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C-SPAN2's Weekend Agenda Is Booked

Television: The success of 'Booknotes' on its sister channel has given the cable outlet the impetus for its extended coverage focusing on book-related topics.

September 04, 1998|PATRICIA BRENNAN | THE WASHINGTON POST

It started with a small metal bookmark. On April 3, 1994, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Brian Lamb's "Booknotes" interview program, C-SPAN offered free commemorative bookmarks to the first 500 viewers who requested one.

More than 10,000 responded, shocking the folks who work at the low-key cable service that covers Congress. Everyone who wanted a bookmark got one.

In a world of computers, television and videos, people still read books, it seemed.

So on Sept. 12, C-SPAN2, whose first task is to cover the U.S. Senate, expands its presence on the bookshelf with a new "Book TV" weekend format to be seen from 5 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Since May 1996, C-SPAN2 has devoted five weekend hours--from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 6 to 8 p.m. Sundays--to books under the title "About Books."

"It's a whole new animal, in many ways," said Connie Brod, executive producer of "Book TV." "We'd gotten our feet wet in the idea of expanded book programming. And there's nobody else out there doing long-format nonfiction books."

But there's so much more out there to be covered, she believes. There are book signings, lectures and parties; meetings of book industry folk; tours of printing plants, independent bookstores, libraries and private collections; story time for children; in-home book discussion groups; perhaps, if an author is willing, a look at the way he or she goes about writing. And there's a decade of Lamb's interviews to use.

Brod has devised a schedule of five categories "to give people a way of being able to plan their weekend scheduling around the kind of books they like."

Viewers interested in biographies will know to tune in Sunday at 9 a.m., the segment repeating at 3 and 9 p.m. Children's books will be reviewed, and may even be read aloud, Saturday at noon, repeating Sunday at 7 a.m. Lamb's interviews will be seen Saturday at 5 a.m. or 4 p.m. "Business of Books" gets the 6 a.m. Saturday slot, repeating at 11 p.m. And history buffs will find such books Saturday at 5 p.m., repeating at 8 p.m.

Linking them will be "transitions that will be very informative," Brod said. "Every weekend we hope to be able to give our viewers what's on the bestseller lists of newspapers throughout the country. You might like to compare it with your own list. We will try to follow the publishing industry to make it a little bit newsier. We can do a lot with graphics."

Concentrating primarily on serious nonfiction, or "fiction that still has a public-policy slant" such as political novels, Brod said she wants "a look that is soothing and rich and informative."

The first weekend, she'll dip into what she calls "a wonderful repository of 'Booknotes' " and repeat Lamb's interview with Leon Dash about his Washington Post series (and book) "Rosa Lee."

"Business of Books" will focus on publisher Alfred Regnery, whose first bestseller was William F. Buckley's "God and Man at Yale."

From 8 a.m. to noon on Sept. 12, Brod plans to take viewers on a tour of the Library of Congress, from the Great Hall reading room of the Thomas Jefferson Building to the work of preserving rare books and films in the James Madison Building.

The first children's book will be "House Mouse, Senate Mouse" by Peter and Cheryl Barnes; the first biography, "Two Lucky People: Memoirs" by Milton and Rose Friedman; and the first history, Gary Kinder's "Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea."

Here's the full "Book TV" schedule:

Saturdays

5 a.m. Encore Booknotes

6 a.m. Business of Books

8 a.m. More Books (Live and taped programs)

Noon Children's Books

2 p.m. More Books

4 p.m. Encore Booknotes repeat

5 p.m. History

7 p.m. More Books

8 p.m. History repeat

10 p.m. More Books

11 p.m. Business of Books repeat

1 a.m. More Books

Sundays

5 a.m. More Books

7 a.m. Children's Books repeat

9 a.m. Biography

11 a.m. More Books

3 p.m. Biography repeat

5 p.m. More Books

9 p.m.: Biography repeat

11 p.m. More Books

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