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Hot Deals: Cancer Drug News Leads to Book Controversy
Judy Quinn -- 5/11/98
Editors wanting to tie into hot medical topics have had to deal with a one-two punch of newsbreaks lately, with the impotency pill Viagra (see Book Beat) and now the cancer-cure findings of Boston researcher Dr. F. Judah Folkman. Last Monday, several publishers received an e-mail pitch from agent John Brockman on behalf of one of his clients, New York Times science writer Gina Kolata, proposing a book on Folkman's research. But the following day, Brockman withdrew the proposal, telling editors that Kolata didn't want to be involved in the "media circus" that had erupted, epitomized by a Los Angeles Times article, published the next day, that criticized media hyping of still-preliminary medical advances and implied Kolata planned her Times story on the research on Sunday to precede the Monday book proposal. Brockman told PW it was his idea to pitch the book after reading Kolata's article. But complicating the matter further was a rival proposal, by Newsday science reporter Robert Cooke, that included an endorsement letter from Folkman promising cooperation with Cooke, who has been tracking Folkman's research since the 1970s. While awaiting Cooke's return from a vacation before submitting the proposal, agent Faith Hamlin decided to go ahead and submit it Monday after reading Kolata's article; by Wednesday she accepted a rumored seven-figure preempt by Random House's Scott Moyers for the book.

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