The inside scoop on the book world

— TAKING MINUTES Time to put 60 Minutes in the hot seat: HarperCollins has just made a six-figure deal for Tick… Tick…Tick…Inside the Most Successful Show in the History of Television, to be written by magazine journalist David Blum, with the full cooperation of CBS News as well as Mr. 60 Minutes himself, Don Hewitt. ”It comes at a pivotal moment in the show’s history,” says Harper executive editor David Hirshey, referring to the issue of succession, now that Hewitt, who has run the show for all of its 34 years, is 79 years old. Blum plans to look at the show’s entire history, as well as its influence on other television news programs. ”I think it will mine the territory as thoroughly as Gay Talese did in The Kingdom and the Power [about The New York Times],” says Hirshey, who hopes to publish the book in 2004.

— SAY WHAT? You won’t find comedian Richard Lewis credited in the just-out 17th edition of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. But it turns out that a recent episode of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm — in which the obsessive-compulsive Lewis tries to get Bartlett’s to acknowledge that he coined the phrase, ”[fill in the blank] from hell” — was true. ”He had his lawyer get in touch with me, and they sent a couple of tapes,” recalls Bartlett’s general editor Justin Kaplan, who first began hearing from Lewis’ camp in the early ’90s. But ”I spoke to people who had been at Yale before the time of his first taped broadcast, who said [the line] was a common idiom.” Lewis disagrees: He traces popular usage of the line back to his early days on the Letterman show. ”When I saw other comedians going ‘the blank from hell,’ it really bugged me,” he says, adding that he’d like to take another crack at Bartlett’s, but ”my lawyer might hang up on me if I go through this again.”

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