The two of them fight and break up, have sex, and get back together about 25 times in the book, in between times when he beats her and explains it away. They go on vacation—“Anyway, we got to Cabo and I hit the links and I forgot all about my problems—golf is pretty magical that way.”
Aren’t you sick of playing by men’s rules? Regan asked. She was building her own gang, and I was going to be her capo. We had to make our own group, she said, like the Jews.
His delusion gets more severe as the book proceeds:
“One year before the murder, Nicole pretty much began stalking me. She’d drive by late at night, and if Paula’s truck wasn’t out front she’d ring the bell.
“After we made love, we’d talk. ‘My therapist says that I like to be angry,’ she’d say.
“‘Yep,’ I said.
“‘She says that I look for trouble because it makes me feel alive,’ she explained. ‘We’ve been trying to figure out where this comes from, so we’ve been talking a lot about my childhood.’”
The book is an unsettling and fundamentally dishonest memento of a strange moment in America, rather than any kind of confession. Nevertheless, Regan insisted on titling the book I Did It, but Simpson’s lawyers objected. They finally settled on If I Did It.
Though neither Friedman nor Regan had seen the book, corporate frenzy over the project grew steadily. Originally, Regan wanted to release the book over Super Bowl weekend, but Fox TV wanted to broadcast the show she’d planned to accompany the book during sweeps week.
Regan decided to conduct the interview herself after Barbara Walters pulled out of the deal, with ABC paying a $1 million kill fee. Once Regan cut the deal with Fox, she began to get excited over her role as interviewer. She was finally going to be the heroine of her imaginings, facing down the country’s most notorious killer, getting him to confess, striking a blow for women and victims everywhere. She flew down to Miami for the taping of the show with her nutrition coach, James Hester, co-author with Roni DeLuz of 21 Pounds in 21 Days. O.J. was in his trailer, with an assistant pastor from his church. According to a source in the room, as he was having makeup applied, he kept saying, “I can’t believe I’m doing this, I can’t believe I’m doing this,” over and over.
The interview took four hours. He began to cry when he started talking about the murders. She asked about the knife—he said it was true, he remembered having a knife. She asked if indeed he did forget his wallet and keys in the pants he wore at the crime scene, and he said he remembered that part for sure, too. She asked if he went to her grave, ever. “He said,” says a source, "‘I go to her grave and curse her for ruining my life.’”
At the end of the interview, he told everyone that he was a man of God, and he believed that he would see Nicole and his mother one day in heaven.
He and Regan spoke for a little while as well. Regan thought that the lines about the knife, and the wallet and keys, were tantamount to an admission of guilt of some kind, and she was incredibly proud of herself, but she kept her feelings under wraps.
“One day, I might curse you too,” he said.
Then her bubble burst. By November 13, the consensus among News Corp. executives was that they couldn’t wait any longer to announce the project, since a cameraman at the TV taping had leaked a video clip to Entertainment Tonight. There was one problem: Regan said the book wasn’t ready. It wouldn’t go into galley form for several days. The news was announced on Tuesday, November 14, even though only Regan, Mark Jackson, and the book’s editor had seen the book. The explosion was immediate, with outraged talking heads burning up the airwaves. Howard Kurtz said it was the “most appalling, shameless, exploitative thing I have heard of in the history of television, maybe the history of recorded civilization.”
But News Corp. is accustomed to outrage, and the word from on high was to stay the course. After some hand-wringing, Friedman signed off on the decision, too. She didn’t want HarperCollins to be known as a place that killed books. Also, she didn’t want to leave Regan in the limelight on something that still had the potential to be a big success—and Regan was insisting to everyone, including HarperCollins executives, that the book they had not seen was going to be a hit. “All along, Judith was telling us, ‘It’s a confession, there’s no ambiguity, there’s no reason to be worried about this project,’” says a News Corp. executive. “And we didn’t have the book, so we had to go on what she told us.”