Some of you have been kind enough to ask me about my Crime Fiction News Break feature. I’m really flattered by your interest. You may be wondering what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ when I prepare one of those mini-broadcasts. So I thought I’d let you in on that today. Now, as I go on, if my left cheek looks a little strange, it’s because my tongue is firmly planted there. All right, have you all let your disbelief go out for an ice cream?
Let’s take a look at…
A Crime Fiction News Break Production Staff Meeting
Three people are seated at a conference table at the broadcast headquarters of Crime Fiction News Break. They are: Sally, the researcher; Bryan, the head writer; and Tyler, the show’s producer.
Tyler (after a glance at his watch): I think we should get started. We don’t know how long Margot’s going to be. The others nod, and Sally rolls her eyes. Sally, what have you got for this edition?
Sally: Let’s see (swoops a finger across her tablet computer). We’ve got three crime fiction conferences and a few book releases. And the Online Crime Book Club. Oh, and –
The door to the conference room suddenly opens. Margot walks in, surveying everyone. After a long look at the table, she sits down.
Margot: Lily!!!!! Lily!!!!!
A young woman rushes into the room.
Margot: There you are! About time. Do you see this table? Do you see what’s missing?
Lily: What’s missing?
Margot: There are no dark chocolate almonds! You know my contract specifically states that there must be a dish of dark chocolate almonds on the conference table. Where are they?
Lily: I’ll be right back. She rushes out of the room.
Margot heaves a sigh and looks again around the table.
Margot: Let’s get going, OK? I have an appointment at the day spa in an hour.
Tyler: We were just talking about what Sally’s got for us for this next edition. Why don’t you go ahead, Sally?
Sally looks back down at her tablet.
Sally: OK, so I mentioned the awards.
Margot: What awards?
Sally: Well, there’s the Lefty Awards, for one thing.
Sally: You know, the Left Coast Crime awards. I think we ought to say something about the nominees.
Margot: As long as it doesn’t go on too long. My viewers don’t like me reading long lists of names. Oh, and Bryan, make sure you and your people add pronunciation guides to the list. I don’t have time to learn all those names.
Bryan: There aren’t that many names, and they aren’t that hard to pronounce.
Margot: I have better things to do. It’s your job to do the writing, so do it!
Bryan mutters something thankfully unintelligible. At that moment, Lily rushes back into the room and places a filled dish of dark chocolate almonds in front of Margot. Margot glares at her and Lily leaves, closing the door quietly behind her.
Tyler: Let’s move on. What’s the Crime Book Club doing this month?
Sally: I’ll check to be sure, but I think it’s a Fred Vargas novel.
Margot unwraps a chocolate and puts it in her mouth: Fred Vargas? (Somewhat thickly) I don’t think I’ve heard of him.
Sally (with a pointed look at Margot): She’s the author of that series about Commissaire Adamsberg.
Margot: Comi – what? I can’t say that, and certainly not on camera! Why can’t these people have real names? Let’s just say they’re reading a Vargas novel.
Bryan makes a note.
Tyler: So, I think we’ve got the material we need. Now, let’s talk about a couple of set and lighting changes we’ll need to be aware of this time.
Margot: Oh, good. That lighting isn’t working at all for me, and neither is the set.
Tyler: What do you mean?
Margot: Well, think about it. The backdrop is a set of books to the viewer’s left, and a cabinet to the right. It looks more like a library or something than a fun TV show. People don’t tune in because of the books. That’s just boring. I think they might like it better if the focus were off the books and, well, on something more fun.
Sally: But it’s a show about crime fiction – about books. That’s what the viewers want. Just about all of the feedback we’re getting is positive. I’m no production expert, but shouldn’t the set reflect that?
Margot: Exactly, Sally. You’re not an expert. Your job is to get some serious-sounding facts so that it looks professional. That’s all.
Tyler: I think Sally has a good point though. The set needs to stay professional.
Margot: Well, I’m not happy with it at all, or with the wardrobe. I look way too frumpy. In fact, I want you to talk to the Wardrobe people about getting me into something more, well, fun. More ‘party.’ And we have got to have some real designer names for a change! Oh, and I’m going to need a different makeup look, too. What they’re giving me now is so…so….intellectual, I guess. Boring!!
Tyler: I already told you last week, Margot. We don’t have the budget for designer names. And even if we did, we’re not going glam in this show. It’s supposed to be an informative, professional broadcast. Relaxed, yes, and informal, but not ‘party.’ And you’re supposed to look the part of someone who knows something about crime fiction.
Sally rolls her eyes again and has to smother a sarcastic snort.
Margot: But people are tired of thinking! At least I am. They want fun. They want glam.
Sally: I don’t think so. I’ve been getting some really good feedback from our demographic. They like the tone of the show, for the most part. People who really love to read appreciate the break from ‘Trash TV.’
Margot shakes her head and takes another dark chocolate almond. Tyler looks at his watch.
Tyler: Let’s finish up. We all have places to be. I got a suggestion from James in Production Design. He’s wondering whether it would make sense to include some information about crime fiction films.
Sally: You mean upcoming releases, that sort of thing?
Tyler: Something like that, yeah. You know, mentions of announcements about adaptations of novels.
Sally (Nodding): That sounds interesting. You want me to meet with him?
Tyler: If you would.
Margot: This would mean I’d be talking about new films, right?
Tyler: Yes, and sometimes TV series.
Margot: I love it! It’d mean I could go to the BAFTA Awards! And the Academy Awards! Oh, and the Emmy Awards! And Cannes! She gets a dreamy look in her eyes. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get to give out one of the awards. Myabe then I could be the host of a real show.
Tyler clears his throat.
Tyler: I think that’s it for today. Thanks, everyone.
Chairs scrape slightly as people get up. Margot leaves first, murmuring to herself about whose designs she would wear to awards shows. Tyler follows her, shaking his head. Bryan leaves next. Sally stays behind a moment and takes an almond from the dish still on the table. She glances around her, sits in Margot’s chair, and puts her tablet on the table. Then she looks up, as if at a camera.
Sally: Thanks for watching. I’m Sally Jenson, this is Crime Fiction News Break, and here’s what’s happening in the world of crime fiction. Yeah, I know I could do this better!
She smiles to herself as she gets up and leaves the room.