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Archives: January 2007

Meet This February’s Relationship Advice Icon

jcourtney-sullivan.jpgSince Sarah’s already covered the celebrities and their pals with dating tips angle for today, I’ll turn to the New York Observer, where Choire Sicha spends quality time with J. Courtney Sullivan, whose Dating Up: Dump the Schlump and Find a Quality Man is on its way to bookstores as we speak. Sullivan is an alumna of the NYT Modern Love school of relationships, although she’d like you to know that essay about how she learned to shut up about her feminism so men would stop hating her wasn’t quite as simplistic as, well, I just made it sound. “I did mean for a lot of it to be a joke, and I think some people didn’t get the joke,” she tells Sicha over lunch at Osteria al Doge. “I was trying to parody myself. And there were times where people didn’t get that and thought I was being straight up. But if I had been, I’d be a gigantic asshole.” Which she isn’t.

By the way, is it just me, or has Sicha executed a pitch-perfect parody of the NY Times arts section author profile, specifically the Dinitia Smith variety? But Sullivan had better watch out: The last cute young relationship experts Sicha celebrated in print were Lauren Blitzer and Lauren Levin, whose moment in the sun seems to have been rather brief (although, who knows, they may have something new up their sleeves, and God bless ‘em if they do).

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Today in AMS: PGW Clients Get Perseus Offers

PW Daily reports that various Publishers Group West clients are sending back signed agreements to the distributor, though as of this writing, not all publishers have yet received offers. Perseus CEO David Steinberger said he had received “more than 10″ contracts since they began coming in yesterday. Late last week, Steinberger and PGW head Rich Freese met with a group of PGW clients in the San Francisco Bay Area. “The sessions went well. We did a lot of listening,” Steinberger said.

As the runup to the February 7 bankruptcy court hearing date for objections to Perseus’s offer continues, so too do the rumors and speculation. Yesterday PW Daily reported that AMS’s primary lender, Wells Fargo Foothill, “received at least two promising going concern offers for the AMS business,” though the bidders were not named. And both Edward Champion and Radio Free PGW offer items about dealings within Perseus’s distribution chambers.

Terry McMillan Still Bitter, Like You Care

terry-mcmillan.jpgThere’s a new cycle of anthologies hitting the stores, and Warner BooksThe Honeymoon’s Over: True Stories of Love, Marriage, and Divorce has a doozy of a contribution in the form of Terry McMillan‘s “100 Questions I Meant to Ask Him,” him being the ex-husband who decided he’d rather have sex with men than her (pictured at right in happier times, when girlfriend was completely oblivious). At the time, you may recall, she reacted somewhat poorly, informing her ex that “you’re going to make a great fag” because “most of you guys are just like dogs anyway.” Now she’d like to tell him (and, by extension, you), “You didn’t really think of me as a homophobe because I called you all of the ‘F’ words I could, did you? Don’t you understand this was the only weapon I had?”

Herewith, then, we present more evidence of McMillan’s enlightened, non-homophobic attitudes:

  • “Was Vince [her ex's lover] just jealous of me because I was your wife and I was a woman and I was pretty and black and rich and famous? Does he hate all women because he’s jealous he isn’t one?”

  • “Why do men like Vince try so hard to act like women, and why do men like you like them so much?”
  • “Why are most gay men so gorgeous? There also seems to be a kind of narcissism inherent in your behavior because there is clearl an obsession with your looks, your bodies, and body parts? What is this about?”
  • “Have you been surprised by the promiscuous behavior of a lot of gay men? Are you going to be like this or are you already?”
  • “Do you know all of the men you’ve had sex with? Can you count them?”
  • “Why do so many gay magazines and books focus on cruising, bondage, sex: any-way-you-can-get-it, S&M, looks, beautiful bodies, etc., etc., with very little or no attention given to how to achieve or maintain healthy relationships?”

The best part is how she follows up that last bit with, “I’m not trying to stereotype…” In addition to these oh-so-non-hompohobic questions, you have to wade through a lot of bathetic self-pity about whether her ex’s boyfriends give better head than she did and how she still loves him so much the thought of him kissing another man makes her nauseous, but she wants you to know she’s moving on—though she’d still like him to explain the chlamydia-like infection she’s acquired down there. At least there’s twenty-three other women to choose from in the collection with somewhat saner stories to tell. (So when’s the men’s version coming?)

Sidney Sheldon Crosses to The Other Side

Admit it: you’ve probably even read, or at least picked up, a Sidney Sheldon novel in your life. The author of bestselling blockbusters like THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT and THE RAGE OF ANGELS – not to mention the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBYSOXER – died Tuesday at the age of 89 of complications from pneumonia. His wife, Alexandra, and his daughter, author Mary Sheldon, were by his side. The LA Times has a full obituary as well.

“I’ve lost a longtime and dear friend,” his publicist, Warren Cowan, said to the AP. “In all my years in this business, I’ve never heard an unkind word said about him.” And while Sheldon could not ever be said to have critical acclaim, his books sold millions and millions of copies. “I try to write my books so the reader can’t put them down,” he explained in a 1982 interview. “I try to construct them so when the reader gets to the end of a chapter, he or she has to read just one more chapter. It’s the technique of the old Saturday afternoon serial: leave the guy hanging on the edge of the cliff at the end of the chapter.” Analyzing why so many women bought his books, he commented: “I like to write about women who are talented and capable, but most important, retain their femininity. Women have tremendous power — their femininity, because men can’t do without it.”

Finding the Perfect Boyfriend with Patricia Wolff and Felicity Huffman

The LA Times’ Mimi Avins catches up with DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES star Felicity Huffman and her best friend Patricia Wolff, who collaborated on the humor-laden guidebook A PRACTICAL HANDBOOK FOR THE BOYFRIEND, in stores this week. And both authors are well aware that if Huffman’s name wasn’t on the book, it may not have sold well – or to a publisher. “Any group of girlfriends who wonder why men don’t get it could have written their own book,” Wolff said, “and it would have been a little different from ours. Our approach was that men and women together are funny. If it’s not tragic, it’s hilarious.”

“We started writing the book because we wanted it to help guys figure women out,” Huffman said. “We weren’t presenting ourselves as experts. The book is a little bit of advice and a lot of funny. We thought women would read the book, and hopefully they’ll give it to their guys.” Brenda Copeland did. The executive editor of Hyperion Books gave a copy to her brother. “He’s newly single,” Copeland said, “and he hasn’t a clue.” In other words, at least anecdotally, the book’s working…

New York Answers Brown Family Complaint

FishbowlNY continues its first-look hold on the tussle between New York and Nicole Brown Simpson’s family over just who was in attendance at a meeting where News Corp. reps offered somebody money not to complain so loudly about O.J. Simpson‘s If I Did It. A spokesperson for the magazine says the article “reflects the facts as we know them.”

“News Corp. executives present at the meeting in Indianapolis say that one of the lawyers there was representing the Brown family in the negotiation,” the statement continues. “The Brown family maintains that that is not the case… While Vanessa Grigoriadis called the Brown’s lawyer for comment 24 hours before final closing, we are sorry we were not able to represent the Browns’ position fully in the article.”

The Browns aren’t the only ones to question the veracity of the stories Grigoriadis passes along from HarperCollins sources, by the way: Michael Cader of Publishers Marketplace openly derided the claims of a Harper executive that nobody at the company but Judith had any idea what was in the book. “Even though orders had been solicited, a higher-than-initially-expected print run of approximately 400,000 copies had been set, and by the time the book was cancelled four days later on November 20, those books were printed and at least some of them had shipped,” Cader scornfully recaps, “News Corp. is selling… the story that as late as Thursday, November 16 they couldn’t get anything to read. And it’s Judith’s fault, of course.” Of course! But then, as Cader also observed, and we’ve been saying for a while, many of the leaks coming out of Harper just don’t make sense.

Weisberg Departs from Random House

PW Daily reported yesterday that Don Weisberg, who has headed the large Random House sales group since Random’s acquisition by Bertelsmann in 1998, will leave the company February 28. Weisberg, who is executive vp and COO of North America, also oversees Random House of Canada. All of his duties will be assumed by Edward Volini, Random’s deputy chairman.

n his memo to employees, Random chairman Peter Olson said that he and Weisberg “have been discussing his desire to consider and to pursue new professional challenges….I have tried hard to change his mind over the past few months but ultimately respected his wishes to move on.” While Olson was aware of Weisberg’s plans, the news of Weisberg’s departure came as a surprise to Random’s employees, including the sales force. Olson’s decision to not replace Weisberg with someone with a sales background is also a surprise. Weisberg developed strong credibility with accounts, and Olson called him “a pragmatic and customer-oriented leader and thinker… who ran the sales group with an open mind and great heart.”

The news might also be an extra surprise in the wake of recent sales force firings, anywhere from a few individuals to more than 3 dozen, and may make one wonder what, if any, further plans Random House has with regards to gutting modifying its sales force…

Fantasy Writer Accidentally Torches His Office

Last week, bestselling fantasy writer David Edding “was using water to flush out the gas tank of his broken-down Excalibur sports car,” according to the Nevada Appeal, “when some fluid leaked. In a lapse of judgment he readily admitted, Eddings lit a piece of paper and threw into the puddle to test if it was still flammable.” Well, it was…and pretty soon his garage had burned down, along with a good portion of the building he uses as an office, located next door to his family’s home in Carson City. Even Eddings admits the accident was “dumb,” though the newspaper account is unclear as to whether the original manuscripts of his 27 novels (many co-written with his wife) had been destroyed in the blaze.

Venue Problems Scuttle Calcutta Book Fair

The Independent reports that India’s undisputed literary capital is in mourning after the loss of one of its most venerable and lucrative institutions: the Calcutta Book Fair. The fair was abruptly canceled right before it was scheduled to open today because of problems with the Maidan, the city’s answer to Central Park. Since it was founded in 1976, the book fair has been held on the Maidan and millions have flocked there to marvel at its architecture as they look through the bookshelves. But in recent years growing concern over the environmental damage, not only to the Maidan itself, but to the surrounding monuments, has resulted in pressure to shift the fair elsewhere.

Almost all of Calcutta’s major events used to take place on the Maidan. But in 2004 the High Court banned public fairs – with the exception of the book fair, which was given a special exception for a few years, during which the fair’s organizers were supposed to look for a new venue. But that special exception is no more, and the Fair must find new grounds to host them. But it kind of makes you wonder, don’t they believe in contingency plans? Or were they so optimistic as to keep the blinders on? No doubt the fights will continue in time for next year’s book fair, too…

Simon & Schuster Stays Put in Midtown

while other properties of its parent company, Viacom, are getting the hell out of Midtown because of rising rents, Simon & Schuster is staying put at its Sixth Avenue Offices, reports the Observer, and will do so for the next seven years. It will keep space on floors 4, 9 through 14, and 17. The five-year renewal is a short one, lasting through 2014, for $62 per foot with two months free, said a source. Tishman Speyer owns 1230 Avenue of the Americas, across the street from Rockefeller Center, and the firm managed the deal.