News Corp. Cancels O.J. Simpson TV Special, Book

Nov 20, 2006  •  Post A Comment

News Corp., facing public and internal pressure, on Monday canceled the TV special and book in which O.J. Simpson talked hypothetically about how he would have killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

In an abrupt development, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch declared: “I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project. We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.”

The book was to have been published by ReganBooks, which is owned by News Corp. and run by Judith Regan. Ms. Regan conducted the interviews for the special, which was scheduled to air Nov. 27 and 29 on News Corp.-owned Fox Broadcasting.

At least 13 Fox Broadcasting affiliates as of Monday had refused to air “O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened,” the two-hour Fox special in which Mr. Simpson talked about the two killings, of which he was acquitted in criminal court but held liable for in civil court, and how he would have carried them out if he had done the crimes.

“We believe it has no beneficial interest except to O.J. Simpson,” a Pappas Telecasting spokesperson said, adding that the company did not want to help Mr. Simpson benefit. The spokesperson said Pappas also had gotten “a slew” of calls and e-mails asking that the special not be aired.

Five Fox-affiliated stations owned by LIN Television, four Pappas-owned Fox affiliates and four Fox affiliates owned by Meredith Broadcasting said “no” to the Simpson special.

Not all of the pressure came from the public and Fox affiliates.

Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly had railed against the special on his popular “The O’Reilly Factor.” Mr. O’Reilly urged people not to watch it and said he would boycott any advertisers who bought time in the program. Geraldo Rivera, anchor of “Geraldo at Large” on Fox-owned TV stations, appeared on “Good Morning America” Monday to explain why he thought the project was a bad idea.