Archive | April, 2015

Max Allan Collins: “Stacy Keach Kills Me!” An article on the audio book, “KILL ME, DARLING”

Kill Me Darling Audio Book

Kill Me Darling Audio Book

This week, the audio book of KILL ME, DARLING will be released with the great Stacy Keach as the reader. The book is already available from Audible for download, and Barb and I started listening to it in the car on a trip to the Quad Cities this weekend, and are saving the rest for our next, longer-distance car trip. What a wonderful job Stacy is doing.

Check out the great audio book cover, which I actually prefer to the Titan one (which is very cool, but ignores the Florida setting).
It’s hard for me to express what it means for me to hear Stacy Keach read these novels (he’s done the prior six Spillane/Collins “Hammer” collaborations). Stacy – and I know him well enough to name-drop with that familiarity – is the most famous and certainly the most popular screen Mike Hammer of all time. I was not always crazy about producer Jay Bernstein’s TV version of HAMMER, but Stacy was consistently terrific and he captured the character beautifully, even perfectly. He became the Hammer of several generations.
Of the various Hammer projects I’ve been involved with, the two audio “radio play”-style full-cast, full-length dramatizations for Blackstone are among my favorites. The first one, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOLUME TWO: THE LITTLE DEATH won the Audie for best original work, and the second, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOLUME THREE: ENCORE FOR MURDER, was similarly nominated. I am very proud of those two audios, and owe a big thanks to producer Carl Amari. Also, since my late friend Mike Cornelison played Pat Chambers in both, they hold a special place in my heart.
We almost missed out on having Stacy read the audio of KILL ME, DARLING – in fact, we almost missed out on having an audio at all. For reasons I can’t fathom, although I may have been asleep at the wheel myself, Blackstone Audio was not approached in a timely fashion. Audio publishers like to be publish simultaneously with the books themselves. I didn’t check on this until early February, and when I found the ball had been dropped somewhere along the line, rushed to get Blackstone and Stacy together on this. Bless them both for jumping on board with little notice. As it is, the audio is appearing a couple of weeks after the book’s initial availability.
If you’re a Hammer fan and you haven’t listened to Stacy Keach read these new Hammer novels, you are really, really missing out.
From my point of view, a Hammer novel doesn’t feel real to me until I’ve heard Stacy read it.
I was nervous about KILL ME, DARLING – although frankly I love the book – because it was the first time I had a shorter chunk of Mickey’s work to expand and complete (less than fifty double-spaced pages as opposed to one-hundred). Would readers and reviewers find this as authentic a Hammer novel as the previous ones? So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Partly, I think, that’s because this is only the second of the Hammer’s I’ve completed that dates to Mickey’s most popular period (late forties/early ‘50s – the other being LADY, GO DIE!, chronologically the second Hammer novel). KILL ME, DARLING is the book that would have followed KISS ME, DEADLY – in other words, it picks up right where that hugely popular novel left off…right where Mickey left Hammer fans dangling for what would be a decade.
The next partial Spillane “Hammer” manuscript I complete will also be from the ‘50s. I feel privileged and thrilled to be able to fill in those missing years.

Planes World Premiere





“The movie, obviously meant to inspire direct-to-video sequels, feels like one itself except for the first-string voices (especially Keach).”   –Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte Observer


“SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS. Planes soars with its visually appealing imagery and sense of humor…its got heart and soul…and is dazzlingly animated.”   -Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly


“When Planes really takes flight, it can be boldly transporting…There are moments when you really feel like you’re rocketing through the skies!” -Drew Taylor, The Playlist


Planes a smooth, enjoyable flight…the flying footage is extremely well-executed…but never sacrifices character in favor of action…”  -Lou Lumenick, The New York Post


“’Planes’ review: Disney’s high-flying ‘Cars’ spinoff gets the job done surprisingly well…director Klay Hall’s embraceable, overachieving romp plays nicely as a big-screen feature…it works so well, striking that just-right balance between action and humor…the sky is the limit.”   -Mike Scott, New Orleans Times-Picayune


“…Visually engaging…!” -Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter


Planes…finds a nice cruising altitude, embarking on a world tour that yields some pleasant surprises.” –Peter Hartlaub, The San Francisco Chronicle


Planes could soar at the box office…ultimately setting the brave little crop-duster on a clear path to fulfilling his dreams, overcoming his fears, and realizing the value and meaning of friendship. It’s pleasant, life-affirming stuff … but Dusty’s most valuable assistance comes from Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach), a long-retired Navy Corsair who used to fly daring missions during WWII, and who plays the same crusty mentor role here that Paul Newman’s Doc Hudson did in ‘Cars…’” – Justin Chang, Variety


“With coaching from Skipper (Stacy Keach), a legendary World War II fighter, Dusty manages to make it into the race…The competition provides several opportunities for mayhem and mischief…” –Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic


Planes will make a mint in toys, if not in theaters, …it’s already slated a sequel for next summer…” –Amy Nicholson, The Village Voice


“The airplane racers come from an assortment of countries and stop all over the globe…  And it has the familiar assortment of friends and foes, either helping or hindering the likable hero: an old aircraft with wise advice…Skipper (Stacy Keach) is the old warplane who coaches Dusty and has his own story, a nod to the heroics and traumas of the World War II generation…” -Neil Genzlinger, New York Times


Planes portrays a fleet of aircraft that is as loveable as the automobiles in ‘Cars.’” –Piya Sinha-Roy, Reuters

Planes character, Skipper Riley, voiced by Stacy Keach

Stacy Keach as Skipper


Meet Skipper Riley, Propwash Junction’s top flyer and Dusty Crophopper’s flight instructor.


Seventy-one years ago today over the Pacific Ocean, Propwash Junction’s own WWII veteran, Skipper Riley, made history. Riley is an original F4U Corsair fighter plane — the most powerful fighter-based aircraft and the first single-engine fighter to exceed 400 MPH!


The Corsair’s small body, extra powerful engine, and W-shaped wings made Skipper a very successful flyer. Since Skipper was a true pioneer in aircraft carrier flying and landing, he developed skills unique to the new technology and became an excellent instructor. “Altitude and attitude”, was the name of the game in battle.


When pressed for details about his military career, Skipper was elusive. This reporter is under the impression that Propwash Junction’s top flyer was most likely involved in a top-secret mission, which still remains classified. Skipper would not offer any details except to say that on this day in 1942, over the Pacific Ocean, he completed his military air career. He’s served from the ground ever since. Then he became very quiet, asked that the tape recorder be shut off, and taxied away.
As Skipper left the hangar, Dusty Crophopper said, “I don’t think there is a plane anywhere who knows more about flying than Skipper. I’m so lucky to have him as my coach.”


Thank you, Skipper Riley for serving your country, and for teaching generations of planes how to safely navigate the skies. You are a hero and role model for all of us.

Stacy to play Skipper in Disney’s ‘Planes’

The most noteworthy bit of casting involves these first two planes, Bravo and Echo. They’ll be voiced by Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer, triggering the Top Gun reunion parents have been waiting for.


After that, meet Skipper (Stacy Keach), Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith) and Bulldog (John Cleese), faces that are sure to be familiar once families take a ride on Planes in August.



Stacy Keach as Skipper in 'Planes'