Bowing to heavy public pressure, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch nixes planned Fox telecast and HarperCollins publication and apologizes to families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.
NEW YORK (AP)—After a firestorm of criticism, News. Corp. said Monday that it has canceled the O.J. Simpson book and television special If I Did It.
”I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project,” said Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman. ”We are sorry for any pain that his has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.”
A dozen Fox affiliates had already said they would not air the two-part sweeps month special, planned for next week before the Nov. 30 publication of the book by ReganBooks. The publishing house is a HarperCollins imprint owned—like the Fox network—by News Corp.
In the projects, Simpson speaks in hypothetical terms about how he would have committed the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Goldman.
Relatives of the victims have lashed out at the now scuttled publication and broadcast plans.
”He destroyed my son and took from my family Ron’s future and life. And for that I’ll hate him always and find him despicable,” Fred Goldman told ABC last week.
The industry trade publication Broadcasting & Cable editorialized against the show Monday, saying ”Fox should cancel this evil sweeps stunt.”
One of the nation’s largest superstore chains, Borders Group Inc., said last week it would donate any profits on the book to charity.
Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of murder in a case that became its own television drama. The former football star and announcer was later found liable for the deaths in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Goldman family.
Judith Regan, publisher of If I Did It, said she considered the book to be Simpson’s confession.
The television 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.