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Publishing Characters

How Hollywood depicts members of the book industry

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Jack Nicholson’s hair-raising portrayal of book editor Will Randall in Wolf prompted us to take a look at a few other recent literary creatures portrayed on the large and small screen. These professionals can not only edit (though we almost never see them do this), they can also (a) outrun deer, (b) work wonders with a knife, and (c) eat massive handfuls of Jujyfruits at once. What writer wouldn’t put his or her work in their hands?

*Movie: Wolf
*Character: Jack Nicholson is Will Randall, early 50s, married.
*Job Profile: Respected editor of literary works, heads MacLeish House.
*Style: Shabby literary chic. Well-worn sports jackets, pocket hankie.
*Typical Dialogue: ”Instead of art, we have pop culture.”
*Special Skills: Excellent vertical leap, olfactory genius, passable Sy Sperling imitation.

*Movie: Sliver
*Character: Sharon Stone is Carly Norris, 35, divorced.
*Job Profile: Specializes in tell-all bios. Supposedly at work on a James Dean book.
*Style: Classy, sexy, designer wear in neutral tones.
*Typical Dialogue: ”I don’t need a date. I need a relationship.”
*Special Skills: Able to remove own underwear while dining. Knows how to enjoy a bath.

*Movie: Fatal Attraction
*Character: Glenn Close is Alex Forrest, 36, single.
*Job Profile: Editor at Robbins & Hart. Seen at a meeting, but never shown anywhere near a book.
*Style: Slutty corporate. Heavy eyeliner, lots of low-cut black and white.
*Typical Dialogue: ”I just want to be a part of your life.”
*Special Skills: Great with a Ginsu. Good cook, especially rabbit.

*Television Series: Seinfeld
*Character: Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is Elaine Benes, 30s, single.
*Job Profile: Works at Pendant Publishing. Hasn’t edited many books yet.
*Style: Loose-fitting vintage wear; frequently chewing.
*Typical Dialogue: ”Get out!” and ”Jerrr–ee.”
*Special Skills: Claims to have a 145 IQ. Wields a mean cherry Binaca for self-defense.

*Television Series: Dream On
*Character: Brian Benben is Martin Tupper, 39, divorced.
*Job Profile: Senior editor, Whitestone Publishing.
*Style: Italian suits.
*Typical Dialogue: ”I refuse to work here for one penny less than 15 percent below what I was making before.”
*Special Skills: Encyclopedic recall of old movies and ’50s TV. Recovers quickly from failed affairs.