Pop-cultural train wreck averted: News Corp. announced that it is canceling the publication of If I Did It–O. J. Simpson’s book describing how he would have, um, hypothetically murdered the mother of his children and her friend in 1994–and the Fox special, connected with the book, planned for next week. In a statement issued today, News Corp. chair Rupert Murdoch said, "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project." (Which of course raises the question: So why not "agree with the American public" before signing up the projects in the first place? When you have a major book and TV special on O.J. Simpson in the works from your company, does someone not send around a memo?)
We at Tuned In send our condolences to Mr. Simpson and cheer him on in his tireless hunt for the real killers. But whatever the move means for the seemingly endless Simpson murder saga, it puts a cap on one of the more bizarre internecine TV feuds. In essence, Fox News beat Fox Entertainment. The Fox TV network–whose reality unit, headed by shock-TV whiz Mike Darnell, signed up the show–announced the special with its usual shameless aplomb, braying that the other networks who criticized it would secretly kill to have the show. (That is, either they’d kill for it, or just get caught up in a bizarre chain of circumstance and framed by the cops for a murder they didn’t commit because they were getting ready to catch a flight to Chicago. One or the other.) On Fox News, commentators including Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera went ballistic, beating on their sister network repeatedly, on Uncle Rupert’s dime.
For one lovely week, the Fox self-sustaining perpetual outrage machine was working beautifully: Fox TV providing the offensiveness and Fox News serving up the indignation. But that kind of ballet requires a delicate balance, and this time the weight of public outcry was too heavily on the Fox News side. For years, people have wondered if there was anything too outrageous for the Fox TV reality division: now we have apparently identified exactly that point. So you won’t be seeing O.J. starring in any Fox primetime shows.
Well, at least not as far as we know. Have they chosen the cast of the next Skating with Celebrities yet?