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'Red October' Novelist Tom Clancy Dies at 66
By Hillel Italie, AP National Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- In 1985, a year after the Cold War thriller "The Hunt for Red October" came out, Tom Clancy was invited to lunch at the White House, where he was questioned by Navy Secretary John Lehman.
Who, the secretary wanted to know, gave Clancy access to all that secret material?
Clancy, the best-selling novelist who died Tuesday in Baltimore at 66, insisted then, and after, that his information was strictly unclassified: books, interviews and papers that were easily accessed. Also, two submarine officers reviewed the final manuscript.
Government officials may have worried how Clancy knew that a Russian submarine spent only around 15 percent of its time at sea or how many SS-N-20 Seahawk missiles it carried.
But his extreme attention to technical detail earned him respect inside the intelligence community and beyond and helped make Clancy the most widely read and influential military novelist of his time, one who seemed to capture a shift in the country's mood away from the CIA misdeeds that came out in the 1970s to the heroic feats of Clancy's most famous creation, CIA analyst Jack Ryan.
Several of his novels, including "The Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger," were later made into blockbuster movies, with another, "Jack Ryan," set for release on Christmas.
"Fundamentally, I think of myself as a storyteller, not a writer," Clancy once said. "I think about the characters I've created, and then I sit down and start typing and see what they will do. There's a lot of subconscious thought that goes on. It amazes me to find out, a few chapters later, why I put someone in a certain place when I did. It's spooky."
A tall, trim figure given to wearing sunglasses that made him look like a fighter pilot, Clancy had such a sure grasp of defense technology and spycraft that many readers were convinced he served in the military. But his experience was limited to ROTC classes in college. Near-sightedness kept him out of active duty.
A political conservative who once referred to Ronald Reagan as "my president," Clancy broke through commercially during a tense period of the Cold War, and with the help of Reagan himself.
In 1982, he began working on "The Hunt for Red October," drawing inspiration from a real-life 1975 mutiny aboard a Soviet missile frigate. He sold the manuscript to the first publisher he tried, the Naval Institute Press, which had never bought original fiction.
In real life, the uprising was put down, but in Clancy's book, a Soviet submarine skipper hands the vessel over to the U.S. and defects.
Someone thought enough of the novel to give it to Reagan as a Christmas gift. The president quipped at a dinner that he was losing sleep because he couldn't put the book down - a statement Clancy later said helped put him on the New York Times best-seller list.
"What happened to me was pure dumb luck. I'm not the new Hemingway," Clancy later said in an interview with the American Movie Channel.
"Of course, fortune does favor the brave. In battle, you forgive a man anything except an unwillingness to take risks. Sometimes you have to put it on the line. What I did was take time away from how I earned my living. My wife gave me hell. `Why are you doing this?' But she doesn't complain anymore."
Clancy said his dream had been simply to publish a book, hopefully a good one, so that he would be in the Library of Congress catalog. His dreams were answered many times over.
His novels were dependable hits, his publisher estimating worldwide sales at more than 100 million copies.
Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck and Harrison Ford were among the actors who played Jack Ryan on screen. The upcoming movie stars Chris Pine with Kenneth Branagh directing. Keira Knightly plays his wife and Kevin Costner plays his mentor at the CIA.
He often played off - and sometimes anticipated - world events, as in the pre-9/11 paranoid thriller "Debt of Honor," in which a jumbo jet destroys the U.S. Capitol during a joint meeting of Congress.
In 1996, a year before President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky was revealed, Clancy's "Executive Orders" imagined a sex scandal that helped lead to Ryan's becoming president.
He started off writing about the Russians, but also told stories of drug cartels, Irish-British tensions and Islamic terrorism.
He also wrote nonfiction works on the military and even ventured into video games, including the best-selling "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier," "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction" and "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent."
His recent Jack Ryan novels were collaborations with Mark Greaney, including "Threat Vector" and a release scheduled for December, "Command Authority."
As of midday Wednesday, "Command Authority" ranked No. 35 on Amazon's best-seller list.
Born in Baltimore on April 12, 1947, to a mailman and his wife, Clancy entered Loyola College as a physics major but switched to English as a sophomore. He later said that he wasn't smart enough for the rigors of science, although he clearly mastered it in his fiction.
After school, he worked in an insurance office that had military clients. By the early 1980s he had written a piece about the MX missile system that was published by the Naval Institute. Boredom with his job led him to try writing fiction.
Clancy stayed close to home. He lived in rural Calvert County, Md., and in 1993 he joined a group of investors led by Baltimore lawyer Peter Angelos who bought the Baltimore Orioles.
Clancy also attempted to bring an NFL team to Baltimore in 1993 but later dropped out.
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Last Update on December 19, 2014 08:05 GMT
"THE INTERVIEW" - FALLOUT
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Now that Sony has made the bombshell decision to scrap "The Interview" -- the fallout is starting to spread. Actors, directors and writers are wondering if the move may mean they may end up at the mercy of a movie studio that bails on a project because of the potential for controversy. What makes the issue more challenging is that Hollywood has been struggling to get people in the theaters. With rising costs and more people having access to home entertainment systems, some insiders wonder if the pulling of "The Interview" will be seen as a sign that Hollywood might be willing to abandon creative freedom because of political concerns.
"THE INTERVIEW" SUBSTITUTE YANKED
NEW YORK (AP) -- So much for trying to substitute one comedy about North Korea for another. Some theaters had floated the idea of playing the 2004 movie "Team America: World Police" in place of "The Interview," which Sony pulled after a massive computer hack attack. But Paramount Pictures says it won't let the film be released. "Team America" is a puppet film that mocks North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. "The Interview" is a comedy that sees Seth Rogen and James Franco being recruited to kill Kim's son, the current North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.
This is a scene from the movie "The Interview," which had its release canceled by Sony Pictures.
<<CUT ..010 (12/19/14)>> 00:33 ""
Excerpt of clip from "Team America: World Police"
Here's a little bit of a clip from "Team America: World Police" -- a movie some theater considered as a replacement for "The Interview."
ANOTHER NORTH KOREAN FILM SCUTTLED
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "The Interview" isn't the only film set in North Korea that is biting the dust. Fox is pulling the plug on "Pyongyang" -- the adaptation of a novel. The movie is about an animator who goes to North Korea for work -- and ends up being accused of being a spy. Director Gore Verbinski says he saw the project as a starring vehicle for Steve Carell. In a statement to the trade Web site Deadline, Verbinski says it's ironic that fear is eliminating the chance to tell stories that show how people can overcome fear. The director says the decision to pull the film is related to the fallout over the Sony hacking.
STEPHEN COLBERT SIGNS OFF
UNDATED (AP) -- Stephen Colbert (kohl-BAYR') is gone -- and so is Stephen Colbert. The Comedy Central star has left his show and his character behind. Colbert hosted "The Colbert Report" (kohl-BAYR' ree-POHR') for nine years and he never broke character as an outraged conservative commentator. He hosted his final Comedy Central show last night. The studio audience gave him a standing ovation at the start and chanted "Stephen, Stephen, Stephen." Colbert told viewers that if this was their first time tuning into the Colbert Report, he had some "terrible news." Dozens of celebrities from Willie Nelson to Big Bird joined Colbert for a send-off with "We'll Meet Again." Even former President Bill Clinton made a cameo appearance, texting Colbert a farewell message. Colbert is moving to CBS. He'll take over the "Late Show" after David Letterman retires next year.
"The Colbert Report" theme. COURTESY: Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..003 (12/19/14)>> 00:14 "you so much (cheers)"
Stephen Colbert (kohl-BAYR'), host
The crowd gives Stephen Colber a standing ovation as he begins his last show. COURTESY: Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..004 (12/19/14)>> 00:15 "The Colbert Report (2nd reference)"
Stephen Colbert (kohl-BAYR'), host
Stephen Colbert has some bad news for first time viewers. COURTESY: Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..005 (12/19/14)>> 00:33 ""
Stephen Colbert (kohl-BAYR'), host, and scores of celebirties, sing "We'll Meet Again"
Dozens of celebrities, from Big Bird to Willie Nelson, give Stephen Colbert a musical send-off. COURTESY: Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..006 (12/19/14)>> 00:16 "make something special"
Stephen Colbert (kohl-BAYR'), host
Stephen Colbert signs off with some thank-yous. COURTESY: Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" ((mandatory on-air credit))
<<CUT ..007 (12/19/14)>> 00:20 "I'm Stephen Colbert"
Stephen Colbert (kohl-BAYR'), host
Stephen Colbert thanks the fans for their support. COURTESY: Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" ((not length of cut)) ((mandatory on-air credit))
KRIS AND BRUCE JENNER DIVORCE
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A judge has signed off on the divorce paperwork for Kris and Bruce Jenner. The deed ends the couple's 23-year marriage. While the "death do us part" part no longer applies, they technically won't be parted legally until March. That's because California law requires couples to wait six months before being officially divorced. The couple filed for a split back in September.
PEOPLE MAGAZINE AWARDS
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- Jennifer Aniston is getting some love from People magazine. She's been given its award for movie performance of the year - actress. It was the top honor handed out at last night's first ever People Magazine Awards. Other winners include Michael Keaton for movie performance of the year by an actor, John Hamm for TV performance of the year, Kevin Hart as comedy star of the year and Kate Hudson as role model.
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