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Lurie sues HarperCollins over axed book

Journalist Rod Lurie has made good on his threat, published in the current issue of Variety, filing a $ 1 million breach-of-contract suit Thursday against HarperCollins, charging that the book publisher canceled his book on slain producer Jon Emr because of an inherent conflict of interest with Harper’s owner , Rupert Murdoch.

Lurie, who works at Los Angeles magazine, filed suit in Santa Monica Superior Court after negotiations to settle the book contract with the publishing company proved fruitless.

In April, HarperCollins canceled the project, titled “Slow Burn in the Fast City,” saying the book Lurie was writing was not the book he had promised them. The publisher, in a letter to Lurie, claimed it believed the book lacked an investigation into Emr’s murder.

HarperCollins attorney Matthew Martin could not be reached for comment.

In his suit, Lurie claims that from the start, he had promised to write a book about Emr and his various cons within the movie industry. Several passages in the book referred to Kirk Douglas’ son, Joel, who at one time had been partnered with Emr.

In his suit, he charges that Murdoch, who owns 20th Century Fox, put the kibosh on the book because of its implications for the Douglas clan and for the dealings that Emr/Douglas Prods. had on the Fox lot.

The suit points to a seven-page proposed table of contents for the 20-chapter book, which does not mention Emr’s murder until Chapter 19. It was the table of contents that the suit alleges was originally accepted by HarperCollins.

“The focus of the book was on Jon Emr himself,” said Lurie’s agent, Ed Novak. “Out of the 20 chapters in the original outline, only two even dealt with the murder.” In addition to breach of contract, the suit charges breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Emr, his father and his son were shot to death in 1991.