41. O.J.

Tapehead no 41

Knock, knock”
“Who’s there?”
“OJ who?”
“Right, you’re on the jury.”

You’d have thought the world and his wife would have known everything there was to know about the OJ Simpson case by now.

Undaunted, The Late Show returns this week with OJ Mania: The Media Trial Of OJ Simpson.

Sadly, it begins by comparing the impact of OJ’s plight on ordinary Americans to Late Show viewers imagining what it would be like if Paul Gascoigne was charged with a brutal double murder. Not very surprising at all really.

The show purports to examine the media’s role in the trial but can’t resist doing so without dipping its toe in a few sensational samples, most of which you’ll probably know already.

An anguished Rolanda broadcasts her chatshow debate on ‘Can OJ Simpson Get A Fair Trial ?’ live from outside the courthouse. Sales of Bronco jeeps – as used by OJ – increased by 30 per cent, as citizens prepare to race police cars to the Mexican border. It’s another tale of ordinary American folk.

The 911 tape of Simpson’s estranged wife, Nicole, calling the cops during an earlier attack, is worth another listen:
“What does he lookalike?” asks the concerned 911 operator.
“He’s OJ Simpson,” she says, describing him to a tee.

The only Grand Jury witness to place OJ at the scene (swiftly signed up by Hard Copy) reveals that when she saw OJ, he looked “crazy…like a madman gone mad” (ie: very mad indeed).

Naturally, she was never called to give evidence.

Worth taping if nothing else for an extraordinary appearance by Hustler publisher Larry Flint, whose lifetime of heavy breathing seems, finally, to have taken almost terminal hold.

Amidst all the OJ mania, who remembers Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan? How fickle we are.

Like the Late Show, the telemovie Tonya And Nancy: The Inside Story attempts to disseminate the morality of the media in the world of celebrity. Tonya And Nancy begins promisingly with a shot of (guess what) an ice-rink, beautifully shot like an arty MTV video.

But you know things are going wrong when the guy playing the guy writing a script for a TV movie on Tonya And Nancy looks at the camera and says “How do I write this ?”

>From then on, T&N is never happy just being a dumb TV movie, although the line, “I wonder what Tolstoy would think of Tonya’s life: much war and little peace,” is a classic.

After the attack (a whack across the knee with a ruler), the narrator/creator-writer explains, “the networks went crazy.”

Cue post-modern scenes of network executives having meetings about how to make a decent Tonya and Nancy TV movie.

“The deal was made,” one of the characters complains, “but when and Disney went partner, how could we compete with theme parks
and a mouse with more money than God?”

After The Day Today, the ultimate (minor) celebrity, Alan Partridge’s first episode of his own series, Knowing Me, Knowing You (ah-ha) is such an accurate, straight parody, any actual jokes have virtually been left out altogether.

Wonderful guest introductions though.
“Fame. I’m gonna live forever. Fame. I’m going to learn how to fly. Of course I’m not. But in a sense my next guest did…”

“If music be the food of love, play on. That’s what William Shakespeare of course. I say, If music be the food of love, let’s eat it.”

Let’s hope Alan Partridge does not go the way of JFK and Tyson, or OJ and Tonya, and find himself sucked form celebrity into terminal scandal and disgrace. What a tragedy what would be.


OJ Mania – The Media Trial Of OJ Simpson: Mon, 11.15pm-11.55pm, BBC2
Tonya And Nancy – The Inside Story: Fri 9.30pm-11pm, BBC1
Knowing Me, Knowing You… With Alan Partridge: Fri, 10pm-10.30pm, BBC2