Jacket Copy

Books, authors and all things bookish

Category: crime

Paramount sues to stop new 'Godfather' prequel's publication

A prequel to Mario Puzo's "The Godfather," to be published by Grand Central, may not see shelves if Paramount has its way. The movie studio has sued to block publication of "The Family Corleone," slated for June. The book, written by Ed Falco, was sanctioned by Puzo's estate.

In a suit filed Feb. 17 in Manhattan, Paramount Pictures claims it is trying to "protect the integrity and reputation of The Godfather trilogy," the Wrap reports. When Puzo signed his contract with Paramount in 1969, it included broad rights to "The Godfather" and the characters in the novel. The studio made three Godfather pictures, all of which have been Academy Award winners or nominees.

There have been a number of other Godfather spinoffs, including a video game. And then there are the books.

The Puzo family authorized two sequels to "The Godfather" -- 2004's "The Godfather Returns" and, two years later, "The Godfather's Revenge." Both novels were written by Mark Winegardner, an author who teaches at Florida State University.

In the new suit, Paramount says it authorized the first sequel but not the second. It claims that "The Godfather's Revenge" "tarnished" the legacy of "The Godfather," and the studio is now seeking damages in addition to trying to block publication of "The Family Corleone."

The studio has long known about the book, which was announced by publisher Grand Central in May 2011. That was when it was made public that Falco, an uncle of "Sopranos" actress Edie Falco, would be penning a prequel; it's based on an unproduced screenplay written by Puzo, who died in 1999.


Ed Falco will write prequel 'Godfather' novel

Maid's lawsuit over 'The Help' thrown out by judge

Ezra Pound's daughter takes on Italian fascist group CasaPound

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Marlon Brando in the 1972 film "The Godfather." Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Amanda Knox gets $4-million book deal


Amanda Knox, the American student who was cleared of murder charges in October 2011 after spending four years in an Italian jail, will tell her story in an upcoming memoir. HarperCollins paid $4 million for the book, it was announced Thursday.

"Knox will give a full and unflinching account of the events that led to her arrest in Perugia and her struggles with the complexities of the Italian judicial system," HarperCollins said in a statement. "Aided by journals she kept during her imprisonment, Knox will talk about her harrowing experience at the hands of the Italian police and later prison guards and inmates. She will reveal never before-told details surrounding her case, and describe how she used her inner strength and strong family ties to cope with the most challenging time of her young life."

In the publishing world, $4 million is a lot of money. It's twice what Dick Cheney is thought to have gotten for his memoir, "In My Time." Cheney spent decades as one of the most powerful men in the Republican party and was vice president for eight years.

As for the men who've called the Oval Office their own? President Bill Clinton was paid a whopping $15 million for his memoir "My Life" -- which clocked in at a whopping 992 pages. President George W. Bush's book "Decision Points" was smaller, and sold for a $7-million deal. Bush was a two-term president, and his book covered the Sept. 11 attacks. Can Knox's memoir really be worth more than half as much?

Knox was an American college student studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, when her roommate Meredith Kercher's throat was slashed in 2007. The sensational case, which attracted international media attention, involved Knox's then boyfriend and, the Italian courts had contended, a sex game gone wrong. In 2009, Knox was found guilty of the brutal murder; in 2011, she was cleared of murder charges after spending four years in an Italian jail.

When we asked readers in October if Knox should get a book deal, almost 900 said she should. Would they still say so, knowing that the deal would be worth about 80 times a years' salary earned by the average American family?


Amanda Knox, by the book

Amanda Knox looking for book deal

Amanda Knox: Should she get a book deal?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Amanda Knox in an Italian courtroom in June. Credit: Peitro Crocchioni / European Pressphoto Agency



This Sunday: Pico Iyer's Greene agenda and more


Pico Iyer and I share something in common and it isn’t writing chops. We share a fascination with Graham Greene.

GetAttachment-2.aspxYears ago, I collected as many of the nice Penguin paperback editions of Greene’s work that I could find.  I loved “The Quiet American,” "The End of the Affair" and “The Third Man” and many others. When I first traveled in Europe, I would stumble into English-language bookstores and my barometer on the quality of their selection was always based on their section of Greene's work. But I’m no expert on Greene and Iyer is -- as witnessed by his latest book “The Man Within My Head.” Our reviewer, Richard Rayner, is fascinated by both Greene and Iyer. In his lively review he notes that “The Man Within My Head” is “literary criticism disguised as autobiography, a book filled with insights, sadness, rumination and splashes of the dazzling travelogue that Iyer’s readers have come to expect.” Rayner’s piece is as much a meditation on Greene as it is on Iyer’s book and it leads our coverage this Sunday.

Book critic David Ulin found a gem in “The Fat Years,’ the first novel by Chinese writer Chan Koonchung to be translated into English. (Michael S. Duke does the honors.) The novel takes place in 2013 after the next great global economic meltdown and China is left standing as the pillar of economic and social stability. The catch here, however, is that between the economic meltdown and China’s emergence as the bastion of prosperity, it has lost a month. Ulin writes that the book “is a cunning caricature of modern China with its friction between communism and consumerism.”

Scott Martelle reviews “Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State and the Birth of Liberty” by John M. Barry. Martelle writes that Williams “for those who don’t remember their colonial history, founded the European settlement that gave rise to Providence, R.I., in pursuit of the still-gestating idea that people should be able to worship God in individual freedom not as a dictum of government." It was, author Barry writes, “the first government in the world which broke church and state apart.” But Williams faced some long odds in selling his message of liberty and paid dearly for his concept. 

Long odds are also in evidence in Stewart O’Nan’s latest novel “The Odds,” which Carolyn Kellogg reviews. A marriage has hit the rocks, so the happy (not) couple head to Niagara Falls, where they spent their honeymoon, carrying with them a history of “insolvency, indecision and stupidity,” as well as a “desperate gambling plan” that, if successful, “will make everything right.”  Kellogg notes that “all of this could make for rather grim melodrama, but not in O’Nan’s hands.”

More after the jump ...

Continue reading »

Interview: When 'L.A. Noir' meets 'The Walking Dead'

FrankdarabontmickeycohenWhat do zombies have in common with the toughest Los Angeles gangster of the 1950s? Director Frank Darabont.

Darabont was executive producer and visionary behind AMC's zombie series "The Walking Dead." After the first season, he was mysteriously dismissed (and the show took a turn for the worse), and apparently, he was looking for something else to do. He's been drawn to literary properties in the past -- Stephen King's "The Green Mile" and "The Shawshank Redemption," and "The Walking Dead" was a comic book series by Robert Kirkman and artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. Last week, it was announced that Darabont is developing a pilot for TNT based on the true tale of Los Angeles cops and gangsters in the 1950s, John Buntin's "L.A. Noir."

"L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City," Buntin's first book, was published by Crown in 2009. He answered Carolyn Kellogg's questions via email.

Jacket Copy: So, wait. Are there any zombies in your book "L.A. Noir"?

John Buntin: "L.A. Noir" is full of dead men walking. Mob kingpin Mickey Cohen was eerily unkillable -- so much so that his competitors (the local Italian mob) became quite spooked. Sniper attacks, shot gun assaults, bombings -- nothing worked. To superstitious Sicilians, it was deeply unnerving.

JC: What do you think drew Frank Darabont to the material?

JB: The era "L.A. Noir" describes -- Los Angeles in the '30s, '40s, and '50s -- was ground zero for so much of what defines our culture today. Hard-boiled detective fiction's big bang may have occurred in San Francisco -- I'd never slight Dashiell Hammett -- but it took root in L.A. Raymond Chandler, James Cain, and the great writers that followed all start then and there. Mid-century Los Angeles also gave us film noir and the first police procedural ("Dragnet"), not to mention stars, celebrity sex, and the scandal sheets, strippers, serial killers, and a lot of great jazz. So the possibilities of writing a show in this era are incredibly diverse. And the places they happened are in many cases still there!

Continue reading »

Lil Wayne will publish book penned inside the pen

The diaries that rapper Lil Wayne kept while in jail will form the basis of a new book, publisher Grand Central announced Thursday. Lil Wayne spent eight months in jail on Rikers Island in 2010; he had pleaded guilty to attempted weapons possession.

"We are thrilled to be publishing Wayne’s prison memoir," executive editor Ben Greenberg said in a release. "He kept detailed journals of his inner and outer life while he was on Rikers Island, and they certainly tell a story.  They are revealing."

Weezy's time at Rikers included a month in solitary confinement for possession of "music contraband" -- headphones and a charger for an MP3 player.

The Grammy winner's memoir, "Gone Till November," will be released Nov. 28 -- just in time for the 2012  Christmas shopping season.


Amanda Knox looking for book deal

Tom Sizemore to write memoir of drug addiction and recovery

What should you give Jay-Z and Beyoncé's baby? Books. Oprah did.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Lil Wayne performs on "MTV Unplugged." Credit: Frank Micelotta / MTV / PictureGroup.

Did Christian parenting book contribute to child deaths?

TotrainupachildA Christian parenting book has come under fire after the deaths of three children from abuse. The families are reported to have  been following the guidance of the book "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl.

The "Today" show reports:

Hana Williams, 13, died of hypothermia after allegedly being starved, abused and locked outside by her parents. Lydia Schatz, age 7, died after being repeatedly beaten by her parents. And 4-year-old Sean Paddock suffocated after his mother wrapped him in a blanket too tightly in an effort to keep him from getting out of bed.

The children lived in three different states: Washington, California and North Carolina, respectively. But all three were adopted by parents who used the teachings of a self-proclaimed Christian parenting book, "To Train Up a Child."

The book, first published in 1994, frequently cites Proverbs 13:24, which teaches that "he that spareth his rod, hateth his son." In it, authors Michael and Debi Pearl compare training a happy, compliant child with training a dog. It advocates sitting on a rebellious child to spank him, and "hold him there until he has surrendered."

Michael Pearl told the "Today" show that his book is pro-spanking, but that discipline should not cause children harm.

In October, Slate took a look at "To Train Up a Child" and noted that its lessons could be misconstrued. The book says, "A little fasting is good training. If you get a child who is particularly finicky and only eats a limited diet, then feed him mainly what he doesn’t like until he likes it." The parents of Williams, who died in Washington in May, were charged with starving her.

Some Christians have clearly disavowed and criticized the book; more than 9,000 people have signed a petition asking Amazon to remove "To Train Up A Child" from its site.


Recent books on parenting

The Tiger Mother's battle cry

"Tiger Mother" hits Chinese bookshelves

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Jimmy Hoffa's driver, in book, says he knows where boss is buried

TheweaselIn a new book, Jimmy Hoffa's onetime driver claims that the Teamsters boss was buried right in Detroit. In "The Weasel: A Double Life in the Mob," Marvin Elkind tells journalist Adrian Humphreys that Hoffa's body was entombed in the foundation of General Motors' headquarters, the Renaissance Center.

The New York Post reports:

“It was his own people who did it,” claims chauffeur-turned-informant Marvin Elkind, the subject of “The Weasel: A Double Life in the Mob” by Canadian journalist Adrian Humphreys.

“Mr. Hoffa gave them no choice. He was very close to Tony Jack [Detroit capo and union heavy Anthony Giacalone], and everyone knows he provided the triggerman. Tony Jack told me. He didn’t say, ‘Marvin, I provided the triggerman.’ But he told me in another way.”

Elkind claims this revelation came during a Teamsters conference in Detroit in 1985, 10 years after Hoffa disappeared while on his way to meet Giacalone and gangster Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano.

“Let’s take a break. Let’s get out of here,” Giacalone announced to a group of delegates.

The group was heading away from the Omni International across a glassed-in walkway when the Renaissance Center, which was under construction when Hoffa vanished, came into view.

“When Tony Jack passed the middle point of the bridge . . . he nodded toward the huge tower’s foundation,” Humphreys writes.

“Say good morning to Jimmy Hoffa, boys,” he said.

The book describes Elkind, known as "the Weasel," as a waiter, driver and low-level mobster who worked as a double agent for the FBI and Canadian authorities. Born in Toronto, Elkind's rough childhood led him to become a driver for Hoffa at age 18; he stayed on for four years.

Hoffa's whereabouts have remained a mystery since his 1975 disappearance. He was officially declared dead in 1982. Chances are it will be a while before anyone might be able to look for him in the foundation of the Renaissance Center. Since its completion in 1977, the seven interconnected skyscrapers, topped by a 73-story hotel, have marked the highest point of Detroit's skyline.


Amanda Knox looking for book deal

Ed Falco will write prequel "Godfather" novel

Rare book collector claims to have Butch Cassidy's manuscript

-- Carolyn Kellogg

TSA finds throwing daggers concealed in book

The Transportation Security Administration on Monday found a book concealing two throwing daggers in the carry-on bag of a passenger traveling from Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport to Chicago
The Transportation Security Administration on Monday found a book concealing two throwing daggers in the carry-on bag of a passenger traveling from Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport to Chicago. The daggers -- and the book -- were surrendered to the TSA at a checkpoint.

According to one report, the TSA described the 6-inch throwing knives as "artfully concealed" in a hardcover book. The book's pages were glued together and hollowed out, a method of hiding keepsakes sometimes known as a book safe. The hollowed-out book was also a way of concealing contraband; during Prohibition, a hollowed-out book could conceal a flask or pint of illicit liquor.

In this case, the hollowed-out book that concealed the throwing knives appears to have been thematically linked. In the photo above, the book is open to the chapter "Ninja Equipment."


Little books: An airplane reader

Alain de Botton's music for airports

Behind those books -- a secret door!

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: A hollowed-out book containing two throwing daggers. Credit: Transportation Security Administration / Associated Press

Amanda Knox looking for book deal

Amandaknox_2011Amanda Knox, the American student who was cleared of murder charges in October after spending four years in an Italian jail, is looking for a book deal. Knox has hired prominent Washington attorney Robert Barnett to take her story to publishers, the European press agency AFP reports.

Barnett is known for brokering book deals of some of the world's most prominent people. He has represented Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Queen Noor of Jordan, and Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto.

Knox is a different character. She was a college student accused of murdering her roommate at an Italian study abroad program with the help of her Italian boyfriend. The sensational case, which the Italian courts contended was a sex game gone wrong, attracted international media attention. In 2009, Knox was convicted in the killing of Meredith Kercher; this year the verdict was overturned.

PHOTOS: The Amanda Knox case

Barnett's law firm, Williams & Connolly, will "represent [Knox] in discussions with various book publishers who have expressed an interest in Amanda writing a book," according to a statement.

In October, we asked Jacket Copy readers to vote on whether they thought Knox should get a book deal. More than 800 said she should -- and almost 48% of all voters in our poll said they believed Knox to be innocent.


Amanda Knox: Should she get a book deal?

Amanda Knox by the book

Casey Anthony: Should she get a book deal?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Amanda Knox in an Italian courtroom in June. Credit: Peitro Crocchioni / European Pressphoto Agency

Los Angeles Times publishes first e-book: 'A Nightmare Made Real'

Los Angeles Times publishes first e-book: "A Nightmare Made Real" The Los Angeles Times today makes its entry into the e-book marketplace with the release of "A Nightmare Made Real," an expanded version of staff writer Christopher Goffard's gripping account of a man accused of unspeakable acts, facing a lifetime behind bars. The original two-part series was one of The Times most-read stories of the year.

"As a content company, we are enthusiastic about harnessing new mediums and business models that expand the reach of our unique storytelling,” said Times President Kathy Thomson. “The immediacy of e-book publishing allows us to easily adapt Times coverage to a convenient reader experience that's being heavily embraced.”

Available today for Kindle, Nook and iBooks for 99 cents, "Nightmare" is the first of eight to 10 new digital titles The Times plans to release in the coming year. All will be accessible via latimes.com/bookstore, and readers can expect short- and long-form stories, topical e-singles, recipe compilations, photo-driven narratives and Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage.

"E-books offer an exciting opportunity to take The Times" world-class journalism and present it as a different reading experience," said Times Editor Russ Stanton. "Be it an overview of a significant news event, a collection of Steve Lopez columns or a dip into our rich archives, we're excited to release titles that span our areas of expertise and can be easily and conveniently accessed."

"A Nightmare Made Real" tells the spellbinding story of Louis Gonzalez III, a Las Vegas banker accused of kidnapping, torturing and sexually assaulting the mother of his child. Evidence from the scene included clumps of her hair and a cord that was tied around her neck. "In 19 years of police work, this has to go down as one of the most brutal attacks I have ever seen," a police spokesman said. Over the next several months, as Gonzalez sat behind bars, his defense attorney and a hired investigator would try to prove his innocence. The detective assigned to the case began to nurse suspicions that the facts were far from what they first appeared.

In addition to The Times original series, e-book readers can expect new material, including more detailed portraits of the investigating detective and the defense team, and a deeper look at the alleged "suicide note" that emerged at a pivotal moment in the case. In addition, Goffard provides an account of how the story started with an unlikely tip and grew into a narrative.


Amazon sued over user review

Happy 105 to an artist with an incredible history

Stephen King to help pay to heat homes this winter in Maine

-- Los Angeles Times

Image: The cover of the e-book "A Nightmare Made Real." Credit: Los Angeles Times


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


Explore Bestsellers Lists





Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.