Book editor and former National Enquirer reporter Judith Regan, who has rattled publishers for years with her unabashed tabloid sensibility, is grabbing headlines again.
She has just inked a deal to host a series of one-hour, Barbara Walters-style, celebrity-oriented news specials on Fox. Porn star Jenna Jameson is writing two books for her HarperCollins imprint, Regan Books — a sex guide called “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star” and a memoir that Regan wants to turn into a TV series.
And Howard Stern is mounting a radio campaign to find her a boyfriend. Her office has been deluged with email and faxes from potential suitors. “I have waiters asking me out,” she says.
Regan’s sometimes explosive managerial style and cage-rattling publishing decisions haven’t always won her friends in the New York book world.
“They hate me,” Regan said last month when certain publishers names emerged in conversation. “They’re so pissed off that what I do works.”
After making a name for herself cold-calling celebrities and digging through trash for Generoso Pope’s tabloid in Lantanal, Fla., Regan set her sights on the book world.
She took her first job at Simon & Schuster in the early 1990s, and soon embarked on a crusade to blow down the doors separating upmarket publishing from downmarket tabloid reporting.
In 1992, she struck pay dirt, publishing Rush Limbaugh’s “The Way Things Ought To Be,” then Howard Stern’s “Private Parts” (she’s been an intermittent guest on his show ever since).
She moved into her own imprint at HarperCollins in 1994 and has since delivered a succession of hits, including Wally Lamb’s novel, “I Know This Much Is True,” Robert McKee’s screenwriting primer, “Story,” and the authorized Motley Crue story, “The Dirt.”
She hopes to pull another book out of Howard Stern (“He should do the male version of ‘Sex and the City,’ ” she says.) She’d love to publish a book by Laura Bush. “If I could get her to do just about anything, I would,” she says.
But there have also been some bumps in the road.
Former Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro remains locked in a legal showdown with her after getting cold feet about a druggy memoir he delivered to Regan Books.
Then there’s Guerilla documentarian Michael Moore, who gave HarperCollins cold feet by delivering the muckraking essay collection “Stupid White Men” to Regan Books at a time when salvos against the Bush administration were extremely unpopular. The book sat in a warehouse for two months after 9/11, but the publisher caved in and released it. It’s still on bestseller lists one year later.
Regan is especially well plugged into the broadcast biz. Next to Oprah, few publishing figures flog their books from so many media platforms.
Recently, Regan has focused on shattering the barriers between corporate siblings HarperCollins and Fox. She just discontinued her Fox News Network talk show, but she’s developing a number of ideas from her list as possible TV shows and movies.
“They want to create a real platform for me on the network, which is what I dreamed of doing my whole life.”
She is developing pieces for the Fox News Network newsmagazine show, “The Pulse.”
A prolific editor of diet books (the “Zone” series has sold 4 million copies), Regan also is putting together an ambitious reality diet show called “Losing It.” The idea is to put entire towns on specific diets prescribed by different diet doctors to see who loses the most weight.
She also says there should be a reality show in Stern’s quest to find her next boyfriend.
“I cannot tell you how many guys have asked me out — restaurateurs, CEOs and students,” she said.
Stern’s girlfriend is going to comb through the list of candidates and arrange the first dates. Regan, though, has one stipulation.
“I can’t go out with anyone until the first of the year. I’m too busy.”