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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bask in 'Houdini’s Shadow'

Whoops! This one slipped right past me. A new book, Houdini's Shadow, by Leo Brent Robillard was released in March of this year.

Houdini's Shadow tells the story of Jake O'Sullivan, a young man possessed by a fatal childhood fascination with Harry Houdini. After seeing one of Houdini's 1912 performances in New York City, Jake realises that to "escape – to tempt death – is to live. Is to understand existence." While it's hard to believe that someone as young as Jake could come to such a substantial realisation, it becomes clear that he does not simply wish to escape from sealed milk containers, or unlock the chains around his wrists at the bottom of the St. Lawrence. Rather, he hopes to escape from his past, the failures of his pugilistic father, the failures of his own life as he grows into a young man, clinging helplessly to his dream of becoming a famous escape artist.

Houdini's Shadow can be purchased from Amazon.com.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Second Houdini & Nate novel released

The second book in Tom Lalicki’s Houdini & Nate Mystery series, Shots At Sea, is released today.

Shots At Sea finds young Nate Fuller and Houdini in action aboard the Lusitania, where a cunning killer tries to assassinate former president Teddy Roosevelt. Nate and Houdini must race to find and foil their suspect before he makes a second attempt.

The first Houdini & Nate novel, Danger in the Dark, was included in the The Bank Street Children's Book Committee’s 2007 edition of "The Best Children's Books of the Year."

Shots At Sea can be purchased on Amazon.com. Details on the entire Houdini & Nate series can be found at the official Houdini & Nate website.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Melville Shavelson dies at 90

Variety reports that writer-producer-director Melville "Mel" Shavelson died Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Studio City. He was 90.

Houdini buffs will best remember Shavelson as the force behind the 1976 ABC TV-movie The Great Houdinis, starring Paul Michael Glaser and Sally Struthers. Shavelson wrote, directed, and produced the 2-hour tele-film. He also penned the novelization.

For my money, Shavelson’s The Great Houdinis is probably the best of all the films made about Houdini. While at the time the movie seemed to be steamy collection of fictionalization, over the years many of the themes and incidents portrayed in the film have been revealed to be fact; such as Houdini’s affair with Daisy White and Bess Houdini’s alcoholism.

Shavelson’s film career saw him work with many famous faces, including Jimmy Cagney and Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. Shavelson directed Cast a Giant Shadow, starring Kirk Douglas and Yours, Mine and Ours, starring Lucille Ball. His 1956 film, The Seven Little Foys, and his 1958 romantic comedy Houseboat were both nominated for Oscars.

Shavelson also served three terms as president of the Writers Guild of America, West.

Recently, Shavelson served on the faculty of USC's Master of Professional Writing Program; he funded a special closed-circuit television network for the Motion Picture and Television Fund Home in California; he established a film scholarship fund at Cornell U. (his alma mater); and he was acclaimed for his contributions to the Shavelson-Webb Writers Guild Foundation Library.

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