March 18, 2016
Michael Mann shopping book imprint to publishers
by Ena Brdjanovic
Continuing this week’s trend of movie writer/directors veering into publishing—Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr reports that lauded director Michael Mann is looking to launch his own imprint.
The imprint is actually a bit of a reversal for the Academy Award nominated writer/director, given how many of his films were books before they were movies. The Last of the Mohicans was a book of the same name penned by James Fenimore Cooper; The Aviator was an adaptation of Charles Higham‘s Howard Hughes: The Secret Life; Manhunter brought Thomas Harris‘s Red Dragon to the screen; and Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel is an adaptation of the Elaine Shannon‘s book Desperados. (Perhaps someone finally pointed out to Mann that the book is always better than the movie.)
Deadline reports that Michael Mann Books will “generate a series of novels with a stable of writers and the properties will simultaneously be developed for film and television.” Though, as Fleming points out, the “big piece of news” is that the imprint’s top priority will be a prequel novel to Mann’s 1995 Los Angeles crime drama Heat, starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and the venerable Val Kilmer (!!!). Fleming explains:
The prequel novel will cover the formative years of homicide detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro), Chris Shihirles (Val Kilmer), McCauley’s accomplice Nate (Jon Voight), and other characters so brilliantly layered in the 1995 film. Mann based that film on stories of a lot of real criminals and cops, and references to past experiences are peppered throughout the picture.
It’s worth noting that Deadline fails to cite where exactly Mann’s imprint will reside, despite the article’s headline—“Michael Mann Launches Book Imprint; ‘Heat’ Prequel Novel A Priority.” This is, at best, an overstatement. An imprint, in the traditional publishing sense of the concept, is a distinctive department within a publishing house. Mann hasn’t launched the imprint so much as he’s seeking to launch—Mann has yet to secure a publishing house (an umbrella, if you will) under which Michael Mann Books would be nestled, published and distributed. At this stage, Mann’s come up with the idea, and now his agent, Shane Salerno at The Story Factory, is shopping the imprint to publishers. To be full and frank, and considering the focus on the simultaneous development of the imprint’s books into film and television projects, Michael Mann Books makes most sense as a leg of Mann’s production company.
Of course, should Mann secure a publisher, he’ll be in good company: Anthony Bourdain (Ecco), Chelsea Handler (Grand Central), Johnny Depp (Harper), Derek Jeter (Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing), Gwyneth Paltrow (Grand Central), and Oprah (Flatiron) all have their very own imprints.
In the words of Melville House‘s senior editor, Mark Krotov, “If I were a celebrity with a book idea and I didn’t get my own imprint, I’d be pissed.”
Ena Brdjanovic was formerly Director of Digital Media at Melville House.