White people like book deals

Ideas all gone, 'Short Circuit' to return

Reminding us that No. 5 is, in fact, alive, is Dimension Films, which has acquired rights to remake the 1986 flick. Variety reports that S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, who created the characters and wrote both Short Circuit films (remember, there were two), have been hired to write the remake. David Foster, who produced the original with his partner Lawrence Turman and son Gary Foster, will serve as producer again with Ryan E. Heppe and John Hyde. David Foster said the film will be similar in theme but will factor in new technology. That must mean Johnny 5 will be listening to his iPod when he's struck by lightning. Doubtful is the return of either Steve Guttenberg or Ally Sheedy, although Fisher Stevens was just on Lost, so we guess there's always hope.

Nude Bruni photo nets $91k

Remember that nude photo of French first lady Carla Bruni that was up for auction? It sold, and it sold big. The U.K.'s Sun says the Michel Comte image of President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife brought $91,000, an astonishing amount for a 15-year-old photograph that was expected to fetch about $3,500. A buyer for a Chinese art collector bought the 1993 photo at the Thursday auction at Christie's in New York.

Nude Bruni photo nets $91k

Remember that nude photo of French first lady Carla Bruni that was up for auction? It sold, and it sold big. The U.K.'s Sun says the Michel Comte image of President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife brought $91,000, an astonishing amount for a 15-year-old photograph that was expected to fetch about $3,500. A buyer for a Chinese art collector bought the 1993 photo at the Thursday auction at Christie's in New York.

This is how it happens.

A guy starts a clever blog in January and calls it Stuff White People Like. The site contains a list of cultural totems, including gifted children, marathons and writers workshops, that a certain type of moneyed and liberal American might be expected to like.

"The No. 1 reason why white people like not having a TV," reads the explanation under entry No. 28, Not Having a TV, "is so that they can tell you that they don't have a TV."

Readers discover stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com, like it and forward links to their friends, who forward them to lots more friends. Newspaper columnists mention it, stealing — er, quoting — some of the better jokes. By the end of February, the NPR program Talk of the Nation runs a report on it, debating whether the site is racist or satire.

And then March 20, Random House announces that it has purchased the rights to a book by the blog's founder, Christian Lander, an Internet copywriter who is white. The price, according to a source familiar with the deal but not authorized to discuss the total, was about $300,000, a sum that many in the publishing and blogging communities think is an astronomical amount for a book spawned from a blog, written by a previously unpublished author.

There was an innocent time, oh, about four years ago, when the idea of turning a blog into a book seemed novel, a fresh path for unknown writers to break into the big time.

One of the first literary agents to troll the Web for talent was Kate Lee, who in 2003 was an assistant at International Creative Management, the sprawling talent agency, looking for a way to make her name.

When she started contacting bloggers and talking to them about book deals, many were stunned that a literary agent was interested in their midnight typings. Her roster was so rich with bloggers, including Matt Welch from Hit & Run and Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit, that the New Yorker profiled her in 2004. Two years from now, the magazine noted, "Books by bloggers will be a trend, a cultural phenomenon."

The book is scheduled to be released in August as a paperback original.

It will be difficult for the publisher to make a profit, said Sara Nelson, editor of Publishers Weekly.

Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, she figured Random House would have to sell about 75,000 copies, a total that would likely land the book on bestseller lists, to earn back its $300,000 advance.

The publishing house is not worried about any accusations about the book being racist because it's not really about white people, said Barbara Fillon, a Random House spokeswoman.

"A lot of different people are relating to this," she said. "It exposes pop culture in general on a level everyone can relate to no matter what their race is."

White people like book deals 04/13/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:31am]

    

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