Out of nowhere, the OJ Simpson story has not one but two miniseries being released. Because the bizarre story of Simpson and the people in his life who suffered couldn’t be covered in just one movie, both soon-to-be-debuted movies will be miniseries in nature. One will be through FX and the other part of the ESPN 30 for 30 franchise. Either way, the public is about to be inundated with that ugly time 22 years ago all over again.
Vanity Fair believes there is plenty of room for two miniseries to cover the whole story of the downfall of OJ Simpson and what it meant to society. OJ: Made in America is the offering from ESPN, and from FX, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. The ESPN miniseries will focus on race and the divide revealed by the OJ Simpson trial. Simpson would say things like, “I’m not black, I’m OJ,” as if even social conventions, rules, or laws didn’t apply to him.
“As a kid growing up in the ghetto,” he said, “one of the things I wanted most was not money – it was fame.”
OJ Simpson got fame, and notoriety too. But Simpson now sits in a Nevada prison for robbing a man at gunpoint to take back sports memorabilia, and many feel it’s like Al Capone getting hung up for tax evasion. It was the least of his crimes, but they finally got him for something. Jurors have acknowledged that there was some degree of jury nullification in the Simpson case, suggesting that finding him not guilty was “payback for Rodney King.”
According to Hollywood Life, while the FX miniseries will involve reenactments and actors playing the roles, ESPN’s take on Simpson is truly a documentary, and people will hear from the actual folks involved in the case and Simpson’s life. Ezra Edelman, the director of 30 for 30, said it’s critical to get firsthand accounts.
“I think part of the appeal to the story is that it’s kind of about everything,” Ezra said in an interview at Sundance Film Festival. “It’s about everything, depending on who you are, and where you were raised and where you come from. It’s just a very telling story about our culture and about celebrity.”
With the last 22 years to get some distance and think about it, there are many different perspectives.
“Now there are people from the trail for instance, that haven’t sat for interviews in the last 15-20 years, so their perspective of this huge medium that they were in they were in the center of, you haven’t heard that,” he added. “I’m pretty sure Marcia Clark hasn’t sat for five hours to go through this, and I’m pretty sure she won’t do it again — at least she says she won’t do it again.”
While FX will have David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian and Cuba Gooding Jr. as OJ Simpson, ESPN is sticking to the “just the facts, ma’am”-style of journalism, accord to the Hollywood Reporter. ESPN will hit hard with the Simpson biography, which is 10 hours, or 7.5 hours with no commercials. Daniel Fienberg says that there is no need to choose, as each Simpson series brings something different to the table.
“For the O.J.-phobic or those whose interest in The Juice may be limited, it’s worth noting that O.J.: Made in America neither usurps, nor is made superfluous by FX’s very good The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. With Jeffrey Toobin serving as a consultant for FX and a featured talking head for ESPN, it’s no surprise that there are many points of overlap when the two miniseries cover shared terrain, but they’re wholly complementary texts and they’re probably airing in exactly the right order. The events depicted in People v. O.J. Simpson get new layers of insight and reflective shading in Made in America, which also goes far wider in establishing context.”
Will you watch one of both of the OJ Simpson movies?
[Photo by Vince Bucci/AP]