The inside scoop on the book world

By Clarissa Cruz
Updated October 29, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

DOUBLE DUTCH? The hits on Edmund Morris’ Reagan bio Dutch just keep on coming. On Oct. 12, Pocket Books, paperback publisher of Peter Delacorte’s 1997 novel Time on My Hands, issued a press release saying Time ”covered the same ground” as Dutch. (In the novel, protagonist Gabriel Prince travels back in time and befriends a twentysomething Ronald Reagan — much as Morris’ alter ego does in Dutch.) So is Delacorte accusing Morris of cribbing?

No. ”It’s so obvious to someone who has studied Reagan that there’s nothing to write about, which makes him such a fascinating character to deal with as fiction,” says Delacorte. ”This is silly,” replies Random House spokeswoman Carol Schneider. ”This is basically a vain attempt to ride on our coattails.”

A TITANIC SUM In one of the most-talked-about deals at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Celine Dion has sold her memoirs, with HarperCollins chief Jane Friedman snagging English-language rights for a rumored mid-six figures. Dion will work in French and deliver by next spring for a fall 2000 publication.

THE NEXT MAGNUM PI Psychopathic farm boy? Been there. Reformed skinhead? Done that. But private eye with Tourette’s syndrome? Now, that’s something new for actor Edward Norton. In a six-figure deal, New Line Cinema has optioned the rights to Jonathan Lethem’s quirky novel Motherless Brooklyn (just out from Doubleday), with Norton attached to star and produce. ”We gave Edward the book in galley form and he loved it,” says Norton’s agent, Brian Swardstrom, who adds that shooting should be ready to start by late 2000.