Say what you will about Judith Regan -- most people have -- she knows her way around a rip-roaring read. The complaint in her $100 million civil suit against the News Corporation, with its riveting passages about corporate connivance, public malfeasance and ill-fated romance, is as much a page-turner as any of the dozens of salacious best sellers she produced at ReganBooks, her imprint at HarperCollins before she was fired at the end of last year.
But the deeper I went in the complaint, the more I felt I had read this book before. The narrative -- about a talented but unpredictable impresario who joined forces with a media company with a great deal of fanfare before a huge, ugly divorce -- mirrored the confrontation between Rosie O'Donnell and Gruner & Jahr USA in 2002. The parallels are not exact -- it was Gruner & Jahr that sued Ms. O'Donnell on the grounds of breach of contract, while Ms. Regan is the one doing the suing, claiming that she had been defamed by News Corporation officials -- but they are instructive, especially for the News Corporation.