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Oprah Weighs In on Health and Fitness

February 02, 1996|PAUL D. COLFORD | NEWSDAY

Publishers hoping to move books onto the nonfiction bestseller list next fall can be reasonably sure that at least one slot will be taken--and may be occupied for a long time. Harpo Entertainment Group, which is Oprah Winfrey's media company, and Hyperion have announced that they will publish a health-fitness book by the popular queen of daytime talk and her trainer, Bob Greene.

When Winfrey last put her imprint on a book, appearing in the spring of 1994 on the cover of cook Rosie Daley's calorie-conscious "In the Kitchen With Rosie," copies were sold as fast as Alfred A. Knopf Inc. could print them. There are more than 1 million in print.

Greene, described as an exercise physiologist, met Winfrey in 1992 when he led her on several mountain hikes at Telluride Ski Resort in Colorado. Moving to Winfrey's home base in Chicago to become her personal trainer, Greene later helped the broadcaster lose more than 80 pounds through a regimen that placed a heavy emphasis on running.

Along the way Greene has become familiar to Winfrey's vast TV audience from visits to her show. A cover story about his work with Winfrey in the March 1995 issue of Runner's World was a runaway seller for the magazine.

"Bob has taught me to 'make the connection'--it's not just about losing weight--it's all about self-confidence, inner strength, feeling better on a daily basis and having control over your life," Winfrey said in a statement released by Hyperion. "My life has changed, and I believe what I've learned will help other people. I will write the introduction and share my experiences and thoughts throughout the book."

Winfrey's agreement with Hyperion, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., follows her signing of a production deal last fall with Capital Cities / ABC. The deal calls for Winfrey to develop programming for ABC and gives the network first option on her publishing and other projects. ABC recently was acquired by Disney.

At the same time, word of Winfrey's new book raises an all-too-obvious question about the status of her autobiography. That was the book she unexpectedly withdrew from Knopf's fall schedule in 1993 after the Random House division had heralded publication with great promotional fanfare and plans for a first printing of 750,000 copies.

"She has not been in touch about that book," Erroll McDonald, who had signed up to edit the autobiography for Knopf, said this week.

*

Women's Turn at Bat: It was known to be in development for months. On Tuesday, it received the go-ahead.

A women's sports magazine will be launched by the Conde Nast Publications Inc. in the spring of 1997, the company announced. Jump (the working title) will address women's interest in participatory and spectator sports--instead of being another guide to a fitter body.

This week's announcement confirmed that the editor in chief will be Lucy Danziger, the former managing editor of the now-defunct 7 Days who had been working for the New York Times. The publisher will be Deanna Brown, who has been director of Conde Nast's new-media division.

*

Liberal Dose of Humor: It went on sale Jan. 12 with an attention-grabbing title and a fairly novel concept. But who expected Al Franken's "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot" to become such a big hit?

The book will debut Sunday on the New York Times' national bestseller list at No. 4. Delacorte Press reports that it has more than 100,000 copies in print. That's tiny when compared to the millions who have watched Franken's funny bits on "Saturday Night Live" and the Comedy Central cable channel, but impressive for a nonfiction title on sale only three weeks.

The success of the book, which takes blunt swipes at Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Reaganomics and other topics, should not be construed as a sign that Limbaugh's popularity and influence are waning. Hardly. What Franken's good fortune appears to show is that the marketplace, not to mention the political arena, has craved a dose of biting liberal humor like the wicked lines Limbaugh fires so effectively from the right.

Meanwhile, from La Jolla, comes word that the 3-year-old Flush Rush Quarterly will discontinue publication after the release of an upcoming double-issue. Editor and Publisher Brian Keliher, who disputed in print many of Limbaugh's statements and arguments, often using the broadcaster's own words, says that the quarterly has achieved its goal of challenging his credibility. "Our goal was never really to censor Limbaugh," Keliher said.

According to Keliher, the quarterly, which had a circulation high of about 12,000, more recently has had about 4,000 subscribers.

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Afterwords: Dave Barry wanted to write the first chapter and Carl Hiassen volunteered to do the last. Edna Buchanan, Elmore Leonard and other South Florida crime novelists also agreed to contribute.

"Naked Came the Manatee," a serial novel that has been running in the Miami Herald's Tropic magazine since November, will be published in hardcover next fall by G. P. Putnam's Sons. According to Tropic editor Tom Shroder, the title of the book pays homage to "Naked Came the Stranger," a best-selling sex novel in 1969 by one "Penelope Ash," which was revealed to be the pseudonym for a bunch of Newsday writers who hatched the book as a gag . . * Eric Utne, editor in chief of the Utne Reader, announced this week that he will take a one-year sabbatical from his Minneapolis-based bimonthly and named Hugh Delehanty, a senior editor at People magazine, as the new editor, effective March 1. Utne plans what he calls a "walkabout" with his wife and children. He will continue as chairman of his company when he returns next year.

Founded 12 years ago, Utne Reader is a provocative compendium of articles about contemporary life, many of them previously published.

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