Stephen Collins, Absolut, and Michael Moore made news the week of May 1, 1998

Big biz

Forget Nike. The worst corporate casualty from Michael Moore’s new film may be…his own publisher. Moore spends much of The Big One, possibly the first flick ever about an author tour, trying to shake the ”media escorts” hired by Random House. He neglects to mention that Downsize This! was published by Random imprint Crown and bonds with Garrison Keillor over signing-circuit hell. ”I don’t have sympathy for any author that claims this is grueling work,” amends Moore, who expresses little outrage at the Bertelsmann takeover of Random House — perhaps because he jumped ship to HarperCollins for the upcoming Adventures in a TV Nation.

Wasted effort

Absolut is having bad luck with its choice of literary pitchpeople. Famously on-the-wagon Dominick Dunne was the first to participate in the ad campaign. Then Douglas Coupland’s new novel suggested that vodka was responsible for one character’s hangover. Now, with Absolut’s support, Julia Alvarez has withdrawn a poem she penned for the spirits outfit after the right-wing Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights complained that the verse ”exploits the Catholic sacrament.” ”This is a poem that Absolut liked and decided to publish, not advertising copy that can be altered on demand,” Alvarez said in a statement. Strange. According to her agent, Susan Bergholz, Alvarez had no problem removing a non-Absolut brand name from an early draft, at ad shop TBWA Chiat/Day’s request.

A tact-ician

He’s still new to the lit thing, but Stephen Collins doesn’t need any sensitivity training. The 7th Heaven star, who picked up jacket kudos from Scott Turow for his second novel, Double Exposure, not only changed one character’s flip reference to Sonny Bono but deployed his Morrow publicist to inform the media. The offending passage implied that the deceased congressman was a fading lounge act, interchangeable with Wayne Newton. A Morrow editor thinks the author ”was just being conscientious.” Perhaps he had second thoughts about dissing a fellow career switcher?