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Survival of the earliest; a ‘Stud’ in prose

St. Martin’s has yet to close a deal with “Survivor” poster boy Richard Hatch to publish his account of life in the limelight on the equatorial island of Palau Tiga. But TV Books head Peter Kaufman may have outfoxed them both.

In November, before the series was cast, agent Scott Waxman approached several publishers with the idea of an official “Survivor” companion by producer Mark Burnett. Lacking a proposal, St. Martin’s passed, as did Pocket, a frequent destination for Viacom tie-ins.

Kaufman was the only publisher willing to meet with Burnett, and in what Waxman calls an “aggressive paperback deal,” Kaufman landed rights to the franchise.

“Survivor: The Ultimate Game” arrives in bookstores Tuesday and “Survivor II: The Field Guide” will appear on Super Bowl Sunday, airdate for the first episode of the second “Survivor.”

The first volume chronicles the history of the show from Burnett’s first meeting with CBS TV president and CEO Leslie Moonves to a Q&A with Hatch on the “social politics of island life.”

Installments of the electronic edition of “Survivor” have been serialized on Contentville.

In a typical case of a publisher jumping on the bandwagon of hit phenomenon, paying a steep price as a result, St. Martin’s is expected to pay close to $500,000 for Hatch’s book if the deal goes through. That could prove embarrassing if public interest in Hatch evaporates before his book goes into production, considering that they could have gotten in on the ground floor for considerably less.

TV Books is printing 180,000 copies of “Survivor” — the largest first printing in the company’s five-year history. A publisher of TV and film companions, whose majority owner is Lorne Michaels’ company Broadway Video, its bestselling titles have included a “Saturday Night Live” companion and “A Century of Country,” jointly published with CBS Cable and TNN.

Waxman, who met Burnett through “Survivor” co-author Martin Dugard, was offered a confidentiality agreement had he chosen to know the show’s outcome in advance, but he declined.

Kaufman and two other TV Books staffers were in on the secret, however. They kept the manuscript in a safe, encrypted the computer production files to ward off hackers, and hired an armed guard during the last few weeks of production.

AS MAXIM MAGAZINE WATCHES its ad rate soar to 2.25 million for the first half of 2001, it is flexing its muscles in other media.

The unabashedly raunchy men’s glossy has created a weekly radio spot in conjunction with ABC Radio beamed by satellite every Saturday to the network’s 3,000 news and news-talk affiliates.

The “Maxim Minute” will offer scraps of information from the print edition, debuting with items on the Summer Olympics, the subject of a September feature, and thesp Kirsten Dunst, who graces the cover of that issue.

Maxim reported 803 ad pages through September, a 31% increase over the same span last year.

IN RELATED BOOK DEALS, Villard Books has signed Melissa Etheridge’s first book, “The Truth Is…,” a memoir interspersed with song lyrics and other writings. Etheridge’s agent is Morton Janklow of Janklow & Nesbit Associates. And rock diva Courtney Love has inked a deal with HarperCollins to publish a book about the music industry.

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