Magazine article Variety

Judith Regan Is Back - and She Wants a Bite of Hollywood

Magazine article Variety

Judith Regan Is Back - and She Wants a Bite of Hollywood

Article excerpt

Wandering into Judith Regan's downtown offices, I notice there's no receptionist's desk. I walk past a row of cubicles to find an underling who directs me to "Judith" (no last name needed). After a short wait, Regan, whose trademark long brown hair has grayed slightly, joins me in a conference room, wearing a clean-pressed pantsuit and platforms on a chilly Manhattan day, carrying a stack of her latest proofs.

In the late '90s, there was no bigger name in the publishing world than Regan. And no one more controversial. The hyper-aggressive queen bee of the printed word dominated the bestseller list with a steady stream of celebrity tell-alls, including Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Pom Star" and Howard Stern's "Private Parts." But in 2006, after nabbing what should have been her biggest coup - O.J. Simpson's "If I Did It," a pseudo-murder confession - Regan was promptly fired from HarperCollins.

She eventually sued and won $10.75 million for defamation, and in an ironic twist, the O. J. book was released by the family of victim Ron Goldman, and became a best-seller. But the damage was done. Regan, 62, has spent years trying to claw her way out of literary jail and is re-aiming her sights on Hollywood after a failed attempt a decade ago to peddle her salacious titles to the town.

Her imprint, Regan Arts, which had a soft launch in 2013, is now in full swing. The company, part of Phaidon Global, has a distribution deal with Simon & Schuster. Regan Arts' list ranges from Khloe Kardashian's tabloid-friendly title "Strong Looks Better Naked" to "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror." The question facing traditional publishers like Regan is whether they can adapt to the digital age and get people to plop down dollars for physical copies of books.

"The book business is very challenged," Regan acknowledges. "People read a tremendous amount online, and they expect things for free. Online book-selling makes it harder for people to discover things," she adds. "We are competing with every other imaginable source of information, and that includes the internet. We have to razzie and dazzle them more." Regan joins a litany of other publishers - including Random House, Condé Nast, Vice, Refinery29, even BuzzFeed - hoping to draw money from Hollywood. …

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