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Talking Points

EDITED BY JESSICA LUSTIG

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A Dealmaking Tale of Staggering Hubris
Hollywood has been buzzing about the movie deal for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. New Line Cinema paid Dave Eggers $2 million for his best-seller and gave him approval over screenwriter, producer, and even director. "It's unprecedented for a first-timer, and almost unprecedented in the lit world at large," says Amy Schiffman, vice-president of literary properties at the Gersh Agency. "But I think he deserves it." One studio executive notes that John Grisham got casting approval for A Time to Kill, but only "because he already had a track record." And Eggers's reputation as a fierce defender of his book -- he's already fired his literary agent, as well as a pair of film agents from UTA -- precedes him. "If Eggers has that much creative control," the executive continues, "he could hold up the project forever."

Hot-Button Issue
Those hanging chads have been a boon to UniLect Corporation, of Dublin, California, which makes electronic-touch-screen voting booths. National sales manager Jim Minor reports "many inquiries" since Election Day, as well as "a lot of calls from people who want to invest." UniLect's machines, he adds, take about three minutes to recount a precinct, and Palm Beach County could have been polished off in "six hours, probably." The system is certified in eleven states, not including New York . . . or Florida. "Let's say we will be," says Minor.

Titanium Vs. Tsunami
Given that the polar ice caps are melting, is it really a good idea to build a $678 million repository for priceless art on stilts above the East River? Princeton geosciences professor S. George Philander, author of Is the Temperature Rising?, has some good news -- he doesn't expect the new Guggenheim to end up underwater. But "severe storm conditions and floods . . . will become more frequent over the course of several decades," so the thing had better be waterproof. Bruce Brodoff of the Economic Development Corporation, which manages the piers, says that they're "just starting to assess the environmental impact of the building," including examining "slosh maps" that record tide levels during storms.

Hue and Eye
Oxford scientists have labeled a 57-year-old woman a "tetrachromat," meaning that her eyes, besides perceiving red, green, and blue like the average human's, also see a fourth primary color -- one between red and green. "Oh, everyone knows my color vision is different," she told Red Herring. "People will think things match, but I can see they don't." Bloomingdale's Kal Ruttenstein would hire a mutant in a moment: "They would be like the 'noses' in the fragrance business, who can smell things that no one else can and come up with great new fragrances." But designer Patricia Field doesn't envision it. "Really, if they have this special vision, it's fine and dandy for them, but if we can't see it, what's the point? If I can't see it, what am I going to do? Just listen blindly?"

Relapse
The Hazelden rehab clinic's annual fund-raiser, held Tuesday at the Waldorf-Astoria, was by all accounts anything but a sober affair. Total bar tab: $11,000. "That was for beverages," says the evening's event planner. "Because it was a Hazelden event, we served a significantly smaller amount of alcohol. At the tables, there was sparkling water and juices and things like that as well." Maybe they were using them for mixers.


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