'God' scribe Reston offering expert services to media

Even though James Reston Jr. is still threatening to sue 20th Century Fox over “Kingdom of Heaven,” the historian would love to be featured in any stories or shows about the film.Two weeks after Reston publicly claimed that Fox illegally lifted material from his 2002 book “Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and the Saladin in the Third Crusade,” the tome’s publisher, Anchor Books, sent out a press release advising, “If you are planning an article, segment or show on the new movie ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ — and need an expert on the Crusades — James Reston Jr. is available.”

While the advisory doesn’t mention the author’s legal tussle, it does bill the film as “sure to be one of the first major summer blockbusters!”

Asked if the attempt to publicize his book by latching onto the film amounts to a reversal of course, Reston shot back, “I think you’ve got it upside down. It was the movie that latched onto the book. It’s my view that the whole movie is based on my book.” Though rattling his saber, Reston has not filed any suit.

Russell Perreault, director of publicity at Anchor, said there’s been media interest in Reston but admitted it makes for a “weird” situation. “He’s completely promoting his book, not the movie,” he said. “He has not seen the film. He’s not commenting on whether it’s good or bad.”

Reston acknowledged an expert contemplating litigation may not be the ideal source. “It should be disclosed,” he said, “and there are people who would rather speak to someone else.”

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