Jewish World Review June 17, 2003 / 17 Sivan, 5763
First Ladies books
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | 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."
Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
06/13/03: Father image