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'Runaway Heart'

Egypt's antiquities chief Dr. Zahi Hawass, center, supervises the removal of King Tut from his stone sarcophagus in his underground tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt in this Nov. 4, 2007 file photo. Egypt and the California-based Getty Conservation Institute announced Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 a five year project to restore the Tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy king whose golden mask and artifacts have long awed the world.
AP Photo/Ben Curtis
Stephen Cannell is best known as a creator/producer of mor ethan 40 television shows including "21 Jump Street", "A-Team" And "The Commish". Equally as impressive as his career in film and TV, are his nine bestselling novels.

"Runaway Heart" is Cannell's second book to be released in the past six months. Don't miss his interview on Wednesday's The Early Show.

In "Runaway Heart," Cannell establishes the urgency and legitimacy of this work of fiction opening with a quote from former Vice President Al Gore: "Advances in genetic engineering, which one day could transform animals into sub-human slaves, are developing much faster than expected, and Congress must monitor the field. Our legal and ethic structures are unprepared for the question that will be forced upon us by human genetic engineering."

Shane Scully, who was the subject of three crime thrillers, briefly appears in this book but he is not the protagonist. In this book Cannell introduces Herman Stockmire - determined, passionate but chronically ill throughout most of the book - andg his daughter Susan Stockmire - equally passionate and concerned law partner; and P.I. Jack Wirta, a gun-toting hero.

Stockmire and his daughter stumble on a secret government project and have to run, hide and fight to save the nation from moral and ethical ruin.

About the author:

  • Emmy Award-winning writer/producer, bestselling author and Chairman of Cannell Studios, Stephen J. Cannell's highly successful career spans 35 years of writing for the diverse fields of television, film, and popular fiction.
  • Has created or co-created more than 38 shows, of which he has scripted more than 350 episodes and produced more than 1,500 episodes. His hits include: "The Rockford Files," "The A-Team," "21 Jump Street," "The Commish," "Wiseguy," and the hit syndicated shows "Renegade" and "Silk Stalkings. "
  • Cannell's career as a novelist began two decades after his initial success in television. In 1995, he made a smooth transition into the literary world with the publication of his debut novel, "The Plan," a political thriller that became a national bestseller. He followed that book's success with two more national bestsellers: "Final Victim, " a thriller in the genre of "Silence of the Lambs, " and "King Con, " a confidence-game yarn. Feature film rights to "King Con" were sold to MGM for $1 million and Cannell wrote the screenplay for the film. A feature film version of "Final Victim" is also in development. He also isd the author of the critically acclaimed bestsellers "Riding the Snake" and "The Devil's Workshop." St. Martin's Press published Cannell's sixth novel, "The Tin Collectors," in January 2001.
  • Cannell chose writing as a profession, despite being impaired by severe dyslexia that went undiagnosed throughout his teen years. He flunked out of two schools. Undaunted by scholastic failure, Cannell optimistically listed "author" as his ambition under his yearbook photo.
  • His television career finally took off in 1966, when he submitted a script for the Universal series, "Adam 12." The producers and actors were so impressed by the story line and dialogue that Cannell was immediately offered the position of head writer. An "overnight success" while working at Universal, Cannell increasingly gained the respect of his colleagues for his skills as a writer and his instincts as a creator of new programming. "The Rockford Files," "Baretta," and "Baa Baa Black Sheep" are among the many popular shows he created during his tenure there.
  • In 1979, Cannell formed his own independent production company, Stephen J. Cannell Productions, to keep creative control over material he was writing and producing. Seven years later, he formed The Cannell Studios to oversee all aspects of the organization's operations. Having surpassed the $1 billion mark in production outlays, the studio experienced remarkable growth and diversification in such areas as production (films, mini-series, commercials), merchandising and first-run/off-network programming until its purchase by New World Communications Group in 1995 (which itself was purchased two years later by 20th Century Fox). Cannell still owns the worldwide distribution rights to about 1,000 hours of Cannell-produced series and TV movies.
  • Currently, he has a variety of ongoing television and film projects lined up: Cannell is presently in co-production with Gold Circle Films on "Dawg," a theatrical motion picture starring Denis Leary and Elizabeth Hurley; the writer/producer of the motion picture "Director's Cut;" and the executive producer of "Terror.net," a movie being produced at Showtime. Other films Cannell currently has in development include: "The A-Team" feature film in development at Fox 2000; "The Greatest American Hero" feature film in development at Disney; "Morning Into Midnight," a mini-series being developed at CBS; and the "Jake Lassiter" series of novels in development at Paramount Television.
  • Cannell is a spokesperson on the subject of dyslexia, sponsoring and performing in "Gifts of Greatness, " a film play depicting famous dyslexics in history. The video has been used as a vital educational tool and has been shown around the world.
  • Cannell's last appearance on The Early Show was April 2000, during the Robert Blake investigation. As a creator of "Baretta" and a longtime acquaintance of Blake's, Cannell recounted his experience with the alleged wife murderer.

Read an excerpt from "Runaway Heart":

One

Herman Strockmire Jr., attorney at law, got his fourth severe ventricular arrhythmia at 7:45 Tuesday morning while riding up to his borrowed office on the thirtieth floor of the Century City high rise. It was the day before he was scheduled to appear in federal court to argue his case to protect the monarch butterfly. He was in the plush pile elevator, rocketing upwards at blast off speeds, his ears popping every ten floors, his short, bulging body feeling as if it were pulling at least two Gs. His heart arrhythmias always started with the same curious sensation: first a mild loss of energy, followed by a sinking feeling as if a hundred extra pounds had just been strapped onto his five foot eight inch, lunchbox shaped frame. This heavy sluggishness was immediately accompanied by a sensation of light headedness that quickly left him short of breath, dizzy, and slightly woozy. Fifty-five-year-old Herman didn't have to take his pulse to know that the old ticker had just gone into severe arterial flutter. He didn't have to, but he did anyway force of habit.

He set his faded briefcase down, grabbed his fat, furry left wrist, and wrapped his stubby fingers around it, finding his pulse.

"Jesus," he muttered into the elevator Muzak. "It's doing a damn fandango." He didn't want to count beats; didn't have to, really. He knew from past episodes that it was up over 150, maybe as high as 185.

I don't need this now, he thought.

On the thirtieth floor the elevator doors hissed open revealing the art deco foyer of Lipman, Castle & Stein, Entertainment Law. They had thoughtfully placed a marbleized mirror on the opposing wall (actors love mirrors) and Herman Strockmire Jr. was forced to take a depressing personal inventory as he stepped off the elevator into his own sagging, bulging reflection. He looked like shit.

In the last ten years his Bavarian gene map had veered. The decade had turned him into a stocky carbon copy of his dead father.

Herman Strockmire Sr. had been a foundry worker a metal press operator banging out steel sheets in the humid heat of a Pittsburgh mill, each thudding, hammering stroke of the metal press pounding the poor, elder Herman shorter and lower, until the old German immigrant seemed like a fun house distortion of a human being.

Now, as Herman Jr. studied himself in the law firm's marbleized mirror, he saw his dead father: short, Teutonic, absurd. The hand of gravity was reaching out with gnarled fingers and pulling him down toward the grave, while his runaway heart spun wildly out of control.

Herman's borrowed office at Lipman, Castle & Stein was an accommodation that his dear friend, Barbra Streisand, had arranged for him. These power brokers were her show business lawyers and they constantly reminded him of their huge respect for her star power. $tar was spelled with a dollar sign at Lipman, Castle & Stein. The partners, two Jerrys and a Marty, had acceded to Barbra's "request" and loaned him a small, one window office that overlooked Century City and the Fox movie studios across the street. For some reason that defied natural selection, Herman had learned that most agents and entertainment lawyers were named Jerry or Marty, with a liberal sprinkling of Sids. Herman had spent the last two weeks in this slick retreat, doing pretrial deps and federal court writs.

Because the trial started tomorrow, Herman had driven in from Barbra and Jim's beach house early that morning, via Malibu Canyon Drive, just before sun up.

Dear, sweet, politically conscious Barbra had not only prevailed upon her show biz attorneys to loan Herman the office while he was in L.A., but she had lent him the use of the oceanfront pool house at her Malibu estate while she and her husband James Brolin were on vacation in Corsica.

Herman and his thirty year old daughter, Susan, had been residing there, using the cars and eating the food, and had permission to do so until Herman's current federal case was adjudicated which, he figured, would be in about two weeks if he didn't die of a coronary first.

He shuffled down the hall to the men's room thinking it looked more like a sultan's harem than a shitter. Black marble floors, brown Doric columns, and decorator washbasins with arched dolphin faucets profiled under directional pin lights. The little, gilded, flippered critters spit water delicately into hammered artificial gold sinks. Herman hefted his briefcase full of writs, pretrial motions, and law books onto the marble counter and popped the latch. It wheezed open like a broken accordion. He rummaged around inside for his pill bottles and, finding the Warfarin first, shook two of the little capsules into his palm. They were blood thinners to prevent strokes during an arrhythmia. He dug out the bottle of Digoxin that was supposed to control his heart rate, then grabbed a paper cup from the built in dispenser. He had never before been in a corporate men's room that supplied Dixie cups. Herman tossed the pills into his mouth and washed them down. That was when he got a second look at himself in the well lit bathroom mirror. He was used up and tired. He'd seen raccoons with subtler eye markings.

But he had no choice; he had to go on. He was on a mission, maybe the most important of his life. An entire species of butterfly was about to be wiped out by biologically enhanced foods. It wasn't just any butterfly he was fighting for, but the heart stoppingly beautiful monarch, the majestic creature that had introduced Herman to the wonders of nature as a child. He had studied the beautiful orange and black winged treasures for hours as a boy, lying on his stomach in the grass behind his parents' tiny row house, marveling at their delicate markings, seeing in them God's divine artistry.

The monarch butterfly, once the most common in North America, was now in danger of going onto the endangered species list. Unless Herman blocked the FDA, EPA, USDA, and all the other federal letter agencies that controlled bio enhanced foods, these priceless treasures of nature might disappear forever, unintended victims of the new gene spliced Frankenfoods. Specifically corn.

His federal lawsuit was for injunctive relief and damages on behalf of two organizations chartered to protect the monarch. It had been filed and fast tracked to beat the spring planting season. If successful, it would stop this year's trans genetic corn crop from going into the ground in May and would pay out damages to his two client organizations. However, the real reason for the suit was to force the government to reexamine the long term, downstream effects of bio enhanced food."