in this new world, we had to fold in the past. It was sort of fun but then it became a puzzle to think about which pieces of the past we felt we wanted to give more clarity to, or pay off, or take something dangling and acknowledge it. It’s a pleasure for fans when the past is brought back in, whether it’s old characters, old props, old ideas or old Fringe events; it becomes nostalgic and finding places for that to happen was probably the most fun we had.
Alison Schapker: I agree. It became so important: what was Olivia’s journey over the series, what was Peter and Walter’s journey, so we were very conscious of tying into the past, staying true to the past and finding satisfying conclusions of character. Hope, redemption, what it means to be human and why we spent five years on a journey with them, so we really wanted to pay that off for the audience and for ourselves.
It’s an embarrassment of riches to write for all of the actors and give the characters enough space to tell their stories. It was always a balancing act. We did our best to service all of our characters. It was tricky but our jobs. I always tried to honor Olivia and her position in the series. I think in season five while there were some places where Peter’s arc was in the fore, or Walter’s arc was in the fore, Olivia was always the rock of the family throughout.
Tara: How much of a headache was it writing all the various timeline arcs?
DF: The challenge of [seasons] four and five was each [year] it became undone and rebuilt again. Alison got to write the great season three stuff that really landed and me, I got to write things like, “Who are you?” “I’m Peter.” “I don’t know you!” That was tough. [Laughs]
Tara: How did you arc out season five and what were some key plots for your team?
AS: The shape of the season was laid out from very early on. Joel (Wyman) laid out the road map and in the second to the last episode we knew we were going to bring the characters from the alt-universe back. It was such an important piece and we loved those characters, so I knew that last hurrah was coming.
DF: I think Alison, in the course of the last 13, was always keeping track of Olivia. The season was broken up into three suites. Everybody had their own suite. Etta was sort of the first suite. We also knew that somewhere Olivia needed to be given her due, and thankfully when Alison wrote “Liberty” Olivia got to kick-ass like the character everyone loved.
Tara: Did it a surprise to either of you that the Observers turned out not to be benign, nice dudes?
DF: It certainly threw me quite a bit when we read “Letters of Transit” as it was our first experience with the Observers as anything but fairly benign. We had to rationalize and justify and supply the reasons for the Observers we knew on the show, and for the Observers that invaded. The distinction that made sense to us was that the Observers we had seen, to that point, were scientists from the future who were there to strictly observe, but we were being used – unbeknownst to them – as the reconnaissance party to provide information that allowed them to decide when they would invade. They were being used but weren’t aware they were being used. It also made sense that this was the way the scientists thought of us but there are more Observers than 12 scientists. And certainly with their world dying, it was the perfect opportunity to start in an earlier age and affect time without jeopardizing their own existence. So it was a transition, but eventually as we thought about it, it all made sense. Later when Joel hit upon the idea that emotions snuck into all of them, we said that September was somehow infected, but we showed that others were infected. December was developing feelings and Windmark developed hate and August helped get us there anyway.
Tara: Alison – what was your favorite season five script?
AS: I loved the episodes I got to write in season five. I also felt incredibly lucky because Joel, David and [writer/producer] Graham (Roland) would always build these great episodes. I have to say after a couple of years of not always getting that it was so much fun! In “The Bullet that Saved the World,” it was devastating to have Etta die but it turned the entire story so that episode was super special to me. Georgina Haig was great and getting to play that intensity of emotion was awesome.
Oliva’s soul-searching episode,’ The Human Kind” with the seer Simone (Jill Scott), was incredibly interesting. How do you deal with grief if you are Olivia when she has such a hard time believing?
And then my writing partner [Monica Breen] and I started in season three and the first episode we wrote was “The Plateau” where we really got to flesh out the characters of (B)Olivia and Lincoln, so a couple years later in “Liberty” writing the last time we peek in on those characters was also a blast. What I’m going to take from season five was the opportunity to write some of the pivotal episodes.
Tara: So there was no choosing episodes in the last season?
AS: No, it was only the four of us in the last season. We had our schedule shut down from an eight day shoot to a seven day shoot so turnaround was incredibly tight. It really became a group effort. Although we knew which episodes would have our names on it, every single episode we all contributed to, and wrote. It really was a collaborative effort. I had as much fun helping other writers with their episodes. It was probably the most collaborative staff I had ever been on.
Tara: David what was your favorite season five episode?
DF: To be perfectly honest, this last season I relied much more heavily on the other writers. I didn’t write a lot of my episodes. We gang-banged a bunch of episodes but in mine, I didn’t bring most to the table and I’m grateful for that. I will say in “Through the Looking Glass and Walter Found There” it was a story that didn’t come from the mapped out season but more out of a morbid desire of what I wanted to do in terms of being more playful and breaking the mold of the treasure hunt for the tapes. Part of the engineering of season five was that we were going to shoot a lot of things on video because our budget had been slashed but the tapes proved very difficult to find the opportunities except for Walter explaining things in one scene or one act. We needed more so constructing an episode with the desire of shooting Walter wandering around with a video camera throughout most of the episode was something I helped carry, and helped conceive, and got to a place where it was a very fun episode in a season that wasn’t always very fun. I felt I could play a little bit. I also appreciated being part of the writing of the death of Nina later. It was very powerful. We knew she was dying and something we mapped out very early, so I wasn’t surprised. I’m proud I got to be part of that and gave Blair (Brown) this great finale for her character.
Tara: A fan asked “If the Observers could get “Over There” pretty easily, why didn’t invade them?”
AS: I think the Observers considered multiple universes and timelines in terms of when would be the optimal time to attack and succeed. I think the understanding I was working under was that they had specifically chosen the timeline and Over There were lucky for whatever reason, maybe their technology was more advanced so they would be able to fight off the Observers, etc.
DF: You are absolutely right and I’ll just take it one step further. We only show two universes on Fringe but the whole premise is that we live in an infinite multi-verse. My belief is the Observers did take over many, many universes, they just didn’t take over the one we have been visiting. I’m imagining they took over our universe and others that they felt were vulnerable but in this particular case, Over There, the Observers felt they would have more push back and would have a harder time maintaining their hold.
Tara: Another fan asked, “Was Henrietta’s name Peter’s way of honoring his erased son?”
DF: It should be understood that Henrietta’s name was created outside of our purview. I think the thinking was that Peter learned in season four from September from going through his mind that he had a child named Henry. In this timeline that is unrelated and Henry doesn’t exist, but I guess he wanted to honor the memory that he had another child. When he was having a daughter he thought about the name Henrietta. It’s how I see it but our dear showrunners may have another idea.
Tara: A fan wanted to know “Where was Olivia’s wedding ring?” in season five.
AS: I wish we had that level of control. But in some degree the actors are interpreting their characters and what they would do, wear and not wear. I know Josh (Jackson) has specific ideas about how the wedding ring was functioning for his character, and Anna (Torv) had hers. I don’t have another answer to that except on that level.
DF: I agree, it really fell to the actors to recognize they should be wearing their rings. I know Josh did, and I’m sure Anna did at some point decide on when to take it off. What she had in mind, she didn’t necessarily share with us but she made decisions. At one point, we also played around with Peter and Olivia having great difficulty and being a little bit estranged. We went away from that but I don’t know if any of that came into play and whether that came into plays with the rings.
It’s been an amazing few months with the Fringe fans coming out in force to support Paul Terry and I’s companion guide. A HUGE thanks to everyone that bought a copy. While we don’t get residuals on companion books, robust pre-orders and sales prove there’s a market for niche books like this one and keeps the door open for unique titles for us to work on in the future. So thank you again to everyone that picked up a copy, recommended it, tweeted it, tumbled it or just talked about it anywhere in any universe.
We’re incredibly proud of all the positive press for the book and I’ve collected much of it here:
- WB and Fringe Announce a Publishing First with September’s Notebook featured in “The Boy Who Lived”
- Los Angeles Times Blog “Hero Complex” – Jan 11, 2013
- SFX Online review of episode with the book image
Exclusive Book Excerpts and Spreads
- SFX Magazine: March 1 “…so gorgeous your eyes may actually pop out.”
- Fringenuity (Blog): March 8: “This book is overflowing with little goodies and extras from the series. Be prepared to be delighted by various pieces of cool reproduced “ephemera” from the show. . . .”
- JollyGoodShow: March 6, 2013: “The best thing about this release is it’s very intelligent and well thought out layout… The sheer amount of detail that went into this release is mind-boggling. It really looks like a diary that somebody has put together themselves… The writers really deserve a pat on the back for their incredible work here.”
- Examiner.com: March 12, 2013: “Authors Tara Bennett and Paul Terry did an impeccable job working with Wyman and Pinkner, as well as the show’s art department to create factually accurate re-tellings, but to also design a visually stunning look for each section.”
- ParkaBlog: March 12, 2013: “This is an incredible book for all fans of Fringe. I’m one, and I’m thrilled by it. This book is packed with an amazing amount of information and pictures… stuff you don’t get from just watching the show. Highly recommended.”
- Mania.com: March 18, 2013.: “September’s Notebook looks and feels like a labor of love, and fans of the series will eat it up like Walter Bishop slurping a milkshake. . . September’s Notebook is a wonderful, bittersweet trip down Fringe memory lane. It makes a worthy companion to the series, and presents itself as the show’s final statement rather elegantly. It set me in mind to watch the entire series again, this time with September’s notebook in hand.”
- NerdLikeYou.com (UK): March 15, 2013: “Owning this book is like owning a part of the Fringe universe. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who misses the show and wants to delve a little deeper into some of the mysteries. The obvious nods to the fans and the lavish attention to detail make this a perfect companion book to a great show.”
- Digital Spinster: April 7, 2013: “J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner promised the book would be a piece of the show, and authors/compilers Tara Bennett and Paul Terry pulled it off brilliantly… A personal archive in-universe, you can imagine September methodically putting all these stories together…”
- GeekDad: April 29, 2013: “I can’t imagine any fan of Fringe not being completely engrossed by this book – in any universe.”
- CultBox: May 8, 2013: “The mere concept of this book isn’t the only element of it that justifies praise. Impressively, it confidently pulls off the ambitious conceit… This book is absolutely designed with the fans in mind.”
Interviews and Podcasts about Fringe: September’s Notebook
- Fictional Frontiers Podcast
- The Fringe Podcast
- WormholeRiders Interview
- Huffington Post: March 12, 2013 with Maureen Ryan
- EW.com: March 12, 2013. Jeff Jensen for “Inside TV” section: ‘Fringe secrets revealed: ‘September’s Notebook’ authors discuss making the ultimate companion book’
- Examiner “On Writing” Feature Interview
- Forces of Geek Author Interview
SFX’s A-Z of Sci-Fi TV is now archived but for it, I did a huge chat with executive producer and season 5 showrunner Joel Wyman about the evolution of Fringe. Our website is now hosting the story if you didn’t pick up the magazine so if you love the show, here’s your chance to learn more about how they wrote it.
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