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Though he kept Nip/Tuck and Glee on the air years longer than they should have been, Ryan Murphy is now dedicated to anthologizing the world of TV. He’s spinning off the hit American Horror Story with the true crime anthology American Crime Story, with the first installment focusing on the O.J. Simpson trial that rocked the country 20 years ago. Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. has signed on to play Simpson for the limited series, while Murphy familiar Sarah Paulson (12 Years a Slave) will be playing limelight-centered prosecutor Marcia Clark. I can’t say I ever would have predicted these actors, but holy shit, am I ready to see them in action.
American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson is going to take viewers inside one of the most famous trials in history, with presumed Murphy-ish heightened flourishes and bombast. Both the prosecution and the defense’s wheelings and dealings will be explored, and the show will look at “how a combination of prosecution confidence, defense wiliness and the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community gave a jury what it needed: reasonable doubt. “ That weighted bit of description comes from the press release, which doesn’t explain how Ryan Murphy is going to realistically depict the African American community more eloquently than American Horror Story: Freak Show’s “Patti LaBelle as a rich woman’s maid.” That’s sarcasm. He can do a lot better.
In any case, we’ll get to see how it all pans out with Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson! A sentence that defies my concept of reality. While it isn’t clear how far off the grid the dramatizations will get – because this IS at least titularly connected to American Horror Story after all – we can at least expect to see Gooding hauling ass in a white Bronco, trying on a glove that is clearly too small for his big football hands, and an assortment of other memorable bits of oddness from the 1994 case.
For those who don’t quite remember, the former NFL great was tried for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ronald Goldman. Simpson’s high-dollar defense team, led by Robert Shapiro and later Johnny Cochran, took on a prosecution led by Marcia Clark and backed by District Attorney Christopher Darden. Simpson was acquitted of the crimes after a ten-month trial. To say that it was a shitshow would be an understatement, and Paulson is probably going to play it very restrained and level-headed. Just one head though.
Now that we know Murphy is willing to reach out anywhere to find actors for this, as well as dipping into his cadre of gonzo performers, I can’t even imagine who will be playing Shapiro, Cochran, Kato Kaelin, Judge Ito and the rest. Not Ken Jeong for that last one, please.
American Crime Story, which is only one of several anthologies Murphy has in development, will presumably hit FX in 2015 at some point. How do you guys feel about O.J. “Show Me the Money” Simpson?