James McBride and ''Stray Dogs'' made news the week of September 26, 1997

THE COLOR OF MONEY: Talk about good timing. In January, when Doubleday picked James McBride to cowrite Quincy Jones’ upcoming autobiography, the writer was merely a former journalist and author of a well-received memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother. Nine months later, McBride is no mere author but a name: Water is the No. 1 paperback on the New York Times best-seller list. ”I thought, If you can find out the story of your mother’s life when she’s not cooperating with you [she was reluctant to have her son probe into her past], you can find out anything,” says Pat Mulcahy, editor in chief of Doubleday, on why the publishing house tapped McBride for the job. She now expects readers to buy the book, due next year, because of both McBride’s name and Jones’.

FACE-OFF: When is a movie tie-in not a movie tie-in? When Oliver Stone won’t let you use movie stills on the book’s cover. Stray Dogs, a first novel by John Ridley, is coming out in paperback this month — only four months after its hardcover publication and just in time for the October release of U-Turn, the thriller Stone directed based on the book. (It stars Sean Penn.) The cover art fell victim to the fight that ensued when Stone demanded Ballantine delay the original publication; he didn’t want the ending revealed to moviegoers. The publisher refused, and Stone banned Ridley — who wrote the screenplay — from the set. Though novelist and director have reportedly made up, Ballantine was still left without the pix — and had to be content with the blurb ”Read the book that the motion picture U-Turn is based on.” Ballantine executive editor Peter Borland says he isn’t sorry: ”We did what we wanted to do; we’ve established John as a novelist.”