"What Falls Away," Mia Farrow's long-delayed and much-awaited memoir, went on sale Wednesday, setting in motion a short schedule of prominent author appearances designed to make this the lead celebrity title of the new year.
Farrow was to be escorted to Wednesday night's book party in her honor by composer Stephen Sondheim. The gathering at the Manhattan home of her Doubleday editor, Nan A. Talese, and writer Gay Talese was expected to draw such names as Lauren Bacall, Charlie Rose, Kurt Vonnegut, Dominick Dunne, Judy Collins, Time Editor Walter Isaacson, novelists Margaret Atwood and Oscar Hijuelos, and Barbara Walters.
Friday night at 10, Walters will present the actress in one of the broadcaster's trademark heart-to-hearts on ABC's "20 / 20."
Next week, People magazine will carry an excerpt, Oprah Winfrey will do an interview on Tuesday and Katie Couric will follow Wednesday morning on NBC's "Today."
Yes, "What Falls Away," which takes its name from a verse in Theodore Roethke's poem "The Waking," recalls Farrow's 12 years with Woody Allen (the happiness, their 13 films together and the rancor), her marriage to Andre Previn and what now seems to be a chapter from an ancient era, her marriage to Frank Sinatra.
As Farrow tells it, her father, the screenwriter and director John Farrow, introduced her to Sinatra in a Hollywood restaurant when she was 11. At the time, her father kidded the womanizing singer to stay away from her.
Their paths crossed again when she was starring in the TV soap opera"Peyton Place" and Sinatra was filming "Von Ryan's Express" on a nearby lot. Before asking her out, Sinatra, then 49, cautiously inquired through an intermediary how old she was--19.
They married in 1966 and divorced two years later, but remained friends, so that when she and the world learned in 1992 that Allen was having a romantic relationship with one of her daughters, Sinatra jokingly offered to break the filmmaker's legs.
It's been an uncertain time for celebrity memoirs, many of which command huge advances and then fail to sell a profitable number of copies to readers already inundated with star fluff in newspapers, magazines and daily TV broadcasts.
What makes Farrow's effort of potentially greater interest, more than four years after Doubleday signed her to write the book, is that she tells the story in an unexpectedly elegant voice.
Farrow captivated an early-morning audience at last spring's convention of the American Booksellers Assn. when she read a passage about being the daughter of John Farrow and actress Maureen O'Sullivan, growing up in Beverly Hills and forging a special friendship with a sweet-hearted neighbor, actor Charles Boyer.
Then, striking at Allen, she said: "In 1992 a series of harrowing, unfathomable and excruciating events blew my whole world apart. My vision had been unclear, and very quickly I learned that this man had no respect for everything I hold sacred--not for my family, not for my soul, not for my God or my goals."
First printing: 150,000 copies.
Afterwords: The Advocate's Feb. 18 issue unveils a striking redesign and an editorial policy that emphasizes analysis and opinion pieces, leaving daily news coverage to the magazine's Web site (http://www.advocate.com). The gay and lesbian magazine, which is based in Los Angeles, has begun its 30th year of publication. . . .
It's not the end of Civilization, the Washington-based publication about history and culture that won a National Magazine Award for general excellence last year. Although sources associated with Civilization said in late December that the January-February issue would be the last--Editor in Chief Stephen Smith was exiting to National Journal--the mag has returned without a gap. A February-March issue, with the name of Deputy Editor Frances Stead Sellers topping the masthead, has appeared as Capital Publishing follows through on its purchase of Civilization from L.O.C. Associates, which launched the mag in 1994. Capital owns Worth and is planning to introduce American Benefactor, a quarterly focusing on American philanthropy, in March. . . .
Norman Mailer's first novel since "Harlot's Ghost" came out six years ago--he has written books on Lee Harvey Oswald and Pablo Picasso since then--was mentioned, but not titled or described in Random House's spring catalog. Scheduled for publication in May, the novel was further identified two weeks ago in Publishers Weekly as "The Gospel According to the Son." PW calls it "the story of Jesus according to Jesus himself."