Sherry Lansing is donating the six-figure check she’ll receive from Crown’s Harmony Books for her autobiography "to cancer research. I’m not taking a dime," she told me on the phone from Munich.
She is there with husband William Friedkin who is directing "Salome" which opens the Munich opera season, Friday. Before arriving in Munich, Lansing looked in at Auschwitz "to personally see the horror." She also visited Amsterdam before spending a month in Munich as Friedkin readied "Salome." She says the book deal awaits a writer. "I have to have a writer and the book will be ‘as told to –’."
Lansing promises that her book will be "deeply honest and thought-provoking." Will it be revealing? "I hope so," she laughed. I recalled her life had been colorful pre-executive titles at 20th Century-Fox and Paramount Pictures where, from 1992-2005, she was the Chair of the Motion Picture Group. But she noted that husband Billy Friedkin will be "a major portion … I hope the book will also be thought-provoking."
Sherry Lansing left Paramount two years before the major changes erupted with the arrival of Brad Grey. Recently, Paramount made more headlines in the industry when Sumner Redstone fired Tom Cruise and Tom Freston. While this turmoil was going on at her alma mater, Paramount, Lansing was happily busy with her civic activities, heading the Sherry Lansing Foundation — and maintaining a warm relationship with Redstone. "We have dinner with him regularly," she said. "We’re on good terms."
In addition to her activities with several cancer research committees, she worked tirelessly on the Independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine which won $3 billion in funding for embryonic stem cell research. She is also on the American Red Cross Board of Governors and a Regent of the University of California whose meeting she attended just before heading to Munich.
"I have never been happier," she told me. "I am enjoying life. For the last five years people have been coming after me to write the book. I was impressed by John Glusman, editor at Harmony. He was responsible." And Lynn Nebitt made the deal. And cancer research will benefit. Hopefully, so will the readers.