If you read the title of this report, I know you’re thinking, what has possibly gotten into me, that I could, without reservation, claim that the OJ Simpson might be linked to Kim Kardashian’s success. Well not only Kim’s success, just about anybody associated with Reality TV owes a certain degree of tribute to OJ Simpson’s televised trial, including Fox TV. And that’s not all, Kim might be unaware, but before Kanye West, there was OJ Simpson.
Most people agree that the Simpson trial launched the media careers of Marcia Clark, Christopher Darden, Kaeto Kaelin, and Mark Furhman, whose use of the “n-word” took the focus off the murder. But almost no one gives the trial credit for the proliferation and popularity of Reality TV and thus, subsequently the career of Kim Kardashian.
The fact of the matter is that at the time of the OJ Simpson trial, Reality TV shows didn’t go by the title we give them today. But back in 1995, its hard to imagine the Simpson trial having no impact on the popularity of Reality TV, especially sense the cost of a television production significantly limited the number of producers able to meet the budgetary threshold. With the Simpson trial attracting such large audiences, media experts noticed that production cost to produce the trial was significantly less that traditional TV. After all, “Everybody remembers where they were when O.J. Simpson was riding in a white Bronco, leading police on that low-speed chase through Los Angeles,” or where they were when the not guilty verdict was announced. In fact, Fox credited the event “with the emergence of the 24-hour news cycle and “the birth of reality television.” With the use of deductive reasoning, it should not sound altogether unheard of to conclude that without the OJ Trial, Reality TV might not have become the popular genre it is today. If you can accept such a theory, then Kim Kardashian might not have ever become a Reality TV star nor household name. That said, what can be made of Fox Television’s decision to rehash the Simpson trial.
Author, and Guardian Express Reporter, James Turnage, said it best when he wrote about Fox’s new miniseries. The following report, written by Mr. Turnage, sheds a bright light upon Fox’s attempt to take advantage of the OJ Trial.
Mr. Turnage begins the analysis stating:
Ratings battles often make for bad television. You don’t have to look any farther than the advent of “reality shows”. FOX has announced it plans to make a movie about the infamous trial of O.J. Simpson.
It will be in 10 to 12 parts and based on Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Run of His Life: The People vs. O.J. Simpson”
The entire sordid story and trial made me want to forget 1995 entirely.
January, 18 years ago, opening statements were heard in a Los Angeles courtroom in the trial of Orenthal James Simpson. He was accused of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman outside of her Brentwood condominium in June of 1994. Authorities claim that he drove the short distance from his Brentwood home and killed them with a hunting knife.
A witness said a white Ford Bronco had been seen speeding away around the time of death established by the coroner. Evidence at the scene, and the statement by the witness, made authorities suspect Simpson was their man.
Lawyers convinced the LAPD to allow Simpson to turn himself in at 11 am on June 17, 1994. He never showed up. Police put out an APB. At 5 p.m. a friend and one of his attorneys, Robert Kardashian read a somewhat incoherent letter to the media. In the letter Simpson sent greetings to 24 friends and wrote, “First everyone understand I had nothing to do with Nicole’s murder … Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve had a great life.” To many it sounded like a suicide note.
At around 6:20 pm, a motorist in Orange County saw Simpson riding in his white Bronco, driven by his friend, A. C. Cowlings, and notified police. Television helicopters took to the sky, and the most watched car chase of all time began.
The first police officer moved near the vehicle. Cowlings yelled to the officer that Simpson was in the back and had a gun held to his own head. The officer followed at a distance. Approximately 20 police cars joined in the slow speed chase.
All Big Three television networks and CNN as well as local news outlets interrupted regular programming, with 95 million viewers nationwide.
Over an hour and a half later it ended back at his Brentwood home. He had insisted he speak to his mother before he surrendered to police. 45 minutes after he arrived, he went inside his home. Attorney Robert Shapiro arrived, and a few minutes later Simpson came out and turned himself over to the authorities.
In the Bronco the police found “$8,000 in cash, a change of clothing, a loaded .357 Magnum, a passport, family pictures, and a fake goatee and mustache.”
The trial lasted 8 months and had over 50 witnesses.
Simpson had hired the top attorneys in the land at a cost of between 3 to 6 million dollars. Shapiro headed that team, and later handed it over to Johnnie Cochran. They were dubbed the “dream team”.
Mishandling of evidence by the LAPD technicians, accusations of evidence being planted by detective Mark Fuhrman, and reasonable doubt about DNA evidence earned Simpson an acquittal. However, he was sued by the Brown and Goldman families in civil court, and found guilty.
Virtually every member of the prosecution and defense become household names, including judge Lance Ito. The verdict “on the streets” was split, African-Americans insisting he was innocent, while most others were positive he was guilty.
The case was a major embarrassment for the LAPD, and although millions of televisions were tuned to it daily, it began to be a depressing example of how money can buy anything.
I, for one, will have no interest in the mini-series. Once was more than enough for me.
Columnist-The Guardian Express
Mr. Turnage undoubtedly has flushed out one of the most significant elements spawned by the Simpson trial; money. It hangs like a vale over the Simpson case and ironically, it is the force that triggered the growth of Reality TV, and consequently has given rise and sustains the Kim Kardashian brand. What’s left, is what did Fox gain?
Simply put, they gained a foothold into the homes of millions of Americans, a value which can be easily estimated in the billions of dollars, and predicated on TV ratings.