UTA Signs Elmore Leonard

By | Tuesday May 8, 2012 @ 1:03pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: United Talent Agency has signed prolific crime writer Elmore Leonard, who has retained a major Hollywood agency for the first time in his 60-year career. UTA will rep Leonard in film, TV, digital and allied rights. Leonard, who continues with literary agent Andrew Wylie, is eager to see more of his books adapted for the screen. He has written 45 Westerns and crime novels, and 40 short stories.

His enthusiasm is understandable. Leonard’s 2002 short story Fire In The Hole was the basis for the superb FX series Justified, which stars Timothy Olyphant as deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. Leonard told me in May 2010 that he’d sworn off writing screenplays in 1993 (his past scripts include the Charles Bronson film Mr. Majestyk) because he got tired of trying to please movie executives half as smart as he is about storytelling. But Justified provided a big spark, he is an active voice for series creator Graham Yost, and Leonard welcomes other chances to see his crackling dialogue and indelible crime plots on some screen or other. Read More »

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Ex-e-Book Foes Random House And Andrew Wylie Make Salman Rushdie Memoir Deal

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: The e-book rift between Random House Worldwide chairman Markus Dohle and lit agent Andrew Wylie really is in the past history books. The duo has formalized a far-reaching deal to publish a memoir by Salman Rushdie. The book will … Read More »

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HOT TITLES: David Bowie Book At Frankfurt

I’ve been looking into what are the hottest overseas titles being sold at this week’s Frankfurt Book Fair. David Bowie is due to deliver his illustrated book Bowie: Object to his agent Andrew Wylie in December. So Wylie is telling publishers at Frankfurt that it’s the first in a series of books by Bowie and I’m told there’s lots of interest. Why the title? Because the rock legend has assembled 100 objects from his personal archive and has written captions for them exploring his creative process. That, apparently, qualifies as a book these days.

Other titles packing heat at Frankfurt this year include: Read More »

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Knopf Buys 4 Great Pages For $2.5 Million

By | Wednesday September 29, 2010 @ 4:27pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The deals are popping this week, and publishing is not immune. On the basis of a 4-page proposal, Alfred Knopf’s Sonny Mehta has paid $2.5 million for The Loneliness of Sonia and Sunny, the new novel by Kiran Desai. … Read More »

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BREAKING: Random House, Andrew Wylie Reach E-Book Truce

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: The stand-off between Random House and lit agent Andrew Wylie is over, and it looks like the agent has blinked. Here is the statement just issued by Wylie and Markus Dohle, Random House chairman/CEO. You’ll recall that RH disclosed it would view Wylie as a competitor and … Read More »

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Indie Booksellers Debate E-Book Drama

Mike Fleming

The Wylie Agency’s e-book exclusivity dispute with the publishing industry continues to dominate. (Random House vs Agents On E-Books) Everyone’s got a different opinion about Andrew Wylie’s … Read More »

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Random House Bullying Agents On E-Books – But Is It Legal?

Mike Fleming

Most summers, the biggest late-week concern among publishing honchos is Long Island Expressway traffic to the Hamptons. This week has proven different. Debate is raging about how vulnerable major publishing houses suddenly are after book agent Andrew Wylie formed an electronic publishing imprint for his authors and made an exclusive deal with Amazon. This means that instead of leaving it to a publisher and taking a low split, Wylie gave Amazon sole e-book rights to titles like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita, Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, John Updike’s Rabbit Run series, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. You can read all of them only on the Kindle for $9.99 each, under Wylie’s own Odyssey Editions imprint.

Random House responded with sheer thuggery, blacklisting Wylie in a clear attempt to scare other authors and their reps from trying the same thing. Other publishers also expressed outrage in different ways, like Macmillan CEO John Sargent, who railed about how Wylie’s exclusive deals excluded other e-devices like the Sony Reader (like Macmillan really cares about anything other than its own fortunes). What neither of these houses addressed is the $64,000 question: do they control e-book rights in contracts signed before anyone imagined that e-books might surpass print titles? Many feel the answer is no.

Random House, unable so far to prove different, is using intimidation as a fallback ploy. It’s scary, given the sheer volume of books it publishes, but probably not effective in the long term. The publisher tried in 2001 to nip this whole thing in the bud, suing for summary judgment to stop an e-book venture called Rosetta Books. Random House lost. More recently, Bertelsmann Publishing chairman Markus Dohle sent a warning shot to agents, telling them the publisher was determined to protect its e-book rights, but once again, not mentioning whether it actually controlled them.

“They’ve not said we have the e-rights to the books you’ve written,” said one well connected dealmaker. “They say, we have publishing rights to these books, it costs us a fortune to run this place, and e-books are a huge source of revenue. If we can’t have it all, we’re not working with you.” Read More »

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