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Hot Deals
John F. Baker -- 5/29/00

Michael Jordan: The Sequel | First Novel to Talk Miramax
Survival of the Paperback Deal | Lower Bids Sometimes Win | Short Takes

Michael Jordan: The Sequel
The great basketball star will be the subject of yet another book, one for which he will be offering his cooperation to the author: A Whole New Ballgame: Michael Jordan Comes to Washington,which Random House editor Scott Moyers has just preempted, signing a six-figure deal for North American rights. The author is Washington Post sports columnist and ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon, who has known and followed Jordan for 18 years. His book, which Moyers plans to publish in fall 2001, will explore how the star has reinvented himself for the newest phase in his career, as he works to revive the faded franchise of the Washington Wizards. The deal was made with agent Lynn Whittaker at Washington's Graybill & English agency.

First Novel to Talk Miramax
A first novel, Cranberry Queen by Kathleen DeMarco,a partner in a New York-based movie production company, was preempted by editorial director Jonathan Burnham at Talk Miramax Books when he was given an exclusive 24-hour look at the manuscript. The book is the story of a young professional woman in New York whose life is turned upside down when her parents are killed and she is abandoned by her boyfriend. Trying to deal with her grief, she takes refuge on a cranberry farm in New Jersey (where DeMarco grew up). According to Burnham, "The ease with which [DeMarco] writes both tragedy and comedy is completely captivating." He plans to publish next spring. Agent Laura Dail made the sale, having successfully guessed the book was just right for Burnham. Miramax also took a movie option, with DeMarco, who partners with John Leguizamo in Lower East Side Films, tapped as executive producer.

Survival of the Paperback Deal
Even in these days of frequent hard/soft buys, there are still books that come out of nowhere to lure the alert paperback acquisition editor. Gerald Howard at Broadway snapped up the trade paper rights to Irrational Exuberance, the current bestseller by Robert J. Shiller that was a surprise hit from Princeton University Press. Shiller's thesis is that the stock market has been going much too high for much too long--and is due for a severe fall. Suzanne Oaks will edit the book for publication next April (but will its message be too late by then?). Over at Doubleday, Shawn Coyne bought paperback rights to another surprise hit, a golfing novel titled The Greatest Player Who Never Lived by lawyer J. Michael Veron, published by small but bustling Sleeping Bear Press (see Book News). This was a two-book deal that also includes a sequel, due next spring, The Greatest Course That Never Was. Coyne preempted from Illinois-based agent J Durepos with a six-figure offer for world English-language paperback rights to both books. Meanwhile, at NAL, senior editor Doug Grad, who was the underbidder in the auction for Douglas E. Winter's thriller Run when it was bought by Knopf, immediately took the paperback floor and has now acquired the book as an Onyx lead title for next March. The agent was Howard Morhaim.

Lower Bids Sometimes Win
Such was the case in a recent auction held by agent Jane Dystel for a book by Dr. Roger Jahnke, an expert on Chinese medicine and practices who has put much of what he knows into The Secret of the Qi Masters.(Qi is an energy source that can be maximized through certain methods.) Several publishers posted bids, but when they were in, Dr. Jahnke decided he wanted to speak to the editors who had made them. In the end, he chose Judith McCarthy at NTC Contemporary, not because hers was the biggest offer, but because he and his agent liked her promotion and advertising plans. (Perhaps she also had stronger qi?) McCarthy bought world rights and plans to publish early next year.

Short Takes
Random's Pamela K. Cannon bought Foster's Market Cookbook by Sara Foster, a successful North Carolina foodie who began as a caterer for Martha Stewart (who will contribute a foreword for the book). Cannon bought North American rights from agent Janis Donnaud andplans to publish in spring 2002.... William Morris's Bill Contardi made two notable option deals for still unpublished books. Film Four took AliceSebold's The Lovely Bones, a story told by a 14-year-old girl from beyond the grave, which Little, Brown is publishing next year; this was done with Aimee Payronnet and Luc Besson for Besson's Seaside company,and Henry Dunow was the literary agent involved. Contardi also optioned to Disney for Whitney Houston's Brownhouse Productions a forthcoming Avon title. A teenage girl is again the center of attention when she discovers she is actually royalty in The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. The deal was coagented by Laura Langlie at the Kidde Hoyt & Picard agency.

Because of BEA, there will be no Hot Deals next week.

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