A month ago I wrote that I’d been allowed to see the first six episodes of The People vs. O.J. Simpson, the ten-part “American Crime Story” miniseries (exec produced and co-written by HE pallies Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski and directed/co-produced by Ryan Murphy) that debuts tomorrow night — Tuesday, February 2nd — on FX. Let me repeat what everyone has been saying, which is that this it gets everything right except for one awful casting choice. Otherwise this is one of the most arresting true-crime miniseries I’ve ever seen. Bracing. Crackerjack up and down, and really well acted. Sharp writing, tightly cut, keeps the ball in the air. There are even a couple of jokes about the brassy young daughters of O.J. friend and counsel Robert Kardashian…love it!
Cheers to Alexander and Karaszewski for having written an on-target, carefully-measured, sometimes hilarious script, and to Murphy for delivering the whole thing with a completely realistic and recognizable tone.
To a very large extent almost all of the actors strikingly resemble their counterparts — especially John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, Courtney Vance as Johnnie Cochran (great!), Robert Morse as Vanity Fair reporter Dominick Dunne, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Kenneth Choi as Judge Lance Ito, Billy Magnussen as Kato Kaelin, Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden, Bruce Greenwood as Gil Garcetti and Rob Morrow as Barry Scheck. The whole resemblance + dead-on performance dynamic is quite enjoyable. Total approval on this end.
Except for the casting of Cuba Gooding as O.J. Simpson.
In a 2.1 Indiewire/Thompson on Hollywood review of American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, a ten-part miniseries which debuts tomorrow night, Matt Brennan offers one of the most absurd and wimpiest conclusions about the O.J. Simpson case ever published outside the African-American community, certainly in this century. In a sentence that calls the FX miniseries “brilliant”, Brennan states that “we may never know for certain what happened in Brentwood on the night of June 12, 1994.” In other words, Brennan is saying that a final, definitive determination of O.J. Simpson’s guilt in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman is beyond the scope of the evidence.
I’m sorry but Brennan and his Indiewire editor[s] have, with the above clause, shown themselves to be gutless p.c. swine.
The phrase “we may never know for certain” is a bend-over-backwards allowance on Brennan’s part. He’s basically saying (a) there are many people in the African-American community who continue to believe that racist rogues within the L.A. police department (led by Mark Fuhrman) attempted to frame Simpson with planted evidence, and (b) “hey, who knows for sure?” By what logical or evidentiary basis could Brennan, a USC grad and a New Orleans resident who has also written for L.A. Weekly, Slant and Deadspin, have even thought about writing such a thing? The answer is “none.” There’s “on the other hand” and then there is flat-out delusion. Brennan wrote that line to appease the “O.J. may have been framed” crowd, plain and simple.
For over 20 years the pyhsical evidence showing that Simpson is/was guilty has been flat-out irrefutable. I’ve linked before to a legendary mid ’90s Spy piece called 1001 Reasons why the OJ Trial is the Most Absurd Event in the History of America“, but here are two relevant portions:
Two and a half weeks ago a Quinnipiac University poll reported that 49% of likely Democratic Iowa caucus voters supported Bernie Sanders vs. 44% for Hillary Clinton. And yet in mid-December the same Iowa poll had Clinton ahead of Sanders 51-42. But now Bernie has apparently stalled. Last weekend the latest Des Moines Register poll reported that Clinton is leading Sanders, 45 to 42. Which doesn’t mean Iowa is unwinnable for Sanders given previous errors of 5 or even 10 percentage points in the caucuses, but it feels like it might be Hillary’s moment. Maybe. Donald Trump will, of course, defeat Ted Cruz (the DMR poll gave him a 28-to-23 edge), with Marco Rubio bringing up the rear at 15%.
Bernie will trounce Hillary in New Hampshire, of course, but she’ll take him in South Carolina because of the sage reasoning of African-American voters down there. Polls indicate that most are persuaded that Bernie is not on their team.
Girl-crazy swabbies about to ship out and already feeling the pain. Although it’s on the level of a musical parody routine from The Carol Burnett Show, this is nonetheless one of the most winning moments from Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Hail, Caesar! (Universal, 2.5). “There Ain’t Nothin’ Like A Dame” from South Pacific plus imaginary routines from Anchors Aweigh and Hit The Deck (i.e., Channing Tatum as Gene Kelly or Tony Martin). It’s almost perfect except for two things: (a) as Hail Cesar! is happening around 1950 or ’51, the aspect ratio should have been 1.37:1, and (b) when Tatum yanks his sailor hat off his hair gets mussed. (It happens at the 31-second mark.) Trust me — Gene Kelly would have never allowed his toupee to get mussed. Layers upon layers of super-hold spray — simple. Such things never happened during the Hollywood Dream Factory’s heyday. I hate to say it, but the Coens allowing Tatum’s hair mistake seems almost surreal. Coen Bros. films are nothing if not super-meticulous, so how did this happen?