Ken Lipper, the Oscar-nominated producer of the Holocaust documentary “The Last Days,” has a verbal agreement with Glenn Close for the actress to host a proposed television series based on the hot-selling book series “Penguin Lives.”
The short-form biography series, which Lipper created and co-publishes with Viking, pairs well-known authors with historical figures of their choice. The first two books, Larry McMurtry’s “Crazy Horse” and Edmund White’s “Proust,” are both in their fourth printing and are respectively ranked 31st and 35th on the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers List.
Lipper is hoping that consumer brand recognition — in addition to Close’s name — would allow a “Penguin Lives” television series to compete on cable with A&E’s decade- old “Biography.”
In addition to introducing a documentary or docudrama based on a book in the series, Close is to interview the individual authors about what drew them to the historical figure they wrote about.
Viking will publish two volumes of “Penguin Lives” every seasonal list. The next two books will be Peter Gay’s “Mozart” and Garry Wills’ “St. Augustine,” followed by Jonathan Spence’s “Mao” and Edna O’Brien’s “James Joyce.” The series is edited by James Atlas.
Has world rights
Lipper has so far retained worldwide performance rights to all but one book in the series. He is awaiting the publication of the next two books before officially taking the television project to cablers.
He is in negotiations with Viking over launching another short form biography series, this one focusing on scientists and mathematicians.
In addition to the book projects, the Gotham-based Lipper is continuing his film work. He and Ed Pressman are producing the feature film adaptation of David McClintock’s best-seller about the late David Begelman’s check forging scandal “Indecent Exposure.” Documentary director Nick Bloomfield (“Kurt & Courtney”) is set to direct with Michael Thomas in negotiations to write the screenplay.
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Frederic Raphael, who shares screenwriting credit with Stanley Kubrick for the auteur’s long-awaited psycho-sexual pic “Eyes Wide Shut,” will have his novel “Coast to Coast” published by the indie imprint Catbird Press in May. The novel will be Raphael’s first book published in the U.S. since 1989’s “After the War.”
“Coast to Coast” is similar in story and structure to the 1967 film “Two for the Road,” which Raphael wrote. Like the movie, in which Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney play a married couple who torment each other in a road trip across Europe, “Coast to Coast” pits a middle-aged couple on the brink of divorce driving from New York to California for their son’s wedding.
The film rights for “Coast to Coast” are available.
Raphael, who won a screenplay Oscar for “Darling” in 1965, had been hired by Kubrick to adapt Arthur Schnitzler’s novel “Truamnovelle” into “Eyes Wide Shut.”