A Queens insurance salesman is suing Random House for defamation because a sleazeball character in one its new publications is named after him. Douglas Heimowitz is angry that his name was appropriated for a professional gambler in Beth Raymer's recent book, Lay the Favorite, A Memoir of Gambling. "Our client is the only individual in the United States bearing the name Douglas Heimowitz," said lawyer Betty Tufariello.
Heimowitz, whom the News describes as "mild-mannered," admits that he and cocktail waitress-turned-author Raymer are acquaintances. According to Tufariello, Raymer thought using his name for the unsavory character would be funny. The memoir, one of Elle's top ten summer books, recounts how Raymer became a bookie's agent in the underground trenches of professional and illegal gambling. The suit notes several examples of how Heimowitz and the gambler are alike: they're both Jewish, both 6-foot-4, both hail from Queens and both attended Queens College in the early 1980s.
And if you do a Google search of Heimowitz's name, you could see even more clearly how one might be confused. "A lot of colleagues, friends and family are calling him up and [saying], 'We didn't know you were a bookie and a convicted felon,'" said Tufariello. Even worse for him, the book has been optioned as a movie.
According to an interview with Raymer in Smith, she "changed very few names" in her memoir, and "let my subjects look at the book in galley form, and they were happy about the outcome of the book and the way I portrayed them..."