Celebs take books into the spotlight

Rosie O’Donnell was rushed in and out of a scheduled appearance at book confab BookExpo America this weekend even as fellow celebs like Stephen Colbert brought a touch of Hollywood glitz to the annual lit gathering.

Insiders said that O’Donnell decided at the last-minute to overhaul plans for her first scheduled appearance since she left “The View” last week.

What was slated as a full-on hosting gig for a Sunday breakfast with authors like Alice Sebold, whose bestseller “The Lovely Bones” will be brought to the bigscreen by Peter Jackson, turned into a carefully choreographed booking. O’Donnell spoke briefly about her upcoming memoir “Celebrity Detox” and quickly left before a scheduled Q&A .

O’Donnell also requested that C-SPAN cameras, which normally film celeb appearances at the confab, be turned off for her Sunday morning spot, according to show organizers.

Plans were changed after O’Donnell left “The View” last week in the wake of on-air scrum with co-host Elizabeth Hasslebeck.

In a low-key appearance, host quipped that she would now change the epilogue to her tome in light of her exit from morning TV. She also said for the first time that, contrary to some reports at BEA, she would promote the tome on the talk-show circuit–but probably not on “The View.”

Insiders said the book is essentially completed but could be updated to reflect recent events.

In a move with echoes of studios’ decision to forego crix screenings, publisher Grand Central Publishing said it is skipping press and not making available copies of the tome until it is released on September 8.

In the book, O’Donnell talks about her so-called celebrity detox period in the several years between gigs on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and “The View.”

Bizzers have been speculating about a possible syndicated talk show since Rosie left the Buena Vista show last week.

O’Donnell also said celebs changed when they became famous and decried the celeb-hungry media that covered her own controversies, noting that even NPR covered Lindsay Lohan last week at the expense of stories about Iraq.

Elsewhere at the Gotham-based confab, an ethos of Hollywood permeated the annual spring rite that has become one-part author platform, one-part Hollywood scouting ground and one-part celeb circus.

Hollywood book scouts were keen on Shalom Auslander memoir “The Foreskin’s Lament,” which is being shopped for film and TV by Paradigm, while William Morris is peddling for film the post-9/11 novel “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” which also drew buzz.

L.A-based agent Joel Gotler also said that he was currently shopping upcoming Richard Russo novel “Bridge of Sighs,” which is due from Knopf in the fall, but that there was no deal in place yet.

Execs at HBO Films, which had produced previous Russo novel “Empire Falls,” declined to say whether it was contemplating a movie version of “Sighs” but did say it was making a larger push into lit adaptations.

“We are looking at a larger range of fiction,” said HBO Films topper Colin Callender. “‘Empire Falls’ has made us realize that there are certain novels that we can adapt that haven’t been HBO’s stock in trade but can be a good potential source of material.”

BEA, which ran Friday through Sunday at Gotham’s Jacob Javits center, has become a platform in recent years for authors, many of them Hollywood celebs, to flog upcoming projects.

Book trailers, film shorts and celeb appearances were all used to hawk titles by companies like Random House and Weinstein Books, the lit division of The Weinstein Company.

Comedian and talk-show host Stephen Colbert became the buzz of the show when he turned out at a Saturday breakfast to promote his upcoming tome with lines like “I’ve never liked books–it always seemed like they were written by someone other than me.”

Comedy Central host is promoting his humor tome “I Am America (And So Can You)” which is due in the fall; he also quiped that “Reading my book will be like your first time-frightening while it happens but after it happens you want to brag to everyone you know.”

Publishers gave out copies of new books from Hollywod mainstays like Steve Martin and Alan Alda. And Weinstein touted tomes from Chris Elliot and Bravo personality Padma tktk (can we ck spelling? Thx), with both making appearances at the company’s booth.

Editors also pushed tomes like “The Foreskin’s Lament” and “The Reincarnationist” with the use of so-called book trailers, video spots that tell the story of author and book..

Studios also use the confab as a means of marketing to the auds that helped birth a bestseller. Miramax offered a screening of upcoming Anne Hathaway-starrer “Becoming Jane,” and Par Vantage touted Angelina Jolie’s Pakistan-set “A Mighty Heart.”

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