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The inside scoop on the book world

Thomas Harris, and ”Keys to the Kingdom” made book news this week

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The blood is beginning to run at Random House Inc., where there has been a major consolidation of many imprints, with at least one casualty: Carole Baron, president and publisher of Dell for 18 years. Baron’s ouster comes just days before the publication of what may be the biggest book of her career, Thomas Harris’ Hannibal, prompting the media-phobic Harris to issue a statement: ”Relieving Carole Baron…in order to follow some mechanical blueprint of corporate structure is a mindless waste of the company’s best resources.” For her part, Baron says, ”We accomplished a great deal, that group and me, and I’m now looking to the future.” There is speculation that the well-regarded Baron, who counts not only Harris but also Danielle Steel, Nicholas Evans, and Elmore Leonard among her authors, will end up at Penguin Putnam.

Thy Kingdom won’t come
Keys to the Kingdom, an expose of the Walt Disney Co. written by entertainment journalist Kim Masters, has just been axed by Broadway Books, which claims ”irreconcilable editorial differences” as the reason, according to company spokesman Stuart Applebaum. Broadway also wants half of her $700,000 advance back. Masters, however, is blaming the cancellation on pressure from Disney, and she wants to keep her advance. ”We know they raved publicly and privately about the book, and then mysteriously decided they weren’t going to do it,” says Masters’ lawyer Bert Fields. He cites a phone call made to Random House by a top Disney executive and a TV partnership in Germany between Disney and RH corporate parent Bertelsmann as sufficient evidence ”from which a jury might draw the inference they did this in deference to Disney.” Responds Applebaum, ”Any suggestion that we are walking away from the book because of outside pressure is pathetically untrue and slanderous.” Whatever the outcome, William Morrow has already expressed interest in the book. ”I’d be very interested in publishing it, if and when it becomes available,” says exec editor Henry Ferris.

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