Best-selling author Tom Clancy met the press in Los Angeles yesterday to promote his first made-for-TV effort, "Tom Clancy's Op-Center," which will air on NBC Feb. 26 and 27.
But many members of the television press corps left the session mainly confused as to who is the real author of the mini-series that bears Clancy's name.
NBC gave critics a paperback book bearing the title "Tom Clancy's Op-Center." But underneath the title it says, "created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik."
A line of questioning from one critic, who said he had never seen such a book credit, led to the explanation that Clancy did not actually write the book or the NBC miniseries. He and Pieczenik, a Washington psychiatrist, conceived of the idea and came up with story lines. Someone named Jeff Rovin really wrote the book, while veteran screenwriter Steve Sohmer wrote the script for the NBC mini-series.
See why the critics were confused?
"It's marketing," Clancy said when he was asked why his name is above the title of a book and mini-series that he didn't write.
Clancy and Pieczenik, though, are two of the mini-series' executive producers and promise to come up with more story lines, if the mini-series is a ratings success and NBC wants "Op-Center" sequels.
What is an Op-Center anyway?
It's a crisis management center. But let me describe it in the supercharged language of the paperback: "Tom Clancy's Op-Center . . . is a beating heart of defense, intelligence, and crisis management technology. It is run by a crack team of operatives. . . . And when a job is too dirty, or too dangerous, it is the only place our government can turn."
The dirty jobs involve stopping terrorists and keeping nuclear weapons out of the wrong hands.
Members of the crack team are played by Harry Hamlin, Bo Hopkins, Lindsay Frost, Carl Weathers, Kim Cattrall and John Savage.
As for the rest of the press conference, many of the critics wanted to know about Clancy's views on national security and international politics.
After hearing some of them, one critic asked Clancy if he and Pieczenik were "paranoids."
Pieczenik said they were realists.
Clancy explained the difference by saying: "What paranoia means is that you think the Martians are coming. What realism means is that you worry about somebody putting a bomb under the World Trade Center. . . . We live in a world where there are bad guys."