When Miramax Books sent out their spring/summer 2005 catalog, the cover art for The Twins of Tribeca, the roman à clef by Rachel Pine based on her time working at Miramax Films, depicted a cowering publicist hiding her face behind a clipboard on an unfurling red carpet. Above her loomed shadows of two big thugs grabbing at each other’s throats. It didn’t take much of a leap to conclude that the brutes were meant to represent one or both of the Weinstein brothers-tough guy Harvey and sideshow Bob-on whom Ms. Pine apparently based the characters of the Waxman brothers in her novel. Not that the Weinstein brothers have much to fear from what’s between the covers; the book treats them in a manner more cuddly than curdling.
“Phil was huge-six four, with the immense shoulders and chest of an offensive lineman,” the author writes of “Phil Waxman.” “He had a tremendous head with a fleshy face and a pair of small, fierce eyes that didn’t miss a trick. His tie was unknotted and his shirt collar opened to make room for his enormous neck, his bulk clearly straining at the seams of his custom-made tuxedo.” But apart from a few temper tantrums and some sibling jousting with his brother (“The Waxmans fought like a pair of ghetto pit bulls and were incredibly jealous of one another.”), Phil is pretty harmless.
Nevertheless when galleys for the 371-page book began to circulate months later, the shadowy monsters had disappeared from the cover, leaving a lonely gray skyline. A Miramax in-house rumor suggested that Harvey Weinstein had perhaps objected to the cover and made a few calls.
According to Kathy Schneider, the publisher of Miramax Books, it was not a Weinstein, but a mere mortal-a book-chain buyer-who requested the switch.
“Two things happened with the cover,” said Ms. Schneider. “When we presented this book to our sales force, we got a lot of comments about it looking like a cartoon in the background. There was a little bit of confusion as to what the figures were. And then, when our sales reps went to sell to accounts, one of the top chain account fiction buyers really hated the background, of the two, you know, shadows. So we took them out, and when we did, we thought it looked great.”
A Miramax spokesperson said that the twin-free cover would be the final one, to be distributed at a Feb. 16 luncheon the company is hosting in midtown.
For her part, the 38-year-old Ms. Pine said that she’d still like to see two of something in the background.
“I have no idea how much of this book either Weinstein has seen. The shadows certainly don’t look like them,” said Ms. Pine. “I’ve liked every cover they’ve sent me. I think that the artist really read the book, and I love that the red of the carpet is the color of blood. I wish I really had legs like the girl on the cover.”
“I’m in the AAAA (American Automobile Association Anonymous),” my friend Ernie told me. “It’s a 12-step program for people with an addictive relationship to the AAA. Many of us compulsively read Car and Travel, their monthly magazine, collect AAA decals, and call for towing when we don’t need it.”
“Are you making progress?” I asked Ernie.
“Yes, one day at a time,” he replied. “For example, as soon as I met anyone, I used to buy them a gift membership. Now I almost never do.”
It’s O.K. to Punch These People in the Face
1. Ethan Hawke.
2. Anyone who sends in a celebrity sighting to Gawker.
3. Andrew Cuomo.
4. Magazine editors who insert an “Edited by … ” credit for stories they’ve edited.
5. Anyone who wants to have lunch. Or breakfast. Or drinks.