As pleasingly intriguing as it is to realize that a few stray copies of O.J. Simpson's If I Did It are floating around, we're even more pleased that one landed in the capable hands of Vanity Fair columnist James Wolcott. So, James, was the ReganBooks fiasco worth the ensuing scandal? His answer, it seems: Not so much. In a review-cum-condemnation posted to VF.com today, Wolcott is most struck by the banality of the allegedly incendiary material, noting that O.J.'s story is a "suave void" in which the running back turned movie star presents himself as a passive figure in his marriage and the murders, only slightly less inert than ghostwriter Pablo Fenvjes's prose. Don't think that means you shouldn't read the review itself, though. Even if O.J. isn't able to spin more than a yawn-yarn from his story of a wife-beating marriage, double murder, and Trial of the Century, Wolcott's toss-offs, like his gloriously alliterative contortion — "a shameless yet ingeniously opaque cockteaser of a cash-in confessional (who knew a book about a double homicide could be so flipping coy?)" — are the closest this case will ever get to poetic justice.
Murder, He Wrote (Sort Of) [VF.com]
Okay, there's one more O.J.-Judith wrinkle today worth mentioning (and, boy, do we hope it's the last one). Court TV got hold of Simpson's If I Did It contract with HarperCollins, part of a lawsuit Fred Goldman filed to try to recover the money Simpson owes after losing the 1997 wrongful-death suit. Slate's Timothy Noah, together with some unnamed literary-agent friends of his, examined the document and finds some interesting points. According to Noah, under the terms of the agreement, Simpson is already owed at least $780,000, even though the book was pulped. He may be due $95,000 more, depending on whether a book is considered "published" when it's shipped from the warehouse or when it's rung up at the cash register. He's also owed $400,000 for the unaired If I Did It TV special, because the contract stipulated he would be paid for being interviewed, whether or not the interview aired. Finally, Simpson apparently wanted to sign the contact under an assumed name and stipulated he would sign as "Sam Jones," perhaps taking the name from the sixties Celtics star. Despite that clause, the contract doesn't actually bear that signature: In what might have been the company's only smart move in this transaction, they insisted O.J. sign his own name.
O.J.'s Book Contract [Slate]
Hollywood Heat Exclusive: Contract Details Payments Between Simpson and HarperCollins [Court TV]
Another day, another chapter in the O.J. Simpson–Judith Regan debacle. (We'll once again insert an offensive "This story won't die!" so you don't have to.) Numerous outlets are reporting that as of March 1, Judith Regan's HarperCollins imprint, ReganBooks, will be folded into HarperCollins proper, with books from her division bearing the interim imprint "HC." Her L.A. headquarters — she moved her operation to California last year, so as to better cross-market TV and film projects — will be shuttered, with five senior staff members returning to New York and ten employees being let go. While most of the 100 books signed by ReganBooks will transfer over to HarperCollins, one more casualty will be Peter Golenbock's 7: The Mickey Mantle Novel, a planned salty, eww-inducing "fictionalization" of the baseball player's bedroom exploits. We have no idea if the future HC will continue publishing a controversial, ReganBooks-style list, but O.J. and Mickey's fates make at least one thing clear: You should probably pitch your unseemly tales of former sports greats' exploits elsewhere for the next little while.
ReganBooks to Shut Down After Firing of Its Creator [NYT]
Former O.J. Publisher's Imprint to be Dissolved [MSNBC]
Judith Regan likely won't be the only person to lose her job in the If I Did It fallout: Her imbroglio with HarperCollins leaves a dozen loyal New York publishing types stranded in Los Angeles. Six months ago, Regan relocated her imprint from Harper HQ in Manhattan to sunny Santa Monica so that she could more easily work on cross-platform, book-related movie and TV projects. (Yay, synergy!) She uprooted her publishing, marketing, and editorial staffers from Manhattan, and they headed west as recently as October, signing apartment and car leases and learning to call highways "freeways." Then Regan got the ax. Now her bagel-craving staffers are spending their days on a half-floor in a gorgeous Santa Monica office building, praying for a lucrative severance deal from HarperCollins, which presumably won't keep the pricey office open. "We're just waiting to hear from corporate," says one staffer. "We thought there would be an announcement last Friday, but there wasn't." Erin Crum, a HarperCollins spokesperson in New York, says only that the office's fate will be decided "at the appropriate time." —Arianne Cohen
Angelina Jolie questions Madonna's adoption practices, when hers seem to be just as suspect. The publisher of Tom DeLay's book isn't exactly sure how to market it. Bridie Clark's debut novel, Because She Can, is, like, about Judith Regan. Geraldo Rivera dared Keith Olbermann to fight him, and Olbermann accepted the challenge. (No word yet on when they'll rumble.) Spielberg and Scorsese and Cruz and Eastwood all attended the National Board of Review event at Cipriani. Parker Posey admits she doesn't take the National Board of Review Awards seriously, says "I'm rambling." Paris Hilton accomplice Kim Kardashian may have a sex tape, and, if so, is likely involved in its distribution. Mandy Moore and DJ AM: "It's pretty new, but they look cute." Richard Gere rallied sex workers at an AIDS awareness event in Mumbai. "Page Six" calls Leigh Haber, an editor at Rodale, the next Judith Regan. Ivana made a particularly insensitive comment about war-torn Lebanon, even for a Trump. Remember when "Page Six" called Bono a drunk yesterday? Yeah, they were wrong.
Sources claim Judith Regan often compared Jews to "rats" and "rodentia," but Regan (and her lawyer) deny it. Anybody who is anybody (Harold Ford! Harvey Weinstein! Taki Theodoracopolous!) has been spotted eating at Graydon Carter's friendly neighborhood joint, the Waverly Inn. Madonna is keen on adopting another child from Malawi, though her husband, Guy Ritchie, is not. Josh Hartnett is in an open relationship with Scarlett Johannson, which is why it's okay he was making out with Gisele Saturday night. PayPal dumped Vincent Gallo after he tried to sell more than, uh, T-shirts on his Website. John Mara, son of late, great Giants owner Wellington, got fired from a broadcast-booth job in 1978 for slamming his fist and knocking over equipment. Adam Levine allegedly got drunk and brought three girls back to his room at the Mercer, though his rep denies it. Republican fund-raiser Georgette Mosbacher had both Dems and GOPers over for dinner at her swank Fifth Avenue digs Tuesday. Ludacris ate with Cosmo's Kate White at Michael's. Hugh Jackman once gave his sister a stick of deodorant for Christmas. Liz Smith claims she's responsible for the new Rocky getting made.
Now that we know Judith Regan was fired from HarperCollins over a volley of anti-Semitic remarks, it strikes us that with the recent bumper crop of Great Moments in Racism — Michael Richards–gate, Rosie-gate, Mel Gibson Über alles — our culture has found a new cottage industry: Awesome excuses for Great Moments in Racism. And nearly all of them have shown up already in the Regan affair. After the jump, a cheat sheet for spinning your next ching chong.
Oh, see? Now it all makes sense. It's not that Judith Regan was fired for offending Rupert Murdoch's notoriously delicate sensibilities by trying to publish a faux-confessional by O.J. Simpson. Today comes the news that Regan was fired for offending Murdoch's deep commitment promoting civil discourse by tossing off a few anti-Semitic remarks in a fight with lawyers. Reports the Times:
Rupert Murdoch personally ordered the dismissal of Judith Regan, the publisher of a widely criticized O. J. Simpson book, after he heard reports of a heated conversation Ms. Regan had with a company lawyer on Friday that included comments that were deemed anti-Semitic, according to two people familiar with the News Corporation's account of the firing.
Mark Jackson, a lawyer with HarperCollins, a division of the News Corporation that includes Ms. Regan's imprint, reported the alleged comments from a phone conversation with Ms. Regan to Jane Friedman, HarperCollins's president and chief executive.
"And then Jane called Rupert and Rupert said he won't tolerate that kind of behavior," said one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
• The NYPD is developing a scary trend in the people-killing arena. Another man, this one in the Bronx, was fatally shot by the cops last night — four times and at very close range, witnesses say. He was armed, at least. [amNY]
• Both tabloids lead with Yoko Ono's extortion news, which we reported yesterday; today's added value is the following tidbit: The driver claims that rock's First Widow is just trying to stop him from proceeding with a valid sexual-harassment case against her. Eww. [NYP]
• It's hard to top If I Did It, so Judith Regan's next book project is a "biographical novel" about Mickey Mantle. Tame enough, except it calls Billy Martin a rapist and includes fictional scenes of Mantle sexin' Marilyn Monroe, who just "lies there staring at him." [NYDN]
• The Times continues its disturbing — and sometimes darkly hilarious — series on New York's deranged small-town justice. In this one, a judge sentences young male cons to "judge's probation," which involves them hanging out with him, driving his car, and, in one case, moving in with him. [NYT]
• And Peter Boyle is dead at 71. Judging from the headlines, the press seems intent on remembering this fantastic character actor (one of John Lennon's best friends, by the way) as the dad on Everybody Loves Raymond, to which we can only respond: Go rent Taxi Driver. Now. [WNBC]
News execs are desperate to get O.J. Simpson to do a primetime interview about his canceled primetime interview with Judith Regan, his lawyer says. Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock are breaking up over, um, Borat. Really. Owen Wilson was diamond-ring shopping. Quoth Britney Spears: "I gave birth for 2 1/2 years, and now I want to party" (with Paris Hilton, no less). In other Hilton news, Lindsay Lohan is mad at rumors that Paris dumped a drink on her, despite the fact that she's the one who spread them. Despite the hype, Bobby didn't do so well at the box office over Thanksgiving. Jay McInerney offers Dan Aykroyd wine advice; Aykroyd to sing at McInerney's wedding in return. Longtime Brooklyn lovebirds Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger might soon be getting married. Who will be the 2006 "Media Person of the Year"? (Our money's on Stephen Colbert.) Former Post editor-in-chief Ken Chandler to quit the newspaper biz and get into consulting. The lovely folks of Darien, Connecticut, bid on a bunch of stuff from Moby's youth at an estate sale. Busta Rhymes booked a hotel room in Miami, was a no-show. Derek Jeter is still hitting on Jessica Biel; Jay-Z is still hating on Cristal. Cindy Adams's criticism of the new Bond flick: The first ten minutes are "unrelenting shoot-em-up" (uh, Cindy, it's a James Bond movie). Also, Adams is the only person in the world who doesn't find Daniel Craig sexy. Kiefer Sutherland's kill-count on 24 last season: 38.
Word is just out that News Corporation has canceled both O.J. Simpson's scheduled book, If I Did It, set to be published by Judith Regan's imprint of News Corp.'s HarperCollins publishers, and the accompanying two-part television special, to be hosted by Regan, for News Corp.'s Fox network. Because, of course, any time you have O.J. Simpson, Judith Regan, Rupert Murdoch, and Roger Ailes involved in a decision, you've got to expect them to take the high road.
News Corp. Cancels O.J. Simpsons Book and TV Special [FoxNews.com]