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Reflecting on O.J. Simpson’s Life: A Retrospective by the Media

NEW YORK – The narrative of O.J. Simpson’s life possessed an inherent cinematic quality. Initially envisioned as material for a triumphant sports biopic, it took a sharp turn towards a darker and more intricate path as Simpson transitioned from fame to notoriety following the tragic deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Given the compelling nature of Simpson’s multifaceted life story – encompassing his football stardom, ventures into acting, the infamous murder trial, subsequent acquittal, civil judgment, sports memorabilia heist conviction, and ultimately, his passing on Wednesday – it’s no surprise that a vast array of media content has emerged around it.

Much of this content delves into the sensational and macabre, ranging from a poorly received horror film suggesting Brown Simpson’s murder by a serial killer to Simpson’s controversial hypothetical book, “If I Did It.” The Simpson saga has permeated popular culture, making appearances in numerous TV shows like “The Simpsons,” a mention in Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.,” and influencing the trajectory of the Kardashian family’s reality TV and business ventures. Even acclaimed author Norman Mailer, known for a Pulitzer Prize win and a personal history marred by a spousal stabbing incident, adapted the case into a TV movie titled “American Tragedy.”

However, this compilation excludes such sensationalized portrayals. Instead, The Associated Press has curated a selection of 10 documentaries, TV programs, books, and podcasts that offer profound insights into Simpson’s life and impact.

“O.J.: Made in America”

Although not ranked in any particular order, this definitive documentary demands attention. Directed by Ezra Edelman for ESPN Films, this five-part series aired on ABC and ESPN, providing an exhaustive exploration of what is famously known as the trial of the century. “O.J.: Made in America” meticulously contextualizes Simpson’s life, achievements, and infamy within the broader landscape of race relations in the United States. Garnering an Oscar for Best Documentary in 2017, this production stands as the longest film ever to win the prestigious award. Edelman dedicated his accolade to the memories of Brown Simpson, Goldman, their families, and victims of police brutality.

“O.J.: Made in America” is accessible for streaming on ESPN+ and is also available for purchase on various online platforms.

“June 17th, 1994”

Another notable creation from ESPN Films’ “30 for 30” series, this 2010 documentary helmed by Brett Morgen offers a concise yet impactful portrayal of the events surrounding June 17, 1994. While the documentary’s title references the infamous Ford Bronco chase, its focus extends beyond that singular incident. “June 17th, 1994” captures the essence of that day by juxtaposing it with other significant sports occurrences, including Arnold Palmer’s final U.S. Open round and the commencement of the World Cup. Praised as the top “30 for 30” feature by Rolling Stone magazine in 2014, this documentary sheds light on how media grapples with unfolding events lacking clear resolutions.

“June 17th, 1994” is currently streaming on ESPN+.

“O.J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose”

Directed by the legendary George Romero, renowned for his “Night of the Living Dead” series, this 1974 documentary traces Simpson’s early days as a rising star in the Buffalo Bills football team. As the sole entry on this list predating Simpson’s descent into disgrace, it offers an untarnished glimpse into Simpson’s early career and burgeoning fame.

“O.J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose” is not accessible for streaming on conventional platforms but can be found on the Internet Archive.

“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

The inaugural season of Ryan Murphy’s “American Crime Story” anthology, this FX miniseries debuted in the same year as “O.J.: Made in America,” reigniting public discourse on the case and revitalizing the celebrity status of key figures involved. Spanning 10 episodes, the show primarily delves into the trial itself, featuring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, and David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian.

“The People v. O.J. Simpson” is available for streaming on Hulu.

“The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson”

Derived from Jeffrey Toobin’s 1996 book chronicling the trial, FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson” offers a detailed account of the legal proceedings. Toobin, a lawyer and esteemed New Yorker staff writer, gained prominence for his extensive coverage of the trial, propelling him to become one of the most recognized legal analysts. Regarded as a comprehensive examination of Simpson’s trial, this New York Times bestseller provides valuable insights into the case.

Further details about accessing “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson” can be found on the Penguin Random House website.

“Without A Doubt”

Amid the plethora of books released by individuals tangentially associated with the Simpson trial, one standout is penned by Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor whose performance garnered both acclaim and criticism. Following the trial, Clark transitioned from law to writing, with her 2016 memoir fetching a substantial $4 million advance. Clark has since ventured into fiction writing and co-creation of television shows.

For more information on where to procure “Without A Doubt,” co-authored with Teresa Carpenter, refer to Clark’s official website.

“His Name Is Ron: Our Search for Justice”

Authored by the Goldman family in collaboration with William and Marilyn Hoffer, this book, initially published in 1997, underscores the Goldmans’ unwavering pursuit of justice following Simpson’s acquittal. Criticizing what they perceive as a miscarriage of justice, the Goldmans remain vocal about their stance, with their attorney asserting that Simpson passed away without facing true accountability. The book shifts the focus from Simpson to the Goldman family’s narrative.

For additional details on obtaining “His Name Is Ron,” visit the Penguin Random House platform.

“Another City, Not My Own”

The sole fictional work featured here originates from journalist and crime writer Dominick Dunne. Subtitled “a novel in the form of memoir,” this 1997 novel intertwines fiction with real-life elements, drawing inspiration from Dunne’s coverage of the Simpson trial for Vanity Fair. Blending imaginative characters with actual personalities like the Goldmans and prominent journalists, Dunne’s novel offers a nuanced reflection on the glamour and squalor of 1990s Los Angeles.

For more information on acquiring “Another City, Not My Own,” visit the Penguin Random House website.

“Confronting: O.J. Simpson”

Comprising 10 episodes, this podcast features Kim Goldman’s introspection on her brother’s tragic demise. Through conversations with legal professionals, investigators, witnesses, and jurors, Goldman seeks closure on lingering questions stemming from the trial. Released in 2019, the podcast delves into various facets including the civil case, domestic violence issues, and the enduring shadow of grief. The anthology format extends to its second season, focusing on the Columbine school shooting.

“Confronting: O.J. Simpson” is produced by Wondery.

“You’re Wrong About”

Although still an ongoing series, “You’re Wrong About” stands out for its in-depth exploration of the Simpson case, dispelling common misconceptions and myths surrounding it. Hosted by Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes, this podcast challenges conventional narratives, offering a comprehensive analysis of the trial and its aftermath.