Wed, Nov 22, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Murdoch pulls the plug on OJ's book

AFP , LOS ANGELES

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch on Monday canceled "ill-considered" plans for a book and interview by OJ Simpson and apologized to relatives of the US football star's alleged murder victims.

In a dramatic climbdown that followed a wave of revulsion over the proposed Simpson media blitz, Australian-born magnate Murdoch said News Corp was pulling the plug on both a book and two-part television interview.

"I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," Murdoch said in a statement. "We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown-Simpson."

Fox Broadcasting said last week Simpson would conduct a two-part interview entitled "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened," chronicling how he would have murdered his ex-wife and her friend in 1994 -- if he were the killer.

Simpson, who has always vehemently denied the killings, was acquitted of the brutal slayings after a racially charged trial in 1995, a verdict that was greeted with widespread outrage across the US.

The former sports star was found liable for the deaths in a 1997 civil suit and was ordered to pay damages to the victims' families totaling US$33.5 million.

According to one report, Simpson was to receive US$3.5 million for a book titled If I Did It that was to be published by ReganBooks, an imprint of News Corp's HarperCollins publishing division, on Nov. 30.

A statement from the publishers promised Simpson's book would deliver "a bone-chilling account of the night of the murders."

But news of the Simpson media blitz sparked howls of condemnation, with the families of victims leading a chorus of disgust.

Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman, described the book as "sick" and "morally despicable," voicing astonishment that Simpson had found a publisher and a TV network willing to give him air time.

The Goldman family welcomed News Corp's decision to yank the book and TV interview in a statement on Monday, but said they were still seeking an explanation over how the project had been conceived.

The Simpson project also brought blanket criticism across the media, not least from several Fox TV journalists and affiliates.

Reports said on Saturday that Pappas Telecasting Companies, which owns Fox affiliate TV stations in Nebraska, Iowa and California, had informed Fox on Friday their stations would not broadcast the interview.

Lin Broadcasting, which owns five Fox affiliates, pledged not to show the program, the New York Daily News reported.

Bookstores across the US meanwhile pledged not to stock Simpson's book.

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