Big news today!

Filed under: Top Stories — John B. Bryans @ 1:37 pm

Warning: some of this is going to get personal. (Since I can’t win an Emmy or an Oscar I figure this blog post is my best chance to get it out of my system.)

A lot of people may not have even realized it given all the recent hoopla over Boardwalk Empire, but up until now HBO has merely had an option on the Plexus book by Nelson Johnson. All that changed this morning: HBO has picked up the option. (Yeah, they had to–they’re actually shooting the beast!)

This is a great feeling–especially considering the book had its start as an unsolicited manuscript from an unpublished author I’d never heard of, sitting in a pile of similar manuscripts on my cluttered desk some 8 years ago. And here I am in a small regional publishing house in rural southern NJ +15 years after my career in trade publishing in NYC seemed to be winding down–with the biggest deal of my career happening now.


So, right now I’m thinking of my dad, James A. Bryans–an amazing book publisher who had many significant achievements in his career (including discovering Jim Thompson, bringing Shakespearian themes into pulp fiction, acquiring To Kill a Mockingbird for Popular Library, publishing many of the first and most popular tv tie-in books, beating much bigger publishers to get the Warren Report out, creating the longest-running series of American historical novels ever published, editing Coal Miner’s Daughter and Jack Hemingway’s memoirs–just to name some).

“Big Jim” was not only my dad, he was my best friend and my mentor in the publishing business, and though I lost him ten years ago I feel him smiling down on me. If he were in the room he’d say something like, “Way to go, kid–you’ve finally slain that lion!”

Pardon the personal and sentimental nature of this post–I’m letting it happen just this once, and hope you’ll understand. Today is a BIG day for me, for Nelson Johnson (congrats, Nelson–you deserve it), for Brian Lipson (thanks, Brian), and for my wonderful friends and colleagues at Plexus: Tom Sr, Heide, Amy, Kara, Dana, Lisa, Tom Jr, Rob, Linda, Pat P, and the rest of this talented team–congrats and thanks for helping to make Boardwalk Empire a success!

And thanks to my mom down in Florida who never asked or expected her kids to act like other people’s kids.  I love you, mom. Love you, Sarah, and love you, Jenny.

To close, I’m climbing up on my desk and yelling:

Go, Marty, Mark (and thank you, Mark!), Stephen, Terence, Steve Buscemi, and the whole talented cast and crew!

Go, Boardwalk Empire!!!

(This is going to be fun.)