The Smoking Gun is reporting that Missy Chase Lapine has filed a Federal lawsuit claiming Jessica Seinfeld “brazenly plagiarized” from her 2007 book “The Sneaky Chef” in the writing of Jessica’s own cookbook. Both books focus on healthy recipes that are easy for parents to prepare for their fussy kids.
When news stories appeared detailing similarities in the two books, Jerry Seinfeld launched a “malicious, premeditated, and knowingly false and defamatory attack” on Lapine, the complaint charges. As part of that campaign, Seinfeld went on Letterman’s show and described Lapine as “angry” and “hysterical.” He then compared her to the kind of “wackos” that had previously stalked Letterman. The comedian then added that Lapine was a “three-name woman” and “if you read history, many of the three-name people do become assassins.” The complaint, an excerpt of which you’ll find below, adds that Seinfeld also described Lapine as a “nutjob” in a second television interview.
On October 31st, 2007 Jessica’s editor, Mary Ellen O’Neill, commented on our site stating:
As the editor and publisher at HarperCollins who saw both of these proposals, I’d like to set the record straight. I passed on the opportunity to publish the Sneaky Chef. We were in the midst of publishing a book for the same audience (healthier eating for kids) called Lunch Lessons and I did not think we’d sell a profitable number of copies of another book. When Jessica Seinfeld’s proposal came in to me, I asked another editor to review it. This is common–publishers get a lot of proposals. They are delegated to editors to share the workload and to share the opportunity to acquire good books. That’s how the business works. That editor, along with the president of our company, and without me, met with Jessica and were so impressed with her passion for cooking and, of course, her ability to get media. I deeply resent, as some bloggers have suggested, that I would use one author’s work to influence another’s. We see similar proposals all the time. As many other bloggers have pointed out, it’s not plagiarism when two books have the same idea. It’s something that happens often in publishing, especially when a topic, such as getting kids to eat healthy foods, is of public concern. Hiding vegetables in foods has been employed by mothers for years: Jessica has never claimed ownership of the idea nor claimed that it was the perfect solution; it worked for her and she wanted to share it with the millions of mothers out there who struggle with their kids every day over the dinner table. The publication of these two books has been swarmed by lies, distortions, seemingly deliberate misunderstandings, bias, and anger.
And by the way, as a mother of 9 and 13 year old girls, I’m grateful for any way at all to get them eating more veggies–roasted, sautéed, or hidden. What on earth can be the problem with that?
It seems this lawsuit is less about the recipes and more about the comments made after the allegations.
I don’t believe for one second that Jessica Seinfeld plagiarized the recipes. I do think that the other author was probably embarrassed when she heard the Seinfelds making unfavorable comments about her and took action by filing the lawsuit.