Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The ReganBooks Fallout

Unless you lived in a hole last month, you're aware that OJ Simpson wrote a book about "how he would have killed his wife." There might have been a little moral ambiguity there, considering his wife is dead and he most likely killed her. Still, it would have sold really well.

The thing that made this media story even more complex was that it actually began with Judith Regan, the head of the ReganBooks imprint at Harpercollins, being interviewed and saying that she "considered it his confession." Or at least, that's how I first heard about this nonesense, because I don't have television and get my news online.

By the end of it, Judith was fired, allegedly for "anti-Semitic remarks." Now it's somewhat known in the industry that she has a bit of a mouth on her, which is a much lesser charge than being an anti-Semite. The general consensus among ... my boss ... is that she probably would have kept her job if she kept her mouth shut and let it blow over, but she didn't, and so she's gone.

... Which is a problem. Reganbooks isn't just Judith Regan - a lot of people work there and a lot of authors have contracts with it, not all of them ex-athletes who did drugs and/or killed their wives. My boss currently has a second book option about to expire with ReganBooks, which published the author's previous book last year and it was a moderate success and has gone into translation markets. She was literally a day or so away from the author when Miss Regan was fired. My boss then had to worry that everyone else in the imprint would be fired, which eventually it was determined that they weren't and that it would continue to exist. However, there is such a shake-up over there that they're not making offers at the moment, and meanwhile the second-book clause in the contract expires December 28th. So it's a bad situation all around.

Anyway, just a little insider story for you all.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding us that this story is bigger than just Judith Regan. If I was an author with contract with ReganBooks, I'd be having some pretty heavy-duty anxiety right now (it would be worse if I was an employee). Too bad her lack of self-control has affected people who had nothing to do with her O.J. project.

Dave Fragments said...

I worked at an agency that had a rather terrible disaster - 5 deaths at once - and management just dropped the ball and sat in their offices weeping.

Some of us pushed the routine decisions that they were neglecting in front of them. It wasn't kind, but it was a reminder that business must go on in the face of change.

KM Hammond said...

Hmmm. Interesting little tid-bit.

I've got a question about Regan. (Sorry if it's dumb.) You said she was fired for allegedly anti-semitic remarks. I'm wondering how this relates to the OJ book. (Or if it does at all.) Was it that the OJ fiasco was bad publicity for Reganbooks and the anti-semitic remarks just aggravated the situation to such a degree that she was fired? Was it the other way around? Or, are the alleged anti-semitic remarks being used as an excuse to oust her?

Would anyone mind posting some links to news stories about this? I know I read *somewhere* that Regan got fired, but I don't remember where and I don't remember anything about anti-semitism in what I read.

Don said...

The "anti-semitic" remarks were connected to the treatment of Regan by HarperCollins execs wrt the oj book and also an upcoming fictionalized biography of Mickey Mantle.

My understanding is that the ReganBooks publishing program will continue, although the imprint will probably disappear.

The L.A. Times has been covering this pretty well (since ReganBooks is now based in Los Angeles (Century City).

Dave Fragments said...

This was in the NY Daily News the day the story broke:
"The woman who crassly championed O.J. Simpson's kill-and-tell book is now pushing another blasphemous tale - and this time Judith Regan is taking on one of New York's sacred heroes.
The memory of Mickey Mantle will be sullied by ReganBooks in a "biographical novel" that has the Mick recounting an imagined past replete with pornographic passages and foul jokes.
Author Peter Golenbock admits that much of "7: The Mickey Mantle Novel" - including a steamy scene where Mantle beds Marilyn Monroe behind Joe DiMaggio's back - are based on "not documentable" stories.

Apparently, Regan was discussing this novel with the lawyers at Newscorp and said things that she shouldn't have said.

My own opinion is that you only get one chance with the big, big boss. And when you force him to eat a book and then start to shove another down his throat, well...

Anonymous said...

"There might have been a little moral ambiguity there, considering his wife is dead and he most likely killed her. Still, it would have sold really well."

wow... and snuff films would exist and sell, if not for the legal problems. but I guess the threat of boycotts and continued bad publicity made Murdoch decide that the book and TV special wouldn't have been good business decisions in the long term.

Kanani said...

Yes, I read about that. She made quite a splash here in L.A. when she moved. She's always been a controversial figure, reviled by some, loved by others.

I suspect that her firing came at the end of a lot of things that had happened not only at that meeting but in past dealings with her. It's not just one thing... it's a lot of incidences that helped push them all over the edge.