Encore For Murder

June 1st, 2010 by Max Allan Collins

MAC and Stacy Keach @ Encore For Murder recording
M.A.C. and Stacy Keach at the recording of “Encore For Murder”

On Sunday May 30, I had the pleasure of working with a highly professional group who assembled to bring my Mike Hammer script “Encore for Murder” to life. Under the leadership of producer/director Carl Amari, this second “audio novel” for the Blackstone Audio series THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER again stars Stacy Keach in his signature role as Mickey Spillane’s famous private eye.

“Encore for Murder” will be volume three in the series. The first volume comprised two shorter Hammer cases (not written by me). The second, “The Little Death,” was the first conceived as an audio novel, and was my first contribution to the series, based on a short story by Mickey. This third volume is another long-form play in the classic radio format – full-cast – and is an original Hammer novel developed by me from a one-page outline in Mickey’s files. It will likely run nearly three hours.

The experience was about as creatively satisfying as they come. The studio was intimate, very warm and conducive to collaboration. The cast was smaller than the one for “The Little Death,” and that turned out to be a plus. The way the studio is set up, the sound techs, the creative team (director and writer), and the actors waiting for their turn at the mic, all sit in a lounge-like area facing the glassed-in soundproofed recording booth. Last time, the actors were kept in a sort of green room/holding area, and brought one-at-a-time-as-needed into a small, modern studio – very efficient and professional, but lacking the warmth and interactivity of this set-up.

I don’t have a cast list handy, but what a talented group they were, with several impressive names – in addition to Stacy, we had my frequent actor-of-choice Mike Cornelison as Pat Chambers, with Second City/SNL legend Tim Kazurinsky helming the major “guest star” role and popular comedian/actor David Pasquesi as the key bad guy. David appeared at the Second City reunion with his pal Jeff Garlin (and Fred Willard). Pasquesi plays a young mob boss and was incredible – both funny and scary. But the entire cast delivered and then some.

I had specifically requested Tim and David, and Carl Amari delivered them – and on a holiday weekend yet!

It’s almost impossible to overstate Stacy Keach’s contribution. We worked a very, very long day – Stacy was at the mic from 10 a.m. till almost 7 p.m. with only a couple of breaks. It was inspiring and damn near unbelievable. What a great actor, and really incredibly nice man. As Mike Cornelison said, “Stacy is who would all want to be when we grow up.”

There’s still lots of work to be done – Stacy has the voiceovers to record (and that’s about one-third of the script), which he’ll do back in LA. Stacy is also composing the music, and has delivered something like 10 CD’s of original music and isn’t done yet. There’s lots of editing to do, sound effects to add, and so on. THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER Vol. 3: ENCORE FOR MURDER should be out before Christmas.

I am very proud of “The Little Death,” but I have feeling “Encore for Murder” is going to raise the bar much higher. I’m very grateful to the players for being so complimentary about my screenplay. Stacy said I’d provided him with the best Hammer voiceover he’d ever got. That’s the kind of compliment a writer dreams of.

These are great people. I came away feeling like we’d shot an entire movie in a day, and with the same warmth and camaraderie that usually only accompanies the long time put in on a film.

I have a couple of pictures to share. Unfortunately I can’t label the cast pic of “Encore for Murder” person by person (I’m the guy Cornelison is trying hard to block).

Encore For Murder Cast

By the way, Barbara Jane Mull married Max Allan Collins, Jr., on June 1, 1968. Why she did that, I’ll never know…but it’s the one thing in my life I really got right.


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6 Responses to “Encore For Murder”

  1. Brian_Drake says:

    Max, If I understand your note correctly, the cast does not perform as one group, like they would on a film or play, but one at a time for assembly later? As an actor myself I cannot imagine that. I need somebody else to feed off of.

  2. They perform together — do their scenes together — in a more or less linear way.

    There are exceptions — just as on a movie shoot, you might record one actor’s scenes to release him or her. And a few scenes this time were recorded separately because of an actor’s unavailablity on Sunday — but with Stacy in both cases (he records his scenes with his wife Malgosha as Maya back in LA, for example).

    No, this was very collaborative. The actors not in the booth were usually watching and listening, unless they were off in another room working with their scripts. These actors were feeding each other, and beautifully (I think you can see that in THE LITTLE DEATH, too).

  3. dan luft says:

    Is there any chance of these becoming available as podcasts?

  4. Not sure, Dan. I think their life will begin as audio CD/books for a time, and then perhaps move on to other venues, like satellite radio and postcasts.

  5. Brian_Drake says:

    OK, I get it. I had visions of a team of editors having to sort through individually recorded lines and syncing them up with the other actors in a scene. Hopefully the CD will indeed be out before Christmas; “The Little Death” made a great stocking stuffer.

  6. Bill Crider says:

    Happy anniversary!