When Camden novelist Tess Gerritsen first heard TNT was interested in making a TV series based on her mystery-solving characters Rizzoli and Isles — Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles — she was far from excited.
In fact, she pretty much ignored the news.
“I had gone through this so many times before. I sold two books for feature films, and they never got made, and I had been approached for many other projects that never happened,” said Gerritsen, 57. “So when the producer (Bill Haber) called me up and said, ‘I love your girls and I want them to be on TV,’ I said, ‘That’s nice, but I don’t believe you.’ “
Gerritsen, a physician and best-selling author, now has reason to believe. She’s seen the pilot episode of TNT’s new series, “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander. She’s seen the paperwork that says TNT has ordered 10 episodes for this season.
And she’s invited the town of Camden to join her on Monday at the Camden Opera House, where they can all watch the airing of the first episode of “Rizzoli & Isles” on TNT at 10 p.m.
“At first we were just going to have a little cocktail party, but then I found out that renting the Camden Opera House out is very reasonable, so that’s what I did,” said Gerritsen. “I wouldn’t be where I am without this community, without the creativity of this town.”
Gerritsen is letting people come for free, but asked them to reserve seats. At press time, there were no more seats to be had.
The premiere of the series comes just as Gerritsen is beginning a nationwide tour to promote her latest Rizzoli & Isles book, “Ice Cold” (Ballantine Books), the eighth in the series. In fact, she’ll be in South Portland at 7 p.m. Tuesday to do a reading and signing at Borders near the Maine Mall.
Gerritsen practiced medicine in the 1980s before beginning to write fiction while on maternity leave. She published her first novel, “Call After Midnight,” in 1987. But it was her first medical thriller, “Harvest” in 1996, that marked her debut on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Her books have sold more than 20 million copies.
Gerritsen says the pilot of the series is very faithful to her book “The Apprentice” (2003). But subsequent episodes were written by the show’s writers, with no particular focus on the books in the series.
“They use my characters, and my universe from the books, but they write the shows,” said Gerritsen. “I’m very pleased with the pilot. The books are very dark, and they made it very dark but funny, which helps cut the tension.”
Gerritsen visited the set of the pilot episode, and was impressed with how many people it took to shoot one scene. She counted about 75 people on set at one time. The pilot was filmed in Los Angeles, even though the characters are supposed to be in Boston.
“They were very careful to not show any palm trees,” said Gerritsen.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: [email protected]