Publisher solicits authors for ''Godfather'' sequel. Random House hopes to pull in a writer to pen yet another Corleone novel, continuing the saga created by the late Mario Puzo

By Gary Susman
Updated October 22, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

He wanted out, but they keep pulling him back in. According to the New Yorker, Random House is looking for a new writer to add another sequel to the ”Godfather” saga. (The original author, Mario Puzo, died in 1999.) Puzo’s estate and his former editor, Jonathan Karp, are soliciting outlines and ideas for a new Corleone novel, with Karp sending an e-mail out to literary agents looking for ”someone who is in roughly the same place in life Mario Puzo was when he wrote ‘The Godfather’ — at mid-career, with two acclaimed literary novels to his credit, who writes in a commanding and darkly comic omniscient voice.” Or, as Karp told Variety, ”We’re looking for a connected author, in the best sense of the word.”

Why another story of the Corleones, whose history Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola seemed to have exhausted in the book and the three ”Godfather” movies made between 1972 and 1990? ”These characters just keep pulling you back in,” Karp told Variety. ”There is enormous continuing interest in the Corleone family, and a great opportunity to tell a story that could take place before, during or after the original book. Mario once told me he wished he had done more with Sonny Corleone’s character, and there was certainly more opportunity to explore the singer Johnny Fontaine. And Michael Corleone did make an appearance at the beginning and end of [Puzo’s non-Mafia novel] ‘The Sicilian,’ because he had a relationship with the freedom fighter.”

What writer would dare take on such a project? ”Only a fool would do it,” Alexandra Ripley, who wrote 1991’s ”Gone With the Wind” sequel ”Scarlett,” told the New Yorker. ”A person has to be more than slightly insane to try to write a sequel that everyone will surely be waiting to attack.” She quips, ”That’s why it took me only a minute to decide to do ‘Scarlett.”’

Jeffrey Eugenides (”The Virgin Suicides,” the recently published ”Middlesex”) might be the sort of mid-career, darkly comic author Karp is looking for. (Plus, he has a connection: ”Suicides” was adapted into a movie by Coppola daughter and ”Godfather Part III” star Sofia Coppola.) But he told the New Yorker, ”They’ll have to make me an offer I can’t refuse.”

Variety reports that Paramount, home of the three ”Godfather” films, will get first crack at the movie rights to the new book. But former Paramount production chief Robert Evans, who oversaw the making of the first movie, was blunt in his criticism of Random House for commissioning the project. ”They’re just prostituting themselves,” he told the New Yorker. ”I wouldn’t want to be the guy who has to write it. Even if you’re better you’re worse. I’m giving it to you straight: you don’t f— around with a classic.”

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