Saddam Hussein has decided to drop his suit against the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Sun, his lawyer said today. As part of the settlement, the former Iraqi strongman will feature in the next season of the riches-to-rags reality series The Simple Life on Fox Television. Like The Sun, Fox Television is part of the worldwide Murdoch media empire.
On Friday, The Sun shocked the world by publishing a front-page picture that showed Saddam, only in white briefs, folding a pair of trousers. The publication of the photos had prompted a U.S. military investigation and condemnation from the Red Cross and Amnesty International. The Sun responded to the criticism by saying that a tyrant deserved no sympathy. Although The Sun is Britain's leading newspaper by circulation, it is still best known for its Page-3 nudes and "Man Enters Cage And Bites Monkey" stories.
The humiliated former Iraqi leader threatened to sue the British tabloid. On Sunday, his chief lawyer Ziad al-Khasawneh, speaking from Jordan, said, "We will sue the newspaper and everyone who helped in showing these pictures. Sure, Saddam was a tyrant. But then, isn't Rupert Murdoch a war-monger, a scourge of our times. What sort of humiliation should he be subjected to?"
Today, however, both parties seemed to have reached an amicable settlement. Mr. al-Khasawneh said that Saddam had decided to drop the suit. Johnny Headpin, a spokesman for Fox Television in New York, said that Mr. Saddam Hussein and one of his former mates will replace Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in the hit show The Simple Life. A new leading cast has become necessary, as Paris and Nicole have split and are no longer friends.
"The photo controversy provides the right amount of publicity to preempt the next season of our show. It will have the same effect as the Paris Hilton sex tape," Mr. Headpin said. In November 2003, a steamy video of Ms. Hilton with her ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon sprouted like fungus all over the Internet and provided an unexpected but welcome boost in viewer interest for the Fox tv show.
Fox Television still has not decided on who would be Mr. Hussein's buddy in the show. Current frontrunners are Ali Hassan al-Majid a.k.a "Chemical Ali" and former Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan. The show will be shot exclusively in the Baghdad prison Camp Cropper, where former regime members are kept in solitary confinement.
Before the war, Saddam Hussein spent his time among his many Presidential palaces. His offices were typically furnished with Napoleon-era furniture. He used to drink $2000-a-bottle Napoleon-era brandy and smoke expensive Davidoff cigars. Interestingly, the former U.S. Ambassador for Iraq Paul Bremer appropriated the furniture, brandy and cigars for his personal use.