Plus Rev. Al Sharpton, Phyllis Grann, and the inside scoop on the book world

GRANN DAME Longtime Penguin Putnam chief Phyllis Grann—who announced her resignation in October while making it clear she was a long way from retirement—has signed with Random House Inc. as vice chairman, a custom-made ”corporate advisory position” reporting to chairman Peter W. Olson. Grann will have no day-to-day duties, but will be ”a wonderful collaborator,” Olson says, for those publishers interested in working with her. But is that all? ”People who think Phyllis Grann will be content to be an adviser—a bird dog, in effect, to bring in star writers and have other people supervise their publication—don’t know her,” says a prominent agent. ”She will find a way to rise to a position where everyone is directly reporting to her—or she’ll leave.” Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum scoffed at the idea: ”Supervising our publishers is one of Peter’s favorite responsibilities. He has no plans to discontinue doing so.”

SHARPTON POINTS Nonstop New York City power broker Rev. Al Sharpton is shopping a book proposal that would spell out his vision on domestic and foreign policy issues. ”He has been exploring a presidential run and if it happens, this book would be his manifesto,” says William Morris agent Manie Barron.

EVERYBODY LOVES PATRICIA Patricia Heaton, the costar of Everybody Loves Raymond, has reached a deal with Villard, following a seven-house auction, to publish a collection of autobiographical essays called Motherhood and Hollywood. Villard editorial director Bruce Tracy paid close to seven figures for the book, characterized as ”Erma Bombeck meets Dennis Miller.” ”It’s grounded in middle American reality,” Tracy says, ”and yet she’s not afraid to throw a few darts.” Motherhood will be out next fall.