Pocket’s ‘South Park’ tie-in off

Cabler sez book deal still on back burner

NEW YORK — The official “South Park” tie-in book is a no-go — for the time being.

A deal inked in April between Comedy Central and Pocket Books would have had the book, penned by former Daily Variety reporter Ray Richmond, in stores by October for the prime Christmas shopping season.

That deal hit a snag earlier this month, and no new plans are in place.

The animated series about a group of foul-mouthed grammar-school kids is not only Comedy Central’s No. 1-rated show, but for the monthly rating period ending June 21, “South Park” beat every other cable show with its high marks, ranging from a 5.2 and 2.6 million households to 6.2 with 3 million homes.

The show has spawned a homevideo line, videogames, T-shirts and scads of magazine covers, while making creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone household names.

Network and publishing execs had been looking to further capitalize on the show’s success with the tie-in book.

“There is just so much going on with ‘South Park’ right now that it’s hard to do a book,” said one Comedy Central exec close to the deal. “The book is not the priority right now, the show is.”

We were trying to do something creatively different than your typical comedy tie-in — what’s in every episode — kind of thing,” Comedy Central veepee of corporate communications Laura Nelson told Daily Variety. “In the end, I think we just weren’t sold on the idea.”

Nelson and Emily Bestler, veepee and editorial director for Pocket Books, both said the book idea has not been totally abandoned.

With no new writer or team in place, it isn’t likely that any new project will be completed in time for the holiday, one source said.