February 25, 2021

David Oliver Relin, Co-Author of ‘Three Cups of Tea,’ Dies at 49

His family said Mr. Relin “suffered from depression” and took his own life. The family, speaking through Mr. Relin’s agent, Jin Auh, was unwilling to give further details, but said a police statement would be released this week.

In the 1990s, Mr. Relin established himself as a journalist with an interest in telling “humanitarian” stories about people in need in articles about child soldiers and about his travels in Vietnam.

“He felt his causes passionately,” said Lee Kravitz, the former editor of Parade who hired Mr. Relin at various magazines over the years. “He especially cared about young people. I always assigned him to stories that would inspire people to take action to improve their lives.”

So it made sense when Viking books tapped him to write a book about Greg Mortenson, a mountain climber who had an inspiring story about building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Elizabeth Kaplan, the agent for the book, acknowledged that the relationship between the two men was difficult from the start. Mr. Mortenson, who was traveling to remote areas, could be hard to track down, and Mr. Relin spoke publicly about how Mr. Mortenson should not have been named a co-author. Still, the book was a huge success, selling more than four million copies.

Some readers, however, found details of the heartwarming tale suspicious. In 2011, the CBS News program “60 minutes” and the best-selling author Jon Krakauer in an e-book called “Three Cups of Deceit” questioned major points in the book. This included a crucial opening anecdote about Mr. Mortenson’s being rescued by the townspeople of Korphe, Pakistan, after stumbling down a mountain when he was dehydrated and exhausted. It was their care and concern, the book said, that inspired Mr. Mortenson to build schools.

The reports also said some of the schools that Mr. Mortenson’s charity, the Central Asia Institute, said it had established either did not exist or were built by others. There were also charges that the institute had been mismanaging funds and that a substantial portion of the money it raised had been used to promote the book, not for schools.

Mr. Mortenson acknowledged that some of the details in the book were wrong. Mr. Relin did not speak publicly about the charges, but he hired a lawyer to defend himself in a federal lawsuit that accused the authors and the publisher of defrauding readers. The suit was dismissed this year.

In April, the Montana Attorney General’s office announced that Mr. Mortenson had agreed to repay the charity more than $1 million in travel and other expenses used to promote the book, including “inappropriate personal charges.”

David Oliver Relin was born on Dec. 12, 1962, in Rochester to Lloyd and Marjorie Relin. His father died when he was young. Mr. Relin graduated from Vassar College in 1985, and was later awarded a fellowship at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

In addition to his mother, he is survived by his wife, Dawn; his stepfather, Cary Ratcliff; and his sisters Rachel Relin and Jennifer Cherelin.

Mr. Relin had completed a new book on two doctors working to cure cataract-related blindness in the developing world. It is scheduled for publication by Random House in spring 2013.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/03/business/media/david-oliver-relin-co-author-of-three-cups-of-tea-dies-at-49.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Downfall of a Disney Marketing Executive

Except for M T Carney, Walt Disney Studios’ new president of movie marketing. She wore white pants and white Chanel flats.

A rookie mistake; no big deal: Ms. Carney, 42, had been hired six months earlier and had zero movie experience, coming from a New York marketing agency specializing in packaged goods. But the anecdote ricocheted around the catty movie business, giving visual reinforcement to a judgment that most power players had already made: she’s not one of us.

Despite successful ad campaigns since then for films like “The Muppets” and “The Help,” Ms. Carney has still not found her footing, and Disney appears to have concluded that she never will. The studio has sought to replace her in recent months, making an offer to at least one marketing executive at a rival studio who declined, according to people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the recruitment was private.

For her part, Ms. Carney has made it clear to Disney that she would like to return the focus of her career to New York, where her two young children attend school under the care of her former husband. Disney and Ms. Carney declined to comment, but Disney insiders expect her to leave or shift to a lesser role sooner rather than later.

Ms. Carney is not a household name, but she holds what is perhaps Hollywood’s most influential marketing position because it includes selling films worldwide from, in addition to Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Mr. Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios. Should she depart, it may say more about the insularity of the movie industry and its resistance to innovation than her marketing talents, which by many accounts are considerable.

“Film is the single most difficult industry for an outside marketer to crack,” said Peter Sealey, a former Columbia Pictures marketing chief who co-wrote the book “Not on My Watch: Hollywood vs. the Future.” He would know: he was a star marketer at Coca-Cola, which sent him to Hollywood after it bought Columbia in 1982. It was a rocky transition, but he lasted six years with support from Coke — better results than marketers brought in by studios over the years from Burger King and McDonald’s.

“It’s a clubby, inbred culture that still operates on instinct over research and an almost religious adherence to this-is-how-we-do-it tenets,” Mr. Sealey added.

Studios like Disney have an authentic desire to rein in runaway advertising costs and innovate with new types of marketing. They have no choice. Global advertising now costs at least $150 million for a major event film, but DVD sales continue to decline and attendance at North American theaters is at a 16-year low. Simultaneously, the traditional way of turning out a broad audience — TV commercials — has been undercut by the splintering of television viewing.

But producers, directors, actors and agents often balk at unusual approaches. They just want their film to be No. 1 at the box office on opening weekend, and prefer that marketing experiments be carried out with somebody else’s career.

“You need a psychiatrist if you think Steven Spielberg is going to trust M T to tell him how to sell his films,” said one Disney executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering his employer. (Ms. Carney goes by punctuation-free initials that stand for Marie Therese.)

Part of the challenge for outsiders involves a radical difference in timing. Studios have one opening weekend to persuade people to see a film. When marketing a new hamburger, however, months can be devoted to hooking people. Movie marketing involves dealing with emotional artists instead of more pragmatic business people. And it requires a distinctive type of vision: what is the movie and who is it for? The answer may be two radically different things.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=f7ddb8f1a570a1fadf04e14e84215562

Media Decoder: Publisher of ‘Three Cups of Tea’ to Conduct Review

Viking, the publisher of “Three Cups of Tea,” said in a statement on Monday that it would review the book and its contents with the author, Greg Mortenson, after a CBS News report that called into question the accuracy of part of the book.

Mr. Mortenson’s memoir, an account of his work building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, has sold millions of copies.

“Greg Mortenson’s work as a humanitarian in Afghanistan and Pakistan has provided tens of thousands of children with an education,” Carolyn Coleburn, a spokeswoman for Viking, said in a statement. “ ‘60 Minutes’ is a serious news organization and in the wake of their report, Viking plans to carefully review the materials with the author.”

The statement was a strong signal that Viking, an imprint of Penguin, is not convinced of the accuracy of Mr. Mortenson’s book. In several high-profile cases in recent years, publishers of nonfiction have been forced to retract or apologize for memoirs that have been found to be partially or totally fabricated.

A report on “60 Minutes” on Sunday questioned a central anecdote of “Three Cups of Tea”: in 1993, Mr. Mortenson stumbled across the small village of Korphe in northeast Pakistan after failing to summit K2, the world’s second-highest mountain. Mr. Mortenson wrote in the book that after the villagers there nursed him back to health, he vowed to return and build a school.

Mr. Mortenson has defended the information in the book, but has also said that it was based on a “compressed version of events.”

The CBS report also suggested that Mr. Mortenson’s charitable organization, the Central Asia Institute, was plagued by mismanagement and inappropriate spending.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=b9f04bed1592a1ba6b1994e3385a48f9