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WTF is O.J. doing?


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NEW YORK - In an account his publisher considers a confession and some media executives call revolting,

O.J. Simpson plans a book and TV interview to discuss how, hypothetically, he could have killed his ex-wife and her friend.


Two weeks before the book, "If I Did It," goes on sale, scorn was already being heaped Wednesday on Simpson, the publisher and Fox, which plans to air the Simpson interview in two parts Nov. 27 and 29.


Denise Brown, sister of Simpson's slain ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, lashed out at the publisher for "promoting the wrongdoing of criminals" and commercializing abuse.


Judith Regan, whose ReganBooks imprint is publishing the book, refused to say what Simpson is being paid for the book but said he came to her with the idea.


"This is an historic case, and I consider this his confession," Regan told The Associated Press.


The former football star was acquitted in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman after a trial that became an instant cultural flashpoint.


He was later found liable for the deaths by in a wrongful-death suit filed by the Goldman family. In the years since, he has been mocked relentlessly by late-night comedians, particularly for his vow to hunt down the true killers.


Simpson has failed to pay the $33.5 million judgment against him in the civil case. His NFL pension and his Florida home cannot legally be seized. He and the families of the victims have wrangled over the money in court for years.


Simpson did not return numerous calls for comment. Simpson's own attorney Yale Galanter said he did not know about the book or the interview until this week.


"The book was not done through our office," Galanter said. "I did not have anything to do with the negotiations of the book. This was strictly done between OJ and others."


He said there is "only one chapter that deals with their deaths and that chapter, in my understanding, has a disclaimer that it's complete fiction."


Meanwhile, other publishers and publishing industry observers practically fell over each other to criticize ReganBooks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, and Simpson himself.


"This is not about being heard. This is about trying to cash in, in a pathetic way, on some notoriety," said Sara Nelson, editor in chief of Publishers Weekly. "That a person keeps wanting to bring this up seems almost nutty to me."


Patricia Schroeder, president and chief executive of the American Association of Publishers, described the developments as sickening.


"But I think it's going to stir an awful lot of debate and make the culture take a real look at itself, and that may not be unhealthy," she said.


Indeed, one thing that seemed certain was that the book and interview — which Fox will air at the end of the crucial sweeps month — were bound to generate a torrent of publicity.


Shari Anne Brill, a television analyst for the Madison Avenue firm Carat USA, predicted public interest would rival that of the 2003 interview with

Michael Jackson, seen by 27 million people in 2003.


At least one other network, NBC, said it had been approached to air the special but declined the offer.


"This is not a project appropriate for our network," said Rebecca Marks, a spokeswoman for the entertainment division of NBC, a network that once employed Simpson as a football analyst.


Representatives for CBS and ABC did not immediately return calls for comment.


One expert noted that the justice system's protection against double jeopardy means Simpson's book, explosive as it may be, should not expose him to any new legal danger.


"He can write pretty much whatever he wants," said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola University law school professor and former federal prosecutor who has followed the case closely. "Unless he's confessing to killing somebody else, he can probably do this with impunity."


AP National Writer Hillel Italie, AP Television Writer David Bauder, Sandy Kozel of AP Radio and Associated Press writer Noaki Schwartz contributed to this story.

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O.J. Simpson book, TV special canceled



O.J. Simpson's book and TV special were canceled Monday, an astonishing end to an imaginary confession that had sickened the public as the very worst kind of tabloid sensation.


"I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," said Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns both Fox Broadcasting and publisher HarperCollins. "We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."


"If I Did It," in which Simpson was to have described how he would have killed his ex-wife, had been scheduled to air as a two-part interview Nov. 27 and Nov. 29 on Fox. The book was to have followed on Nov. 30.


HarperCollins spokeswoman Erin Crum said some copies had already been shipped to stores but would be recalled, and all copies would be destroyed.


During an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," Fred Goldman, Ron's father, expressed appreciation to anyone who voiced their opposition to the book and interview.


"We want to say thank you, thank you for everyone in this country who raised their voice and stood up for the right thing," Goldman said.


Earlier, his lawyer Jonathan Polak told The Associated Press: "I think News Corp. finally stepped up, admitted they made a mistake and did the right thing. This is everything we have been asking News Corp. to do for the past two weeks. We want to thank the American people for helping make this happen."


Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, told The Associated Press: "We had known for three or four days that this was a possibility."


Galanter said he did not know whether the deal between Simpson and News Corp. was contingent on a TV interview being shown or a book arriving in stores.


"There are only three possible reactions: anger, happiness or indifference. He's totally indifferent about the fact that it's been canceled," said Galanter, who added that he didn't know if Simpson was paid upfront.


Simpson told The Associated Press in a phone interview late Monday he could not comment on the situation "until I know legally where I stand."


He added, "I would like nothing better than to straighten out some things that have been mischaracterized. But I think I'm legally muzzled at this point."


Any hopes of commercial reward were quickly overwhelmed by near universal revulsion to last week's announcement — from those who knew Goldman and Brown, from booksellers and advertisers, even from Fox News Channel personality Bill O'Reilly.


A dozen Fox network affiliates had already said they would not air the two-part sweeps month special, and numerous stores had either declined to sell the book or had promised to donate any profits to charity.


"I really don't think there would have been very many advertisers who would have been willing to participate in this show," said Brad Adgate of the ad buying firm Horizon Media.


With little advertising, Fox would miss the chance to profit from the show. If there were no advertisers, the show wouldn't even be rated by Nielsen Media Research — so the number of people watching would have done nothing to help Fox's season average, he said.


The cancellation was a stunning setback for ReganBooks — an imprint of HarperCollins — and Judith Regan, who had labeled the book and interview Simpson's "confession." She insisted that she had done it not for money, but as a victim of domestic violence anxious to face down a man she believed got away, literally, with murder.


ReganBooks is known for gossipy best-sellers such as Jose Canseco's "Juiced" and Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star."


The Simpson interview also was a low for Fox, which has long tested viewers with risky reality programming dating back to "When Animals Attack."


O'Reilly had urged a boycott of any company that advertised on the special.


Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of murder in a case that became its own TV drama. The former football star, announcer and actor was later found liable for the deaths in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the Goldman family.


The TV special was to air on two of the final three nights of the November sweeps, when ratings are watched closely to set local advertising rates. It has been a particularly tough fall for Fox, which has seen none of its new shows catch on and is waiting for the January bows of "American Idol" and "24."


The closest precedent for such an about-face came when CBS yanked a miniseries about Ronald Reagan from its schedule in 2003 when complaints were raised about its accuracy. It was seen on CBS' sister premium-cable channel, Showtime, instead.


One Fox affiliate station manager said he wasn't going to air the special because he was concerned that, whether or not Simpson was guilty, he'd still be profiting from murders.


"I have my own moral compass and this was easy," said Bill Lamb, general manager of WDRB in Louisville.


Numerous books have been withdrawn over the years because of possible plagiarism, most recently Kaavya Viswanathan's "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life," but removal simply for objectionable content is exceptionally rare. In the early 1990s, Simon & Schuster canceled Bret Easton Ellis' "American Pyscho," an exceptionally graphic account of a serial killer. The novel was released by Random House Inc., and later made into a feature film.


Sales for "If I Did It," had been strong, but not sensational. It cracked the top 20 of Amazon.com last weekend, but by Monday afternoon, at the time its cancellation was announced, the book had fallen to No. 51.

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