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On the Trail of Tupac
Judy Quinn -- 8/25/97
September will be the one-year anniversary of the slaying of rapper Tupac Shakur and Las Vegas-based Huntington Press hopes to take advantage of this, as well as the September release of Shakur's last movie, Gang Related, by issuing a 25,000-copy first printing of The Killing of Tupac Shakur, a mass market written by Las Vegas Sun crime reporter Cathy Scott. Huntington Press operations director Len Cipkins promises never-before-seen photos of the slaying, which, he says, will put to rest rumors that Shakur is still alive and in hiding.
Other publishers have stayed clear of books focused specifically on Shakur's slaying, and one of the biggest prizes -- a book by Shakur's mother, Afeni -- is apparently on hold due to her other legal battles. Just released is Vibe editor's Tupac Shakur from Crown, and agent Barbara Zitwer told PW that Armond White's Rebel for the Hell of It: The Life of Tupac Shakur, originally scheduled by Thunder's Mouth for last spring, now has an October pub date, due to legal vetting; Straight Out of Brooklyn director Matty Rich is working on the HBO movie screenplay based on the book. SMP executive editor Jim Fitzgerald told PW that he was "inundated" with Tupac books after the slaying but waited for the right property. For him, that turned out to be Got Your Back: The Life of a Bodyguard in the Hard-core World of Gangsta Rap by Frank Alexander, one of Tupac's bodyguards, who at one point, was paired with another writer by agent Jimmy Vines, but he'll now write the book with Los Angeles Times rock critic Heidi Sigmund Kuda. Dramatic rights have been sold to producer Judy Pallone, who recently produced Riot, a highly rated movie on Showtime. SMP will release Got Your Back this winter with a 50,000-copy first printing.

And March will see the publication of rap reporter Ronin Ro's Have Gun, Will Travel: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Death Row Records. Agent Alex Smithline sold the book to Doubleday editor Bruce Tracy for a reported low six figures. That book has been optioned for dramatic rights by a major African American star who wants to keep the affiliation low profile for now.
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