Walter inks novel deal

UCLA prof's book to cover Hollywood of the '60s

The man who’s generally described as “the uncredited writer of the first draft of ‘American Graffiti’ ” has just inked a deal with St. Martin’s Press, for a novel due out in spring 1999.

Richard Walter, whose other claim to fame is his position as chairman of the UCLA Film & Television Writing Program, brought in mid-five figures for his new work, “Escape From Film School.”

Like Walter himself, the main character, Stuart, is a writer, professor and Hollywood insider. When he arrives in California in the late 1960s, Stuart is dodging the draft and within a few weeks is living out of a car and making a student film. A few years later, he is rubbing elbows with the likes of a young Mike Ovitz.

“It chronicles Hollywood from the film school vantage, from the dead-end days to now, when film school is the No. 1 way to get into the film biz,” Walter told Daily Variety,

Walter is now in his 21st year at UCLA and is the author of three other books, two on screenwriting and a novel, “Barry and the Persuasions,” written in the 1970s for Warner Books.

“I tried to get my film school classmate, George Lucas, to do ‘Barry and the Persuasions’ instead of “American Graffiti,’ ” Walter said. “Good move on George’s part.”

Acquiring editor of “Escape From Hollywood” at St. Martin’s Press is Melissa Jacobs. Walter is represented by literary agent Jane Dystel.