Between the Lines |


Between the Lines

The inside scoop on the book world

DOG DAYS Boy, is Ballantine having bad luck with movie tie-in editions. First: Oliver Stone bases U-Turn on John Ridley’s Stray Dogs, then refuses to let the publisher use stills from the film to promote a paperback edition. Now a similar fate has befallen Larry Beinhart’s novel American Hero — the basis for Barry Levinson’s upcoming Wag the Dog, which stars Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman. Coscripter David Mamet is rumored to be the muscle behind a threatening letter from New Line’s legal department that not only refuses to provide production stills but objects to ”any reference to any of [Wag the Dog’s] performers or creative participants” on ”any republication of American Hero.” (This despite the fact that Beinhart’s name and credit appears on the finished flick, as did Ridley’s.) Ballantine publisher Claire Ferraro still plans to use a ”based-on” tag line for the book. Mamet’s agent wouldn’t comment.

— DEM BONES The merger earlier this year of Viking Penguin and the Putnam Berkley Group may have taken its first major casualty: Stephen King. The author of Carrie and The Shining, a mainstay of Viking Penguin since 1979, has been unable to come to terms with Penguin Putnam. Sources say that after years of being the house’s No. 1 author, King dislikes sharing the limelight with Putnam’s Tom Clancy — who recently inked a reported $100 million deal with corporate owner Pearson PLC — and is looking for a new home for his next novel, Bag of Bones. ”He’s upset because Clancy is getting more than him,” says a publishing insider. ”The disagreement is principally about other things than money,” counters the author’s agent and lawyer, Arthur Greene, declining to be specific. Nevertheless, Greene asked Penguin Putnam for around $16 million for the book, which sources describe as an ”outrageous” amount given the high return rate on the author’s last two hardcovers, which concluded a deal worth a reported $63.5 million for four books. Though one editor who read the hefty new novel said it takes 500 pages to begin, others contend it reads like vintage King. Among the houses Greene has sent the book to is the highly literary Farrar, Straus & Giroux, leading some to suspect King wants prestige. Others who have been dealing with Greene, however, say the issue is money.

Alexandra Jacobs and Matthew Flamm