In the latest twist on the sordid O.J. Simpson TV and book saga, his former sister-in-law, Denise Brown, went on NBC’s Today show Tuesday to accuse News Corp. of trying to pay her family millions in hush money. News Corp. confirmed it offered all profits to the families of both murder victims but denied the move was intended to silence them.
After a dozen Fox network affiliates announced they would preempt the special, book stores either refused to sell "If I Did It" or donate profits to charity, and advertisers ran for the hills and left Fox with the strong possibility of a commercial-free special that Nielsen wouldn’t count toward its sweeps average (B&C, Nov. 20), News Corp. cancelled the two-part sweeps interview and Judith Regan’s book, If I did it, Monday. Both were slated to be unveiled next week.
Brown told Today the family refused the money. "They wanted to offer us millions of dollars,” she said. “Millions of dollars for, like, 'Oh, I'm sorry' money. But they were still going to air the show. We just thought, 'oh my God.' What they're trying to do is trying to keep us quiet, trying to make this like hush money, trying to go around the civil verdict, giving us this money to keep our mouths shut."
A spokesman for News Corp., owner of Fox and publisher HarperCollins, where Regan’s book imprint is based, confirmed to The Associated Press that the company had conversations with representatives of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman’s families over the past week about providing them with all profits from the planned Simpson book and TV show.
"There were no strings attached," spokesman Andrew Butcher said.
On Monday, News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch, issued a statement, saying, "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," Murdoch said. "We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.
HarperCollins said it would recall and destroy some copies of the book that had already been shipped to stores, according to AP, which also reported that Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, said his client knew “for three or four days that this was a possibility."
On CBS’ The Early Show, Goldman's sister Kim Goldman said the families would legally try to recoup any money Simpson received from the deal. Denise Brown said the money had been hidden so Simpson wouldn’t have to pay a 1997 civil judgment in the murders.