Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Seinfeld may want to apologize to author Lapine

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has been very outspoken about accusations of plagiarism levied against his wife Jessica by author Missy Chase Lapine. During appearances on TV shows, Seinfeld has implied Lapine is a “wacko” and among other things, he called the author “angry” and “hysterical.” An attorney for the Seinfelds said Lapine’s claims were “unfounded and untrue.” Both authors’ books deal with getting children to eat healthy foods, even if they’re picky eaters.

After reading Lapine’s legal complaint, I’d have to say she provides some very persuasive evidence. For one thing, Lapine isn’t a “wacko.” She’s a professional writer, the former publisher of Eating Well. She serves on the Culinary Arts Faculty at The New School. She serves on the Children’s Advisory Council of Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian where her culinary nutrition methods are used in pediatric wards.

After carefully reading the examples Lapine set forth, comparing similarities between her book, published before Jessica Seinfeld’s book, there are one too many similarities. Lapine had submitted her manuscript to Harper Collins, who rejected it. HC later published the Seinfeld book. Lapine’s book is titled The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids Favorite Meals. Seinfeld’s wife’s book is titled, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Getting Your Kid Eating Good Food. Both books have identical techniques (the use of pureed healthy food items, disguised in favorite recipes) and the logos were eerily similar. Lapine devoted her life’s work to developing her recipes, and it’s hard to imagine that two authors would choose identical ingredients to puree.

If I were a judge hearing this case, Lapine would win hands down. It’s irresistible to theorize there was a crossover with the publisher somehow; after all, Lapine had submitted before Seinfeld. Perseus published Lapine’s book, and even brought to HC attention similarities between the books after Lapine showed her publisher a promo brochure for the Seinfeld book.

Read the list of extensive similarities between Lapine’s book and Seinfeld’s wife’s book at The Smoking Gun where the complaint is published. In my opinion, if what the complaint says is accurate, and the examples are accurate, Seinfeld owes author Lapine a sincere apology. I wonder how the comedian would react if he found someone else marketing one of his routines, with minor alterations.

This is simply another example of what happens when the publishing marketplace is monopolized by a few big houses with a gluttonous appetite for celebrity-written (or ghost-written) content, and the only emphasis is profit. I doubt publishers even worry much about plagiarism, because unless you can spend a lot of money on attorneys, you don’t have a hope in hell of protecting your work. My sympathy goes to Lapine.


Anonymous said...

Jessica Seinfeld SO obviously copied and only minimally changed Missy Lapine's cookbook and called it her own. Wow, READ THE LAWSUIT on "TheSmokingGun.com" website before you take my word. It's so amazing to see all of the stuff that Jessica Seinfeld copied and changed very little from the real book by Missy Lapine.

I mean, my god, what is wrong with her agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh (who also represented the PLAGIARIST Kaavya Viswanathan from Harvard)? Does she think that the public is stupid? It's sooooo simple to put the books together as the lawsuit papers show on thesmokinggun.com to see what happened. This makes Oprah look like an IDIOT!

IT IS SHOCKING!!! Jessica Seinfeld is SO BUSTED! Jerry is going to have to pay out the whazoo for this one! Good for Missy!

Kay Day said...

Anonymous, after reading the complaint (and like I said, assuming what's in there is accurate), there's no doubt in my mind Lapine's book was an influence on the later book. It's my opinion (unsubstantiated and purely subjective on my part) that Lapine's book was definitely used somehow in the publishing process. Now whether Seinfeld's wife did this intentionally, or whether she was "guided" by the publisher, no one knows at this point. I'd be curious to know (1)who had access to the book proposal Lapine submitted to HC and (2)did that "who" play a part in Seinfeld's book production/development.

At any rate, it is shocking. And I think Seinfeld went off the deep end saying the things he said publicly about a hard-working author.

best, KBD

Anonymous said...

Jennifer Rudolph Walsh has a history of stealing books (yes, already PUBLISHED material) and now she has stolen Missy Lapine's book and GIVEN it to the dummmy Jessica Seinfeld. Ms. Walsh is just motivated by greed without ethics. Only now, Missy Lapine has some bad-ass attorneys who are demanding a jury trial. Ms. Walsh is what is wrong in publishing. Poor Jessica! See what Jerry got you into!!!

Kay Day said...

I don't know anything about the players in this drama, but I based my opinion on the legal complaint. Looks like Lapine has a solid case, in my opinion.