CNN Showbiz

O.J. SImpson

Sponsors may be scarce for Simpson pay-per-view

October 5, 1995
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Sherri Sylvester

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Pay-per-view executives are trying to line up what could be the interview of the century. O.J. Simpson's handlers reportedly are interested in a format that would have him talking about his murder trial from the studio instead of the witness box. Some say the idea is indefensible.

A day after he was found not guilty, Simpson told Larry King's audience, "Pretty soon I'll have enough to say to everybody and hopefully answer everyone's questions."

O.J.'s estate

Those who want to hear his story may have to pay for it. As Simpson remains secluded in his Brentwood home, many agree a pay-per-view interview would be a one-of-a-kind event.

Eddie Kritzer, a producer who hopes to negotiate a pay-per- view deal with Simpson, says the audience for such a program would be tremendous. "It wouldn't even be close, there would be no comparison; the biggest pay-per-view ever in the history of pay-per-view would be O.J."

Mike Tyson

Bigger than Barbra Streisand's first concert in 20 years, bigger than Mike Tyson's first fight following his rape conviction, Simpson stands to make tens of millions of dollars for the event.

Pierce O'Donnell, an entertainment attorney, says the former football great would have considerable leverage. "There's no event without him and there are so many bidders that I believe he would be able to get an unprecedented high percentage of the take," O'Donnell says.

Kritzer says his company has made Simpson an offer "in the $20 million range against profits."

But finding a carrier for the interview may be difficult. Several pay-per-view companies say they would pass on such a venture, including HBO, Playboy and Request TV, the largest distributor of pay programming.

"You would really need to have a quick-fix cash inflow from such an event that's really exploiting the deaths of two people," says Hugh Panero, president and CEO of Request TV. "I mean, this wasn't an insurance fraud case that Mr. Simpson was involved in. It was basically a double-murder."

And with civil suits filed by the Goldman and Brown families pending, a Simpson interview may be limited.

According to O'Donnell, Simpson would be putting himself in the awkward position of talking about the case without saying anything that might affect the outcome of the suits. "What can he really say in a book and what can he really say in a pay-per-view that might be used against him?" O'Donnell asks.

Johnnie Cochran

Johnny Cochran insists that his client is ready to talk to viewers, 50 million of whom tuned in for the verdict.

"I think he wants to set the record straight," Cochran said Wednesday on "Larry King Live." "I think he wants people to be able to hear his side of it. I think he wants to say something to the black community also, that's been so very supportive of him." (94K AIFF sound or 94K WAV sound)

All agree that pay-per-view is Simpson's biggest chance for quick cash. News organizations do not traditionally pay for interviews. Many believe advertisers would not sponsor a commercial broadcast.

There is a way, however, to put a positive spin on a multi- million dollar television deal. "If Mr. Simpson wants to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the pay-per-view to the education and prevention of spousal abuse, maybe we'd consider something like that," says Panero.


Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.