Booking the O.J. case
O.J. Simpson appears in a Las Vegas, Nevada, courtroom for a bail hearing Wednesday.
When word spread Sunday evening of OJ Simpson's arrest, I knew that the demand for people to talk about him would be high. This creates a challenge for us, the "360" guest producers, as we are always trying to get that unique interview, the first interview, the exclusive. Immediately, our team began putting out calls to anyone who was quoted in newspapers and wires as well as the Goldman and Brown families.
I'm often asked, "How do you find your guests?" Well, here's a little insight into the life of a guest producer, also known as a booker. I keep every number of every guest I have booked in a file in my computer that is separated by subject and is alphabetical. So it's easy to call someone I've booked in the past, such as Denise Brown, as soon as a story like this breaks.
There is also a database within CNN that keeps a record of who was on TV in the past. It goes back 12 years. This has helped, but many of the previous players in the case have moved on and their contact info from 1995 is outdated. So that leads to a process of trying to find out where they live and work now, and thus I have become a master at Internet search.
We also receive numerous calls and emails from publicists touting their "OJ expert." While some of them have proved helpful, most of the "experts" know very little about the case outside of what has been reported.
We have been able to find some of the people involved in the previous cases, including someone Anderson interviewed Monday night: Daniel Petrocelli, Fred Goldman's attorney in the civil case against Simpson. Also, one of the best assets CNN has is our own Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote the NY Times bestseller "The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson." You'll see Jeff on the show tonight giving us his insights into today's arraignment.
(A note -- you may have heard Simpson's attorneys complaining today in Las Vegas that a number of attorneys have been falsely claiming they represent Mr. Simpson. They were especially upset that some news organizations -- including our competitors -- had put these attorneys on the air and allowed them to talk as "knowledgeable insiders" about the case, when in fact, they were not. A large part of our job is to "vet" our guests. We need to be sure people are really who they say they are. We have not aired any of these poseurs.)
Another thing we do is send a booker to the story, so our Deb Huberman is out in Las Vegas trying to make contact with the parties involved. In my experience, it's the face-to-face meetings that get the best results, so I'm sure by tonight's show, you'll see the fruit of Deb's work. And now I'm off to find Anderson's next great interview.
-- By Kay Jones, Editorial Producer