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The TV Column

Documentary offers up another serving of O.J.

By Michael Storey

This article was published June 12, 2014 at 2:23 a.m.

murder-defendant-oj-simpson-tries-on-one-of-the-leather-gloves-that-prosecutors-said-he-wore-the-night-of-the-murders-of-his-ex-wife-nicole-brown-simpson-and-ron-goldman-the-1995-trial-is-the-subject-of-a-new-special-on-cables-id-network

Murder defendant O.J. Simpson tries on one of the leather gloves that prosecutors said he wore the night of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The 1995 trial is the subject of a new special on cable’s ID network.

It's hard to believe that the O.J. Simpson murder trial was that long ago.

The Investigation Discovery channel (ID) lets us relive the legal drama that captivated America at 8 p.m. today with the documentary O.J.: Trial of the Century.

Note: Check two things before you fire off an email saying you couldn't find the ID channel. Does your cable service even provide the ID channel and, if so, does the tier to which you subscribe contain ID?

Why write about at show if everyone doesn't get the channel? Because these days there is frequently fascinating TV that's not on one of the five broadcast networks or major basic cable outlets such as TNT and USA. This is one of those occasions.

ID specializes in crime shows. I'll not vouch for the channel's other programs such as Southern Fried Homicide, Swamp Murders, Homicide Hunter or Fatal Encounters, but an O.J. special got my attention right away. It was the biggest thing in my early years of writing this column and dominated the airwaves for months.

It has been 20 years since the murders of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ron Goldman on June 12, 1994. Five days later, O.J. went from well-liked former professional football star and celebrity to double murder suspect.

Who can forget the slow-speed police chase of O.J.'s white Bronco? More than 90 million Americans watched for an hour and a half as TV cameras followed along on the freeways of Los Angeles and witnessed Simpson surrender in the driveway of his Brentwood home.

It was surreal. It was also tawdry and tragic and mesmerizing. Nothing has come close to it on TV before or since. It was, by most accounts, the most highly publicized and controversial criminal trial in American history.

The trial began 0n Jan. 24, 1995, and ran more than eight months. It had everything -- celebrities, glitz, murderous rage, melodrama, scandal, domestic violence, wealth, power, sex and race relations. Unblinking cameras in the courtroom followed it all.

The trial had characters and elements that resonate to this day. For example, Simpson's friend and defense attorney was Robert Kardashian -- a last name that is familiar to reality TV viewers today thanks to his daughters.

And the trial included defense attorney Johnnie Cochran's famous catchphrase about Simpson's alleged bloody glove, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

By the time Simpson was acquitted on Oct. 3, public opinion about the verdict had split along racial lines. Carried live on 12 TV networks and cable outlets, the verdict was seen by 91 percent of all TVs in use at the time.

In a news release, ID president Henry Schleiff said, "[The trial] represented a watershed moment for this country's perception of the legal system and, indeed, a transformative event in the racial and social history of our nation. While 20 years later, many questions still linger, this powerful documentary turns back the clock to allow viewers to experience this unique trial's intensity firsthand."

All atwitter. ZOMG! Do U tweet while watching TV. BTW, I'm not that adept at multi-tasking. I prefer to simply concentrate on the program, TYVM. But millions of viewers can't just sit there. JSYK, they have to share their thoughts with others while the show is on.

Why should you care if you don't tweet? ICYMI, TV producers now include Twitter activity as an indicator of a show's success, especially among younger, advertiser-coveted viewers.

The Nielsen company has recently gotten around to measuring the average number of people seeing at least one tweet about the show during a single episode, as well as three hours before and after it airs.

IMHO, it leaves me SMH, but here are the Top 10 tweeted programs and how many people were tweeting:

  1. Breaking Bad, AMC, 6.03 million.

  2. The Walking Dead, AMC, 5.17 million.

  3. Pretty Little Liars, ABC Family, 4.78 million.

  4. The Bachelor, ABC, 3.62 million.

  5. Game of Thrones, HBO, 3.51 million.

  6. Teen Wolf, MTV, 3.34 million.

  7. American Horror Story: Coven, FX, 2.84 million.

  8. Scandal, ABC, 2.43.

  9. The Voice, NBC, 2.29 million.

  10. Dancing With the Stars, ABC, 2.06 million.

Tusk ban. PBS has announced that Antiques Roadshow will no longer show appraisals of ivory tusks. They won't appear in future episodes and they'll be removed from past episodes.

The Associated Press reports that the Wildlife Conservation Society praised the decision as an important step in ensuring elephant tusks and their "assumed monetary value" are not glorified on TV.

However, PBS said antique items that include ivory elements, such as musical instruments, will continue to be appraised to inform viewers about such objects and what PBS called "the larger issues at hand."

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 06/12/2014

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