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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
O.J. SIMPSON: THE LOST CONFESSION?
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.
did the interview not air back in 2006, and how or why was
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.
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
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.
That’s a Fox question.
Moderator Our next question
is from the line of Chloe Melas, with CNN.
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
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
next question is from the line of Amber Ballard, with
Medium.com. 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
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.
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
Moderator Our next question will
be from the line Kayla Cobb, with Decider.
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.
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
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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