Literary Death Match headed for TV
by Nick Davies
If you’ve never been to a Literary Death Match, you are seriously missing out; but luckily, you might have the chance to see one on TV soon.
Co-created by Todd Zuniga, LDM is an entertaining and somewhat manic event that’s held around the world and pits writers against each other in front of a panel of three judges. Each writer does a reading within a strict time frame, and the judges pick two finalists to compete in a final round that, as the official site describes it, “trades in the show’s literary sensibility for an absurd and comical climax to determine who takes home the Literary Death Match crown.”
The Daily Beast reports that, thanks in part to a Kickstarter campaign, LDM was able to film two shows for a television pilot last week, packing 350 fans into the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood. The three judges for one edition were novelist Jonathan Lethem, actor Michael C. Hall, and comedian Tig Notaro — they judged the performers on literary merit, performance, and intangibles, respectively.
Between the two episodes that LDM filmed, the contestants vying for the crown included Simon Rich, Jillian Lauren, DC Pierson, and Adrian Wyatt, among others. And to give you a sense of how ridiculous and fun the final round gets, LDM describes the finale between Pierson and Wyatt as “a combo-Spell-Binding + Pin the Mustache on Hemingway finale.”
Obviously, filming a pilot is only the first step in making a TV show, and there’s not a guarantee that LDM will make it to air. But Zuniga managed to line up some star power, both among the contestants and judges, for the Hollywood shows that could increase its odds. The judging panel for the second episode of the evening was made up of The Orchid Thief author Susan Orlean, musician Moby, and comedian/actor Keegan-Michael Key. One audience member wondered what network could end up airing the show: “IFC? Sundance? Maybe … Bravo?”
The latter would have been a lot more likely years ago, when — as 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy recently remembered wistfully — the channel used to air operas, as opposed to seemingly limitless iterations of the Real Housewives franchise. IFC and Sundance Channel do still put out some really cool arts and culture programming, though, so it could find a home with one of them; and if that day comes, you should set up your DVR season pass immediately.
In the meantime, check out the LDM website for upcoming shows so you can see the delightful insanity in person.
Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.