Weisbach joins the Weinsteins latest venture

Simon & Schuster veep and editor at large Rob Weisbach has come aboard Miramax Books as prexy and chief executive officer, also assuming the same title at Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s recently announced new venture.

Move will further the relationship between the Walt Disney Co. and the Weinsteins’ temporarily monikered new entity, the Weinstein Co., since Weisbach will not only oversee Miramax Books’ upcoming projects but lead efforts to acquire acquiring new titles for the Weinsteins’ venture.

Exec is reporting to the Weinsteins directly, and Miramax Books will continue to publish through the Mouse House’s Hyperion and Hyperion Books for Children. All future Miramax acquisitions will be handled through Hyperion prexy Robert Miller and Disney Publishing Worldwide prexy Deborah Dugan.

It’s anticipated that books published by the Weinsteins’ company will be distribbed by Hyperion and Disney Publishing Worldwide.

Weisbach’s arrival in the Weinstein fold was expected after former Miramax Books topper Jonathan Burnham headed for HarperCollins last month (Daily Variety, March 16).

Weisbach will oversee the publication of Miramax Books’ scheduled output until September 2007, when the Weinsteins are skedded to make their official exit as Miramax co-toppers and Disney formally takes control of the company.

The studio reached a long-anticipated exit agreement with the movie mogul sibs last month.

As part of the book division’s deal, the Weinsteins will maintain a nonexclusive relationship with Miramax Books through September 2007. Their new venture will have a financial interest in currently skedded books published by Miramax in fiscal years 2006 and 2007.

Miramax Books is currently skedded to put out memoirs by both Barbara Walters and Rudolph Giuliani, as well as projects including Malika Oufkir’s “Freedom,” Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception,” Adam Gopnik’s “The King in the Window” and Charlie Higson’s “Silverfin.”

Disney will retain the Miramax Books name and its backlist. Miramax Books brass said that the unit’s staff of about 10 will not be cut as part of the move.

“I really love a true entrepreneurial opportunity,” Weisbach told Daily Variety on Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to the obsessive tradition of old-fashioned publishing and building something from the ground up. Bob and Harvey have a long-term commitment to books, with quality content matched with sophisticated and aggressive marketing (skills).”

Prior to his three-year stint at Simon & Schuster — where he worked with authors including Bob Schieffer and Ellen DeGeneres — Weisbach was prexy and publisher of Rob Weisbach Books at William Morrow.

That imprint’s first project was the bestselling “The Tenth Justice,” by first-time novelist Brad Meltzer. Subsequent tomes included Paul Reiser’s “Babyhood,” Jon Stewart’s “Naked Pictures of Famous People” and Whoopi Goldberg’s “Book.”

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