Monday, July 13, 2009

Battle between ghostwriter and family holds up publication of the autobiography that Danny Gans finished writing the day before he died

“As far as any word I'd like to get out...
words have been spoken and rumors spread,
but the real story has yet to be told.
'The Voices In My Head’ is that story."
--RG Ryan, Danny Gans’ ghostwriter

Plans to rush-release Danny Gans’ autobiography, said to be completed the day before he died of a drug overdose on May 1st, have been thrown into chaos as Gans’ family and ghostwriter tangle behind the scenes in secret negotiations that fans had assumed were completed before the first words were typed.

RG Ryan (left), novelist, poet, songwriter and blogger (Snapshots at St. Arbuck’s) says he and the Gans’ family have made a deal that will see the book published— with his name attached.

The book, The Voices In My Head, became an instant part of the Danny Gans legend when Gans’ manager Chip Lightman revealed it was not only in the works but had completed hours before Gans died. However, the veracity of the claim remained in dispute, as Lightman and Gans’ close personal friend, beauty queen-turned TV entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs, had been working together from the time paramedics pronounced Gans dead to spin the circumstances of his death and life into spiritual and often misleading directions.

The book also played a major role in the Las Vegas news media’s hands-off approach to the unpleasant facts about Gans’ life and death, when-- less than a week after his passing-- the publisher of Las Vegas’ major newspaper, The Review-Journal, made a deal with Gans’ family to publish the book and make a quick killing.

The paper’s own columnist Norm Clarke broke the news:

"The family of Danny Gans is moving ahead with plans to have his autobiography published next month. "

Gans' manager, Chip Lightman, and Review-Journal Publisher Sherman Frederick met on Monday, and 'we're crossing the T's as we move forward on a handshake,' Frederick said.

"The R-J is planning a mid-May ad campaign to allow people to reserve copies. "'We are proceeding at a fast pace to have the book printed and available in June,' Frederick said.

"Lightman said the book will also be printed as a hard-cover collectors item and hopefully will be available in June.

"The book, tentatively titled 'Voices In My Head,' will be published by Stephens Press, a division of Stephens Media, the parent company of the Review-Journal."

Plans became undone sometime after it was revealed on June 9th that Gans had died of an overdose of hydromorphone, a painkiller known as “drug store heroin.”

The prologue to the book was posted on coauthor RG Ryan’s website, but removed the day after we posted screen grabs of the text.

When we asked at the time why the page had been removed from his site, Ryan referred all questions to Lightman.

Yet Ryan indicated there was more intrigue on July 3rd, when he posted:

“After weeks of not knowing what was going to happen, I have come to an agreement with the estate of Danny Gans.

“It was nine months of hard work (completed the day before he died) and I am so looking forward to his remarkable story being in the hands of the fans he loved, and who loved him in return.

“I’ll try to keep updates happening here and on Twitter regarding a date for publication.


When we reached Ryan via email this week, he confirmed that the story of Gans’ autobiography being completed hours before his death was not a public relations fabrication:

“Yes, it was finished at eleven AM on Thursday. We were supposed to get together at four Friday afternoon, May 1.”

As for details of the behind-the-scenes holdup, he replied:

“Can't say a whole lot at present as negotiations are at a critical point. I can tell you that the book will be published, I am still credited as co-author and it's going to be a great read for the people who were truly fans of Danny Gans.

“As far as any word I'd like to get out...words have been spoken and rumors spread, but the real story has yet to be told. ‘The Voices In My Head’ is that story.”

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