Hollywood Flashback: When O.J. Simpson Nearly Said "I Did It"

When O.J. Simpson Nearly Said He 'Did It' - H 2016

In 2006, a Fox TV special and HarperCollins book titled 'If I Did It' were canceled amid public outrage that Simpson was reportedly paid $3.5 million to be interviewed. "The censorship on this was outrageous and anti-American," publisher Judith Regan, who conducted the controversial sit-down, says today.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, set to premiere Feb. 2 on FX, has received a decent amount of publicity. But it's a shadow of the attention publishing powerhouse Judith Regan, now 62, received in 2006 for If I Did It, her two-part Fox interview with O.J. Simpson that never aired.

The interview was tied in with the If I Did It book from News Corp.-owned HarperCollins (which Regan then headed), in which Simpson gave a "hypo­thetical" description of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. But outrage erupted when word got out that Simpson reportedly was paid $3.5 million via a third party for the interview. THR described it as "a firestorm of criticism." Fox commen­tator Bill O'Reilly said he was "not even going to look at" the show.

Only four days after the announcement, Fox can­celed the telecast, with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch apologizing for the "ill-considered project." A month later, Regan was fired, "effective imme­diately." (She was said to have received $10.75 million in exit pay.) "The censor­ship on this was outrageous and anti-American," says Regan, who now heads Phaidon Global's media com­pany Regan Arts. "Plenty of despicable peo­ple get published — mob hitmen, dictators, serial killers — but with the O.J. book, all these brilliant, liberal people were calling for book burnings. And speak­ing of burning, my new best-seller is called Fat-Burning Machine."