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The O.J. Trial’s Over, but the High-Profile Bookings Continue

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Paul D. Colford is a columnist for Newsday

Did you catch the Mark Fuhrman festival on TV last week?

On Friday night, the author of the new “Murder at Brentwood” (Regnery) was giving a leisurely interview to Tom Brokaw on the new MSNBC cable channel at the exact moment that he also was talking to Geraldo Rivera on CNBC. What’s more, Rivera, no pal of Fuhrman going into the evening, showed a clip from still a third interview, taped for Rivera’s syndicated daytime show, on which the host had lashed out at the former Los Angeles detective for using the “N” word and compromising the prosecution’s criminal case against O.J. Simpson.

In addition, Diane Sawyer grilled Fuhrman on ABC, Oprah Winfrey had her turn, and Larry King leaned into his face on CNN.

Fuhrman, cool and unflappable in the camera’s eye, got a nice bump in sales for his book, but hardly one commensurate with all the broadcast firepower. “Murder at Brentwood” finished last week as the fourth-biggest seller at the Barnes & Noble chain, the country’s largest, and the book generated the fourth-highest number of reorders from Ingram Book Co., a leading wholesaler.

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By comparison, “His Name Is Ron” (Morrow), the Goldman family’s new memoir of its struggle following the slaying of Ron Goldman, was the No. 9 nonfiction title at Barnes & Noble and No. 5 at Ingram. Tom Lange and Philip Vannatter’s new “Evidence Dismissed” (Pocket), subtitled “The Inside Story of the Police Investigation of O.J. Simpson,” was No. 12 at Barnes & Noble and No. 18 at Ingram.

Meanwhile, Christopher Darden, whose “In Contempt” (Regan Books) was one of the biggest hits among the dozens of Simpson-related books, is turning his hand to fiction. In a little-noticed announcement earlier this month, Warner Books said it will publish two legal thrillers by Darden, starting in the summer of next year. His collaborator is Dick Lochte, a mystery writer who also reviews whodunits for the Los Angeles Times.

Awkward Timing: Simon & Schuster has a ticklish problem, but it won’t alter the publisher’s plans to release Richard Rhodes’ “Deadly Feasts” in mid-March.

The problem is that Rhodes’ book, which traces the spread of so-called “prion diseases” such as mad cow disease, makes a central character of D. Carleton Gajdusek and praises the pioneering research in New Guinea that earned him the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1976. Two weeks ago, Gajdusek admitted in a Maryland courtroom that he had sexually abused one of the many boys he brought back from Micronesia through the years. He faces up to a year in jail and five years of probation.

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Simon & Schuster had moved up publication of the book by three months to coincide with a national debate before the Food and Drug Administration over proposals to safeguard American beef.

The Gajdusek scandal “doesn’t have any bearing on his heroism and what he achieved in his effort to understand and track this one group of diseases,” said Victoria Meyer, Simon & Schuster’s director of publicity.

Rhodes, the Pulitzer-winning author of “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” refers to Gajdusek’s arrest for child abuse in one paragraph near the end of the book.

Star on the Rise: When this Newsday reporter ran into a New York book editor recently, the woman skipped the pleasantries and begged to know how she might gain access to Long Island’s newest star--Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. The prospect of signing the first-term Democratic congresswoman, gun-control advocate and Mrs. Smith-Goes-to-Washington to write just about any kind of book has excited editors and the publishing houses they work for.

Fielding much of the potentially lucrative interest in McCarthy is Joni Evans, the former Random House publisher who is now a top literary agent at the William Morris Agency. McCarthy met with Evans last week to discuss the possibility of doing a book but first has to weigh whether she would have the time.

“I don’t know if I could do it,” McCarthy said on Tuesday. “If I were to do it, it would be to get my message out on a national level.”

“Books, movies--they’ve been after Carolyn for years since the incident,” said Beneva Schulte, her chief of staff, referring to the 1993 shooting rampage on the Long Island Rail Road in which McCarthy’s husband was killed and her son was seriously injured. She emerged as a forceful advocate of handgun control.

If McCarthy were to proceed with a book, she said, she would first consult the House Ethics Committee about rules regarding book contracts that apply to sitting members of Congress.

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Afterwords: Former congresswoman Patricia Shroeder, the Colorado Democrat, this week was named president and chief executive officer of the Assn. of American Publishers after a unanimous vote of the group’s board. The AAP, with offices in Washington and New York, represents about 200 trade and professional publishing companies.

* Paul D. Colford’s e-mail address is paul.colford@newsday.com. His column is published Thursdays.


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