Jewish World Review Feb. 27, 2004 / 6 Adar, 5764
Regan rebellion; Ed Limato strikes again!; tears for Tom; more
NEW YORK This week, the small staff at ReganBooks the highly profitable publishing imprint at Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins received good news and bad news.
The good news is that Sean Hannity's "Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism," a ReganBooks title, has just hit No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)
The bad news is that four more employees of the notoriously sharp-tongued Judith Regan have just left the imprint.
The departure of longtime marketing director Carl Raymond and his assistant (whom Regan, in a brief phone interview, referred to as "a temp"), leaves ReganBooks without a marketing department. Also gone are a junior editor and Regan's personal assistant.
"All I will say about that," Regan told me, "is that Carl Raymond is the only one who resigned. He is an enormously talented marketing director. He was with me for over five years, and he worked like a dog."
Raymond didn't return my call. He and the others are the latest departures in what I'm told has been a "mass exodus" from Regan's fiefdom in the past two years nearly a dozen employees in all.
Regan is unapologetic.
"You know what? To be very successful, there's a lot of very hard work, and a lot of insanity, which goes with the territory," she told me. "I run a tight ship, work with very creative and hardworking people, who are really smart and really aggressive. We also produce at a very high level. Some people can't do that. Some people don't have the work ethic, the creativity, the drive, the ambition, the desire and that's why they don't make it."
But a former ReganBooks staffer said: "She is the boss from hell," and half a dozen ex-employees complained to me about Regan's allegedly abusive behavior.
Fearing reprisals from their former boss, none of these ex-staffers would allow me to identify them. Their testimony, however, is remarkably consistent.
According to multiple sources, the 50-year-old mother of two is a brilliant publisher with an uncanny feel for the marketplace. She can also be enormously charming.
But she is also, I've been told, a bully who regularly addresses underlings as "(expletive deleted) retards" and "(expletive deleted) idiots," and phones them after midnight at home to berate them in profanity-laced tirades.
I'm told that one Regan employee developed a stress-induced skin rash, and another suffered stomach trouble under her steady fire. I hear that HarperCollins compensated several departing employees who signed confidentiality agreements on their way out the door.
When Regan left Simon and Schuster to establish her imprint at HarperCollins in 1995, she reported directly to Chairman Murdoch of News Corp., which owns the publishing house as well as Fox News and the New York Post. But now she answers to HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman (who didn't return repeated phone calls about Regan).
The allegedly toxic atmosphere at ReganBooks is an open secret at HarperCollins, and in the past six months, Friedman installed exec Carie Friemuth (who also didn't return my phone calls) to, as one person told me, "monitor the insanity."
Regan didn't personally respond to a detailed e-mail enumerating the complaints, but her lawyer called them "outrageous" and "patently false."
HarperCollins Vice President of Corporate Communications Lisa Herling e-mailed: "Judith Regan is an extraordinarily creative and talented publisher. Her abundant talents have been demonstrated again and again by the critical and commercial success of books published under the ReganBooks imprint.
"In your e-mail, you ask Ms. Regan to comment upon certain allegations from unnamed sources. It is HarperCollins' policy never to comment on internal personnel matters, nor dignify gossip by responding to it."
ED LIMATO STRIKES AGAIN!
Mel Gibson's Hollywood agent who last year tossed the contents of a martini glass into the face of a fellow gossip columnist is now dissing Variety's venerable Army Archerd.
International Creative Management's Ed Limato has disinvited the influential columnist who has written critically about Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" from his star-studded party at the Limato mansion in Beverly Hills.
The 82-year-old Archerd told me Thursday that Limato is angry about his Wednesday column which quoted Andy Rooney calling Gibson a "wacko."
"I must ask you not to attend my pre-Oscar party," Limato wrote in a letter quoted in Archerd's column Thursday. "It would be most uncomfortable since Mel Gibson has been, as you know, a very close friend as well as an important client of mine for the past 23 years. I feel you have been relentless in your negative positioning of him over the past few months, so I'm sure you will understand."
Archerd told me: "Sounds like he's crucifying the messenger."
COME TO SAUDI ARABIA?: The theocratic desert kingdom that spawned Osama bin Laden is trying to change its image of isolation and Islamic radicalism by throwing down the welcome mat to tourists. At least some tourists. "The people of Saudi Arabia are warm, hospitable and friendly," the Saudis say on their new Web site, sauditourism.gov.sa. "They extend a warm invitation to you to come and experience this unique and rare destination."
But then the Web site advises: "Visas will not be issued for the following groups of people: An Israeli passport holder or a passport that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp. Those who don't abide by the Saudi traditions concerning appearance and behaviors. Those under the influence of alcohol . . . Jewish People." I'll take St. Barts.
TEARS FOR TOM: There were few dry eyes and more than a few weeping fashionistas at Wednesday night's Gucci show in Milan, designer Tom Ford's swan song at the luxury label. A spy for this column reports that mountain-sized Andre Leon Talley of Vogue was heaving with sobs as the crowd gave Ford a standing ovation. Word is that 42-year-old Ford is moving to Hollywood to direct movies and maybe write a book.
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