News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch yesterday cancelled the O.J. Simpson book and upcoming TV special If I Did It, after a barrage of criticism.
Bosses at a dozen Fox Broadcasting affiliates had already said they would not air the two-part special, planned to precede the Nov. 30 publication of the book by Regan Books, also owned by News Corp.
Murdoch said, "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project.
"We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."
In both the book and the show, Simpson speaks hypothetically about how he would have committed the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Goldman.
Goldman's father Fred had slammed the idea, saying, "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."
The former football star was acquitted in 1995 of murder charges, but was later found liable for the deaths in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Goldman family.
Publisher Judith Regan said she considered the book to be Simpson's confession.
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Former sports star and actor O.J. Simpson will be paid around $3.5 million for 'admitting' to the killing of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman in a sensational new book.
The star plans to publish his autobiography, reportedly under the working title If I Did It, in which he will describe how he would have killed his ex-wife and Goldman, in an allegedly fictional manner.
Relatives of Brown and Goldman have criticized Simpson's 'hypothetical' description of the 1994 murders, and for making money from the crimes.
Denise Brown, Nicole's sister, says, "If this is true, that is blood money and it's evil and disgusting.
"Any company that actually pays him for this is just as bad as he is."
Jonathan Polak, a lawyer representing Goldman in an attempt to recover some of Simpson's earnings, says, "It's horribly frustrating and at the same time demoralizing for Fred Goldman and his family, especially when they read about things like this."
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The Producers Guild of America bestowed its top honors on the musical extravaganza Moulin Rouge Sunday night at the 13th Annual Producers Guild Awards. The wild Rouge--about a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub and produced by Martin Brown, director Baz Luhrmann and Fred Baron--is also nominated for an Academy Award. PGA best picture winners have gone on to win the Oscar nine out of 12 times.
Other winners of the evening included NBC's The West Wing, winning best television drama, HBO's Sex and the City, winning best television comedy, and HBO's Band of Brothers, winning best television movie, miniseries or other long-form television.
Grammy winner Alicia Keys, Luther Vandross, Gerald Levert, India.Arie and comedian Cedric the Entertainer will kick off this year's Essence Music Festival at New Orleans' Louisiana Superdome. The three-day event starts July 4, while other performers such as Mary J. Blige, Al Green and comedian Steve Harvey will take the stage over the course of the festival.
Roger Moore, the suave '70s and '80s James Bond, will be taking on a new role in his next film--an over-the-top gay man. The 74-year-old actor will appear in the Cuba Gooding Jr. comedy Boat Trip, about two straight guys who end up on a gay cruise, due out this summer. Moore told the Associated Press he hopes his performance "will make the audience raise their eyebrows a little bit." Sounds like a good bet.
Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai is getting another Hollywood treatment from Miramax Films and MGM, Variety reports. The classic Japanese epic about a small village hiring seven samurai to protect them from thieving bandits was remade into 1960's The Magnificent Seven, starring Charles Bronson, Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein described Samurai as "the mother of all 'guys on a mission' movies."
In the world of celebrity boxing matches (yes, apparently there is one), ice-skating terror Tanya Harding, who had her opponent Nancy Kerrigan's knee smashed prior to the 1994 Olympic trials, will fight Paula Jones, the first woman to accuse former president Clinton of unwanted sexual advances in 1991. Harding was supposed to have fought Amy Fisher, the young girl who shot her lover's wife in 1992. But no can do. It's Jones and Harding all the way. Fox Television will air the match March 13.
After the South African premiere of Ali, South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela praised the legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali as being one of the people he most admires. Mandela told Reuters, "He (Ali) brought a new kind of legend to boxing, and I am very happy indeed to be here to join you in paying tribute to my hero and the hero of millions right across the seas."
President Bush and leading politicians were treated to an evening of entertainment Sunday to showcase American pop culture. The gala event, held at the legendary Ford's Theater and hosted by Frasier's Kelsey Grammer, had an all-star line-up, including performers such as Stevie Wonder and David Copperfield.
U2 lead singer Bono met with White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to discuss African debt relief in his ongoing campaign against Third World poverty. He has been trying to get Washington to drop the debt of some of the world's poorest nations for many years and has been using the success of his band's music to help the effort. U2 just won four Grammy awards, including record of the year.
A documentary about the hard-rock band Metallica is looking to be as juicy as Madonna's Truth or Dare. Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have been trailing the band since last April, while the band was in the studio cutting a new album. Since filming began, however, traumatic events have shaken the band, including the departure of bassist Jason Newsted after 14 years this past January and lead singer James Hetfield's rehab woes. No release date has been set.
Pop star Will Young, the 23-year-old singer who was discovered on the reality-based TV show Pop Idol, has sold more than a million copies of his first record in a week, making it Britain's fastest-selling single ever. The single "Anything Is Possible/Evergreen" has sold 1,108,269 copies. Who is Will Young, you ask? Guess we'll get to know more about Will soon enough.
In regard to the death of a teenager at a Sydney, Australia, concert Jan. 26, 2001 where Limp Bizkit and other bands were playing, Alexander Murdoch MacLeod, Limp Bizkit's tour manager, blames the concert venue for being understaffed and poorly managed. At an inquest into the death of 15-year-old Jessica Michalik, who was caught in a rush to the stage and suffered a heart attack, he told the court he thought the staff was insufficiently trained for a crowd breakdown.