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Honoring Capote: a Reissue and Scholarships

<i> Paul D. Colford is a columnist for Newsday. </i>

As the story goes, a woman finds a Tiffany’s receipt in her husband’s jacket and asks him what it’s for. The husband, who had bought a jewel for his mistress at the posh Fifth Avenue store, claims the receipt was for a business-related meal. He says to his gullible wife, “Haven’t you ever heard of having breakfast at Tiffany’s?”

Truman Capote added the phrase to American lingo with his short novel of the same name, the story of Holly Golightly, the daffy and sexy waif from the sticks who takes on New York. Following the 1958 publication of the book, film (with Audrey Hepburn) and stage (with Mary Tyler Moore) versions followed.

To celebrate the life of Capote--the puckish literary and party fixture of New York, the Hamptons and Los Angeles until his death in 1984--his longtime publisher, Random House, has reissued “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in a handsomely designed addition to its Modern Library series. In addition, the publisher joined last week in announcing the formation of the Truman Capote Literary Trust during a special celebrity-attended breakfast--in the Jewel Salon at Tiffany’s, of course.

The trust will fund six annual scholarships in creative writing at Stanford and the University of Iowa, an annual award for excellence in literary criticism and a lifetime award for literary criticism that will be granted every four years. The first recipients are expected to be announced later this year.

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Alan U. Schwartz, a Los Angeles attorney who is the sole executor and trustee of Capote’s estate, says the writer’s assets were valued at about $2.25 million when he died and the sum initially provided an annuity to his longtime companion, Jack Dunphy. Today, two years after Dunphy’s death, the Capote estate is worth $5 million, Schwartz added--as a result of investments, new agreements covering the continued publication of his books, all of which remain in print, and the sale of movie and TV options.

For example, Schwartz explained, Random House recently entered into a new deal to keep Capote’s “In Cold Blood” on the publishing house’s backlist and Paramount Communications agreed to terms designed to generate greater income from exploitation of the 1961 “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” movie. Also, director Charles Matthauplans to start shooting a movie version of the author’s “The Grass Harp” in July.

“It’s very rewarding to do this,” said Schwartz, who has been arranging to give away all the annual income from Capote’s estate. “The schools pointed out that there’s very little money around for scholars and writers. . . . I know that Truman would be very happy.”

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Woodward on Clinton: Having Bob Woodward, of Woodward and Bernstein fame, on Bill Clinton’s trail would seem to be the President’s worst nightmare in these Whitewater-logged days.

But Woodward’s closely guarded book for Simon & Schuster, “Inside Clinton’s White House” (a working title), will examine the shaping of economic policy within the Administration, the publisher says. “In the process, the book explains how the White House works,” said S & S publicity director Victoria Meyer.

A 400,000-copy first printing is planned for June. With a print run of that magnitude, surely S & S plans to rely on more than domestic-policy revelations to spur sales. The question, then, is what else Woodward has unearthed.

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B Matter: The Talk of Los Angeles reports that the first audit of its circulation, done last summer by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, showed an average sale of 72,692 copies per issue, which was nearly three times the number for the same period in 1992. . . .

Meanwhile, for numbers of a more chilling sort, check out the April issue of Los Angeles magazine, which looks at the rise in gun ownership among the city’s law-abiding residents, including screenwriter Robert Dillon. He writes: “I voted for Bill Clinton. I really consider myself a liberal. . . . I’m not a member of the NRA, but I do believe that an honest, well-trained, armed citizen isn’t a bad thing to be.”. . .

After three test issues, Time Inc. has given the official go-ahead to In Style, a sleekly glossy mag that profiles celebs in their homes. The publisher is guaranteeing advertisers a circulation of 500,000 copies when monthly frequency begins in June. . . .

Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, whose publishing star shines brightly after two criminal-justice thrillers (“Mitigating Circumstances” and “Interest of Justice”), has agreed to a new, multi-book deal with Dutton / Signet for what’s described as “a substantial, seven-figure advance.” Meanwhile, her next one, “First Offense,” is scheduled for release in August, and NBC has announced plans to shoot “Interest of Justice,” to star Sissy Spacek.

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