Producer Scott Steindorff, who injected new life into a slack Hollywood book market earlier this year by optioning a raft of buzzed-about books in a few month’s time, has been hit with a lawsuit by former associate Toni Tallarido.Also named in the lawsuit is CAA co-founder Roland Perkins. In a complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court, Tallarido alleges that Steindorff breached a 1996 partnership agreement covering several film properties, including the Thomas Tryon novel “Night Magic” and the Philip Roth novel “The Human Stain.” The complaint says that Steindorff and Perkins conspired to sell “Night Magic” to Italian film company Eagle Pictures for $1 million without granting Tallarido either credit or financial compensation. Tallarido claims she owns one-half of these projects and all properties developed under her partnership with Steindorff. Steindorff told Daily Variety that Tallarido is an ex-girlfriend but was never a business partner. But Tallarido’s attorney, Joshua H. Haffner, has several documents attesting to a business agreement between Tallarido and Steindorff, including a 1999 option agreement between Steindorff, Tallarido and the estate of Thomas Tryon. Steindorff, whose background is in Las Vegas real estate, began making waves in the small, largely insular Hollywood book world a year ago through a series of options on acclaimed writers like T.C. Boyle, Roth, and more recently, Sebastian Junger. But Tallarido’s suit comes as questions are arising about some of these deals. In March, Steindorff signed a first-look deal of unspecified duration with Bill Mechanic’s Pandemonium shingle. That deal has since been terminated. Recently, Sam North, of UK agency Conville & Walsh, says that several months ago Steindorff optioned “Lucifer,” a novel by Michael Cordy, for $150,000 against a purchase price north of $1 million. The deal memo had a pay-by-date of April 1, says North, but Steindorff has not yet paid the option. Steindorff says he and North are still negotiating. But even if Tallarido’s case against Steindorff is dismissed, North may bring suit against the producer. In the meantime, Haffner is moving ahead with plans to subpoena Pandemonium, Lakeshore/Paramount – which acquired Roth’s “The Human Stain” for Steindorff – and Writers & Artists, the agency that sold Steindorff the Brad Thor novel, “The Lions of Lucerne.” GEEKS’ GUY: “Freaks & Geeks” creator Paul Feig is once again telling stories out of school. He’s sold “Kick Me,” a collection of nonfiction stories about the travails of Feig’s adolescence in the Michigan suburbs, to Crown Books. “It’s one geek’s story of getting through the jungles of high school and coming out the other end slightly wiser and slightly more mature about the world,” he says. Crown editor Peter Fornatale bought the book, based on a proposal, and will publish it in fall, 2002 — “back-to-school season,” says Fornatale. Feig wrote most of the pieces several years ago. These days, he’s gainfully employed in Hollywood, adapting the comic “Zits” for Universal and Marc Platt, and writing the script “Art Spencer for President” for Scott Rudin. NOVEL IDEA: If novelizations serve as bellwethers of the public appetite for the films they’re based on, Disney execs should be paying close attention to interest among Japanese publishers for “Pearl Harbor,” the novel. The book is due out from Japanese publisher Kadokawa when the Disney pic opens on July 14. In a surprisingly heated auction, Kadokawa paid Hyperion — a division of Disney — a high five-figure sum for the book. That’s more than twice the amount Hyperion has received for novelizations of pics like “Coyote Ugly” and “Gone In 60 Seconds,” also from producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Just as Japan is an especially lucrative market for American movies, the Japanese tend to pay the most for novelizations. Even so, Kadokawa may be banking on the fact that the novel — by “Pearl Harbor” screenwriter Randall Wallace — is likely to zero in on the love triangle of its characters.
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