HBO Goes Birding with Jonathan Franzen; More Ghosts of Cookbooks Past

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Today in books and publishing: Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa lands a book deal, HBO is taking Jonathan Franzen birding, chefs continue to distance themselves from the ghosts of cookbooks past.

Jonathan Franzen -- author, Twitter skeptic, and semi-fanatical birder -- is finally going to get pursue that last passion in front of a national television audience. HBO Documentary Films acquired the rights to The Central Park Effect, a 30-minute long documentary that premiered at South by Southwest last week. The film deals with seven of New York City's most devoted amateur birders, including the Freedom author, doing their bird-watching thing in the middle of a great metropolis. The film is slated to air sometime this summer. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Gwyneth Paltrow is not the only boldfaced chef-type pushing back against Julia Moskin's New York Times piece last week about the secret (and busy) lives of cookbook ghostwriters. Rachael Ray, one of the celebrity chefs Moskin mentions by name, has already told Eater that she has never employed a ghost. But what about Mario Batali, Jamie Oliver, Paula Deen, and Martha Stewart, some of the more prominent names that Moskin chooses to leave hanging when it comes to just how much they contribute to their own work. Could a clarification or correction be in the offing? Don't count on it, says Times Dining editor Susan Edgerly, who instead directs foodies to check out a follow-up blog post by Moskin in which Batali, Ray, Oliver, and Paltrow "acknowledged working with collaborators but said they wrote their own books." [WWD]

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This is the golden age of viral video parodies of Kanye West and Jay-Z's "N----- in Paris," which explains why a bunch of book-minded ladies have teamed up to produce "B------ in Bookshops," which is just like the original song, only with more references to Mark Twaining, The Marriage Plot, and Roland Barthes. [readsohard via Hecho/Visto]

Newly-retired St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is wasting no time getting down to the memoir-writing game. The three-time World Series champion manager has reached a deal with William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, to write One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season, a memoir that sounds like it should just be about the Cardinals' improbable World Series run from 2011, but the project's press release is adamant will deal with the totality of La Russa's career. He'll be assisted by Rick Hummel, a veteran reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. According to Morrow, the title is "tentatively scheduled" be released in the autumn. Terms weren't disclosed. [AP]

YouTube does not have a section devoted to videos with literary themes, which is unfortunate, because a literature section would be perfect for YouTube. Also, it would help organize so much stray content. So credit to author Miracle Jones for building a new portal on Reddit with decided bookish leanings. The archives are still being filled out, but it's comforting to know there soon will be a place to go to find, say, a clip of Martin Amis talking to Charlie Rose about cliches without it seeming like a total accident. [Reddit via Galleycat]

Jessica Alba is releasing her first book. Good for her! According to People, it's a lifestyle book and "how-to handbook based on her mission of creating a natural, non-toxic life for her family." This sounds like the kind of touchy-feely, non-toxic lifestyle guide that might end up having to go down the self-publishing route, but Alba has apparently already secured a deal with Rodale, which plans to release the text -- called The Honest Life -- in early 2013. [People]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.