O.J. Simpson won’t ever be charged again for killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Double jeopardy rules would prevent that, as the former football star was famously acquitted of the murders in 1995. But in Sunday night’s Fox special “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?,” he makes a pretty solid case for why he ought to be behind bars.
The story of the Brown Simpson and Goldman murders has been fairly well covered through the years, including the recent FX series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and ESPN’s doc “O.J.: Made in America.” But “The Lost Confession” digs deep into Simpson’s take on his tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife — and along the way, provides a stunning case for motive, something that a prosecution team could easily use if they were able to try him once again for murder.
“The one thing that concerns me, other than me being considered a murderer, is being considered a batterer,” Simpson says in the interview, which was conducted in 2006. “I wish some things I could have done differently.”
Simpson was interviewed back them by publisher and TV/film producer Judith Regan, whose HarperCollins imprint was set to publish Simpson’s “hypothetical” confessional book “If I Did It.” Simpson was set to earn $3.5 million for the book, and he explained then that was his motive in “confessing.”
“[I’ve spent] 10 years raising kids on my pension money,” he said. “This is not the NFL pension money. It barely paid my kids’ high school money. Part of it is financial. Part of it in reading back was almost cathartic for me. I really want to tell people what was going on in my relationship with Nicole leading to that night.”
The answer: It wasn’t good. He was accused of spousal abuse, while at the same time cheating on her with other women — and even years later, refuses to take responsibility for his actions. (He even accuses his late ex-wife of being “a very physical and confrontational person.)
Ultimately, outcry over Simpson being paid for the book led to Regan being fired by News Corp. The special was shelved, and the book later finally published by the Goldman family. Regan sued News Corp., and ultimately the two sides settled out of court.
But Regan is back, participating in a panel discussion about the interview that Fox and executive producer Terence Wrong have added to the original special. Also appearing on “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?”: Attorney Christopher Darden, who helped lead the prosecution team with Marcia Clark (and was later famously played by Sterling K. Brown in FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”). Nicole Brown Simpson friend Eve Shakti Chen, anti-domestic violence advocate Rita Smith, and retired FBI profiler Jim Clemente also appear on the two-hour special, which is hosted by Soledad O’Brien.
“Viewers will have to decide for themselves if what they’re hearing is a confession,” O’Brien told IndieWire. But nearly 25 years after the murders, she said the pain was still raw for some of the panelists.
“Watching Chris Darden watch this interview was like watching someone get punched in the stomach,” she said. “It was sometimes painful to watch. For the people on the panel, there’s no sense that we’re revisiting this. They live with this every day. To watch Eve Chen watch this and cry through much of what h was saying was really hard. I appreciated that she was willing to sit there and listen.”
The part of the 2006 interview where Simpson recounts what happened the night of the murders is the most difficult part of the special. Simpson appears to sometimes let his guard down and discuss what happened in the first person — until he catches himself and reverts back to a third person “hypothetical” account.
“I had never seen so much blood in my life,” he says. “I don’t think any two people have been murdered the way they were without everything being covered in blood.”
O’Brien noted that Simpson couldn’t help himself in the interview, and there are times “almost like a switch you can see how mad he is, or seething under the surface. It feels like what you’re getting is this real and raw person processing what’s going on in his head. He’s mad and going to make you understand his point of view.”
Here’s a preview of the special, in which Simpson attempts to explain the 911 call Brown Simpson once made, fearing for her safety as the star is heard screaming in the background: