Interview with Terence Wrong of "O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?" - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

O.J. Simpson: The Lost Interview? 

Interview with Terence Wrong of "O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?" on FOX 3/8/18

This was a very enjoyable call. I thought it was funny how Wrong let slip that he obviously thought O.J. was guilty. Also, when I asked him my question, he said, "That's a FOX question," which is a funny way to put it.

Conference Call with Terence Wrong, Executive Producer
March 8, 2018/1:00 p.m. PST

Alex Gillespie Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the conference call with Terence Wrong, who is the Executive Producer of O.J. SIMPSON: THE LOST CONFESSION?. Just a reminder that O.J. SIMPSON: THE LOST CONFESSION? airs on Sunday night, March 11, at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. We have assets, including video, photos, on our Fox Flash website. Without further ado, I would like to turn it over to Terence Wrong.

Terence Hi, everybody. Thanks for coming, and thanks for watching if you’ve watched; if you didn’t, you will soon.

Moderator Our first question is from the line of Suzanne Lanoue, with The TV Megasite.

Suzanne Why did the interview not air back in 2006, and how or why was it lost?

Terence The first question – I only know what I read, and it’s the same thing you probably read. The families were unhappy with the prospect of the interview airing, they feared O.J. would be paid, and the decision was made not to do it. As I understand, what happened was back then, it was the world of tape, and as somebody who works in this business of making television, we went through a huge digital revolution, and the tapes get stored somewhere. We’re not in a tape world anymore, and we haven’t been for many, many years, I think 2005 we went to HD – or ’06 – and even before that we were transitioning.

Anyway, they were somewhere, they weren’t to air because they had been shelved, and somebody knew that, I don’t know who, but eventually it was brought up to Fox executives that these tapes existed still. We’ve had a bunch of things connected to O.J. happen in the last two, three years. We had an Oscar-winning documentary, we had a fantastic drama on FX, and we had him paroled in October. So we said there’s an interview with O.J., wouldn’t that be a great special or something interesting to see?

That was mulled for a while, and then I got the call: would I be interested in coming out to Los Angeles and looking at the material, and seeing if there was a two-hour show? Well, it became evident that a two-hour show would be the best format for this—to make out of these things. I was curious. I’m a student of O.J.-ology, and I’d seen every frame of the works I cited, and I actually covered the case a little back in ’94. So I went, and I looked, and sure enough, it was incredibly riveting.

Suzanne So somebody found it before you went looking through it?

Terence Yes. Somebody knew that the tapes were there, so they were – I don’t know if lost is the right term, or ignored, or forgotten about, or relegated, or misplaced, but they weren’t in anybody’s consciousness. I don’t know if it was Indiana Jones-style, but somebody stumbled upon them in the warehouse, but they came to consciousness of people that they existed, and that hey, maybe we should do something with these.

Suzanne Well, it’s interesting what you said about the family, because I had actually read just today that they said that they couldn’t air it because some affiliates said they wouldn’t air it. I didn’t know if that was true, so that’s why I thought I’d ask you about it.

Terence That’s a Fox question.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Chloe Melas, with CNN.
Chloe My question for you is, do you think that the public will be more receptive to this now than they would have when this was first originally shot?

Terence I don’t know. For me, the distinction between 2018 and 2006 is, the resonance between those two may not be as great as 1994. What really strikes me when I look at the O.J. case, as it struck everybody was – and it was in the documentary – that it was two years after the Rodney King case, and the trial takes place in this incredibly inflamed environment of racial strife in Los Angeles. By 2006, where was that, and where were people thinking about the case; and now we’re in 2018, you could argue we’re again in a time of heightened sensitivity to race questions after Ferguson, etc.

I’d say as somebody who puts a lot of television on the air, what we are very cognizant of is that you have a new generation of viewers, and for people – I’ve kind of aged out of the demographic – but for people my age, we know every nuance of that case. For younger people, they really don’t. They say: there is a celebrity, he was a star football payer, he potentially murdered or was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife. It was controversial. There was this thing called a chase, I think, there was a white Bronco, and that’s it.

They don’t know Mark Fuhrman may have moved the glove, Dennis Fung took evidence home, Johnny Cochrane got Chris Darden to try on the glove, let him get O.J. to try on the glove. They don’t know it, so that to me, is the big difference, is that you have an audience now who’s going to be delving into this for the first time.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Morgan Brinlee, with Bustle.

Morgan I have three questions for you, I hope that’s okay. My first is, I’d love to know what your takeaway was when you first watched the tapes.

Terence Well, it was jaw-dropping. Inside of ten minutes I knew that this was unbelievable television, and that a lot of people were going to have the same reaction as me, because good producers are always putting themselves in the place of the viewer, and trying to watch things as a viewer, and I couldn’t turn away. In a way, it’s a little bit “car crash television,” because why would you do it if you were him? I just found it riveting. It was a little—I don’t know how to put it—people say “creepy,” but “creepy” is such an overused word. It was a little eerie to be inside his head for so many hours, just listening to the stream of consciousness come out of his mouth, because that’s the way he talks. There are a million parentheticals, and he just zigs and zags to one subject after another, and it’s disturbing.

Morgan Then I also was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what, if anything, may have gotten cut from the original interview for the special, if there were any parts of the original tapes that viewers won’t get to see on Sunday.

Terence Well, nothing substantive in any way, because you always cut people going to the bathroom, taking off their mic, shifting around, repositioning for this or that. Judith Regan – and I have told her this – she did a real service to me, as the person who took great pains to make a longer show out of this by following a timeline. And you guys as writers know, when you’re writing a story it’s so great when there’s an actual timeline or chronology. It’s like: whew! She really started the interview with, “How did you and Nicole first meet,” and it goes all the way through the hypotheticals of the night of the murder, and then O.J. going to Chicago, and then coming back and getting arrested, the Bronco chase and then the trial. Then he talks about speaking to the kids about it, and going to the grave site, and how he sees himself today—which is not today; that was 2006—and so that’s the timeline. All of the long exchanges of the interview are in this edit, so I don’t think there was a lot left on the cutting room floor that was worth anything.

Morgan I also, last question, was just wondering if O.J. was approached at all about this special, and about releasing the tapes, and if so, what his reaction was?

Terence I don’t know this for sure, I think his representative was approached, and I think we got no response. We don’t have a response for you right now, and I assume he’s seen the promos, and then he’ll see the show, and then maybe there will be something. I don’t know.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Jill Sergent, with Reuters.

Jill I was wondering what you hoped the program or the show, or the airing of the tape was going to achieve, given the fact that the main point of it came out in 2006, it’s now more than 20 years since the murder, he was acquitted, he’s already served time in jail. Are you hoping that by seeing the tape people will change their minds, or that there’ll be some new action in the case? Can you talk about that?

Terence No, hoping to achieve things like that are really not what I do when I make shows or when I covered news. I think it’s simply a fascinating kind of contribution to a subject that people have shown an abiding interest in. I think we’re not remaking O.J.: Made in America, we’re not delving into the legal minutiae of the case, we’re not doing a drama. We’re taking you inside the mind of O.J. Simpson, where nobody has ever been, at least on television. It adds to that pantheon for those people who remain fascinated by this case. I think this case is part of the social history of the United States, for better or for worse.

We already talked about coming two years after the L.A. riots. It delves into issues of celebrity, privilege, domestic violence, race, interracial marriage. I think it strikes so many chords, and it leaves so many people raw that its larger, cosmic significance is why it’s more than just a celebrity crime. That said, because of the story arc that Judith pursued in how she interviewed him, literally beginning at the beginning of their relationship, you see a very dysfunctional relationship, a very tortured one, in which he had the power. He had the wealth, he had the celebrity, and he had the physical power. When these very disturbing incidents of domestic violence occur, and we know there were eight or nine [of them], and several are highlighted in the interview because she asked about them, you can’t help saying: “Why did she stay? How did she stay? Did her family know? Did it have to go this way? Could somebody have intervened?”

It’s a real kind of consciousness-raising program about domestic violence. One of the better moments of the panel – that we did last weekend where we showed excerpts or large chunks of the program to the panelists and had them react – was when Chris Darden, the former prosecutor, remarked how even the 9-1-1 operator – and the 9-1-1 call that really was one of the last incidents before Nicole was murdered – says, “What did you do to make him angry?”

Now I’m not prejudging his guilt by that statement. The domestic violence is one thing we know happened. Leaving aside his guilt or innocence, there’s no debate that domestic violence was front and center in that relationship. The idea that the 9-1-1 operator would say, “What did you do to get him angry?,” and as Darden pointed out as a prosecutor that that was generally the mindset: that these things are family disputes. Particularly this time in the #MeToo era, and we’ve had celebrated cases –“celebrated” is the wrong word, we’ve had notorious – I don’t know what the right word for it would be, but you get where I’m going... That’s one thing the program, I think, will accomplish.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Amber Ballard, with Please go ahead.

Amber I just wanted to find out what drew you to want to produce this documentary, and how long did it take you to compile everything to complete it?

Terence We filmed this pretty quickly, in about less than two months. Really, it just began as a no-pressure invitation to come out to the Fox lot in L.A. by Rob Wade, a very dynamic guy if you’ve ever met him, he’s the head of Fox Alternative [exact title: President, Alternative Entertainment & Specials, Fox Broadcasting Company]. Rob is British. He wasn’t even here when the case happened, and frankly, he didn’t know a lot of the details of the case.

But he knew this was an explosive case that had occurred in recent American history, and there were these tapes that had been brought to his office. He said, “I want you to look at these and evaluate them,” and I was hooked. It was riveting television, can’t turn away. The cliché would be “car crash TV,” but it was really just – he sucks you in, O.J., he’s charismatic and charming, and at the same time there’s something a little manic and a little disturbing – or a lot disturbing. I knew I’d never seen anything like it, and I knew it would be a unique contribution to what people understand or know about the O.J. Simpson case.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Rebecca Murray, with Showbiz Junkies.

Rebecca You said earlier that the families were unhappy with the interview back in 2006. Do they support it now, and how much insight have they actually had in the process?

Terence I only know what I read in The New York Times, I hope I don’t offend anybody, about 2006. But I can say that now they support it, and I’ve had a lot of conversations with Denise Brown, and I know the Goldmans support it, because they reached out to other people at Fox, and through their lawyer, they’ve made supportive statements. I think their thinking is: he’s free again, and we know him, and we think he’ll hang himself in this interview by implicating himself, so let’s see it. Let’s let everybody see it. I’m summarizing, I’m short-handing what they think, and I know Denise said that to me.

Rebecca How important was it to get Christopher Darden involved in it, someone who knows the case so thoroughly?

Terence Well, for me personally, it was very important, because he had a number of different perspectives. He remains very passionate about the victims, and he strikes me as still wounded by the outcome of that case. He’s a very dignified person, and I felt very privileged to meet him and get to talk to him. He was critical [integral], because there are people who had six degrees, or less than six degrees of separation from O.J., and then there are people who have a much more distant perspective, but who may bring some expertise.

On the panel, we had three people who had actually seen and known O.J., or been in his presence: Judith Regan, who interviewed him [in 2006]; Chris Darden, who spent 11 months prosecuting him; and Eve Shakti Chen, who was Nicole’s life-long friend. Then we have other people who were analyzing the tape from the point of view of their expertise: a retired FBI profiler, Jim Clemente; and an anti-domestic violence advocate, Rita Smith. So, Darden was really important.

Moderator Our next question will be from the line Kayla Cobb, with Decider.

Kayla Was there anyone that you wanted for the panel that said no?

Terence I would’ve liked to have had Fred Goldman, but it wasn’t so much that he said no. He’s not a young man anymore, and I think emotionally, it’s a pretty taxing thing to relive it, and to have to sit there and watch O.J. talk about it, if you come from the perspective of Fred Goldman. They were supportive, as I said, the Goldmans, but it might have been—I can’t predict what it would’ve been like, but I was curious. Other than that, no not really.

I think we did really well, and I think it was a really emotional, kind of riveting thing. When you watch Sunday night, you may find that some of the high points for you are really from that panel. As riveting as the [original O.J. Simpson] interview is, some of the insights and truth-saying and emotion that flows out of that panel is just unbelievable, and sucked the breath away of everybody in the control room, and all of the crews working on it. People just were – there was a kind of a silence at the end.

Alex. Thank you, everyone. That concludes our conference call. Just a reminder that the special airs on Sunday night, and we do have assets on our Fox Flash press site. Thank you all for joining.

Terence Thank you, everybody.

Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be made available for replay after 2:30 p.m. today through March 15th 2018 at midnight.  That does conclude your conference for today. Thank you for your participation, and for using AT&T Executive TeleConference Service.

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