O.J.: HE'S SPENT THE "BLOOD MONEY"

O.J. Simpson said during a radio interview Wednesday that he agreed to write a book and give an interview in which he presented a hypothetical account of how he might have killed his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman for the money and that he has spent all of it "on my bills." Published reports had said that Simpson had received a $3.5-million advance and that the funds would go to his children. Simpson denied that the book, If I Did It, was a confession. "That was their title. ... I have nothing to confess," he said. Later, in an interview with the Associated Press, he acknowledged that "it's all blood money" but said that he needed it to help him "get out of debt and secure my homestead." The wire service quoted a spokesman for News Corp as saying that it actually paid $880,000 for the book, with $100,000 going to the ghostwriter and the rest to Simpson's children. The New York Daily News reported today (Thursday) that the deal was brokered by Lorraine Brooke Associates, whose CEO, Leonardo Starke, is a friend and golfing buddy of Simpson.

CBS, FOX AND NBC TAKE ON THE FCC

The CBS, Fox and NBC television networks filed legal briefs in federal court on Wednesday decrying the FCC's crackdown on broadcast indecency and asking that the commission's actions be rejected as arbitrary and unconstitutional. The filings in the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York were separate from a more specific filing by CBS one day earlier in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia asking that the $550,000 fine imposed by the FCC after the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident be set aside. That incident is widely regarded as the trigger for additional actions by the FCC to curb alleged indecency on the airwaves. In its filing, Fox Broadcasting said that the commission's actions had resulted in "the end of truly live television and a gross expansion of the FCC's intrusion into the creative and editorial process." The FCC repeated its earlier response that the networks' action demonstrated "how out of touch [Hollywood] is with the American people."

NBC TO ADD THIRD NIGHT OF DATELINE

Despite much publicized cuts in its staff, including the firing of regular correspondents Rob Stafford and Edie Magnus, Dateline NBC is being expanded to three nights per week beginning December 26. The network said that it will add a Tuesday-night edition of the news magazine on that date and will switch the Saturday edition back to Sunday at the conclusion of the NFL football season. It will continue to air a Wednesday edition. Meanwhile, ABC is resurrecting Primetime tonight (Thursday), including excerpts from Diane Sawyer's interview with Mel Gibson that originally aired on Good Morning America last month. An ABC blurb indicated that in the interview Gibson will plug his forthcoming film Apocalypto and describe how making "a film about the fall of an empire helped him face his personal demons."

TONIGHT TO INCLUDE DEAL SHOW TONIGHT

NBC's hit game show Deal or No Deal has been scheduled to take over part of the Tonight show with Jay Leno tonight (Thursday), when the entire Thanksgiving-night audience is composed of military personnel. NBC said that representatives from each of the five major armed services will become contestants on the show, hosted by Howie Mandel. Before becoming host of Deal or No Deal, Mandel was a frequent guest on the Tonight show.

ABC'S DAY BREAK APPEARS BROKEN

In its second week as a replacement for Lost, ABC's Day Break appeared truly broken Wednesday night, as it drew a meager 3.4 rating and a 6 share in the 9:00 p.m. hour. By contrast, CBS's Criminal Minds, which had been running neck-and-neck with Lost all season and had managed to take a narrow lead before Lost's current hiatus, dominated the hour with a 10.3/17. Even more disappointing perhaps was the poor showing for the NBC special Madonna: The Confessions Tour Live. The first hour of the telecast, which had received heavy publicity, drew a 3.3/5, while the second hour dipped to a 3.2/4. The special drew plenty of flak when it was reported originally that it would contain a scene in which Madonna hangs on a crucifix. After angry protests from religious groups, NBC removed the scene from the special.

VIRGIN'S BRANSON BLASTS MURDOCH AGAIN

Virgin founder Richard Branson, check-mated by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB in Branson's efforts to acquire ITV, Britain's biggest commercial network, has issued a second stinging denunciation of Murdoch and has called for an official review of Murdoch's maneuver. Last weekend, Murdoch-controlled BSkyB paid nearly $2 billion for a 17.9 stake in ITV. In an interview with the Associated Press, Branson commented, "He's played a very good card and it's up to government to decide whether he can get away with it or not. There comes a time when governments have got to draw a line in the sand. Every single time the Murdoch empire makes a move on more and more of the British media, governments don't have the courage to stand up to them." Branson pointed out that besides Sky, Murdoch also owns four British newspapers. "If you tag on ITV to that as well, basically we've got rid of democracy in this country and we might as well just let Murdoch decide who is going to be our prime minister," he said.

Brian B.