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