The Big Scandal: Cookbook Controversy

Published October 23, 2007

| FoxNews.com

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," October 22, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JOHN GIBSON, CO-HOST: The big scandal now, Oprah Winfrey gave author James Frey a very public flogging when he found out the non fiction book she promoted was in fact fiction.

NAUERT: Now Oprah Winfrey has a new book controversy on her hands and this time the author is comedian Jerry Seinfeld's wife. Jessica Seinfeld's new cookbook just boiled to the top of the bestseller list, but now another author is accusing her of cooking up her recipes.

GIBSON: Big Story correspondent Douglas Kennedy has a look at this book flap. Douglas, what's happening?

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah John, Jessica's new book is called "Deceptively Delicious," but the other author says it's deceptively similar to her book, the one that came out last spring. It's a food fight that could easily have been an episode on her husband's sitcom:

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could have them published, I could drop fliers from a plane above the city.

JERRY SEINFELD: Wait a second, where do you think you're going?

KENNEDY: In an episode of "Seinfeld" Jerry's ex-girlfriend Elaine draws a cartoon for the New York that is later found to have been plagiarized from Ziggy.

In real life, Jerry's wife Jessica has written a bestselling cookbook about recipes for children that some say bears a strong resemblance to this book that came out six months earlier.

BARBARA HOFFMAN, NEW YORK POST: Another cookbook author has come forward saying that Jessica Seinfeld is not the first person to sneak vegetables into her children's friends. And that she had this idea before.

KENNEDY: Ironically, Jessica's book, which is published by HarperCollins, a sister company to FOX News, is called "Deceptively Delicious," and explains how to sneak healthy food into children's meals without their knowledge. The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine and published by Running Press does the exact same thing and the books even share 15 of the same recipes. But that's not how Oprah played it when Jerry and Jessica appeared on her show two weeks ago:

OPRAH WINFREY: This is really well done.

JESSICA SEINFELD: Thank you.

WINFREY: Congratulations.

KENNEDY: Lapine says she submitted her manuscript to HarperCollins twice in early 2006 but was turned down. She also said she tried to get on Oprah five times but was also rejected.

"I'm surprised that on the Oprah show this was being touted as an entirely new technique pioneered by Mrs. Seinfeld," Lapine said in a newspaper interview. "I'm concerned and troubled that Oprah credited and applauded someone else for a technique that was out there six months earlier."

If the book turns out to be plagiarized, it would not be the first time Oprah had been duped. Last year she sent sales of James Frey's book soaring only to find out he had made up most of the supposedly true story:

JAMES FREY: I think one of the coping mechanisms I developed was sort of this image of myself that was greater than what I actually was.

KENNEDY: Because of Lapine's complaints, HarperCollins has already modified Seinfeld's cover, replacing the word sneaky with simple. Still, some industry analysts say there is a big difference between stealing someone's story and sharing someone's recipes.

HOFFMAN: I'm sure she's not the first person in the world to have figured out that pureed butternut squash looks strangely enough like macaroni and cheese. I am sure she could not possibly be the first mother who thought of this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KENNEDY: In a statement, Seinfeld said she had never seen or read Lapine's book. She said her ideas in her book came from years of trying to get her own children to eat healthy foods. On the other hand, Lapine's publisher says they are concerned about the book's similarities. And they say, John and Heather, they are conducting their own investigation.

GIBSON: Douglas, thank you very much.

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