A new TV show for books premieres this week, featuring a different literary locale in each episode. Open Book, a half-hour-long national TV and multimedia program, will begin airing May 13 on nonprofit network LinkTV. The show was created by book publicist and editor Ina Howard-Parker, who will also host it; it will be directed by documentary and commercial filmmaker Diane Paragas. Each episode of the weekly program will focus on a different place, be shot on location and feature interviews with local writers and artists.
Open Book’s first episode will feature writers, actors and musicians in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, including authors Ishmael Beah (A Long Way Gone), Jennifer Egan (The Keep) and Moustafa Bayoumi (How Does It Feel to Be a Problem), as well as actor Jeffrey Wright, poet Suheir Hammad (Def Jam Poetry) and others. Paragas said, “We're really creating short films—combining readings, performances and interviews—in order to create a moving portrait of each artist in the place they live and work while pushing boundaries as filmmakers and artists ourselves.”
Segments from Open Book will be released as short films online through blogs, Web sites and social media. Each of the shorts will be embedded with links to additional information about the featured guest and location, as well as to opportunities to buy their work.
"Our aim is to help writers and publishers reach diverse and diffuse audiences through the media they're already consuming, and then to bring them back to books," says Howard-Parker, who founded and directed PR and media production company Represent Agency, and previously served as communications director at The New Press and Nation Books. The Open Book pilot was funded by the Surdna Foundation and the Philadelphia Foundation, and for the time being, the program is not supported by ads. Howard-Parker said Open Book has funding for a second episode, and is in discussions with potential sponsors for a brand parternship, as well as traditional advertising. She is also talking with foreign distributors about co-producing the program. "We're putting the pilot out there to see what kind of response we get from the publishing industry and general audiences," she said.
The pilot will premiere nationally on LinkTV (DirectTV channel 375, Dish Network channel 9410) on May 13 at 11:30 p.m.. EST.