Indigestion All Around
Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul, almost had the biggest turkey dinner in U.S. history.
This is the story: Judith Regan did an interview with O.J. Simpson on what he would have done if he had done what he (allegedly) did -- which was (allegedly) kill his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman. Judith works for Murdoch and she is a hotshot publisher.
There was tremendous excitement about the interview and the Simpson book it was promoting because the Fox network was going to air the interviews during the ratings sweeps.
Murdoch thought he had a winner. O.J. had had a ghostwriter and everybody seemed set to make money out of it.
In case you've forgotten what it's all about, O.J. was tried for killing his wife and Goldman. He was found not guilty, but afterward, in a civil case, O.J.'s ex-wife's family and Goldman's family won a judgment against him. Since O.J. moved to Florida, the families couldn't collect the money, some of which, by the way, was supposed to go to O.J.'s children.
So it was, in effect, a heckuva dinner. Rupert paid for the turkey and all the trimmings. Judith cut up the turkey into two portions. Everyone seemed to have something to be thankful for.
But then the giblets hit the fan and there was so much bad publicity about O.J. telling how he would have killed his wife, if he had killed her, that even people at Fox thought it went too far. Some Fox stations said they would not run the interview. Bookstores said they would not sell the book, and finally Murdoch decided the cranberry sauce wasn't worth it.
So Murdoch announced that Fox would not air the interviews. This put Judith Regan out on a limb. She was stuck with an awful lot of books, and also a lot of videotape.
My connection with O.J. is that we both went to the University of Southern California, where he was a football star and I scalped tickets to the games.
I tried to reach all the players in this story -- Murdoch, O.J., Regan and anyone at Fox who was willing to talk. No one answered the phone. What began as a very festive family occasion turned out to be something no one was thankful for.
This much we know: O.J. did not write the book by himself, and Judith thought she had a great idea, even if what he wrote turned out not to be true.
Judith is looking for someone else who didn't commit a crime and is willing to be paid $3 million to write how he or she would have done it.
This Thanksgiving was one for the books, but not for Regan Books. I don't know if Murdoch had a Thanksgiving turkey to carve. If he did, it could have been O.J.'s head.
2006Tribune Media Services