Twelve years after pulling it from the air under protest, FOX is preparing to finally air O.J. Simpson’s pseudo confessional interview special If I Did It, which has been retitled O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession? Simpson, of course, went from famous to infamous overnight in June of 1994 when the NFL Hall of Fame running back-turned-actor/celebrity was arrested by police in connection with the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. In what came to be dubbed “The Trial of the Century,” Simpson was found not guilty of the murders in 1995, but was found liable in a civil suit filed in 1997 by the Brown and Goldman families and ordered to pay them $33.5 million in damages – much of which they would never see.
Though Simpson walked away from both proceedings essentially a free man, he ultimately got in his own way again in September of 2007 when he was convicted of kidnapping and robbery in connection with a confrontation with memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room. Sentenced from 9 to 33 years in jail, Simpson was released on parole last year after serving the minimum sentence. As the the public’s obsession over Simpson continued during his time behind bars, two high-profile projects – Emmy-winning miniseries American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson and Oscar-winning documentary O.J.: Made in America – kept Simpson’s highly publicized fall from grace in the spotlight.
Now, in an apparent move to attract ratings, FOX – the network that pulled If I Did It from the air in 2006 – will air the long-shelved special on Sunday, March 11. According to THR, FOX will air O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession? opposite ABC’s debut of American Idol, a reboot of the reality competition show that ironically used to air on FOX. Unlike the first time around, the interview with Simpson – which was conducted by book publisher Judith Regan – is proceeding without protest. In 2006, the special was pulled after an outcry by the Brown and Goldman families, which resulted in an apology by FOX boss Rupert Murdoch.
Perhaps clearing the way to the airing of the special is the fact that Simpson will not profit in any way from it since the Goldman family won the rights to If I Did It in a civil suit. Previously, the Goldmans released the companion book for If I Did It in 2007 but re-titled it If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer, and as for O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession? sources tell THR that both the Goldmans and Browns have approved the release of the TV special.
Since Simpson’s story has been a ratings magnet for the past 24 years, don’t be surprised if the special pulls in substantial ratings when it airs in 11 days – because unlike the accounts of the murders in American Crime Story and O.J.: Made in America, viewers are finally hearing the story of the murders from Simpson directly. Supplementing the special is a panel of analysts hosted post-interview by Soledad O’Brien.
Despite the apparent approval from the Goldmans and the Browns, O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession? will surely upset people, and not only because it’s opening old wounds stemming from the murders of two innocent people. The thought that Simpson did the special in the first place is shameful and crass, and the teaser FOX has released for the special is suitably cringe-worthy. In the video above, Simpson, seen in taped promos for the “no holds barred” special from 2006, says things like, “Forget everything you think you know about that night … because I know the facts better than anyone … this is one story the whole world got wrong”; after which a voiceover teases, “Does he confess?” Whether or not he does, the fact that Simpson even taped such a special does nothing but reinforce the general public perception of his guilt, despite the verdict he received at trial.
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