In the literary world, Lucy Hood is an anomaly.
Instead of lunching with cranky authors at the Algonquin Hotel in New York or sipping cocktails with literary agents at the Four Seasons, the high-energy publishing executive is about as far from the book capital of the world as she can get.
Hood, a senior vice president with HarperCollins Publishing, is ensconced in a bright, sun-filled office on the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. lot in West Los Angeles. No other publishing executive operates on the lot of a major movie studio.
She is an example of the way vertically integrated media giants maximize all their assets in an era when books quickly become films, and films are turned into best-selling toys, CD-ROMs, calendars, theme-park attractions and a host of other forms of merchandise or entertainment.
"We are trying to expand the reach of HarperCollins," Hood said, adding that her post at the Fox studio is aimed at creating synergies for News Corp.'s vast entertainment empire. "We felt there was a lot of business we could put in place."
Hood manages the 2-month-old Los Angeles-based HarperEntertainment imprint, a division devoted to books related to film, television, celebrities, music and sports.
Her main task is to seek out projects within News Corp. screenplays, for example, that can be turned into novels, or humor cartoon books based on a hit series, like "King of the Hill." Other formats include hard covers, desk diaries and art books.
In addition, Hood is executive in charge of HarperCollins' Los Angeles office, which has produced books about the Fox TV series "Ally McBeal," the final days of "Seinfeld," and a book called "Race for the Record," a pictorial view of the 1998 home-run derby.
It works the other way around as well; Fox is developing a number of movies and TV shows based on HarperCollins books, including a movie based on the self-help book "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus."
Hood's unit will publish about 100 titles this year, or about one-seventh the number of books HarperCollins will release.
Her location provides a number of advantages not enjoyed by her colleagues in New York.
"The fact that she is here is very good," said Eric Greenspan, an entertainment attorney who represents the Grammy-winning singer Jewel, whose recent collection of poems, "a night without armor," was a best seller. "It's always better to see someone for lunch or at a Laker game than having to make a long-distance call."
Jewel's deal, which is part of a two-book package, is an example of how personal networking in Hollywood operates to Hood's advantage. She and Greenspan were members of a book club. They and their spouses socialized, and at one point, Hood asked if Jewel would consider writing a book. Greenspan doubted that she would, but asked if HarperCollins would publish a book of Jewel's poetry. Hood agreed.
"She is an artist who has a meaningful message," Hood said. "She is empowering, especially for women, teens and 30ish moms."
Greenspan, who specializes in music-industry clients, wants to do more work with Hood. "I have a number of clients who are in rock bands who are interested in discussing book deals," he said.
Hood, who has a bachelor's degree in English and theater from Yale and an MBA from Columbia University, began her career in publishing at a small house in New York. She joined Fox in 1989 and managed a number of businesses. In 1994, Hood was part of the executive team that launched Fox's FX cable network. More recently, she developed original programs for the Internet for Fox.
Prior to joining Fox, she was director of business development at Paramount Pictures. Such experience clicks when she is making book and movie deals.
"I speak the language," Hood said. "I have worked in TV, distribution. I understand how to talk to producers. I know what deadlines are like. I am familiar with marketing and publicity campaigns. I know why a book would work for Jewel and why a project might work for Demi Moore."
Hood and her colleagues recently signed book deals with Sony Entertainment Inc. on its film "Godzilla" and its TV series "Party of Five," which is produced for the Fox TV network.
Anita Frazier, vice president of domestic licensing for Sony's film and TV properties, said having Hood in Los Angeles is a major advantage for HarperCollins.
"Anytime you deal with a company that isn't located in Los Angeles, but has someone local, it makes business dealing easier and faster," she said. "They are in the same time zone and there is something psychological about dealing with someone in your own backyard."
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