What made a group of renowned movie, theater and book people decide to try
something as grand as THE FIRST ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL MYSTERY
CONVENTION? What made Blake Edwards and Sue Grafton commit to a
week in Kentucky promoting Crime and Theater?
Crimespree is all about the books. When given an opportunity to interview an
assortment of the folk involved I asked the organizers of TFAIMC to get
in touch with two of Mystery's elite, James Hall and Stuart Kaminsky. These
are two gentlemen who've not only provided the world of mystery with
impressive and excellent catalogs of their own work, but have also taught our
genre with such a passion that they have influenced, inspired and given many
of today's premiere crime writers their first taste of constructing the novel we
all hold dear. They both gave me the same answer, " Zev Buffman told me
about the project and asked me to become involved."
And Zev's motivation?
He took the time last week to sit down and answer a few Crimespree
questions. Here is the beginning of our conversation.
Ruth Jordan: What a daunting idea, What made River Center decide to attack
such an ambitious project?
Zev Buffman: 4 years ago, I was still living in southern California I had a
number of discussions with Angela Lansbury, William Link (creator of Murder
she Wrote, Columbo, Mannix), a couple of Broadway directors and a major
"super agent" of the William morris Agency (Samuel "Biff Liff"). The topic was
the near total disappearance of Stage Mysteries from Broadway, London and
Toronto stages. Mysteries, we agreed became an endangered species! I am
a veteran Broadway Producer with some forty productions to my record. I felt
that there was room for a New Mystery Writers Festival was overdue. Shortly
thereafter, I moved to a great performing Arts center in Owensboro, KY to
take over as President/CEO. One of the first announcements was that we
were going to launch this annual festival and include not only plays but
screenplays and Teleplays. Within the year of submissions we received
nearly 1000 new works! The AP ran a an initial story about the Festival and
was picked up by hundreds of newspapers around the world -- we knew then
we had a project whose time has come!
R.J.) I'm truly impressed with your list of judges and special guests, obviously
a lot of people agree with you that this is an event whose time has come.
What did it feel like when the yesses started coming in?
Z.B.)The Yesses were inspiring! Good/Great writers with bests seller history,
published in 20 countries and many languages, agreed to join -- not by name
only, but to "work" the Festival in many capacities. I felt liberated, I had a
whole team of leaders who would take on the most complex project of my
long and adventurous career.
R.J.) Because in the end, the play(s) the thing, discuss the logistics. How
many thespians & crew members are descending upon your town, and how
many folk are already in place working on this project?
Z.B.) This is the mind boggling part of it all. Imagine watching the Kentucky
Derby where 12 well trained horses explode out of the starting gate at the
same time, after months of training preparation, strategizing etc.;
Well, Think about 12 new works, never presented before, with 12 casts, 12
directors, 48 designers, 120 technicians All world premiering in the same
How many people? including marketing, hospitality, book Signing celeb
guests, the Classic outdoor movie mystery nightly showings, the master
classes, the 50 students working as interns, security, ushers, Set builders
Costume makers, I could on for a long time --- about 500 people will be
involved and work for pay, plus 250 volunteers! about 100 of us have been
"on it" for 5-6 months now, The numbers will continue to grow quickly as we
get closer to opening. Out of the 500 paying jobs about 350 are local and 150
are from out of town.
Every hotel room will be booked, restaurant filled, BBQ, BLUE Grass and
BOURBON enjoyed. a real mystery Happening! This is the Stratford, Shaw
and Sundance (with a dash of Woodstock) of MYSTERIES -- can you see it?
Do, you hear it? JUST BE SURE YOU DON'T MISS IT!!!
I'll echo Mr. Buffman, DON'T MISS IT!