June 26, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

TALK ISN’T CHEAP Will Jerry Springer‘s trash-TV fans want to read about the show as well as watch it? “I’ll share stories from some of my favorite shows,” promises the host of the Jerry Springer Show in the proposal for his book, tentatively titled Ringmaster!, that is making the rounds of publishers. “Who could forget Denny the 900-pound transvestite?” Who indeed? Springer hopes to have the book out in time for the November sweeps, but it’ll cost plenty: According to an industry insider, Springer’s literary agent, William Morris’ Dan Strone, has already turned down a $500,000 offer.

STARS OF DAVID Madonna‘s interest in Judaism has apparently spread to her record label, Maverick. The company’s head of A&R, Guy Oseary, just signed with Villard to pen a book titled Jews Who Rock. Due in 1999, the work will enumerate Jews—including Beck, Courtney Love, and Slash; who knew?—who’ve been pivotal music-biz players. Ben Stiller wrote the intro.

A WHALE OF A TALE With a rumored $1 million preemptive bid, Viking beat out at least a dozen other publishers vying for Nathaniel Philbrick‘s In the Heart of the Sea, which one editor describes as “Alive meets The Perfect Storm meets Into Thin Air meets Moby Dick.” Based on the actual event that inspired Moby Dick, the book describes the 1820 sinking of a Nantucket whaling ship that had been rammed by a sperm whale, and the desperate measures—including cannibalism—the survivors resorted to during their 90 days adrift. The story made hot news in its day, but Philbrick, a Nantucket historian, has also drawn on a memoir by one of the eight survivors that was found in a trunk in Connecticut in 1981. “It was the Titanic of its day,” says one editor who bid, unsuccessfully, on the title. “It’s a fantastic story of adventure and survival, with resonance of history and literature,” says editor Kristine Puopolo, who’ll publish the title in 2000.—With reporting from Matthew Flamm

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