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WMA inks Evans pact

As expected (Daily Variety, July 14), former Random House exec VP and Turtle Bay publisher Joni Evans has joined the William Morris Agency as senior VP of the literary department, the agency announced Wednesday.

Evans, who has previously nourished literary talent at Simon & Schuster, Linden Press and William Morrow & Co., will work closely with WMA exec VP and literary operations head Owen Laster, who brought her on board.

“What’s nice about this job is that it creates a window that allows you to look a little further,” Evans explained. “When you’re in books alone, you stop right there. But here, I can ask if this would make a good movie or maybe a TV series. William Morris offered me something liberating and flexible.”

“I’ve always enjoyed doing business with (Evans) and admire her intelligence, taste and creativity,” said Laster in a statement. “I’m delighted she has chosen to join William Morris and utilize these qualities as an artists’ representative.”

Among the authors Evans has brought to print are Ann Beattie, Erica Jong (“Fear of Flying”), Michael Korda, Michael Caine (his autobiography), playwright David Mamet, Nancy Collins, Nikki Finke, Albert Goldman, Nancy Milford, Mario Puzo (“The Sicilian”) and Julia Phillips, who blasted Hollywood in her tell-all “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again.”

Though Turtle Bay is now defunct as a publishing entity, Evans still scored one last time. Her client Susannah Kaysen’s “Girl, Interrupted” recently preemed at No. 15 on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Of her wooing to join WMA, Evans said she recently had lunch with Laster, who jokingly asked her to sign on as an agent. But “it suddenly got serious when we both fell in love with the idea.” Evans said she will remain in New York and commute to L.A. about one week per month.

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