Company shuts down Century City division
News Corp. is erasing almost all traces of Judith Regan.Company’s HarperCollins division is shuttering Regan’s Century City offices, where 17 employees worked. Nearly all the staffers, including editing guru and Regan No. 2 Cal Morgan, will return to Harper’s office in Gotham, where they will work at various departments in the larger Harper org. Publicity director Suzanne Wickham will remain in L.A. as a West Coast director of publicity for HarperCollins. Move means the Regan imprint will effectively cease to exist — none of the editors will acquire titles for a dedicated imprint, and the marketing and other staffers will work on a range of HC titles. Regan catalog titles will, of course, still be available via retailers. Many of the imprint’s upcoming books will come out, but under the HC name, not under the Regan logo the company had originally planned. Harper is spiking one of Regan’s more controversial releases, “7,” a fictional book about Mickey Mantle written in the style of a memoir. Book had become a thorn in Judith Regan’s side, fueling criticism after a scandal broke over her O.J. Simpson book and TV special. Rights have reverted to author Peter Golenbock. Since Regan announced the L.A. move in 2005, she has generated much talk of a new model of book publisher, which would put authors under one umbrella that could lead not only to book deals but also to TV specials and movies. But her meetings with producers didn’t yield any big-ticket projects, and her most high-profile attempt at synergy within News Corp. was the one that eventually led to her dismissal. Indeed, the debacle over Simpson and what HarperCollins alleged were anti-Semitic comments may obscure a larger truth: Regan’s grandiose plans never panned out. While she continued to churn out the profitable books for which she was known in Gotham, her company didn’t seem to achieve anything it couldn’t pull off in its earlier guise. Still, Wednesday’s move marks the end of an era — after a turbulent period at Simon & Schuster, Regan and News Corp. enjoyed a fruitful relationship for well over a decade, despite some occasional rough patches between Regan and Harper topper Jane Friedman. Meanwhile, the waiting game over a lawsuit against News Corp. continues — Regan lawyer Bert Fields had said one could be filed in the first few weeks of January, but Regan has been quiet so far in the new year, with little word of either litigation or of a new role in publishing.