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A lawsuit filed by New York-based book publisher Penguin Group is seeking repayment on advances paid to several notable authors who failed to deliver their contractually obligated books.
The Smoking Gun has obtained a copy of the breach of contract/unjust enrichment complaint filed with the New York State Supreme Court.
Among the defendants named is Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the zeitgeisty 1994 novel Prozac Nation that would later become a movie starring Christina Ricci. Wurtzel signed a $100,000 contract in 2003 to write “a book for teenagers to help them cope with depression.” Penguin is demanding the $33,000 advance paid back, plus interest.
Also named in the suit in Herman Rosenblat, a Holocaust survivor who fabricated a love story that became a sensation on Oprah Winfrey‘s show. He signed a $40,000 contract in 2008 with the publisher to write a memoir about how he “survived a concentration camp because of a young girl who snuck him food. 17 years later the two met on a blind date and have been together ever since, married 50 years.” Penguin wants its $30,000 advance paid back, plus $10,000 interest. (Photos of the Rosenblats are still featured on Winfrey’s website, though the story has been updated to reflect Rosenblat’s admission to “fictionalizing” portions of his life story.)
Noted political blogger Ana Marie Cox‘s failure to produce a “humorous examination of the next generation of political activists” according to schedule has resulted in Penguin demanding $81,250 in payments back. And the publishing house is seeking $20,000 from The New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead over a collection of Mead’s journalistic writings that never came to fruition.
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