The Monkey Chronicles
Publishers don't throw Hollywood-size money around very often, so when word blew west that the Doubleday imprint Spiegel & Grau had plunked down a stunning reported $5.2 million for Sara Gruen's Ape House (summer 2008) plus another book based on a mere 12 pages, L.A. execs assumed it was for one of the usual literary suspects. Instead, most were left asking, "Sara who?" Gruen, of course, is the author of the recent bestseller Water for Elephants (Algonquin, May), but still, none of her previous books (including Elephants) has sparked enough interest from Hollywood to close the deal. Now, whether Gruen actually writes the book first or pulls a Charles Frazier (immediately after selling Thirteen Moons to Random House for $8 million based on one page, Frazier sold the film rights to producer Scott Rudin for another $3 million), she certainly has the town's attention. Monday morning, film agent Don Laventhall came in to dozens of phone calls from producers who had already seen the pages—before Laventhall had sent out a single copy. Gruen doesn't stray far from the animal kingdom in her follow-up to Elephants. Ape House follows a family of humanlike apes who make the unlikely journey from lab animals to stars of their own hit reality show, transforming the lives of the people they encounter along the way. Emma Sweeney reps a presumably very happy Gruen for lit.
Foer on Einstein
Proving that there's room for more than one prodigy in the family, 25-year-old freelance journalist Joshua Foer (kid brother of you-know-who) landed his first book deal last week with his proposal for Moonwalking with Einstein: A Journey into Memory and the Mind. Though the book is nonfiction, Foer created plenty of drama for the six editors bidding on the proposal and appears to have kicked up similar excitement in Hollywood. By the time Penguin Press's Ann Godoff vanquished the competition with a seven-figure offer, heavies such as Jack Black and Mike White had already submitted to the studios Foer's account of his time spent training for the World Memory Championships and the offbeat characters he meets to the studios. Penguin has set a tentative spring 2009 pub date for Moonwalking. Elyse Cheney reps Foer for lit. UTA's Howie Sanders handles film rights.