The inside scoop on the book world during the week of Feb. 6, 1998

Jen Hex
Not only was Jenny McCarthy‘s memoir JEN-X an expensive failure, but now the star of NBC’s recently yanked sitcom has filed suit against the publisher and Judith Regan, whose imprint brought out the paperback. McCarthy is charging breach of contract and fraud over what sources say is the $200,000 owed her on a $1 million contract. “We performed [according to] the contract, and we’re disappointed that they didn’t,” says McCarthy’s lawyer, Larry Stein. Sources at HarperCollins maintain that it was McCarthy who let everyone down by bowing out of her book tour midway through. Says Harper spokeswoman Ginger Curwen, “She failed to fulfill all of her contractual obligations, so we’re considering our own best course of action in light of that failure.” However, McCarthy’s camp argues that she quit the tour when it became clear there would be no $200,000 payment.

Poetry in Motion
It’s not often that a book of poetry is in such demand that it goes into a second printing even before hitting bookstores. But Birthday Letters, by British poet laureate Ted Hughes, is no ordinary book: In 88 poems written over the last 25 years, he tells for the first time the story of his marriage to the celebrated American poet Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide in 1963. “Sylvia Plath is a mythic figure, but we’ve never heard from the other protagonist in that myth,” says Jonathan Galassi, editor in chief of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Hughes’ U.S. publisher.

A Bust?
Pamela Lee is available — for a price. To publishers, that is. Warner Books just dropped Pamdemonium, the star’s autobiography, over a scheduling conflict. The book had originally appeared in Warner’s fall ’97 catalog, but delays in the manuscript forced a postponement until June. Now it turns out that Lee will be working on her new syndicated TV series, V.I.P., in June and won’t be able to tour. Dan Strone, her agent at William Morris, says he expects to place the book at another house for publication this fall, in time for her to promote it along with the show.