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O.J. Simpson May Be TV's Newest 'Reality' Program

A Texas-based network is considering a series showing clips of the former football star.

April 24, 2003|Greg Braxton | Times Staff Writer

Is O.J. about to come back into your living room?

A small, Texas-based network says it's considering an unscripted series featuring clips of O.J. Simpson, whose nationally televised 1995 trial in the slaying of his ex-wife was a sensation long before "reality" TV became a modern mainstay.

Urban Television Network Corp., with 70 affiliates that reach 22 million households, said it had a memorandum of understanding with Spiderboy International Inc., a Florida-based production company that shot more than 60 hours of footage of the former football star at events around the country.

Urban Television President Randy Moseley said the network, based in Fort Worth, was considering airing the footage in a 13-week series this summer. He said he would gauge the interest of viewers and affiliates over the next week. The network's Web site asks visitors to vote on whether it should air "the O.J. Simpson mini-documentary." "If the affiliates don't feel that it is appropriate," Moseley said, "then we will not put it on."

Simpson was acquitted of murder in the Brentwood slaying of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald L. Goldman. A jury in a civil trial found Simpson responsible for the deaths and ordered him to pay more than $33 million to the victims' family members.

Simpson's lawyer and spokesman, Yale Galanter of Miami, said the network had not contacted him or his client.

"We've never heard of these guys," Galanter said. "If they think clips of O.J. have commercial value, more power to them. But we haven't been asked to narrate them or edit them or comment on them. Nor would we."

Urban Television, which bills itself as "the only nationwide broadcast television network that targets African Americans," has affiliates in California, including in Chico and Fresno.

The network didn't say what the title of the series might be. Spiderboy didn't return calls.

Marty Kaplan, associate dean at USC's Annenberg School for Communication, called the possible series "a brilliant branding move by an unknown company." Asked about the significance of a Simpson saga in the reality TV arena, he said, "I'm sure this is not even the end of the envelope. It can be pushed much, much further."

Correspondent Dana Calvo in Houston contributed to this report.

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