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John F. Baker -- 8/14/00

Norton Deal for Highsmith Backlist
The End: Is It Nigh? | Gingrich's Ex Writing for SMP
Gun Control--for Book and Movie | Short Takes

Norton Deal for Highsmith Backlist

Highsmith: 14 titles
to be reborn.
A large part of the backlist of the late expatriate author Patricia Highsmith, especially renowned these days in the wake of the film TheTalented Mr. Ripley, has been bought in a six-figure deal worked out by Norton executive editor Robert Weil with Swiss publisher Diogenes, which represents her estate. It calls for Norton to publish 14 Highsmith titles, 10 novels and four short story collections--many of which may eventually be put together in a Collected Stories. The deal calls for trade paperback publication of the out-of-print material, much of it originally published here by Knopf and Mysterious Press, among others, with the first three titles--including her classic first novel, Strangers on a Train (1951)--appearing next April. Weil, a fan of Highsmith's who says that "her time has come" for greater recognition in her native land (she has always been more highly regarded in Europe), worked out the arrangements with Diogenes chief Daniel Keel, rights director Hedwig Janes and Keel's son Jakob, who works in New York. The novels to be published include three that have already inspired movie interest: People Who Knock on the Door, currently in pre-production for a BBC-TV movie; Suspension of Mercy, optioned by Warner Bros. for Heyday Films; and The Blunderer, optioned by Deerfilm Ltd. There are no Ripley titles in the collection.

The End: Is It Nigh?Well, not exactly nigh, but University of Washington scientists Peter Ward and Don Brownlee figure the world may have no more than half a billion years or so still to run. They'll say as much in a book just purchased by David Sobel in his first buy as editorial director at Times Books--and also the first in its new home at Henry Holt. The Ends of the World will examine how our planet will gradually become extinct, from the authors' expertise as, respectively, a geologist and astrobiologist for NASA. Sobel bought world rights to the title from Kris Dahl at ICM, beating out offers from Ecco, Norton and Crown. The plan is to publish in the fall of next year.

Gingrich's Ex Writing for SMP
Marianne Gingrich
, cast aside by the former House Speaker a year ago after 18 years as a Washington wife, is to do a book just signed by Thomas Dunne for his imprint at St. Martin's Press. The deal, for world rights, was signed with agent Jay Acton after Mrs. Gingrich had made the rounds of several publishers to discuss her proposal. Dunne took on the book, offering a mid-six-figure advance. It will not be simply a book dumping on Newt and the end of their marriage--although these issues will of course be discussed--but, Dunne said, a Washington memoir by an ultimate female insider. "Women in Washington tend to hang together no matter how their husbands relate," said Dunne, a self-confessed political junkie. "This will be all about those relationships." It will be written with Katherine Remsland, and Dunne plans to publish in fall of next year. He offers a final exclusive: Mrs. Gingrich is betting on Al Gore for president.

Gun Control--for Book and MovieA book that will look at the battle currently being waged over gun control from the inside has been bought by Chad Conway at the Free Press at Simon & Schuster--one of its first purchases since Bill Shinker took over there--and no sooner was the deal signed than a battle broke out for movie rights. The same agent, Allan Nevins at L.A.'s Renaissance, was handling both for authors Peter H. Brown and Daniel C. Abel. Brown is the author of, among others, Marilyn: The Last Take and Howard Hughes: The Untold Story, and Abel is a lawyer spearheading the lawsuits now being brought by many communities against gun manufacturers. The book will be called A Gun in the House, and Conway bought North American and first serial rights. No sooner had he done so than Nevins orchestrated a shootout between several TV channels for movie rights. Ted Turner's TNT eventually won out over NBC and Fox with a strong last-minute bid. Conway plans to publish in winter 2002, but may move the book up if news developments warrant.

Short Takes
James McBride
's 1996 bestselling memoir, The Color of Water, about being raised as a black man by a Jewish mother, has been optioned by Robert Greenwald Productions and ABC for a TV movie; the deal, made by Jody Hotchkiss at Sterling Lord Literistic, was for a mid five figures against a six-figure pickup price.... Hyperion executive editor Peternelle von Arsdale made a "healthy" six-figure deal for two novels by Anne Ursu, a young writing student of Bharati Mukherjee and Edwidge Danticat; the world rights preemptive deal was made with agent Lisa Bankoff at ICM.... Agent Irene Goodman has made a seven-figure, three-book deal for romance author Linda Lael Miller with Linda Marrow at Pocket Books; the relationship between author, agent and editor has lasted over 20 contracts, 42 books and 16 years; the latest deal was a world rights one for three paperback historicals.
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