Publisher’s Credo: Heads Will Roll

By Lilit Marcus

Published November 24, 2006, issue of November 24, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Last Monday, News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch announced that he was pulling the plug on O.J. Simpson’s hypothetical murder tale, “If I Did It,” and on the television interview that was to accompany it. Though many both inside and outside the company breathed a sigh of relief, some were left wondering how the misbegotten project had come into being in the first place. A possible explanation comes from Tom Kane, founder of the Web site www.commontales.com. In the 1990s, Kane spent a year working for Judith Regan, the fiery publisher who bought the rights to the Simpson book and who conducted the interview that Fox now won’t air.

As one of his odd jobs, he said, Kane was asked to look into the biblical story of Judith and Holofernes. Regan had become obsessed with the tale, particularly the part where Judith decapitates the drunken Assyrian general. Regan sent Kane on missions to find images of the beheading scene for her office. Famous for working on books about scorned and mistreated women — she has said that her interest in the Simpson project stemmed in part from firsthand experience in an abusive relationship — Regan saw the biblical Judith as a feminist before her time. According to Kane, Regan took Judith’s lesson a bit too much to heart. “She threatened to cut off my head if I didn’t do [something she’d told me to do],” he said. “I believed her.”

Publishers make their living telling stories. What matters at ReganBooks, though, is the version of the story that Regan wants you to know. And here, the story that she wanted people to know was that she was a woman warrior, too, a half-Irish, half-Italian spitfire who’d gone from being a National Enquirer reporter to being one of the most powerful people in publishing, and she wasn’t afraid to cut off your head if that was what it took to get ahead. She perhaps missed the part of the story where Judith killed Holofernes in order to save the Jewish people. Or the part about how the community held Judith in high esteem.






Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.