Bob Calhoun

Bob Calhoun
Pacifica, California, USA
June 18
Bob Calhoun is a regular contributor to Film Salon and observer of offbeat media. His 2008 punk-wrestling memoir "Beer, Blood and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling" (ECW Press) has spent one entire week on the San Francisco Chronicle's Bay Area bestseller list.

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 2, 2011 3:59AM

Parenthood Recap: My Book Makes its NBC Debut

Rate: 16 Flag

 NBC Parenthood
My book, "Beer, Blood and Cornmeal," makes its network television debut as a piece of set decoration on the NBC series "Parenthood" in the lower left corner of the screen.

"Parenthood" is about the Braverman family. We know this because they tell us over and over again. They've already said the word Braverman four times by the episode's 25-minute mark. Craig T. Nelson, as grizzled patriarch Zeek Braverman, says his surname three times. Does my dad say "Calhoun" this many times? Does he regale me with tales about the "whole Calhoun male bonding experience" or the "original Calhoun hunter-gatherers"? No. He doesn't. But he's just a Calhoun, not a Braverman. When you're a Braverman, you're really into working your last name into sentences.

Three minutes in. Bonnie Bedilia as Camille Braverman is standing in front of a bookcase. I can't make out the spines of the books even with a 45" Zenith Plasma TV. There are a couple of black books with white lettering. I don't think that any of them are "Beer, Blood & Cornmeal" though. I can spot my 2008 punk-wrestling memoir on the bottom shelf of the sports entertainment section from across a crowded Barnes & Noble. I could definitely spot it on Camille Braverman's bookshelf.

Last month, I got an email from ECW Press publicist Simon Ware telling me that my book will be "used as permanent background set dressing in the NBC series 'Parenthood,'" starting with season 2, episode 14. This episode was supposed to air last week, but was preempted for the State of the Union address.

We're 11-minutes in. Bonnie Bedelia is reading a book, but it's a hard cover. My book is a trade paperback. Damn it.

Eight minutes later. Amber and Haddie, two teens, are unpacking. Haddie has been exiled from her parents' home because she's dating a 19-year old. The camera pans out into the hallway. There's a bookcase or some kind of table in the hallway. Saints be praised! Clearly visible on the shelf is a copy of "Beer, Blood and Cornmeal." They don't just show it once, but twice, with the NBC Peacock right next to it. Thank you cinematographer David J. Miller for getting my book into the frame. I owe you a beer or ten.

NBC Parenthood
A closeup of my punk-wrestling memoir, "Beer, Blood & Cornmeal," on the Braverman family's hallway shelf in the NBC comedy-drama "Parenthood."

I don't know why the producers of "Parenthood" chose to put my book on the shelf in the Braverman family's hallway. Maybe art director Susan Alegria or art department coordinator Charlene Blanco Agabao read the book and liked it. (Thanks to both of you by the way.) Maybe they or somebody else working for True Jack Productions thought that the cover picture of The Cruiser rolling up Macho Sasquatcho for a pinfall was just what they needed to add a sense of danger to the Braverman hallway. The show takes place in Berkeley so they could think that this what people in the East Bay are reading these days. (Hopefully it'll start a trend.) But then again, maybe this is just the kind of stick-to-your-ribs rasslin tell-all that hard-headed Bravermans like Zeek and Camille like to sink their teeth into.

At the thirty-nine minute mark Adam Braverman (Peter Krause from "Six Feet Under") gets high from a THC loaded lollipop. Shortly after, Kristina Braverman (Monica Potter) and Bonnie Bedelia have a heart to heart on the porch. "Beer, Blood & Cornmeal" isn't seen again, but maybe next week Craig T. Nelson will crack it open for the cameras. This would be rad because not only was Nelson in "Poltergeist," but he got killed by vampires in both "Scream Blacula Scream" and "The Return of Count Yorga" back in the 1970s. One thing is certain though; I'll be watching every episode of "Parenthood" until Craig T. chucks my book into a bonfire.

UPDATE: You can actually watch the episode with my book in on Will wonders ever cease? "Beer, Blood & Cornmeal" makes its appearance at the 19-minute mark with commercials, so it probably shows up after 16 minutes or so here. Enjoy...

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Awesome news Bob! Product placement at its very very best!
That's a guilty pleasure of mine, watching Parenthood.

I guess I oughta read your book, too! At least get some cult-ture out of the experience, ay?
All snark aside, I'm really floored by this. It's completely out of nowhere and I really have to thank the producers and crew of "Parenthood" for choosing my weird little indie book out of all of the books that they could have chosen.

Mary Roach's "Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" made a couple of appearances on "Six Feet Under." Roach used to write for Salon and my work still makes it into the main site every now and again so this continues the rich tradition of books by Salon contributors appearing on shows starring Peter Krause.

Thanks everyone for commenting.
couldn't-a picked a better show to be seen on!
I saw it! Congratulations!!
...and maybe uptight Christina will break it out and discover she really wants to punk-wrestle in upcoming episodes.
She could use some shaking up...her husband will quit the shoe biz for the wrestling biz, shoes and costumes, and the whole show will take a turn...
That would be fun.
Yay for you and your book!
I'm encouraged to check the show out now. Congrats on fate's wonderful little gift.
Bravo! The bad news is no royalties for you for them using your book to dress their set. The good news -- you didn't have to pay any product placement fees!
This is quite marvelous! Congrats! R
Wow, that's really cool. I love the show and it's still taped on my dvr--I'll have to go back and look.
Congratulations, I haven't seen Parenthood yet, but have heard a lot of good things about it, so this will tip me over the edge to finally watch it.
Congratulations! I never knew they had to contact authors to use their books as props...very interesting, and I'm so happy that your book got some NBC face (er, cover) time!
@Nick, Whenever I think about how much beer companies etc. pay for product placement on network TV shows, I realize how much of a gift I've been given here.

@Alyza, I'm not sure they have to, but in this case the production company did contact my publisher to let them know about it.

While I'm thinking about it, I should also thank the lighting technicians who worked on this show. According to IMDB, they are John Lacy, Spencer Mulcahy and Michael Olague. They lit up my book so it shows up really well.

And thanks to everyone on OS for the congratulations.
The ultimate product placement!