Friday, August 10, 2007

Hype for hype's sake

I know we all love a good celebrity biography. I've read a few myself, if I'm going to be entirely honest. And we publishing types also like to read about and talk about buzzy books, big projects promised to be the next big thing. In my position, I don't get involved in auctions for such big projects, but it's of interest all the same.

And, I should add, I love me some pop culture - I'm an Entertainment Weekly subscriber, and have even been amused by Tyler Durden's blog, though the rampant homophobia, sexism, and racism has made me stop reading it. I never read the comments, but when I looked at them once, it was like bad lockerroom talk and then some. (Gross. Go for fugging instead.)

Anyhow, my point is that I still, despite all of this, I still don't get the hype over late comedian Chris Farley's bio. I mean, really?

To summarize the article linked above, agent Peter McGuigan got rights for the biography of Chris Farley. Yes, the overweight comedian who starred in such classics as "Tommy Boy" - which I admittedly think is hi-larious - "Black Sheep," and of course, a few seasons of "Saturday Night Live," and who died of a drug overdose in 1997, at the age of 33 I believe. Tragic.

The book will be written by the late comedian's brother, Thomas Farley, along with Tanner Colby, as "an oral history." And get this, Wendy Wolf at Viking bought it from McGuigan, for a deal that amounted to "substantial six figures." The publishing world has officially lost me.

I can get why the original publisher, the now defunct Rugged Land (or is it defunct?), planned to publish this book this year, 10 years after his death. And I could understand Pocket Books doing something, or the Virgin book publishing arm, which I think is still getting its bearings in the US.

The schizophrenia of some of these big houses continues. One publisher where you can find this bio and J. M. Coetzee, a very literary novelist whom I enjoy, on the same list. So why should I trust that name, Viking, when I see it on a spine...

1 comment:

Thomas said...

So many people believe that they already know the Chris Farley story. Those are people who still truly believe that Chris's only motivation, inspiration and model was John Belushi. Or that he got caught up in the limelight and got addicted to something he couldn't handle - and it killed him.

It will amaze people who read this book that there was great depth and many sides to Chris's character. The book will have a great interest to all fans of comedy, to people touched by addiction and those in recovery, to people of faith, to those who grew up in a large, Irish or midwestern family. It's all here in this story - long before you get to the celebrity stuff.

The auction was so successful because the manuscript was already finished - and those publishers who read it were completely blown away. It's that unexpected. It's a sad story with some interesting and funny moments. But more than anything - it's Chris's story. Tough as it was to tell, I'm glad people will get to know my brother through this book. Keep faith in the publishing world - they still want to put out great books. This book will be one such case in point.

Tom Farley