On the road with the screening tour of “Rizzoli & Isles”

So far I’ve attended screenings of the pilot episode in Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago. Sunday night, the episode will play in Times Square, NYC — a venue so astonishingly legendary that I’m having trouble imagining how it will all work out.

In each of the screenings, we’ve had audiences of about 250, 85% of them women. And there’s a pattern I’m seeing in their responses, an enthusiasm based on themes that women really get. It’s not just about women as team players or women as competent human beings. It’s about women as people who can do diverse jobs such as homicide investigator or medical examiner, while still being women.

It’s a theme that I wasn’t consciously aware of when I was writing the books. Since I’m a woman, it was natural for me to write them from a woman’s point of view. I know that women aren’t automatons. We don’t go to work like good soldiers and tackle perps exactly like the guys. We have concerns that men don’t have and aren’t even aware of. Those of us who work in male-dominated fields (and I was one of them during my early days as a doctor) struggle to be “like the guys” in so many ways. Our mantra is: “don’t show weakness. Be strong. Work twice as hard.” But when we leave work and get home, we fall back into who we are: women. And that means families, troublesome moms and boyfriends, getting dinner on the table. And, yes, maybe drooling over a new pair of high heels. We live double lives, and our male colleagues get to see only one side of us.

That’s what “Rizzoli & Isles” stresses – the fact that a female homicide cop is not just a homicide cop. She’s a woman with her own issues. And maybe the only other person who understands her at work is another woman.

At the Philadelphia screening, a number of women who showed up happened to be police officers. And some of them were dressed quite elegantly — in fact, one of them asked why Jane Rizzoli couldn’t be better dressed on the show! What they loved was how Jane took charge and wasn’t afraid to tackle a suspect in a creek with no backup. They loved that she didn’t need a man to rescue her. They loved that in the end, SHE was the one who saved her own life.

And when she collapsed under the weight of fear and the struggle to look brave, she was able to turn to one colleague: Maura Isles, who wasn’t going to judge her weakness.

I know that the female buddy TV show was done — what, 20 years ago? — in Cagney and Lacey. But you have to look hard in this male-dominated TV industry to find another show with that theme of women standing up for each other, even when they may be romantic rivals. I love the fact that this show, from bottom to top, is female driven. I created the characters. The writer and executive producer of the series is Janet Tamaro, a firecracker of a woman who understands what it’s like to be a gal in a male-dominated field. And the stars are two women. It’s an unusual combination, and the women seem to be responding.

Let’s hope they all tune in Monday night.

13 replies
  1. april
    april says:

    I’m watching Monday night.

    I also have Ice Cold, but I haven’t read it yet. I’m saving it for my vacation. We’re driving from Virginia to Maine. Even though this book doesn’t even open in New England, I figured it would be good for the long drive.

  2. DebPiccurelli
    DebPiccurelli says:

    LOL! I remember those female police officers being at the screening, but I didn’t know they wanted Jane to be elegantly dressed in the show. Ironically, that’s one of the things I love about Jane: She’s a woman in a male dominated field, and doesn’t have to prove her womanhood by dressing the part on the job. I really couldn’t see her doing what she does dressed like Maura.

    Anyway, I’ll be watching again Monday night.

  3. susancolebank
    susancolebank says:

    I have it already in my DVR queue. Can’t wait! I’m also tres excited about seeing you in Newington. :o)

    Enjoy this fun rollercoaster ride, Tess!

    -S.

  4. Carole from Maine
    Carole from Maine says:

    I read Ice Cold and loved it and will be watching “Rizzoli & Isles” Monday!

  5. mchastain
    mchastain says:

    I am so excited!! Tess you are by far my favorite author and I am so glad your series is on TV.

  6. l.c.mccabe
    l.c.mccabe says:

    I stopped into my local indy bookstore today and was disappointed they didn’t seem to have your books in stock. I told the owner about the premiere of the TNT television series tonight and recommended that she order stock of your series for those who will become inspired to start reading it. Another customer chimed in and said she was going to tune in tonight as well. That seemed enough to make the owner write down my suggestion.

  7. bethFL
    bethFL says:

    The countdown is down to MINUTES now! I have been a book fan, well since Bloodstream, and every one since. I am doing something I almost never do….sit in front of the TV! Just waiting for my R&I!

    This weekend, I promised myself I would set aside just a couple of hours to start Ice Cold. The scheduled time in my busy weekend was 8 to 10 AM Saturday. My reading time. But I had to keep reading Ice Cold until there was a place I could stop – and get my “Saturday Stuff” done. I finally stopped at the first chance I could steal myself away – the last page!

  8. mgamberger
    mgamberger says:

    Hi Tess!
    I just watched Rizzoli and Isles. It was good. I mean, as a hugh fan of Sasha Alexander as I am, it wasn’t difficult. And as a fan of your books as I am now also. Of course the book, The Apprendice, is much better then this episode. I knew it would be difficult to tell a story in 45 minutes. But I think in the end they got it. Maybe I expected a little bit more. My feeling was that it was missing information between scenes. Maybe because I knew the story from the book. I don’t know how was the reaction of those people who didn’t read the book before.
    But you are right, the strogest point of the show are the relationships, especially between Jane and Maura.

    I liked Gabriel Dean a lot. I hope he will be back.
    And I also would love to see Father Daniel. I don’t know if TNT will have the courage to tell Maura’s story with him, but I’d love if they did. From all the books I read, The Sinner and Body Double are my favorite. Mostly because Maura is my favorite character.
    Can’t wait for next week’s episode!

  9. maaike
    maaike says:

    I’ve seen all the sneak peeks of the premiere episode, I love it already, to bad I have to wait till the show comes to the nederlands, I’ve looking forword to read the new book, they will publish it in okterber tis jear.,
    I’m really exciting, and i hope I don’t have to wait to long:-)

  10. IServeTheCat
    IServeTheCat says:

    I’m a visual person, and Angie Harmon was perfect for the Jane in my head. I read the entire series every time a new book comes out. (The Sinner is my favorite.)

    Sasha Alexander was a little too Sex and the City for me, though. I mean, they make the joke about her nickname, and Jane has the creepy ring tone, but nothing about TV Dr. Isles is creepy. In the book, she is polished, professional, and loves life (take the flowers decorating her office and her cooking skills as great examples.) The whole “Queen of the Dead” thing is because on the OUTSIDE (to people who don’t know her), she is creepy.

    I think TV Dr. Isles just needs a haircut. Maybe some dye. Her home was warm, her lab was just right. We haven’t seen her office. Jane comments on the fact that she is always dressed like a model. All of these things mesh with the books. But the nickname comes from somewhere, and the show hasn’t given us any reason at all for it. The closest they came to it was trying to make her a robot. TV already has Dexter Morgan. Dr. Isles should be better than that.

  11. carey
    carey says:

    I absolutely can’t wait for the show…DVR recorded last night, going to view tonight! I have read all of the Gerritsen books except Ice Cold, it is on order though.

    HOWEVER, I am very disappointed in the casting for Dr. Isles….she is definitely NOT the pale face, bluntly cut black haired woman referred to as “Queen of the Dead”!!

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