Gersh has signed Oxford University Press and will rep its academic and trade books for film, TV and digital opportunities for their Global Academic Business. Joe Veltre will shop its properties. Why sign an egghead outfit that was founded in 1478? Well, Oxford University Press has done pretty well in the non-fiction film arena. Among the OUP books turned into features are the Daniel Craig-starrer Defiance, the Channing Tatum-starrer The Eagle, and the docu Freedom Riders. “The breadth and quality of their list is extraordinary, and we feel privileged to help expand their reach into the world of film and television,” Veltre said.
It’s another example of publishers wanting to be part of the ancillary market for works. After years of paying writers a few thousand dollars to write articles and then watch those journalists make six-figure rights deals for film and TV adaptations, magazines and book publishers have moved to more than wet their beaks; they want to control the process. That includes magazine publishers like Conde Nast, which last year started a dedicated dealmaking division with former CW Entertainment chief Dawn Ostroff. The rationale: if the magazine is paying good money for the words and providing the means for them to be projected into the populace, why shouldn’t the publishers cash in? A New York Times report today detailed how unnamed Conde Nast contributors and their agents are bristling about the practice, feeling that the publisher is making it even harder for these freelancers to make a living. It seems they are between a rock and a hard place; magazines that pay a few dollars a word have been shrinking in size and profits for years, and like everyone else in journalism, survival means exploiting revenue streams wherever they find them. Is it wrong for magazine and book publishers to control the film and TV deal process?