Jackie Collins, Ethan Coen, and Hunter S. Thompson made news the week of July 25, 1997

FALLING TO PIECES The irrepressible Jackie Collins, who just tossed off a four-part novella, Sunset Heights, for TV Guide, has clearly gotten hooked on the installment plan. Taking a page from Stephen King’s The Green Mile and now John Saul’s Blackstone Chronicles, Collins is penning The Hollywood Connection, which she hopes to publish as a multi-part paperback series, says her spokesperson. No word on a publisher yet.

SHORT TAKES Ethan Coen, creator with brother Joel of the art-house faves Barton Fink and Miller’s Crossing — as well as the Academy Award-winning crossover hit Fargo — has sold his first solo production: an as-yet-untitled collection of short stories, acquired by Rob Weisbach Books. A heated auction is rumored to have shot the price past the $400,000 range, unheard of for short fiction. According to acquiring editor Colin Dickerman, who tentatively plans to publish in fall ’98, the stories feature the stuff of Coen’s movies — noir atmosphere and Brooklyn gangsters. Coen now joins fellow filmmakers Oliver Stone and Gus Van Sant on the literary circuit: Van Sant’s first novel, Pink, will be published in October, around the same time as Stone’s A Child’s Night Dream.

FEAR AND LOATHING IN NEW YORK Pity those assigned to help hawk Hunter S. Thompson’s first volume of correspondence, The Proud Highway. The 59-year-old gonzo journalist — never less than a handful — appears particularly stressed out by the demands of his Villard publicity tour. Thompson arrived an hour late at a Manhattan Barnes & Noble signing, kept a continually replenished glass of Scotch at his side — then left the actual task of ”autographing” books to helpers, who slapped on pre-initialed stickers. He also walked out of his own book party to go watch a WNBA game with Johnny Depp at a nearby tavern. As if these antics weren’t enough, agitated Thompson flacks are finding their role increasingly supplanted by Depp, who’s slated to play Thompson in the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. ”Depp is acting caretaker, handler, hand-holding babysitter…. He’s busy taking care of Hunter when he’s on the road,” reported one well-placed source.