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Jewish World Review June 17, 2003 / 17 Sivan, 5763

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

First Ladies books | I asked Phyllis Osborne, the publisher of First Ladies Books, if she would have paid $8 million for Hillary Clinton's autobiography.

She said, "We had a chance to bid on it - but we were afraid the public would never go for any scandal in regards to a president. We wanted a book that would tell about her husband's health plans and how he felt about the environment and Bosnia. When we told her lawyer we wanted to take out all the stuff about Monica Lewinsky, he refused and insisted it was part of the story."

"You did the right thing," I said. "Nobody wants to read about scandal, particularly when it concerns a well known person."

She said, 'I've had first ladies who have wanted to write books about their dogs, their gardens, their ranches in Texas, their life in Plains, Ga., and even ones who wrote about their state dinners. But I have turned down any book that I thought would offend the customer.

"I didn't even bid on Pat Nixon's story because she wanted to put in a chapter on Watergate. Pat insisted on telling Nixon's side of the story, but we didn't think anyone would be interested in a third-rate burglary."

Phyllis continued, "Publishers don't like to throw their money around. We had our marketing people find out if we published Hillary's book whether she would get on any of the TV shows.

"Barbara Walters said she wouldn't have her because there was no news peg. Katie Couric said she wouldn't interview her and so did Larry King. Jay Leno's people said, 'No way,' and David Letterman told us, 'She won't bring in the ratings.' Even 'Saturday Night Live' said they didn't want her. I'm not going to publish any book of a first lady who can't get on television.

"The New York Post trashes her every day and the right wing radio hosts can't say enough bad things about her. Ordinarily that would help sales, but not eight million dollars' worth."

"Do you think it will be a movie?" I asked.

"They talked about it, but Jack Nicholson turned down the role of President Clinton, Nicole Kidman refused the part of Hillary, and Meryl Streep said she wouldn't play the Monica Lewinsky part."

I said, "Without a movie, the paperback sales are zero. What else made you turn down the book?"

Phyllis replied, "Hillary wanted to list all of Bill's golf scores. We felt that was a personal matter between a husband and wife.

"Bill begged Hillary not to mention it because he was saving it for his book. She said if she was going to tell all, the public should know what happened to Clinton on the golf course."

I said, "Simon and Schuster printed a million copies. To get the paper, they had to cut down a rainforest. What if many of the books have to be returned?"

"The environmentalists will squawk, the conservatives will be happy, Hillary will be rich and the publisher will go broke. Timing is everything in the book business."

I then asked Phyllis, "Tell me the truth. Why didn't you bid for Hillary's book?"

Phyllis said, "The truth is, if we published the book we would be banned in Wal-Mart."

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06/13/03: Father image
06/05/03: OUT of GAS
06/03/03: Liars can make money
05/30/03: Spam the Greatest Generation
05/28/03: The Democratic solution
05/09/03: Suits on television
04/30/03: Americo-Shaft Airlines
04/22/03: More time with the kids
04/03/03: Rebuilding Baghdad
03/25/03: The Five Saddam Husseins
03/04/03: Tax free defense
02/27/03: Yelling at the TV
02/20/03: The fight for duct tape
02/14/03: Losing your identity
02/05/03: Whose reality is it?
01/17/03: Foreign Affairs for Dummies
01/15/03: No-news stories
01/13/03: The last pill
01/08/03: Come fly with me
12/20/02: Snooping for America
12/13/02: Give 'til it hurts
12/06/02: Pre-nursery is rough
11/20/02: The Princess and the butler
11/15/02: Preaching democracy
11/04/02: The blame game
10/30/02: The threat of golf
10/11/02: The wives of Hidden Valley
10/04/02: Will the real Saddam stand up?
10/01/02: To shred or not to shred
09/20/02: Plea-bargaining crime
09/17/02: Jack and Jane
09/12/02: Signing books is half the fun
09/10/02: To lose one's center
09/05/02: Moot court
08/29/02: I spy-you-spy
08/27/02: No smoking --- I love you
08/23/02: Ashes to ashes
08/14/02: Wall Street good news
08/09/02: Things in my attic
08/01/02: Damage control
08/01/02: Another icon
07/30/02: Draft all the lawyers
07/25/02: House for rent
07/23/02: Doin' time
07/19/02: The loophole game
07/16/02: Money as a game
07/11/02: Just desserts
07/02/02: So you want to win?
06/19/02: Homeland security parking
06/13/02: The Accused
06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

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