Well, this is a bad idea whose time has - alas - come. I am not sure if eventually authors will be expected to wear funny headgear and balance on a ballpoint pen, but such will not be far behind. Japes and gapes and (perhaps) the knowledge of the number of ways Shakespeare spelled his own name can propel an author as if out of a cannon. No canon here.
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A Reality TV Competition About Reading? Literary Death Match Wants a Show
by Melissa Goldstein
Make Jonathan Lethem and Susan Orlean into television stars. Literary Death Match, a reading competition judged by novelists, actors, comedians, and musicians, has just taped a pilot.
Literary Death Match guest judges (L to R) Tig Notaro, Michael C. Hall, and Jonathan Lethem. (Jason Gutierrez)
The self-appointed stage mom/pimp to the world’s literary stars, Zuniga began rolling out his plan for world literary domination in 2006, teaming with then-girlfriend Elizabeth Koch and friend Dennis DiClaudio for an event in New York that would pit writers against one another in a drinks-fueled, tongue-in-cheek talent competition to be judged by name authors, editors, and pop- cultural figures.
More importantly, it would “mix a bunch of people together—actors, writers, and musicians in one room,” Zuniga explains, “so that people don’t just have boring literary babies.”
n the years since that first barroom show, Zuniga has exported the format to 46 cities around the world, from London to Oslo to Shanghai to Tulsa, and roped in the likes of Tom Perrotta, Jeffrey Eugenides, Chuck Palahniuk, and Daniel Handler. To date, LDM has lured a combined audience of 35,000 people. TV seemed a natural step.
And so, last night 350 LDM loyalists descended on Hollywood’s Florentine Gardens to witness Zuniga’s 258th installment, a taped double bill built on the following premise: if you put them in a boxing ring, hang microphones from the ceiling and add witty commentary and famous people, they will watch.