TV Review: 'O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?'

Mar 12, 2018
Originally published on March 12, 2018 7:40 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

Last night, for the first time, TV viewers saw a 2006 interview where O.J. Simpson talked about the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "O.J. SIMPSON: THE LOST CONFESSION?")

O.J. SIMPSON: This is very difficult for me to do this. It was very difficult for me because it's hypothetical. I know and I accept the fact that people are going to feel whatever way they're going to feel (laughter).

KING: It was part of a special on the Fox network called "O.J. Simpson: Lost Confession? (ph)." NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the special worked hard to remove any doubt about who the real killer was.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Did O.J. Simpson confess to killing two people during an interview in 2006? The panel of experts assembled for Fox TV's two-hour special Sunday certainly thought so. They saw footage where Simpson used the word hypothetically to describe how he and a friend named Charlie confronted Brown and Goldman when they were killed on June 12, 1994.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "O.J. SIMPSON: THE LOST CONFESSION?")

SIMPSON: I just remember Nicole fell and hurt herself. And this guy kind of got into a karate thing, and I said, well, you think you can kick my ass? And I remember I grabbed the knife. I do remember that portion - taking the knife from Charlie. And to be honest, after that, I don't remember except I'm standing there, and there's all kind of stuff around, and...

JUDITH REGAN: What kind of stuff?

SIMPSON: Blood and stuff around.

DEGGANS: Chris Darden, one of the prosecutors who tried Simpson for both murders, was on the panel and was blunt in assessing his words.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "O.J. SIMPSON: THE LOST CONFESSION?")

CHRIS DARDEN: I think he's confessed to murder. And if I had known he said this in 2006, I would not have objected to the release of this video.

DEGGANS: Darden and the families of Goldman and Brown were among those who objected to Fox's original plan to air this interview back in 2006. Simpson had lent his name to a book called "If I Did It." He did the TV interview with publisher Judith Regan to generate publicity. But the protests resulted in Regan's firing and Fox's shelving the interview. In 2007, a court gave rights to the book to the Goldman family to satisfy a judgment against Simpson. Turns out Fox did Regan a favor back then because Simpson's interview often sounds more like he's recounting a memory than suggesting a hypothetical.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "O.J. SIMPSON: THE LOST CONFESSION?")

REGAN: You write about removing a glove before taking the knife from Charlie.

SIMPSON: You know, I had no conscious memory of doing that. But obviously, I must've because they found the glove there.

DEGGANS: Journalist Soledad O'Brien hosted Sunday's special, leading discussion among a panel that included Darden, Regan, a friend of Brown's, an FBI profiler and an expert on spousal abuse. Simpson was acquitted on murder charges and can't be tried again for them. He's now living in Las Vegas on parole. He served nine years after a conviction on several charges related to breaking into a hotel room there in 2007. But years after TV shows and films have explored the larger ramifications of Simpson's saga, Fox's special on Sunday presented a look at the man - what viewers saw was sad and a bit creepy, a disgraceful collision of a scandal-chasing media and a subject who couldn't resist the spotlight. I'm Eric Deggans.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE AMERICAN DOLLAR'S "FALLS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.