The line between publishing and showbiz just got a little narrower: NBC News says that it has launched a new unit, NBC Publishing, that will produce ebooks based on works from its shows including Dateline, Today, and the NBC Nightly News. It also will tap products from other NBCUniversal units including Peacock Productions, NBC Sports, Universal Pictures, Telemundo, and independent authors who want to “create content that taps into NBC’s resources.” NBC News SVP Cheryl Gould will be in charge of the New York-based operation, and Michael Fabiano will be its GM. They will work in partnership with traditional trade publishers the way NBC did when it teamed with Perseus Books Group to produce the ebooks JFK: 50 Days and Roots, and with Penguin for D-Day: The Battle For Normandy and Berlin 1961. NBC also says that it joined with Running Press to produce the enhanced ebook tribute to the Today Show, From Yesterday To Today, written by TV Guide magazine’s Stephen Battaglio. “As the tablet and e-reader markets continue to expand exponentially, and as the definition of ‘what is a ‘book?’ evolves, we see opportunities to bring readers a unique and immersive content experience,” Gould says. “This business enables NBC to use video, audio, and current programming in creative new ways.”
In a high six-figure upfront deal, Warner Bros and De Line Pictures won a heated auction for screen rights to Ready Player One, the debut novel by Fanboys screenwriter Ernie Cline. The movie auction occurred hours a day after the book scored a mid six-figure publishing deal from Random House for North American rights. Cline will write the script.
Donald De Line will produce with Dan Farah, who orchestrated the screen sale along with Foundry Literary. De Line worked the negotiations from New Orleans, where he is shooting Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds and director Martin Campbell. The book had Paramount and Fox chasing it hard, as well as producers that included Twilight’s Temple Hill Entertainment. Buyers sparked to the opportunity to use technology to create a virtual world, and they liked the relatable protagonist. Cline has already made seven-figures for his first book, and if the film gets made, his movie deal alone will be worth seven-figures.
The book focuses on teen Wade Watts, who escapes his bleak surroundings by logging into Oasis, a globally networked utopia where users lead idyllic lives. The game’s eccentric founder dies and offers his billion dollar fortune as the grand prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Watts competes against rival game players and corporate foes who’ll do anything, in the Oasis world and in the real world to reach the treasure first. Paradigm and Farah Films & Management and attorney Matt Galsor rep Cline. International book rights are now being auctioned.
Fanboys screenwriter Ernie Cline scored a mid-six figure advance from Random House for North American rights to Ready Player One, his debut young adult novel. International rights are being shopped, and the movie crowd will be kicking the tires on it starting tomorrow Farah Films & Management’s Dan Farah and Foundry Literary are shopping it. A teenager named Wade Watts escapes his bleak surrounds by logging into Oasis, a globally networked virtual utopia where users lead idyllic alternate lives. When the game’s eccentric billionaire creator dies, he offers up his fortune as the prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Watts is pitted against powerful corporate foes and ruthless competitors who’ll do anything, in the Oasis and real world, to reach the treasure first.
Demi Moore will write her book for HarperCollins. While she hasn’t been burning it up with movie roles like she used to, her reps at Janklow-Nesbit are closing a deal worth $2 million,. The book will be edited by Jennifer Barth, backstopped by publisher Jonathan Burnham. They are still negotiating delivery date and making a deal with a co-writer. The book is not a trip down memory lane for an actress who got her start as a member of the Brat Pack. She met with publishers to personally pitch the book, which isn’t a memoir but rather a specific story about her complex relationship with her mother, and how it impacted her life and career.
Publisher Little, Brown tells me Stephenie Meyer’s novella “for the fans” has sold 226,589 copies so far in the UK. Waterstones, the largest bookshop chain, expects it to be the biggest-selling book of the year.
The £11:99 ($17.8) Twilight novella is mostly selling at less than half price, mostly due to heavy supermarket discounting. What’s remarkable is that you can read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner for free on Meyer’s website until midnight on July 5. But then Meyer turns everything she touches into witchy gold, from movies to books to internet traffic. The Twilight Saga has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, translated into nearly 50 languages.
Simon & Schuster confirmed this morning that Jonathan Karp is its new executive vice president and publisher. Deadline told you yesterday that he would get the job after S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy fired David Rosenthal, who’d been in the post the last 13 years-. Karp is a well-regarded editor who most recently ran the Hachette Book Group imprint Twelve, where his books included the memoir True Compass by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens and War by Sebastian Junger. Before that Karp was Random House editor-in-chief., where he edited Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit, the John McCain memoir Faith of My Fathers, Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief and Mario Puzo’s The Last Don. In between, he also served a short-lived stint in the movie business working for producer Scott Rudin, before returning to the book fold.
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: There is a major shakeup in the works atop publishing imprint Simon & Schuster. I’m hearing that Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy is removing S&S publisher David Rosenthal. And sources tell me that replacing him will be Jonathan Karp, the former publisher of the Twelve imprint at Grand Central Publishing owned by Hachette. Calls to Reidy and S&S publicity were not returned. Karp also didn’t return an email.
Ian Fleming Publications has chosen American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver to write a new James Bond book.
The novel, whose title hasn’t been revealed yet, will be published next May on what would have been Fleming’s birthday. Hodder & Stoughton, Deaver’s publishers in the UK, will publish domestically, alongside Simon & Schuster in the States.
Deaver has written 26 novels and sold more than 20 million books worldwide. He’s probably best known for The Bone Collector, which was made into a 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Seven years ago Deaver won the Crime Writers’ Association’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for his book Garden of Beasts. Over here, he’s represented by Vivienne Schuster of Curtis Brown.
I can’t help but feel that an American just won’t get the idiom and nuances of the way an Englishman thinks. Imagine the furore if a British author was commissioned to write a new Dashiell Hammett novel. Couldn’t they have found a British author such as Tom Rob Smith (Child 44) or Peter James, creator of the Inspector Grace detective series? British thriller writing must be in pretty rackety state if Fleming’s executors have to reach out to the colonials.
The film critic Roger Ebert and actress Demi Moore are looking to write their memoirs. Ebert has set a deal with Grand Central Publishing for a book that will include his run with At the Movies co-host Gene Siskel, the battle against cancer that robbed him of speech but not his fire as a writer, and his stints as the screenwriter of the films Beneath the Valley of the Dolls, and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens. I always felt that Ebert’s appreciation of B-fare has been one of the reasons his intelligent reviews aren’t condescending. That book’s coming in fall, 2011.
At the same time, Demi Moore has Janklow-Nesbit shopping her memoirs. She certainly has a story to tell, from her ascension from the Brat Pack to superstar status after Ghost and A Few Good Men (she was momentarily Hollywood’s top-paid actress, unfortunately in the bomb Striptease), to her relationships with Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher and her decision to pull away from the studio machine to raise her family. Moore also went through a self-indulgent period after she became a superstar. I can recall writing in my Variety column about how she arrived at an airport to be flown by private jet to a press junket for one of her films. She took a look at the jet, decided it wasn’t big enough for her luggage and …
The grand experiment between Focus Features and Random House to co-finance films from the publisher’s books continues to put some interesting projects in development. The latest: Brad Pitt and Darren Aronofsky have attached themselves to produce The Tiger, a drama based on the upcoming book by John Vaillant that will be adapted by Babel scribe Guillermo Arriaga. Pitt produces with Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner for Plan B and Aronofsky will produce with Protozoa cohorts Mark Heyman and Ari Handel. The book, to be published Aug. 24 by RH imprint Knopf, is a fact-based story that takes place on the Siberian plain, where humans encroach on a tiger’s habitat with tragic results.
Given the dwindling margins of the publishing business, a venture like Random House Films has drawn scrutiny. It was back in 2005 that Random House and Focus Features announced they were joining forces in a new production entity and sharing financial, creative and production responsibilities for adapting books to film and turning film material into books. The one film that got made — Reservation Road – wasn’t a hit. But the imprint’s top editor Peter Gethers has several new chances to turn that around, with projects that have drawn strong creative elements.
Gethers and Focus CEO James Schamus most recently made a deal to make the Arthur Phillips novel The Song Is You into a musical with the Dreamgirls team of Bill Condon and Larry Mark. They have Stephen …
EXCLUSIVE: Wow, everyone connected with Howard Stern just keeps getting richer and richer (in addition to the King Of All Media himself, of course). The Howard Stern Show’s longtime radio producer, Gary Dell’Abate, has just signed a mid-6 figure book deal with Random House for his biography titled, “They Call Me Baba Booey”. It comes out in November. Don Buchwald & Associates’ Tony Burton and 3 Arts’ Richard Abate did the deal with Random House’s Spiegel & Grau imprint editor Julie Grau. Gary is writing it with author Chad Millman. I understand that Howard mentioned something about this on his Sirius show this morning — and the book has already jumped to No. 1 on Amazon’s “Movers And Shakers” based on book pre-orders.
So let’s see: Howard himself had 2 bestsellers, Robin Quivers had 1, Artie Lange had the most recent and now it’s obvious that Baba Booey will have one as well. Ya gotta love it — and wonder if a book might be in the cards for Fred Norris, the longtime Howard Stern producer whose sound effects enhances the mayhem. Gary is smart to get the book out this fall, since Stern is saying he might not re-up at Sirius when his contract ends in less than a year.
Dedicated Stern listeners know that the title of Dell’Abate’s book comes from his hobby of collecting actual cels from classic animated shows. While describing that pursuit, he mentioned …
It’s former OK! Magazine publisher Lori Burgess. Richard Beckman, CEO of e5 Global Media, made the announcement this morning. Burgess was previously publisher of OK! Magazine since October 2008. Prior to joining OK!, Burgess was SVP Publishing Director at Niche Media (Gotham, Hamptons, and Los Angeles Confidential), VP Publisher House & Garden, and VP Publisher Elle. “Lori has an exceptional track record growing business and delivering results,” the statement quoted Beckman as saying. “This ability combined with her entertainment and luxury marketing experience make her the perfect person to helm The Hollywood Reporter.” It sounds like Burgess is the right choice to head up THR‘s planned monthly glossy magazine. And she fits into the new owners’ plans to abandon the traditional trade format and formula.
Considering that volcanic ash has hurt Hollywood’s presence at the London Book Fair, should it be a surprise that the one book that has the movie crowd excited has a cloud over its rights? Most studios stayed away from London, with Universal, MGM and Warner Bros/New Line grounded. The scouts that made it over are buzzing about by Unbroken, the long-awaited new book by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand that will be published later this year by Random House. Overseas rights are being hustled at London for Hillenbrand’s book about the remarkable life of Lou Zamperini.
A track star who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Zamperini joined the Air Force in WWII. After surviving a plane crash in the Pacific, he and another soldier spent 47 days adrift, nearly starving before they were captured by the Japanese navy. It gets worse. Zamperini was taken prisoner and was targeted for abuse by a cruel and sadistic guard determined to break Zamperini with a relentless campaign of torture and humiliation. Zamperini not only survived, he later embraced religion and forgave his tormentors.
With all the young actors committing to comic book movies but looking for a role that will really show their chops, Hillenbrand’s Zamperini tale ought to be the exact thing to liven up a sluggish book-to-film marketplace. Not so fast.
It can only really be made at Universal, which has been developing a movie–since 1957! At that time, Zamperini sold his life rights to …
Several editors and agents are informing me that the eruption of that volcano in Iceland Thursday is wreaking havoc on those trying to get to the London Book Fair, which starts Monday and runs through Wednesday. European publishers are already canceling meetings, and in the U.S., the flight situation is precarious for all but those lucky enough to have flown to Europe earlier in the week. Even those early arrivals might find it lonely. I’m hearing agents and editors have or are considering scrapping their trips. Everybody’s pinching pennies, and even if flights resume over the weekend, agencies and publishers will have to weigh whether it is cost effective to arrive late. The bulk of foreign rights business gets done at London and Frankfurt, and London was going to be a big schmoozefest for publishers, lit agents and film execs looking for film-friendly books.
Also inconvenienced are those leaving MIPTV in Cannes, which ends today. I find it hard, though, to pity those execs forced to find something to hang around a few extra days in the French Riviera until the ash blows over and the skies are safe to fly once again.
I’ve been talking to some very smart folks over the past 24 hours about the just-announced sale of Reed Business Information, including Variety, Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News. Here are some excerpts from conversations:
“It is what Reed Elsevier says it is. Reed is changing the entire portfolio. It’s smart what they’re doing. They’ll end up being a company that looks like Thomson Reuters: heavy in data. Reed recently bought ChoicePoint, this insurance data company, in a $3.5 billion deal. That’s the future.”
“Variety is a pimple on an elephant’s ass. It’s small in the scheme of things, a $100 mil company with an unduplicated circulation between daily and weekly of 64,000 compared to Reed Elsevier’s revenues of $10 billion.”
“I doubt you’re going to see the RBI assets broken up and sold. The transaction costs are massive on a deal like this. Also the time and effort it takes to sell. So you sell it once if you can.”
“Who are the likely buyers? They fall into two categories: strategic and investment. These are not really long lists, certainly on the strategic side. Thompson Reuters, maybe Pearsons, Informa though it’s way too big a deal for them. No, I don’t think Nielsen.”
“RBI should sell in the $2.5 billion range. It generates between $1.7B and $1.8B of revenue, $250 million EBITDA [Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization], so that’s 10 times EBITDA, less than twice revenue. Reed …
News reports say the estate of Lord of the Rings creator J.R.R. Tolkien is suing New Line Cinema, claiming the company failed to pay a cut of gross profits for the movies based on Tolkien’s books. The news comes just as the future of New Line is in real turmoil at Time Warner. The Tolkien Trust and original Lord of the Rings publisher HarperCollins (owned by News Corp which runs rival Fox Studios) filed the lawsuit against New Line today in Los Angeles Superior Court. It claims New Line was required to pay 7.5% of gross receipts from the films to Tolkien’s estate and the other plaintiffs. The lawsuit estimates the films have reaped nearly $6 billion combined. New Line already is paying a legal settlement to Lord Of The Rings trilogy director Peter Jackson who is still auditing the company about his profit participation. The lawsuit is being brought by Bonnie Eskenazi of Greenberg Glusker. Here’s the news release:
(Los Angeles, CA – Monday February 11, 2008) –The trustees of The Tolkien Trust, a British charity, have filed an action against New Line Cinema for its failure to pay a contractually required gross profit participation in the three films based on the world-famous Lord of the Rings trilogy. The trustees of the estate of JRR Tolkien and HarperCollins Publishers are co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The suit was filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The Lord of the Rings
Judith Regan’s Bombshell Lawsuit Against Murdoch’s News Corp; Fired Because She “Could Sink Rudy’s Campaign”
UPDATE: Fired book publisher Judith Regan filed a $100 million lawsuit today accusing Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and HarperCollins Publishers and her boss Jane Friedman, of orchestrating a smear campaign that was intended to advance the Murdoch political agenda and protect “Rudy Giuliani’s presidential ambitions.” According to Regan, Murdoch employees were aware of her personal relationship with Guiliani pal Bernard Kerik and, fearing she had damaging information on Giuliani’s former police commissioner and business partner, “knew they would be protecting Giuliani if they could preemptively discredit her.” Drudge Report cites sources that Regan claims to have “extensive and damning” audio tapes…
Hollywood uber-litigator Bert Fields has been representing Regan in her fight with HarperCollins and News Corp but he’s not listed on the lawsuit because it was filed in the NY courts. Among the legal complaint’s bombshell charges:
“A senior executive in the News Corp organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik. Indeed, another News Corp executive similarly advised Regan not to produce clearly relevant documents in connection with the government’s investigation of Kerik.”