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Hot Deals: What Happened to Sonny?
John F. Baker -- 9/7/98
The January Vanity Fair article by contributing editor Nick Tosches on the life and mysterious death of former heavyweight champion Sonny Liston caused a flurry of interest in publishing circles -- interest that was capitalized on by his agent, Russell Galen of Scovil Cichak Galen, who sold book rights to Little, Brown executive editor Michael Pietsch. It's a two-book deal that will, said Galen, bring seven figures "if certain escalators are triggered." Tosches's article was called "Outlaw Champ," but the book will revert to the author's original title, Night Train. Movie rights have been sold to Paramount, with Ving Rhames set to play Liston. Sally Wilcox of CAA made the movie deal on Galen's behalf. A thought for those who plan to turn articles into books: a full-length magazine piece, Tosches notes, takes almost as much research as a book, and only the actual writing time is much less -- whereas the payoff can be a thousandfold bigger.

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