Joe Klein, Brad Pitt, and Viagra made news the week of May 29, 1998

By Alexandra Jacobs and Matthew Flamm
Updated May 29, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Unable to come to terms with Random House, which published him Anonymously, journalist Joe Klein has inked a rumored seven-figure deal with Dell Publishing’s Dial Press imprint. Klein will publish at least two books under his own name; the first will be — what else? — a contemporary political novel.

Two Viagra instant paperbacks are on the way, a Viagra hardcover is already out, and Viagra Nation — a humor book — is slated for summer publication. But a Viagra political novel? Simon & Schuster publisher David Rosenthal has bumped up the publication date of Peter Lefcourt’s shamelessly titled The Woody from spring ’99 to this September. ”It’s about a senator who becomes exasperated when he, er, flat-lines with a lobbyist,” says Rosenthal. The book cover features the Washington Monument in a suggestively phallic position. ”Some retailers will have trouble with it,” says Rosenthal, ”but I can’t worry about small-minded people.”

You can count on Brad Pitt to pony up aural gratification. Five years ago, the actor was a leading contender to play the 16-year-old protagonist in the film version of Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, so he was a natural choice to narrate Random House’s companion audio book. Ditto when it came time to record 1994’s sequel, The Crossing. But McCarthy was a little late with the trilogy’s final installment…late enough that the Seven Years in Tibet star, now 33, was unsaddled in the Horses role by Matt Damon. Yet Pitt graciously agreed to lend his vaguely Western tones to the just-out Cities of the Plain — for the customary $10,000 fee, no less. ”It’s just bliss,” purrs the project’s producer, Sherry Huber. ”His voice has changed with maturity. It’s deeper. He generally plays someone laconic who chooses his words carefully. You wouldn’t want someone who’s a blabber.” Certainly not.