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One more chance at Jackson's memoir

July 29, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Michael Jackson's memoir, "Moonwalk," originally acquired by then-Doubleday editor Jackie Onassis and published in 1988, will be reissued in October by Random House Inc. with a first printing of 100,000 copies and a new introduction from a Jackson friend who has not been identified.

Jackson's representatives wanted to act quickly. On July 23, executors of the singer's estate filed papers in a Los Angeles court stating that book deals should be reached "as soon as possible" in order to capitalize on "the notoriety surrounding Michael Jackson's unexpected death" and ensure that "profits for the Estate will be maximized."

According to literary agent Joy Harris, several U.S. publishers were interested in the memoir, but -- assuming the price was right -- both Harris and the lawyers who had handled Jackson's book wanted to stay with his original editor, Shaye Areheart. Her Harmony imprint at Random House will handle the release. (Onassis died of cancer in 1994.)

"She was professional with Michael and she was respectful," Harris, who declined to offer financial details for the new edition, said of Areheart. "She had worked for Jackie a long time and she was comfortable around celebrity."

The book is also coming out in Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

"Moonwalk" was a classic celebrity project. It was not written or even conceived by Jackson. The contents were kept secret right up to the moment of release; around the printing plant the book had the code name "Neil Armstrong." It topped the New York Times hardcover nonfiction list, but within a few years was forgotten and out of print.

The idea began in the mid-1980s, when "Thriller" was at the top of the charts and the singer at the height of his career. Onassis, a celebrity at least as famous and even more secretive as Jackson, admired him.

Other publishers were interested, but Jackson was equally in awe of Onassis and wanted to publish with her. "They got along very well," Areheart said. "She thought he was so sweet."

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