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Shaq Sells Saga to SMP | Kidd's Cover: First Novelist | New Agent's Persistence Pays
Watch That Slush! | Miller Rants Again--for LB | Short Take

Shaq Sells Saga to SMP

O'Neal: Moving to the top.
Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Shaquille O'Neal will tell his story in a book won at auction last week by editor-in-chief George Witte at St. Martin's Press. The book is tentatively called The Last Saga and will be written with sports columnist Mike Wise of the New York Times. Agent David Vigliano made the deal for North American rights, including serial and book club, for a high six figures; Witte beat out three other contenders. The book will describe O'Neal's early years with Orlando and the great expectations with which he moved to Los Angeles, his difficulties with some of his teammates there, and his eventual arrival at superstardom as the only real challenge in popular appeal to Michael Jordan. The book will be shipped next January, to be in stores for the NBA All-Star game next February.

Kidd's Cover: First Novelist

Kidd: Change of pace
for designer
Chip Kidd is of course best known as an ace book designer, whose covers for Knopf have won many awards and plaudits. Now he has unexpectedly taken mouse in hand for a first novel, which Sarah McGrath at Scribner bought for world rights plus audio. It's called The Cheese Monkeys and tells of a young man not unlike the author who is studying art at a mid-Atlantic state university in the late 1950s, and the various eccentrics he encounters there. In the author's own inimitable characterization, "If you've ever stayed awake for 96 hours in the effort to build a life-sized sculpture of Carmen Miranda out of 30 pounds of salt dough and pipe cleaners, then this is the book for you." Amanda Urban at ICM made the sale, and Scribner will publish in fall 2001.

New Agent's Persistence Pays
Jodie Rhodes
is a former novelist, book editor and ad exec who two years ago set up a literary agency in La Jolla, Calif., and has just held her first successful auction. She has also sold two books for which she made, respectively, 40 and 36 unsuccessful submissions before finding homes for them. ("I'm insanely persistent," she says, somewhat unnecessarily.) The auction, for a memoir called The Boy Who Couldn't Listen by Karen Foli, about her son with a rare hearing disorder who was incorrectly diagnosed as mentally retarded, was won by Tracy Behar at Pocket Books; although Behar was the underbidder, she won because the author thought she would include more of Foli's story in addition to details of the case. Dr. Jay Lucker, a professor at Gallaudet University in Washington and an expert on hearing disorders, will provide his medical expertise for the book, which the authors hope to finish in six months. Behar offered escalators that took the deal to just under six figures, and got all rights except performance. The books Rhodes finally sold after endless turndowns were Infidelity, a memoir by Ann Pearlman about three generations of unfaithful fathers and husbands (she has been asked to do an article on the subject for Oprah magazine), sold to MacAdam/Cage in San Francisco, and A Combat Chaplain's 30-Year Vietnam War by Jim Johnson, sold to the University of North Texas Press. If at first...

Watch That Slush!Agents have to keep an eye on their slush piles, but common wisdom has it that editors hardly ever glance that way. Broadway Books executive editor Lauren Marino,however, is glad she did. As a result, she bought a book called Courage by self-published Denver author Sandra Ford Watson, a study of why courage in women is seldom sufficiently recognized. An energetic promoter, Watson secured blurbs from a number of noted inspirational writers and booked herself for a signing at the Tattered Cover and sold no fewer than 600 copies there; when she saw Broadway author Andrew Harvey reading at the store, she learned Marino was his editor, and sent her the book. Marino called the next day, put her in touch with agent Mary Ann Maples of Creative Culture Inc., and a world English rights sale was made immediately.

Miller Rants Again--for LBFresh from his launch last week as caustic commentator on Monday Night Football, TV comic Dennis Miller has scored another book sale, the interest in it fanned by the buzz around his new role. The untitled opus, a new collection of Miller's patented rants, including some on his chosen sport, was bought by Time Warner publishing chief Larry Kirshbaum for Little, Brown, where its editor will be Geoff Shandler, who will have it as one of his first projects when he arrives at the house (from Public Affairs) right after Labor Day. The buy, from ICM's Esther Newberg, was for world rights, including first serial, audio and electronic, and publication is set for fall of next year.

Short TakeThe Julia Castiglia agency on the Coast made a mid-six-figure sale for The God Gene, by geneticist Dean Hamer, who will discuss new research indicating that some form of religious belief seems to be built into the human gene; the sale, for world rights, was made to Robert Scholl at Doubleday, for publication in 2002.
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