Just when you thought it was safe to call your morning juice o.j. again, O.J. Simpson is back in the news.
The December 28th issue of Time reports that "O.J. gets certain rights returned 12 months after the original publication date--which means he should be in a position to resell his book before next Christmas."
Time says that several European publishers want to print the book. O.J.'s representatives have already asked News Corp. (owner of Regan Books, the publisher) to surrender the rights sooner than the contract states in order to exploit all the recent publicity.
Meanwhile, Fred Goldman--the father of Ron Goldman--has filed a suit to collect the original advance paid to O.J. You'll recall that Goldman won a civil lawsuit against Simpson in 1997 for 33.5 million dollars. However, he has been unable to collect on his judgment. ABC News believes that the current lawsuit "would likely be based on the legal premise of 'fraudulent transfer,' which in this case would contend that News Corp. executives knowingly conspired to assist Simpson in subverting a civil judgment."
In addition, Goldman is demanding that News Corp. turn over all the rights to If I Did It to him in order to prevent re-release of the book.
On another front of the same story, a December 18th story in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Judith Regan (the woman behind ReganBooks, which published the Simpson book) has hired Hollywood attorney Bert Fields to sue her former employer, News Corp. Rupert Murdoch's company fired Regan on December 15th "shortly before the News Corp. holiday party."
The WSJ said: "Ms. Regan's dismissal notice was issued by Jane Friedman, the CEO of HarperCollins Worldwide. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, a longtime supporter of Ms. Regan, was informed of the firing in advance, according to a person close to the situation."
It had long been known that Regan and Friedman did not get along. Outside the Beltway reported on December 16th that Regan "often clashed with her more temperate peers and is widely believed to have had tense relations with Friedman. Last year, Regan moved her offices to Los Angeles, further distancing herself from corporate officials in New York."
According to MSNBC.com, The reason given for the firing by Andrew Butcher, News Corp.'s spokesman, was anti-Jewish comments made by Regan during a telephone conversation with HarperCollins' lawyer Mark Jackson, "who took notes."
"Regan got frustrated by what she believed was HarperCollins' lack of support, and lashed out. She complained that Jackson, Friedman, HarperCollins Executive Editor David Hirshey and longtime literary agent Esther Newberg were a 'Jewish cabal,' Butcher said." (MSNBC.com)
Of course, Fields, Regan's new attorney, denies that Regan made any anti-Semitic remarks. In a January 1st story in the New York Times (NYT), he was quoted saying, "'My present thought is that we would sue not just for breach of contract but for libel . . . They issued false and defamatory statements about Judith. This has been terribly destructive to her career, and I think the damages could be huge'.”
"Legal scholars and prominent litigators said that proving libel is extremely difficult, but it opens the door to a public airing of the litigants’ private affairs. 'Libel is a very, very high mountain of proof to climb, and you can get destroyed in the process,' said Pierce O’Donnell, a leading litigator who successfully sued Paramount in the 1980s." (NYT)
So, if you were hoping you'd heard the last of If I Did It and Judith Regan, I'm afraid your hope was premature. With at least two lawsuits pending and the possibility that the book will be re-released, we're likely to hear a lot more in 2007.