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John F. Baker -- 11/20/00

A Little Help from Sir Paul | Dr. Lee of Los Alamos to Tell All
Birth of a Book on the Erie Canal
All About Belly Dancing | Short Takes

A Little Help from Sir PaulNot only has Sir Paul McCartney written many of the song lyrics everyone remembers, he is also a p t who can write without benefit of accompanying music. A collection of all his song lyrics, along with many never-before-published p ms, will appear in Blackbird Singing: The P ms and Lyrics of Paul McCartney, for which executive editor Robert Weil at Norton has just bought U.S. rights (the book is being done by Faber & Faber in London). Adrian Mitchell,a celebrated p t in his own right, as well as a critic and novelist, will edit the volume, which Weil plans to publish next April, National P try Month. Weil bought the book from Emma Parry at Carlisle & Company, acting on behalf of the p t's London agent, Annabel Hardman of Peters Fraser & Dunlop. Only a few weeks ago, the multitalented Sir Paul was here for the publication of a book of his paintings by Bulfinch Press. Anyone thought to see if he could write a novel?

Dr. Lee of Los Alamos to Tell All
Dr. Wen Ho Lee
,the Chinese-born physicist who was arrested by the U.S. government amid allegations of lax security at the Los Alamos National Laboratory where he worked in nuclear weapons research, and whose case was then thrown out by a federal judge, is to tell his own story in a Hyperion book and an ABC-TV miniseries. Executive editor Will Schwalbe dealt with the Lee family lawyer, David Weil of Melveny and Myers, to fashion a deal that gave the publisher world rights and audio on the story. The book, for which a writer has yet to be assigned, is scheduled for publication next November. Producer Robert Greenwald has also made a deal for an ABC miniseries on the Lee family's story, to be supervised by Greenwald Productions v-p Alys Shanti and scheduled to go into production next year.

Birth of a Book on the Erie CanalThe idea for a book on the building of the Erie Canal had occurred to both editor-in-chief Bill Thomas at Doubleday and executive editor Charles Conrad at Broadway, and when they both made recent deals with agent Russell Galen at Scovil Chichak Galen, they asked him if he had a suitable writer for such a project. Turns out that the writer whose book Broadway had just bought, Dan Raviv (Comic Wars), had a colleague, Gerard K ppel at CBS News, who seemed ideally suited, having done a book recently for Princeton University Press called Water for Gotham about the building of New York City's water supply system. Galen promptly made a six-figure hard-soft deal for K ppel to do the Erie project, to be edited by Conrad but published first in hardcover by Doubleday. The deal was for North American rights, including serial and audio, and the manuscript is set for delivery in 18 months.

All About Belly DancingWhen agent Jane Dystel got a manuscript called Snake Hips, about the adventures and misadventures of a Lebanese-American belly dancer, by Anne Thomas Soffee of Richmond, Va., who dances as an avocation, Dystel was enthusiastic. Twenty publishers later, however, most of whom agreed the writing was excellent but the subject was too quirky, she was beginning to despair. Finally she found a fellow enthusiast in Cynthia Sherry at Chicago Review Press, who bought world rights to the saga. Soffee's book is a memoir that also touches on all the American variations of the Arabian-style dance, including offshoots like the Belly-Gram that take it closer to burlesque than the souk. Soffee, who has an MFA in creative writing, sways her hips as Samira el-Safi.

Short TakesHyperion has signed model Christy Turlington to do a book on yoga, on which she is apparently an expert. Associate publisher Ellen Archer and executive editor Leslie Wells signed her through agent Lisa Jacobson at United Talent Agency for world rights on a so far untitled book to be published early in 2002.... Another celeb with a platform, Elizabeth Kaledin, who is the medical correspondent for CBS Evening News, is doing a book for Tom Dunne's imprint at St. Martin's called The Morning Sickness Companion; according to agent Laura Dail, who made the North American rights deal, there is no comparable book on the ailment that afflicts nearly half of all pregnant women.... Executive editor Eamon Dolan won the auction for a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David L. Marcus on the special schools set up to help pressured teenagers, Ain't a Damn Thing Wrong: Adventures with Troubled Teens in the Age of Affluenza; he paid six figures for hard/soft North American rights to agent Andrew Blauner.... BBC Worldwide will publish its first e-book this month (in fact, it's the first from any major British publisher). It's On the Edge by Rupert Smith, based on characters in a current BBC Two drama about an Internet startup; it will appear, via a Versaware-created Web site, 10 days before a paperback version in the U.K.... Beth de Guzman at Bantam preempted a first novel by an American Airlines pilot about a woman pilot investigating a computer virus that led to a crash. It's called Highwire, the author is Kam Majd and the North American sale was made by agent Barbara Zitwer.