The paper has long been known for its questionable undercover reporting techniques, especially when it came to politicians, soccer stars and rumored hacking of the cellphones of relatives of terrorist-attack victims and British soldiers killed in combat - but it went too far when it hacked into the cellphone voicemail of a missing teenage girl, possibly even interfering with the police investigation into her murder.
According to the Los Angeles Times (which still, surprisingly, has a reporter in London) James Murdoch, a senior exec at daddy's News Corp., said in a statement that the company accepted responsibility for the distress inflicted by the hacking allegations and the paper's breach of journalistic ethics.
"The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account," the statement said, "but it failed when it came to itself."
The scandal surfaced earlier this week with reports that NotW's freelance private investigator had illegally accessed – and deleted – messages on the phone of the 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped and later found murdered.
Brits are rightly furious.
News Corp.'s British subsidiary, News International, which also owns the Times of London and the Sun tabloid, also has been feeling the heat of NotW's callous behavior due to a boycott organized on Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, the scandal may hinder media-mogul Murdoch's bid to win government approval for a takeover of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
The scandal has so inflamed the normally reserved British public that politicians have been calling for the resignation of Murdoch loyalist Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News International and the editor of News of the World when the alleged hacking took place.
So far News Corp. is standing by Brooks.
The younger Murdoch said he's satisfied that Brooks had no knowledge of the phone hacking, and Brooks insists that she will stay on to get to the bottom of the scandal.
It's classic Murdoch - fire the workers and keep their boss.
* Good news, soap fans: A pair of canceled ABC soaps may find new life on the Internet.
ABC has licensed "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" in a multi-year deal allowing their stories to continue beyond their imminent broadcast termination.
For more on this story, check out TV critic Ellen Gray's blog at go.philly.com/ellengray.
* Elizabeth Smart, 23, the Utah woman who was kidnapped from her bedroom at knifepoint, raped and held captive at age 14 by a Salt Lake City street preacher - and is not Jaycee Dugard, whose similarly disturbing story has been in the news this week - is taking a job with ABC News.
She'll be a commentator focusing on missing-persons and child-abduction cases.
"We think she'll help our viewers better understand missing-persons stories," ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend said. "This is someone with the perspective to know what a family experiences when a loved one goes missing."
* Jon and Al Kaplan have turned "The Silence of the Lambs" into an unauthorized off-Broadway musical, complete with a chorus of dancing lambs.
"It all comes from a place of respect," says Al.
Some of the show's more than a dozen songs include "Are You About a Size 14?" sung by serial killer Buffalo Bill, which includes the lyrics: "I've got her in my sights/She's appropriately fat/I'll wait for her to notice me/I hope she fed her cat."
There is also "It's Me," a duet between Hannibal Lecter and the police that culminates in a classic - and deeply gross - film moment: "This cop is already dead/You'll see/I'm wearing his face on my head/It's me."
Hey, as Cole Porter says on Broadway, "Anything goes." And he wrote those words in . . . 1934.
* Now that Regis Philbin is retiring, he doesn't need two homes two miles apart in Connecticut.
His 4BR, 8BTH house on Meeting House Road in Greewich has nearly 6,000 square feet and sits on sixacres. It includes a pool, a tennis court and a gazebo.
It is listed for $3.8 million with Sotheby's International Realty, after being listed for $5.9 million in 2008.
* A Texas judge has rejected a plea deal that would have resolved Willie Nelson's marijuana-possession case in West Texas with a fine, saying the country singer shouldn't get what she considers special treatment.
Hasn't Willie been getting special treatment for marijuana for around 70 years?
* According to TMZ.com, Maria Shriver has purchased a $10 million home in Brentwood.
Seems odd to Tattle because such a big house will probably need more than one maid.
Daily News wire services contributed to this report.