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Between the Lines

The inside scoop on the book world for the week of March 13, 1998

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BOOZE HOUNDS The literati’s long, hiccupy relationship with liquor has taken a commercial twist of late, with alcohol firms from Dewar’s to Skyy sponsoring boozy book parties — hot tickets for beleaguered editorial assistants. Absolut Vodka has even drafted top-shelf authors Julia Alvarez and ex-tippler Dominick Dunne to write for its latest ad campaign. But the brand might want to rethink its slated copywriter for April — Generation X author Douglas Coupland — after getting a whiff of his new novel, Girlfriend in a Coma. In a teaser from Judith Regan‘s spring catalog, Coma’s protagonist ”remember[s] giggling with the girls and having a drink…. And then she remembers nothing…she must have passed out…. ‘What did I have — two Valium? Vodka?… God, what a hangover. Mom to deal with. Oh, God.”’

THE $3 MILLION MAN Nearly four years ago, Robert Redford paid $3 million for the film rights to Nicholas EvansThe Horse Whisperer. Now Evans’ agent Bob Bookman has sent out his new novel, The Loop (due from Delacorte in September), asking for a minimum bid of $3 million plus a percentage of worldwide grosses and a whopping 30 percent of video sales. So far, he has no takers. The problem isn’t just price — some studio readers who have seen The Loop, a romance between a rancher’s son and a wolf biologist, think the book disappoints in the last half.

GET SOME CASH FOR YOUR TRASH The news that Bette Midler will play Jacqueline Susann in Isn’t She Great? — based on a 1995 New Yorker article by Susann’s onetime Simon & Schuster editor Michael Korda — wasn’t the greatest for one person: Susann biographer Barbara Seaman. Sure, Seaman’s 1987 Lovely Me (487 pages) was optioned by Knots Landing star Michele Lee — but for $75,000, a tenth of what Korda’s article (eight pages) fetched from TriStar. More vexingly, CBS seems to have jettisoned the project, though Lee’s option expires in June. Seaman consoles herself by imagining how Korda might cast his 30-years-younger self. ”First I thought he would probably want Brad Pitt. Then I decided he probably thought Brad Pitt wasn’t handsome enough anymore, and he would want Leonardo DiCaprio.” Korda did not return calls.

— Alexandra Jacobs and Matthew Flamm