An "offensive" phone call to a HarperCollins attorney on Friday preceded Judith Regan's sudden firing, Sunday's Los Angeles Times says citing two unnamed but "highly placed corporate sources." Regan was axed just after the stormy phone conversation from her Century City office about a controversial book project that would fictionalize the life of the late baseball great Mickey Mantle. She got the official word by fax just before Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. convened its holiday party in New York. HarperCollins announced Saturday that Regan's editorial director, Cal Morgan, would take over its ReganMedia division.
One highly placed News Corp. source, however, questioned the viability of the imprint, and its ability to make further inroads into Hollywood, without its founder. "Without Regan, what's the point?" said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
As for Regan's alleged comments during the phone call, "we do not comment on personnel matters," said HarperCollins spokeswoman Erin Crum. Regan was unreachable Saturday, and Suzanne Wickham, chief publicist for ReganBooks, did not return calls. Morgan also did not return calls, and no one appeared to be home Saturday afternoon at his house in Brentwood.
Senior executives at News Corp. said Saturday that although Regan was let go not because of the controversy over either the O.J. Simpson project or another contentious book, a forthcoming fictional "reimagining" of Mickey Mantle's life that had drawn advance criticism for its salacious content, both incidents contributed to her downfall at the company.
"It was an accumulation of her behavior," said one of those executives, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the legal sensitivity of the issue.
Josh Getlin, who covers publishing in New York, and Sallie Hofmeister, the LAT business editor over entertainment coverage, got the story.
Judith Regan gets pink slip