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Inside Move: M’max Books’ ‘Funny’ money

Co. antes big bucks for Spy tome

The big book deal of December was the $1 million Miramax Books has pledged to pay for “Spy: The Funny Years” (due out in 2005), which promises to be part history, part anthology of the iconic, irreverent 1980s magazine.

Splitting Miramax’s check are Spy founders Graydon Carter (now editor of Vanity Fair) and Kurt Andersen (who recently took over clothier Benetton’s mag Colors), Spy deputy editor George Kalogerakis (who will do most of the heavy lifting on the book), and John Colman (who owns the rights to the magazine).

Andersen says the anthology section will be “a combination of some stuff that was important at the time, and some stuff that holds up well.” In addition, he promises some pieces will be annotated, for example, “to explain how Mike Ovitz tried to destroy us.”

But the price Miramax paid in its preemptive offer has raised some eyebrows. Spy, after all, was a magazine that never made mainstream headway.

Miramax Books prexy Jonathan Burnham swats down speculation that media-savvy Harvey Weinstein may be interested in making a Spy movie.

“This is a book book,” he says.

He compares the Spy book to Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller‘s “Live From New York,” an oral history of “Satuday Night Live” published by Little Brown that has sold very well.

“It tapped into a baby boomer nostalgia for a certain kind of wit and perspective that has disappeared,” Burnham says.

“Spy: The Funny Years” will do likewise, he hopes.

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