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Judith Regan, loud and clear

The embattled publisher tackles the controversies engulfing her.

December 21, 2006|Josh Getlin | Times Staff Writer

New York — JUDITH REGAN, who promoted the aborted O.J. Simpson book and TV deal and was subsequently fired as the head of ReganBooks, a HarperCollins imprint, told a radio audience Wednesday that "what happened to me in the last month with the Simpson thing is a story that has yet to be revealed. But there's a lot more to the story than what people think, a lot more to the story."

The outspoken Regan has been keeping a low profile since she was terminated by HarperCollins, allegedly for making anti-Semitic remarks during a telephone tirade with a company attorney. The comments she made Wednesday, which were taped before she was fired last week, were part of the talk show she hosts on the Sirius Satellite radio network.

Regan, through her attorney, Bert Fields, has denied making any anti-Semitic comments. She has also vowed to sue HarperCollins, challenging her firing.

Meanwhile, a radio segment in which Regan had blasted "backstabbers" at HarperCollins, was cut from the Wednesday broadcast. Ron Hogan, who produces the "Galley Cat" blog about the book world, disclosed earlier that he had taped a segment scheduled to air this week in which Regan -- upset by negative publicity over a "fictional biography" she planned to publish about Mickey Mantle -- erupted with anger during the taping.

Howie Greene, Regan's producer, did not return a phone call asking why that segment had been cut. In an e-mail, Hogan recalled that during their interview Regan had been "taken completely by surprise" by the severity of the reaction to advance news about the Mantle book, which included unflattering (and invented) sex scenes between the slugger and Marilyn Monroe.

"She also stated that she knew there were people in the HarperCollins organization who have tried to undermine her in the past by going to the press with negative stories about her projects," Hogan said. He added that "her anger was apparent during the taping segment and in an overheard conversation with her production staff before the taping began." The blogger noted, however, that while Regan had no problems lashing out at her perceived enemies, "she did not utter a single statement at any point in the proceedings that I would consider anti-Semitic."

Regan addressed the controversies in a segment that aired Wednesday, as she interviewed Liz Goldwyn, who wrote "Pretty Things: The Last Generation of Burlesque Queens," which Regan published. At one point, when Goldwyn said several strippers were caught in police raids, Regan cracked: "I want a police raid.... I'm pretty close. That's what we need around here.

"That's what it's come to recently in this country," Regan continued. "I have a high regard for almost all the books I publish. I don't agree with all of my authors ... some of my authors hate each other, on all sides of the political spectrum. I have published every imaginable kind of thing. I believe in free speech." She said publishing was filled with people "who have their own personal agendas."

Speaking several days before she would be abruptly terminated, Regan added: "My job is to publish books that make money because this is a business. I've made this company millions and millions of dollars in revenue, and I have not received one complaint from the company about my performance."

josh.getlin@latimes.com

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