HarperCollins named in suit over OJ Simpson book

By Dan Whitcomb
Reuters
Wednesday, January 17, 2007; 6:07 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lawyers for the father of murder victim Ron Goldman have added publisher HarperCollins to a lawsuit against O.J. Simpson over the proceeds of his aborted book, "If I Did It," and an accompanying television interview.

Fred Goldman's lawyers added HarperCollins to the lawsuit on Tuesday after obtaining what they described as the contract between Simpson and the publisher, which is dated May 8, 2006, and guarantees him $1 million.

"They (HarperCollins) were added because they are the current holders and owners of the book deal," said Goldman lawyer David Cook, who filed the lawsuit against Simpson in December demanding that the former football star turn over the money to help satisfy a 1997 civil judgment.

Cook said the contract shows that Simpson constructed a dummy corporation called Lorraine Brooke Associates "to hawk his story" and avoid paying the judgment.

"I believe that in looking at the document, HarperCollins knew, or had very good reason to know, that the Lorraine Brooke Associates entity was just a Simpson conduit," he said.

Representatives for HarperCollins, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., were not immediately available for comment. News Corp. also owns Fox Broadcasting Co., the network that was to have aired the Simpson interview.

In January, a federal judge froze Simpson's book advance, barring him from spending the money at least until a January 24 hearing on the lawsuit. Simpson has said that he was paid much less than $1 million for the book and that he already used his earnings to pay bills.

A public outcry over the book, billed as Simpson's hypothetical account of how he would have killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, prompted Murdoch to scrap it and an accompanying Fox television special in November.

Simpson was acquitted of the murders in 1995 after the so-called "Trial of the Century" but was found liable for the deaths by a civil jury in 1997 and ordered to pay a $33.5 million judgment to the victims' families.

The Simpson book deal and television interview were brokered by maverick publisher Judith Regan, who was fired from her HarperCollins imprint, ReganBooks, about a month later amid accusations of anti-Semitism.

Cook said the contract obtained by Goldman's lawyers shows that Lorraine Brooke was to be paid $1 million in installments and that it was probably brokered by someone in Simpson's camp.

"The question is, who created this? Who was the mastermind of this?" Cook said.




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