12/04/2006 at 01:00 AM EST
Even by the sordid standards of the O.J. Simpson saga, it seemed like a new low: a book and interview deal in which Simpson would reveal how he might have carried out the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, the brutal crime of which a jury acquitted him in 1995. (A civil trial later found him liable for $33.5 million in damages.) The deal, with FOX Broadcasting and ReganBooks, left the victims' families reeling. "I felt," says Nicole's sister Tanya Brown, "like I was living it all over again."
At least not for long. After a public outcry, FOX and Regan (both owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation) announced on Nov. 20 that both the book, If I Did It, and the interview had been scrubbed. "This was an ill-considered project," said Murdoch. "We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families."
Why would Simpson, 59, now living near Miami, agree to put his name on a book that publisher Judith Regan described as tantamount to a confession? "Perhaps for the money," says his friend Delvon Campbell. "He's got bills to pay." His attorney Yale Galanter says Simpson's earnings on the book (reportedly $3.5 million) were to go directly to his children Justin, 18, a freshman at Florida State University; and Sydney, 21, a sophomore at Boston University. "His main motivation for doing this was for their protection," says Galanter, but even he isn't sorry the deal's off. "I cannot think of a project," he says, "in poorer taste."