Eat The Press



Yesterday's big news — the cancellation of "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened," O.J. Simpson's slash-for-cash book and TV special for Judith Regan and Fox — is still today's big story, thanks to a "Today" show bombshell from Denise Brown alleging that Fox had offered her family and the family of Ron Goldman "millions of dollars" in "hush money" for the O.J. book and TV project. Fox confirmed that the families had been offered "all profits" from the book and special, according to the AP, but it's unclear exactly what "profits" would entail. (It's also unclear exactly what the money had been offered for: Brown didn't offer specifics about what had been required). There's also the matter of the shadowy go-between who originally hooked Simpson up with Regan; Denise Brown promised lots of details to come yesterday on the "Today" show. So this story is unfolding.

In the meantime, there are backstory details about how the deal came together, particularly at the NYO as Rebecca Dana reveals how Judith Regan's "Project Miami" developed, including the fact that before she decided to take to the interviewer's chair in the name of penance, confession, and broken-hearted women everywhere, the project was briefly under consideration by Barbara Walters, who eventually declined ("The problem with O.J. Simpson--like Robert Blake or Michael Jackson or John Mark Karr or Charles Manson--is that he is more than a solitary, loathsome figure. He sullies whoever occupies the chair opposite him"). (The LAT's headline promises details of how the project was "a hot topic" inside Fox, but the article is more outsider reaction and a rehash of what's already known. Also, someone predicts it will end up on the Internet. Incisive!).

The other post-mortem analysis involves Rupert Murdoch and the question: How could the media czar with the unerring eye for irresistible scandal get it so wrong? The NYT quotes Michael Wolff nemesis, Columbia J-school professor Todd Gitlin saying that Murdoch's radar was off — "normally he has a fairly keen sense of the cultural limits, but this time he blew it" — but if anything, this episode demonstrates how keenly tuned in Murdoch is. He, NewsCorp and Regan Books all massively miscalculated the how the revulsion/irresistible-train-wreck-schlock-appeal factors would balance out, but he certainly didn't miscalculate how to turn this lemon into, if not lemonade, then at least an opprotunity to prove that he and his properties were moral, decent, and would take American morals over profits any day. (Rupe doesn't often get the chance to prove that.) Of course, that was before Brown's allegations of hush money, but it remains to be seen exactly what was offered in exchange for what. In any case, lots of fodder for the mill today, including the single best line generated by the whole episode, courtesy of the Observer above, as applied to Judith Regan: "No problem, Juice, there's always Osama." The fight to avenge the broken-hearted continues. Amen.

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