In an explosive telephone argument that led to her firing, publisher Judith Regan allegedly complained of a "Jewish cabal" against her in the book industry and stated that Jews "should know about ganging up, finding common enemies and telling the big lie."
A spokesman for Regan's former employer, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., told The Associated Press on Monday that the remarks were made during a conversation between Regan and HarperCollins attorney Mark Jackson, who took notes. At the time, the two were discussing the future of a controversial new novel about baseball star Mickey Mantle.
The spokesman, Andrew Butcher, released the comments in response to a threatened libel suit from Regan's legal representative, Hollywood attorney Bert Fields, who had called earlier reports of anti-Semitic remarks "completely untrue" and added that the publisher "didn't have an anti-Semitic bone in her body."
Since 1994, Regan had headed the ReganBooks imprint at News Corp.'s HarperCollins. She was fired Friday.
The allegations first emerged earlier Monday when The New York Times, citing two unnamed News Corp. officials, referred to unspecified anti-Semitic comments.
Regan, one of of the book world's most successful and controversial publishers, already had tense relations with HarperCollins and News Corp. Last month, Murdoch cancelled "If I Did It," her planned O.J. Simpson book and Fox television interview.
Simpson's book, said to have described how the former football star theoretically would have committed the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, had been scheduled for release Nov. 30 following the airing of a two-part Simpson television interview. Simpson was acquitted of the murder in 1995 in a highly-trial.
News Corp. and Fields offered widely different versions of Friday's phone call.
Butcher said that Regan and Jackson were discussing an upcoming Regan book, Peter Golenbock's "7: The Mickey Mantle Novel," in which the author, imagining he is Mantle, confesses in detail to a life of sexual exploits, including a tryst with Marilyn Monroe.
With Mantle's family and fans of the former Yankee enraged, Regan and Jackson of HarperCollins were discussing the timing and content of the book, according to Butcher. Regan became enraged by what she believed was HarperCollins' lack of support, and lashed out.
She complained that Jackson, HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman, HarperCollins Executive Editor David Hirshey and longtime literary agent Esther Newberg were a "Jewish cabal," Butcher said.
She pleaded with Jackson: "Of all people, Jews should know about ganging up, finding common enemies and telling the big lie."
Fields, whose other clients have included Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise, said Regan and Jackson had discussed some records Regan was trying to obtain. Fields acknowledged that Regan argued with Jackson, but denied she said anything anti-Semitic, the AP says.
The future of the Mantle book is uncertain. Fields said HarperCollins had told Regan that "7," the title referring to Mantle's uniform number, was "unpublishable." Butcher did not comment directly on Field's allegation, but told The Associated Press that the novel was currently "under review."
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