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Publisher to keep radio show

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NEW YORK -- Controversial editor and publisher Judith Regan -- who made headlines with her now-defunct plan to publish a "confession" by O.J. Simpson -- will keep her weekly radio show, after being fired from her publishing job amid accusations of anti-Semitic comments.

"We don't comment on our on-air personalities' off-air comments," said Patrick Reilly, vice president of Sirius Satellite Radio.

He said The Judith Regan Show will continue airing seven times each Wednesday.

Reilly declined to comment on reports that in today's show, taped before Regan was fired last week, she lashes out at "backstabbers at HarperCollins."

Regan, who planned to publish Simpson's book If I Did It and interview him on TV, was described by Vanity Fair last year as "quite possibly the most successful woman in publishing," as well as "the Angriest Woman in Media: tormented, and a tormentor."

She's now engaged in a bitter and personal battle with her former bosses, including Rupert Murdoch. His media empire includes HarperCollins, which fired Regan late Friday after a dozen years as head of ReganBooks.

The imprint was a factory for best sellers ranging from the literary (Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone) to the sensational (Jenna Jameson's How to Make Love Like a Porn Star).

The firing came in the wake of the uproar about Regan's Simpson project, which she contended amounted to a confession. Both the book and TV interview were canceled last month.

No reason was cited for Regan's firing. It came after Regan and a HarperCollins lawyer were discussing another of her controversial books, a "biographical novel," 7: The Mickey Mantle Novel.

The book, which is to be published in March, imagines the sexual escapades of the baseball great, who died in 1995.

After her lawyer, Bert Fields, said Regan was being libeled and threatened to sue for breach of contract, Murdoch spokesman Andrew Butcher released portions of the lawyer's notes. They quote Regan as saying there's a "Jewish cabal against her," naming executives, editors and agents who are Jewish.

Fields said Tuesday that Regan may have mentioned a cabal but denies using the phrase "Jewish cabal." He said she was saying only that "of all people, Jews should understand what it is to be a victim."

As for criticism from Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, that Regan was "giving credence to the conspiracy theory that Jews control the media," Fields said: "He shouldn't be sticking himself in a battle between Judith Regan and HarperCollins."

Fields said that HarperCollins was looking for an excuse to fire Regan and "smeared her with a charge of anti-Semitism. ... Judith Regan doesn't have an anti-Semitic bone in her body."

John Mutter, editor of Shelf Awareness, a newsletter about books, suggested that Regan may set up her own firm "with backing from friends, a few ex-lovers and some hedge funds.

"Then I can imagine her publishing a list that would be familiar, with a mix of the salacious and serious," Mutter said, "although now there might be a probing, critical biography of Rupert Murdoch with accompanying film and TV segments."

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© Copyright 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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