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The inside scoop on the book world

Mia Farrow, the Spice Girls, and John Ridley made headlines this week

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SET HIM FREE? PEN American Center and Sting are both longtime human-rights champions. But apparently the 75th-anniversary gala thrown in April by the New York City-based writers’ organization, a hot-ticket occasion chaired by Michael Ovitz, was not quite hot enough for the rock star. According to PEN exec Tamara Moscowitz, one of Sting’s managers asked for complimentary passes for his boss. Moscowitz explained that the dinner was a fund-raiser, which the former Police-man was welcome to attend for the same price — $1,000 — as everyone else. She didn’t hear from him again. A Sting rep claims the event would have conflicted with travel plans, but says it was ”possible” that someone had expressed interest on his behalf.

IT’S FARROW TO SAY Though Woody Allen was pegged as one of the PEN gala’s vice chairs, he was also a no-show. Former flame Mia Farrow, however, did attend. Clad in a black pantsuit, the author of the recent best-selling memoir What Falls Away sipped red wine, chatted with First Amendment-award presenter Paul Newman, and told EW that she’s currently working on a novel, though she didn’t reveal any details.

PEPPERED PROSE Those piquant popstresses and now purported authors the Spice Girls signed 500 copies of their tour photo-heavy instabook, Girl Power!, at a Manhattan B. Dalton bookstore on April 11, using Sharpie markers that, two hours later, had already begun to smudge off. When asked to clarify ”Wannabe” lyric ”zigazig ha,” ”Scary Spice” Mel B would only admit that ”we had something sort of a little bit rude in mind.” Gee, do their mums know?

ETCHED IN STONE A falling-out with mentor Oliver Stone hasn’t hurt John Ridley: The novelist, screenwriter, and director — whose script of his first novel, Stray Dogs, was just filmed by Stone — has sold his next two thrillers to Knopf in a high six-figure deal. Ridley quarreled with Stone late last year, when the filmmaker objected to Stray Dogs being published this summer, months ahead of the movie release. (Stone, who claimed the book would give away the film’s ending, renamed the film U-Turn, making it harder for the publisher to reap benefits from a tie-in.) The first book in Ridley’s deal, Love Is a Racket, will be published in 1998.

MEDIA PEEK PrimeTime Live‘s Nancy Collins is writing a ”non-Anonymous Primary Colors about the high-powered world of the media,” according to Hyperion’s Maureen O’Brien, who snapped up the novel for around $150,000. Look for it in fall ’98.

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