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Miramax Books' President Departs

March 08, 2005|Richard Verrier | Times Staff Writer

Jonathan Burnham, the president and editor in chief of Miramax Books, is leaving the company to become publisher of HarperCollins, it was confirmed Monday.

The departure comes as Miramax Film Corp. co-founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein are in the final stretches of negotiating their exit from Miramax parent Walt Disney Co.

Although plans for Miramax Books still are being hashed out in talks with Disney, the division is expected to be folded into Hyperion Books, the publishing unit of the Burbank entertainment giant.

Burnham's move is the second major departure in recent days for Miramax Books.

Last week, Random House announced that it was hiring senior acquisitions editor Susan Mercandetti.

A former senior editor at Pearson's Viking, Burnham joined Miramax in 1999.

Burnham was tapped by Tina Brown, the former editor of the now-defunct Miramax-backed Talk magazine, to revamp Miramax's book division.

Well-known in publishing circles, Burnham is credited with helping to build the division, which has published more than 70 titles, including 20 bestsellers.

Top titles included books by several high-profile authors such as former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Jordan's Queen Noor and the recent bestseller "Big Russ & Me" by newsman Tim Russert.

Burnham, whose contract was set to expire in June, broke the news to Harvey Weinstein on Monday.

For his part, Weinstein is expected to continue working with Burnham at HarperCollins, a unit of News Corp. that is publishing Weinstein's autobiography.

"Bob and Harvey are thrilled for Jonathan," Miramax Film spokesman Matthew Hiltzik said.

"It's a tremendous opportunity and one of the great publishing houses."

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