Scroll down for all the Fact v. Fiction for Episode 10, "The Verdict"
Even as it was unfolding two decades ago and it was obvious that never before had something gripped America's fascination quite like the O.J. Simpson murder trial, who could have possibly thought that watching it unfold all over again 20 years later would be so entertaining?
A coarse word, entertainment, considering the subject matter. But good lord, is American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson not downright captivating?!
Watching the series premiere last week felt strangely familiar, like watching the movie version of a book you know well—even though you may not have read any of the dozen books written about the case (such as O.J.'s own If I Did It or the series' source material, Jeffrey Toobin's The Run of His Life) or even tuned in in real time for any of the drama that unfolded between June 12, 1994, when Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were killed, and Oct. 3, 1995, when O.J. was found not guilty of their murders.
FX has touted the 10-episode anthology series as being the real account of what went down, including behind-the-scenes details that you've never heard before.
But it's also a TV show full of actors, including John Travolta devouring the scenery as defense attorney Robert Shapiro and Ross from Friends portraying Simpson confidante and attorney Robert Kardashian, so who's to know what really happened and what's been added to spice up (or streamline) the proceedings?
"This series is not a documentary," Toobin, who's a consultant on the series, has explained. "It is not a word-for-word recreation. But in terms of the essential truths of the events, in terms of the insights into the characters, it is brilliant and everyone will learn a lot and be entertained a lot."
That's for damn sure. But since you're watching a show based on a true-story-plus-embellishments, we're here to separate the facts from the flourishes. And don't worry about us stealing any thunder from the plot, because what's true is still truly unbelievable.
Episode 1: "From the Ashes of Tragedy"
After a montage depicting the L.A. riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating verdict gives context to the LAPD's tense relationship with the city's African-American community in the mid-1990s, the series starts off with O.J. being picked up by a limo at his Rockingham estate to go to the airport. He apologizes for being late. Cut to a neighbor, who's out walking his dog, finding Nicole and Ron's bodies in the front courtyard of her Brentwood condo after seeing Nicole's Akita and noticing its paws were covered in blood (in real life the discovery did involve the Akita, but the dog first followed the neighbor home, then led his neighbors to the scene).
The episode proceeds to chronicle how the LAPD identified O.J. as a suspect, the early role longtime O.J. pal Kardashian (David Schwimmer) played before he was asked to join the disgraced football hero's defense team and how Shapiro was hired (a TV executive called him, not Kardashian). We're introduced to Johnny Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), who wants nothing to do with the case (Cochran later denied calling the case "a loser" but it's in the book); prosecutor Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson), who's going through a divorce and is on hairstyle No. 1; frustrated assistant prosecutor Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown), who looks at Cochran as a mentor; infamous O.J. house guest Kato Kaelin (Billy Magnussen); and LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale), who spots blood inside and on the door of a white Bronco parked outside Simpson's home, as well as finds a black leather glove on the property that looks like one found near Ron Goldman's body.
Upon his return from Chicago, O.J. gives a rambling, disjointed account to police of his actions that night, including how he got a cut on his thumb. He later fails a lie-detector test, scoring a minus-24. "Shapiro calls it "the worst you can do." Kardashian reassures a defensive O.J., "This was just for us, it doesn't mean anything."
Nicole's friends Faye Resnick (Connie Britton) and Kris Jenner (Selma Blair) recall during her funeral how she was "terrified" of O.J. and had hidden away pictures documenting his past abuse in case something happened to her. The episode ends with O.J. fleeing Robert Kardashian's house in his white Bronco, being driven by Al Cowlings (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) as Clark laments that he's going to make them "look like morons."
Overall, the series seems poised to show how detectives and the D.A.'s office steadily put together what they thought was a slam-dunk case…and then watched it disintegrate before their eyes.
Hard to Believe: Hiding out at Kardashian's house (the show uses the late attorney's actual former home), O.J. handwrites a letter to his mother, a letter to his kids, a statement to his fans and a will before he's supposed to turn himself in to police. Kardashian finds O.J. in his study with a gun, and O.J. proceeds to walk up the stairs and into Kim Kardashian's childhood bedroom, complete with Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Joey Lawrence posters. "O.J., please do not kill yourself in Kimmy's bedroom," Kardashian pleads with him. That was surely put in for effect, a wink at Kim's present-day fame?
Fact or Fiction? FACT, for the most part. Robert recalled to Barbara Walters in 1996 confronting O.J., who was looking at pictures of his children and had a gun wrapped in a towel. "In the book it says you said to him,' You can't kill yourself, this is my daughter's room,'" Walters recalled a line from the 1996 book American Tragedy: The Uncensored Story of the Simpson Defense. "I said," Kardashian concurred, "'O.J., I could never walk in this room. My daughter couldn't sleep in this bed, she'd know what happened here.'"
Hard to Believe: While the forensics team is collecting evidence at Nicole's condo, the phone rings and daughter Sydney leaves a tearful message from the police station pleading with her mom to "please answer." Immediately we wondered who in the hell was letting 8-year-old Sydney Simpson call Nicole, knowing damn well what was going on?! Couldn't be real, right?
Fact or Fiction? FACT. While Toobin doesn't specify who first discovered Sydney's message, he wrote that she did leave a message on the home phone "at some point."
We Had Totally Blocked Out: The fact that Justin and Sydney Simpson were upstairs sleeping in the house when their mother was killed, and that a woman named Jill Shively had told police that a white Bronco had almost crashed into her car on the night of the murders and that the agitated driver was O.J. Simpson. A 2014 Dateline special revealed that Clark never put Shively on the stand because she was mad at her for selling her story to Hard Copy.
-Kardashian, who's being painted as the voice of reason, wasn't the one to tell O.J. he needed a more hardcore defense attorney and call Robert Shapiro, who's lunching at Mr. Chow when he gets the call in the show. In reality, TV exec Roger King stepped in and called Shapiro, who was actually at House of Blues.
-Marcia Clark had to cancel going to a bridal shower she was throwing, she didn't forget about a friend's baby shower. (It's far bitchier to forget about a baby shower, though.)
-There's video of young Kim and Kourtney Kardashian at Nicole's funeral in real life, but who's to say whether Kris had to scold Khloe and Kourtney for horsing around, telling them to put away the candy, as she does in the show? Hmmm…
Episode 2: "The Run of His Life"
The episode takes its name/football metaphor from the title of Toobin's aforementioned book and focuses entirely on the infamous white Bronco chase on June 17, 1994. Episode 1 left off with Kardashian and Shapiro realizing that O.J. was in the wind, just as LAPD officers arrived to take him into custody. While on the road, a couple of looky-loos in a VW van came face to face with Cowlings and excitedly pulled over to alert California Highway Patrol at a roadside phone (because their van wasn't equipped with the type of massive car phone that Al and O.J. used in the Bronco).
As the infamously low-speed chase went on, the series depicts how seemingly the entire country tuned in—partly because they had no choice, as even NBC opted to relegate the NBA Finals into a corner while Tom Brokaw covered the action on the majority of the screen (fact and fact).
Knowing because of Cowlings' call to 911 that O.J. was in a bad state of mind, the networks started putting together obituary packages for the football great, and ultimately one aired, having quickly been converted to a regular montage that noticeably resembled a eulogy. Ultimately Cowlings drove O.J. back to his Rockingham Avenue home in Brentwood ("We're goin' to Brentwood!" he authoritatively informs a detective beforehand) and the cops—aided by Kardashian, who along with O.J.'s eldest son, Jason, were the only two not evacuated from the house—got O.J. to leave his gun in the car and walk inside. (True, but he and Al didn't sit in the car till it turned dark. O.J. surrendered less than an hour upon their return.)
In what was concluded to be Simpson's travel bag, they found O.J.'s passport; a loaded .357 Smith & Wesson handgun registered to a cop friend of O.J.'s; and, in a plastic bag, a fake goatee, a fake mustache and makeup adhesive remover.
Extra Factual: The interweaving of real news footage and pop culture tidbits from the time, including the VW couple blasting the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" (brand new in 1994), Chris Darden's dad's insistence that they continue watching golf (Arnold Palmer's final U.S. Open), Brokaw anchoring the chase coverage for NBC and Bob Costas promising updates during the basketball game (before the game was shafted for the chase). More props for the scene of a pizza place running out of cheese due to all the orders from people glued to their TVs. Domino's would say that they received a Super Bowl-like number of orders that day.
Hard to Believe: Before they see what's happening on TV, Robert Kardashian tells O.J.'s family, who were assembled at the fugitive's house, that "we have reason to believe that he's killed himself...O.J.'s in a better place."
Fact or Fiction: FICTION, as far as anyone who wasn't in that house knows. It certainly seems wildly irresponsible for Kardashian to have said that, and then the chase comes on the TV and his daughter Arnelle (Ariel D. King) goes, "No, wait, look!"
Hard to Believe: While O.J. was purportedly trying to figure out the right place to end it all and the L.A. District Attorney's Office was doing its best to save face, Shapiro hashed a plan to excuse himself of any complicity in O.J.'s decision to run, he had Kardashian read O.J.'s suicide note—signed with a happy face punctuating the "O" in "O.J."—at their press conference.
Fact or Fiction: FACT, for all intents and purposes. The show shortens the note, which in reality was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, but Kardashian—wearing a similar suit and flowered tie as the one Schwimmer's Kardashian wears—really did read it, despite the fact that it sounded like the words of a guilty man.
Hard to Believe: That Cowlings drove O.J. to the Orange County cemetery where Nicole was laid to rest before the Bronco chase really got underway.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION. At least no one who's studied or had anything to do with the case has officially confirmed this took place.
Hard to Believe: That it got that intense in the Bronco, with O.J. really holding a gun to his head and wailing and raving during a series of phone calls, including one to Kardashian, to whom he mentions a number of people—including fellow USC turned NFL star Marcus Allen—to say goodbye to. He ended up talking to Det. Tom Lange about surrendering, saying of his gun, "It's not for you...it's for me. I gotta be with Nicole, that's all I'm trying to do."
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Though it's unclear what exactly Kardashian said to O.J., he later indicated to Barbara Walters that they spoke during the chase. "By taking him around the house, I know I saved his life," the attorney said about talking O.J. out of harming himself at Kardashian's home. "I also think I did in the Bronco, as well as A.C. [Cowlings]. A.C. definitely saved his life."
Bonus Fact: O.J. did mention Allen in his real-life suicide note, the one Kardashian read on TV. Toobin points out how odd that was considering Allen had an on-and-off affair with Nicole. O.J. at least forgave Allen, because the football star later got married at O.J.'s Rockingham estate.
Another Bonus Fact: They didn't even show how weird it got in that car! Bob Costas recently revealed that Simpson tried to call him during the chase—at home and his usual studio, but he was at Madison Square Garden for game 5 of Rockets vs. Knicks.
Hard to Believe: When Kardashian appears on TV to read the suicide note, young Kim, Khloe, Kourtney and Rob get so excited watching him at home that they start cheering, obviously not paying attention to what he's reading.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION. You know, as far as anyone knows. We're assuming the idea to have the future reality-TV stars chanting "Kar-dash-i-an! Kar-dash-i-an!" when their dad concludes his somber appearance was just too wickedly delicious for the show's creative team to pass up.
We Had Totally Blocked Out: That the white Bronco of the chase wasn't the Bronco police found blood on. As it's mentioned in the show, Al Cowlings purposely bought the same car as his friend and idol.
-To get the point across, District Attorney Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) calls June 17 the worst day of his life. "It's worse than the day I was diagnosed with cancer." In reality he didn't make such a pronouncement, but the series wants to paint a more detailed picture of Garcetti, who is a cancer survivor. His rueful, "I thought I was gonna run for mayor" comment is a wink at the fact that his son, Eric Garcetti, is currently mayor of Los Angeles.
-Same goes for the conversation Chris Darden has with his neighbor about football great turned actor Jim Brown's contributions to the black community vs. O.J.'s reluctance to use his celebrity to advance any social causes. Toobin's book juxtaposes the two, so this is the show's way of including that point.
-Marcia Clark was a smoker, but Sarah Paulson smoking cigarettes in the office at every turn is just for effect. In reality, the California Indoor Clean Air Act of 1976 would have precluded her from doing that. Or at least it should have.
Episode 3: "The Dream Team"
After a whole lot of O.J. last week, last night brought us a whole lot of lawyers—including, for the first time, murder trial veteran F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane), Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz (Evan Handler) and DNA expert Barry Scheck (that hair, Rob Morrow!). This episode established just how cocky the prosecution was ("It was premeditated murder," Marcia Clark announces at a televised press conference, supposedly overheard by O.J. in his jail cell) and how the defense's initial plan was to bury the other side in motions (there would be 393 before all was said and done) and object to everything—before they decided that the only tenable strategy was to make it all about race. Racist cop Mark Fuhrman planted evidence, one more example of the LAPD's appalling pattern of mistreatment of African-Americans, Robert Shapiro concluded for the sake of argument. O.J. is initially resistant to the idea of bringing on activist attorney Johnnie Cochran, but Shapiro convinces him it's a winning move.
Shapiro explains to Cochran that he, Bob Shapiro, will remain head counsel for O.J. (news outlets reported on Shapiro insisting as much at the time), but Cochran willingly comes on board, so long as he believes Simpson isn't guilty. He visits O.J. in jail, and the disgraced athlete tearfully tells him, "I loved Nicole more than you can possibly imagine. She was the mother of my children. I didn't do it, Johnnie...I couldn't have done it, I swear. There's no way I could've killed her."
Meanwhile, assistant prosecutor Christopher Darden, who playfully calls Clark "Big Time," hasn't yet joined the O.J. case but he's the first to alert Clark to the fact that "a lot of black people think he didn't do it." And she seems truly stunned.
"Cochran!...Motherf--ker," the episode concludes with Clark's epithet when she sees the front-page news that he has joined O.J.'s "Dream Team."
Hard to Believe: Before guilelessly telling the lawyers assembled in Shapiro's office, "Excuse me, he's never going to stop being the Juice," Robert Kardashian takes his son and daughters to lunch on Father's Day and they don't have to wait in the packed Beverly Hills restaurant Chin-Chin because the hostess recognizes him (or "Richard Kordovian," anyway) from TV. The kids mercilessly grill him about what he's famous for and point out how "Mom and Bruce" are really famous. A Full House-worthy moment ensues when Kardashian earnestly explains, "Look, you know your grandparents. You know me and what I try to pass on to you. We are Kardashians. And in this family, being a good person and a loyal friend is more important than...than being famous. Fame is fleeting. It's hollow. It means nothing at all without a virtuous heart."
Fact or Fiction: FICTION. The trial portion of the series would be sorely lacking in Kardashian—who's obviously being set up for one of the ruder awakenings this series will have to offer—if it proceeded using only facts. "It was a fictionalized moment by the writers, but it was important for them and for us to show what was happening to Robert," David Schwimmer explained to E! News at the Television Critics' Association Winter Press Tour. "The goal is to humanize all these characters, and for my character, part of that journey was being on camera for the first time in his life. He was a very modest, private person. Not a public person. So, his relationship to celebrity was something we thought, 'Well, that has to be explored."
Make that a blood relationship. So chalk this up to the chance for another moment of wink-wink foreshadowing of what would be the family's unfathomable-at-the-time level of fame. (Whether Kris Jenner lashing out at her ex-husband for "abandoning Nicole" in favor of her killer when Kardashian arrives at her house to pick up the kids is also questionable.)
For the Time Capsule: Kardashian concludes his impromptu speech as Michael Bolton's "Said I Loved You...but I Lied" swells in the background.
Hard to Believe: In episode 3, O.J. finally makes the comment that's been leading all the promos, telling Robert Shapiro, "I'm not black, I'm O.J." What sort of canned comment is that, anyway?
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Or, at least, it is something O.J. really said. There's no word on how often he repeated that opinion of himself, but it's what he told The New York Times' Robert Lipsyte in 1968.
We Had Totally Blocked Out: Time really did use a filter on its "American Tragedy" cover with O.J.'s mug shot that made his face look darker. The magazine defended the decision, with managing editor Jim Gaines explaining that "the harshness of the mug shot...had been subtly smoothed and shaped into an icon of tragedy." But critics saw a racist move, with NAACP Director Benjamin Chavis Jr. saying at the time, "The way he's pictured, it' like he's some kind of animal." Jesse Jackson, on CNN, attributed the cover to "institutional racism."
Artistic License: "Pretty crazy, huh? They made him blacker," a newsstand owner points out to Chris Darden, who continues to be the only one in the D.A.'s Office who's aware that some people in L.A. are supportive of O.J.
We Had Also Tried to Block Out: The recording of Nicole's Oct. 25, 1993, call to 911 in which she frantically told the dispatcher, "He's going to beat the s--t out of me," was indeed blasted out by the media for all to hear after O.J. was arrested for her murder. (Some things are truly unforgettable.)
For the Time Capsule: After the 911 call is released, an astonished Clark cracks, "Should I invite Bernard Shaw over to rifle through my files?," namedropping the most famous anchor on CNN (which would become Malaysian-plane-style addicted to the O.J. trial) at the time.
• In the show, The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin (Chris Conner) shows up unexpectedly at Shapiro's office while on assignment for another story and Shapiro uses the opportunity to instead lay out O.J.'s race-based defense. In reality, Shapiro did do just that when Toobin showed up uninvited but, per Toobin's own account, the journalist was there to inquire further about information he had already dug up on past racist comments made by Fuhrman. (Going on a comment from Dershowitz about a cop on the case being a liar, Toobin had trekked down to the L.A. Superior Court records room and found a civil case file that contained the damning statements.) Toobin's book doesn't suggest that Shapiro masterminded the whole encounter in a split second; rather, Toobin opened with, "I had a very interesting morning looking at Mark Fuhrman's employment records."
• In real life, before the famous New Yorker article ("An Incendiary Defense" in the July 25, 1994 issue—newsstand price $2.50) that resulted from his convo with Shapiro went to press, Toobin called Fuhrman up for comment on the accusation that he had planted evidence. "That's a ridiculous question," the detective responds at first, before ultimately saying, "Of course if didn't happen." In the show, Darden tells Clark that a New Yorker reporter called their office to inquire about Fuhrman's possibly racist conduct and that he stalled him.
• Really, the show should spend more time with Toobin. From the files of "Too Good to Be True," Naked Gun 33 1/3 was the in-flight movie on his trip back to New York.
Episode 4: "Absolutely 100 Percent Not Guilty"
Fact, O.J. infamously said that when was re-arraigned before his case went to trial. However, it was not Judge Lance Ito who procured that memorable response. Rather, the show is consolidating the sprawling saga for time, so Ito—who presided over the murder trial, but not the preliminary hearing—has been introduced already. (Similar idea with the battle over the hair sample, which really was a battle—the question of whether the prosecution could take more than 10 hairs from O.J.'s head for DNA testing actually got its own hearing in real life. And while Cochran was there for the memorable plea, he didn't join the Dream Team till July 18, close to two weeks after the preliminary hearing had concluded.)
But at no time after any of Simpson's pleas did "Mama Said Knock You Out" come pulsing from the speakers, nor did O.J. and Johnnie immediately exchange thumbs-up.
This week was all about the process of getting ready for trial, as Johnnie Cochran usurped Bob Shapiro as head of the Dream Team; Chris Darden joined the prosecution (the "we've got a black lawyer too" stare-down between Marcia Clark and Cochran while Above the Law's "Black Superman" plays is priceless, and O.J. wonders aloud, "When did they get a black guy?"); and jury selection got underway—and would proceed to last for two months.
Also, Nicole's so-called BFF Faye Resnick (Connie Britton) negotiated herself a book deal (FACT, Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted, co-written with the National Enquirer's Mike Walker, really did top the New York Times best-seller list when it came out). The 44 minutes were such a blur of power plays, one-upmanship and scheming, we...well, we can't wait for next week.
Repeated Fiction? Robert Kardashian later told the L.A. Times that he and O.J. couldn't have any physical contact when he would visit. "I want to hug him, I want to show him that I care. It's very difficult," he said. So, all the encouraging hugs and pats on the back, et al., have been added for effect.
Hard to Believe: In flashback, O.J. remembers him and Robert Kardashian partying at a nightclub, surrounded by party girls, the booze flowing, drugs and a lavish seafood buffet (shrimp on ice = luxury) nearby.
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Whether or not the coke was just there for effect, Simpson and Kardashian most certainly were jet-setting party pals. O.J. was there when Robert met Kris as a young flight attendant, and Robert was there when O.J. met Nicole, an 18-year-old club waitress.
Hard to Believe: Cochran tells O.J. a story in prison about how one of the former football great's memorable runs on the field snapped him out of a funk after his first marriage ended. "It became as if you were running for me, driving up that field, crowded with adversity and obstacles...This right here, O.J. Simpson, is the run of your life."
Fact or Fiction: Well, Toobin's book upon which the series is based is called The Run of His Life, so there's that connection. Otherwise, whether Cochran ever actually told his client this spirit-building story is unknown. It seems unlikely that an attorney who wrote in his memoir, A Lawyer's Life, "The clients I've cared about most are the 'No-Js,' the ones who nobody knows," was that inspired by a football play.
Hard to Believe: F. Lee Bailey insists to Cochran that he must take over the defense from Shapiro. "You and I are creatures of the courtroom," the Boston-based defense attorney purrs. "The parries and jabs, the turns of phrase...that's where the case is won. Not by settling like a pussy...We owe it to our client to take it to the finish line." In a most cringe-worthy scene, Shapiro later encourages O.J. to plead to manslaughter just as the other lawyers are giving him a pep talk.
Fact or Fiction: Depends on who you ask. In real life, Bailey told CNN in 1995, a few days after the verdict, that Shapiro had indeed tried to get Simpson to plead to manslaughter—and moreover, that Shapiro wanted Kardashian to plead guilty to accessory after the fact for hiding evidence. Shapiro told CNN he "never talked at any time with anybody about a plea bargain." He also in real life denied wanting anything to do with playing the race card.
Hard to Believe: Cochran brilliantly hijacks a front page headline from Shapiro when, while Shapiro is giving a press conference in the lobby of the courthouse, Cochran gives an impromptu one while he's getting a shoe shine and steals all the thunder.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION—although maybe the journalists didn't know what was up yet. The Los Angeles Times article from Oct. 28, 1994, "Prosecutors Targeting Black Jurors, Simpson Team Says," doesn't mention the shoe shine and it also refers to the defense's two-pronged commentary appearing "carefully choreographed." But the Dream Team was headed for a schism whether Shapiro was outraged by the front page story or not.
Hard to Believe: After a jury of nine black people, two whites and one Hispanic person is seated, O.J. leans over to Cochran and whispers, "If these people convict me, maybe I did do it."
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Vanity Fair's Dominick Dunne, who covered the trial for the magazine, wrote in the December 1995 issue, "Months and months ago, I was told in a private conversation that after the jury had been picked O. J. Simpson said to Johnnie Cochran, 'If this jury convicts me, maybe I did kill Nicole in a blackout.'" So, a little more flippant for TV, but basically the same arrogant sentiment.
• On the show, murder victim Ron Goldman's father, Fred (Joseph Siravo), and sister, Kim (Jessica Blair Herman), go to see Clark in her office, and an outraged Fred tearfully laments how his son has become "a footnote to his own murder." But while Fred Goldman's feelings about the case are well-documented, this particular exchange was TV-only in order to remind us just how much short shrift the man murdered alongside Nicole was getting in the media. "There's a great line that they gave to Fred Goldman's character when he says, 'My son's murder is a footnote,'" the real Clark said on The View earlier this month. "I just paraphrased it badly. Watch it and you'll see what I mean. It's a heart-wrenching scene."
• After conducting a focus group, the prosecution's jury consultant, Donald Vinson, informs Marcia Clark, "Black women don't like you." She fires back, "That's idiotic!...I have a rapport with them...your data is horses--t." He adds, "You might also consider softening your appearance-skirts instead of business suits, a new hairdo, try smiling a bit more."
In reality, Clark's appearance was raked over the coals and those polled about the case in focus groups didn't much care for her. But Clark has recently said that, while she put up a confident front, that wasn't entirely reflective of how they felt about the case. "The focus groups were, I hate to say, a godsend, but they were very helpful because when the defense came out with the story of [Fuhrman] planting the glove and calling Mark Fuhrman a racist cop, I knew it was big trouble right there," she told Vulture recently. (Meanwhile, the defense team didn't do it alone—they too had a jury consultant, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius.)
Episode 5: "The Race Card"
The race card, indeed. If last week's episode indicated just how much the racial overtones would factor into this re-telling of the O.J. trial saga, last night's installment drove the point home. Flashback to 1982, Johnnie Cochran being pulled over by cops while driving his Mercedes in an upscale (aka predominantly white) neighborhood. The patrol officer, who's a real creep, even handcuffs him in front of his kids before running Cochran's license and realizing he's the assistant district attorney. Flash-forward to Cochran telling reporters that it's "obvious" Chris Darden was added to the prosecution's team because he's black. Darden looks physically ill (repeatedly and effectively, in this episode, as his credibility is questioned) while watching.
The scene switches back and forth between the prosecution laying out its trial strategy and the defense doing the same, Marcia Clark still convinced that no jury could possibly doubt the forensic evidence or the implications of O.J.'s abusive history with Nicole, and the Dream Team preparing to battle them on every point. Meanwhile, Darden warns Clark twice about putting Det. Mark Fuhrman on the stand, insisting "the guy's not right." Clark is almost unbelievably obtuse about his point, firing back, "I'm not asking you to date him," just prepare him for trial.
Darden's preemptive motion to have Judge Ito prohibit the defense from bringing up Furhman's alleged use of the N-word in court because it would unfairly influence the jury—and Cochran's impassioned rebuttal of Darden's plea—is almost unbearable to watch. And when he's finished, Cochran turns to Darden and mutters under his breath, "N---er, please."
A media circus greets both sides on the first day of the trial and opening statements begin. Cochran mentions some names that Shapiro's team had forgotten to include in discovery, and as ADA Bill Hodgman (Christian Clemenson) is vehemently protesting, he collapses with chest pains, never to rejoin the trial.
Clark calls Darden in the middle of the night to tell him he's been promoted to co-prosecutor. "I can't believe you did this for me," he says. "We did it for the Browns and Goldmans," she replies. "Now it's on us."
Later Cochran visits O.J.'s Rockingham estate before the jury is due to tour the premises and, looking at all the pictures and memorabilia, he says to himself, "This won't do at all." Flash to associate Carl Douglas (Dale Godboldo) and others adding more suitable decor. "I like me some blackness," Cochran observed as they hung some African art ("on loan from the Cochran collection") and a portrait of O.J. and his mother on the walls.
"People love my house! It was in Sunset magazine!" Simpson protests when Cochran visits him in jail to give him a heads-up about the decor and to explain why it was important to their case.
But first the jury is taken to the Bundy Drive crime scene, and Nicole's house is empty—a stark contrast to the family-friendly scene they're about to see at O.J.'s. "This doesn't tell them anything," a stunned Clark laments to Darden. "She was a mother. There was a family." (In Episode 4, the jury expert relayed that potential jurors had an unfavorable impression of Nicole: True story.)
When they get to Rockingham, the jury is visibly impressed, with one male juror even getting all excited about seeing O.J.'s Heisman Trophy up close. "Can you believe this?" Clark asks Darden. "I can't believe any of this," he agrees. (In real life, they tried ahead of time to get Ito rule that the jurors couldn't go into Simpson's trophy room, but he allowed it. He did agree that the life-size O.J. statue could be moved into the garage, but it's still there in the yard in the show.)
"These ain't even my kids," O.J. tells Robert Kardashian, shaking his head as he looks at the photos Cochran brought in. "I don't know who these people are."
Out in the yard, Simpson yells at Darden to get up off of his bench and Darden tells Cochran, "You need to keep your defendant under control." Cochran uses the opportunity to lean in and advise Darden, "Whatever happens, don't do Fuhrman. Make the white people do him." (As in, don't be the one to question him on the stand.)
So Darden is then pre-questioning Fuhrman, asking him about sports heroes (George Foreman and Magic Johnson), hobbies (he collects World War II medals, an ominous sign) and his track record on racial relations.
Still unsatisfied, Darden tells Clark he refuses to be the one, so Clark says, fine, she'll do it. "What's so difficult? Just a cop on a stand." Famous last words, because sure enough, the scene fades to a nighttime aerial shot of L.A., a military march kicks up and...
There's Fuhrman, looking at his medals. Including the one with the swastika on it. And scene.
Hard to Believe: After the cop rode off with his tail between his legs, one of Cochran's daughters asks him, "Daddy, did he call you a n---er?" "No, he didn't have to," he replied, "and don't you girls ever use that word, ever. It's a terrible word."
Fact or Fiction: Well, the content of what Cochran said is obviously a FACT. The affecting question asked by his daughter, however, was per all available research added for shocking effect—and to set the tone for what's to come—but otherwise part of a very ripped-from-reality scene of the successful attorney being pulled over for no apparent reason other than his race. He was driving a Rolls Royce in real life—and the real reported anecdote, from 1979 rather than 1982, sounds even worse.
Hard to Believe: Cochran's aside to Darden.
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Jeffrey Toobin recounts Cochran leaning over and whispering exactly that after obliterating Darden's impassioned argument. Discussing the trial with Time magazine in 2001, Cochran recalled being "disappointed" by Darden's request to have the N-word stricken from the courtroom. "My first reaction was to say to Darden, 'N---er, please...'" he said. "I was so furious with him. I felt it was an insult to all black people."
Hard to Believe: Was the defense really just able to redecorate O.J.'s place? Didn't the house's current state count as evidence or something?
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Truth is always more mind-boggling than fiction, right? The real Carl Douglas told Dateline in 2014, "We wanted to make the location look lived in and stand with all of its regalness, so that the jurors would say, O.J. Simpson would not have risked all of this for this woman." He insisted, "This is not tampering with evidence... I'm trying to get the optimum advantage to win. They play hard ball in the big leagues. This was the big leagues."
To further hammer home the show's most incendiary point and introduce more characters (and their raison d'êtres), Episode 5 made a lot of changes as to who exactly said what to whom and when.
• Judge Ito did indeed proudly show a journalist a signed photo he had received from Arsenio Hall—but he showed it to The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin. The scene with Dominick Dunne (Mad Men's Robert Morse)—who did tirelessly chronicle the trial for Vanity Fair, seated every day next to the Goldmans—was substituted in to shed light on Dunne's background. His daughter, Dominique, was strangled by her ex-boyfriend, and the jury passed on second-degree murder and convicted him of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
• It was Darden who gave the gripping portion of the opening statement (given by Clark on the show) in which the jury is told that they thought they knew O.J. "But what we've been seeing is a public face—the athlete, the actor. But like many public men, he also has a private side. The O.J. Simpson you've never met. The face of a batterer. The abuser. The murderer." All Darden.
• Hodgman didn't actually collapse during court, but he was hospitalized later that night with chest pains after falling ill during a trial strategy meeting. The Los Angeles Times reported on Jan. 26, 1995: "Prosecutors had considered asking for a delay before Hodgman fell ill because of the late addition of several people to the defense's witness list. That move left some members of the prosecution team, including Hodgman, visibly angry as they left court Wednesday."
• While O.J. was in a suit and tie and left unshackled, uncuffed and otherwise visibly unencumbered by any security restraints on the day the jury visited his house and the crime scene, he did not go into Nicole's condo—which was indeed emptied of all furniture and mementos—as he does, along with Cochran, in the show. The New York Times reported on Feb. 13, 1995, that Simpson remained in an unmarked police car around the corner.
• In September 1995, about a month before the verdict was handed down, the L.A. Times reported that the defense had received word from a deputy D.A. that Fuhrman had been accused of painting swastikas on the locker of a colleague who had married a Jewish woman and that there were allegations he went out on weekends wearing Nazi paraphernalia. A prosecution source told the Times this was "really just gossip." CNN reported that in March of 1995 Ito allowed the defense to see some internal reports containing certain allegations against Fuhrman, but not papers concerning allegations he kept Nazi memorabilia at his desk. Obviously it makes for excellent TV to portray Fuhrman as being in definite possession of a Nazi medal carefully preserved under glass that he's so carefully wiping the smudges off of.
Episode 6, "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia"
We open with the frustrations Marcia Clark is facing behind the scenes, specifically a custody battle with her ex-husband, who wants more time with their two kids and is claiming she's working too much to deserve as much time as she's getting. And then there's the widespread criticism about her appearance, with one pundit calling her "frump incarnate. D.A. Gil Garcetti says screw it...and perhaps he can hook her up with "a couple of terrific media consultants." Ultimately both her ex and Johnnie Cochran try to use her working-mother status against her, as Cochran makes snarky asides about childcare issues in court and the ex-husband goes on TV and blabs that, on the night she planned on getting home on time after refusing to stay in court later, she actually asked him to watch the kids. It was a last-minute decision to work late, and the double standard is so unfair.
Meanwhile, the trial heats up as Denise Brown (Jordana Brewster), Nicole's sister, testifies, and then Johnnie Cochran turns pleasant chit-chat with Detective Tom Lange against him on the stand. The prosecution scores a point, however, when Rosa Lopez, a Simpson neighbor's maid and a star defense witness who was supposed to testify that she saw the white Bronco parked outside O.J.'s house at 10:15 p.m. (when the killings were said to be taking place) ends up begging ignorance on the stand. She also says she would say whatever "Mr. Johnnie" told her to say.
An L.A. Times reporter questions Cochran outside the courthouse about his own history with domestic violence, after which he calls his ex-wife and offers her a windfall to stay silent.
Flash to Clark caving to pressure (she objects to that characterization in real life) and goes in for a haircut, something "softer." As Chris Darden is confronting a reporter from the Los Angeles Sentinel, an African-American-owned weekly, about coverage he perceives to be favoring the black lawyer sitting at the defendant's table, Clark comes into the courthouse with her new shorter 'do. Seal's mega-hit "Kiss From a Rose" plays in the background.
Buoyed with newfound confidence for a moment, her face crumples when Judge Ito snidely says, "Good morning, Miss Clark—I think," and the critical stares only grow colder. Darden saves the day by scribbling "It's fantastic! I love it!" on a yellow legal pad (if only that were a real thing), but she can still barely hold back tears.
The tabloids persist in ripping her to shreds, and now the literal "nobody loves me" background music is "Sour Times" by Portishead.
The music also persists as Mark Fuhrman heads to the stand, Darden still warning Clark in this episode that putting him on the stand could go horribly awry for them. Day one goes OK, with Fuhrman describing the crime scene at Bundy and how he and his fellow detectives went to Rockingham to inform O.J. of what happened and then, after Fuhrman saw blood on the Bronco, wondered at first if Simpson "might also be in danger."
Flash to Cochran, Carl Douglas, Shawn Chapman and F. Lee Bailey having drinks, where Bailey majestically informs the rest of them that he's going to ask Fuhrman, point-blank on the stand, whether he ever uses the N-word. "It's the most powerful word in the English language and I'm going to impale him on it."
Sure enough, the next day, Bailey at first accuses the detective of planting the glove at Rockingham then asks, point-blank, "In describing people, Mr. Fuhrman, do you use the word n---er?" Fuhrman says no and denies having used that word to describe a person at any time during the past 10 years.
Clark returns to the D.A.'s Office during lunch and is confronted with the latest National Enquirer, which has run old topless photos of her taken during a vacation with her first husband.
Hard to Believe: Were things really that flirtatious between Chris Darden and Marcia Clark, or so playful that they really ended up drinking and dancing—in this case to the Isley Brothers—in the office during late nights at work?
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Clark would later call rumors that they hooked up behind the scenes "ridiculous"; however, Darden wrote in his 1996 book In Contempt: "We sat up listening to hip-hop and R&B. We danced a few times and drank a few bottles of wine. In my mind, that is a relationship."
Hard to Believe: Clark's ex-husband, Gordon, was a made-for-TV villain.
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Or, at least, it could easily be framed that way. Wanting to make sure his kids had the best care possible is perfectly admirable, but he really did sue Clark for primary custody mid-trial and talked to the press. Cochran also really did make light of Clark's childcare emergencies in court, and she really did take him to task, saying, per the L.A. Times in March 1995, "I am offended as a woman, as a single parent, as a prosecutor and as an officer of the court." In a recent interview with New York magazine, Clark called this episode "very f--king brave."
Hard to Believe: After seeing the tabloid pics, Clark returns to court and tears up, prompting Ito to adjourn for the day. Afterward, Darden sees her crying at the office and sits down beside her. "And if it helps in any way, you do look mighty good in that picture," he assures her, prompting a laugh.
Fact or Fiction: FACT. That's almost exactly how Darden remembered himself cheering Clark up when talking to People in April 1996.
• Cochran did turn Detective Tom Lange's Simi Valley address into a big deal on the stand, implying that no Simpson evidence could have entered the vicinity where the cops who beat Rodney King were acquitted and make it out untainted. But it wasn't the attorney who cozied up to Lange beforehand, pretending to be friendly. Cochran got the Simi Valley type from Bill Pavelic, an ex-LAPD officer working as an investigator for the defense.
• About the onscreen retelling of the increasingly close relationship between the co-prosecutors, Sterling K. Brown, who plays Darden, recently told Variety, "It's hard to develop chemistry when you don't have a relationship to base that on. It's so interesting the way the show developed. It also gives room for the growing relationship between Chris and Marcia."
Episode 7: "The Conspiracy Theories"
If this were a Friends episode, it'd be called "The One With the Gloves." But first... The defendants' strategy—to propose an alternative theory, no matter how out there, at every turn—is being used in full force, such as when Johnnie Cochran brings up the possibility that a Colombian drug gang was behind the murders because Nicole Brown had used cocaine. (The real Alan Dershowitz really did fax messages directly to the courtroom in L.A. while going about his business teaching at Harvard Law!)
Meanwhile, Cochran blames Shapiro, suspecting a set-up, when his ex-wife and ex-mistress appear on A Current Affair together to talk about the double life he used to lead when he was acting the family man with both of them. (As Cochran's current wife points out later, his issues with his ex-wife, Barbara, are public record—no one needed to go to great lengths to dig up his dirty laundry.)
More pointedly, the relationship between Marcia Clark (who shows up with hairdo No. 3, her short locks straightened) and Chris Darden deepens but then sours—here because she's annoyed at him for not making a move and no one just says what he or she is thinking or feeling, dang it!)—just in time for her to adamantly forbid him from asking O.J. Simpson to try on the gloves found at the crime scene and at Rockingham.
When their investigators determine that the gloves in question were purchased by Nicole Brown at Bloomingdales, Clark confidently declared, "This is cold, hard proof. The gloves are our conviction." But she forgot to knock wood...
The episode ends with a defeated-sounding Darden assuring the Goldmans that they would "come back from this" after he, against all better judgment, had Simpson try on the gloves and—as many people remember—the defendant struggled to slip them on and then defiantly tried to flex his fingers, insisting they didn't fit.
Hard to Believe: While it was indeed Darden who presided over the prosecution's glove debacle in court, was it really Robert Shapiro who had the brilliant idea (for the defense) to have O.J. try on the gloves after idly fiddling with them in court and realizing they'd never fit the football hero—and did F. Lee Bailey really goad Darden into the infamous blunder, with Cochran sealing his fate with a patronizing sidebar?
Fact or Fiction: FACT, though the Shapiro heroics may have been beefed up to give him a redemption moment amid all the scripted buffoonery. (Toobin wrote that most of the defense lawyers were trying on and "goofing around" with the gloves and both Cochran and Shapiro noticed that the extra-large gloves looked a little small.) And while the defense team memorably seized the moment and never let go, prosecutors and legal experts in real life thought the gloves didn't look that small on Simpson. Moreover, the former Isotoner exec who was actually on the stand at the time testified, "At one point in time, those gloves would actually be, I think, large on Mr. Simpson's hands," and he attributed the snug fit to the latex gloves the defendant was wearing underneath.
Cochran recalled during a joint appearance with Darden on Larry King Live in 2000, "Well, I think Bailey tried to force it. He tried to goad Chris into that, and I think that Chris probably also knew that we would—we were going to try it on if he didn't do it." Sterling K. Brown, who plays Darden, told Vulture about shooting the glove plot: "The way we set up the narrative in our story may not be exactly the way it happened in real life, but I think we set it up in a very interesting way."
Darden has been portrayed as both less and more inept in real life: Toobin wrote that he attempted to have Simpson put the gloves on without the jury present, but Judge Ito "was momentarily distracted," let the jury in anyway and Darden was too embarrassed by his lack of preparation before presiding over the glove testimony to do anything about it.
Hard to Believe: Clark talks about needing a vacation and Darden invites her to go to Oakland with him for a friend's birthday party—and the birthday boy is among those who figures the cops framed O.J. Aside from that though...wouldn't the media have been all over the co-prosecutors for taking a weekend trip together? Just the two of them?!
Fact or Fiction: FACT, though that's not to say the whole screw-you-for-not-hitting-on-me moment and its aftermath went down just like that. Show writer Scott Alexander told Indiewire, "I think we walked up to the line, but we did not disrespect what either of them said in either of their books [about their relationship—which they've both insisted was platonic albeit very close]. Both Marcia and Chris are a bit coy about it. They both talk about a trip up to the Bay Area they made together. But we did not put in anything that neither of them has ever acknowledged."
Brown also told Glamour, "I think one of the largest things [the writers] had to interpret was the nature of the relationship between Chris and Marcia. There are all sorts of rumors of whether it went beyond friendship. It was never confirmed or denied, but they will let you know that they loved each other dearly and would not have been able to make it through that process without each other. So we have our own interpretation of those events."
Hard to Believe: Robert Kardashian, who was unofficially accused of hiding evidence after he was seen picking up O.J.'s Louis Vuitton garment bag at Rockingham and taking it back to his house, is starting to have his doubts. So along with Al Cowlings, he opens the previously untouched bag at his house—and finds nothing incriminating.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION. Though it's hard to believe, Kardashian forever maintained that he never opened the bag himself, and that police found it at his house around the time O.J. was arrested but didn't take it away. "It meant nothing at that point," Kardashian told Barbara Walters on 20/20 in 1996. "Nothing about the bag came out until after he was arrested. And the bag was sitting, lying open in Mr. Simpson's bedroom in my home. The police were here, searched his room and the bag was lying open, just the way it was when he left." The bag, empty, was introduced as evidence at the trial in March 1995. "The police could have taken it an at any time," Kardashian also said in the 20/20 interview. "They never sought to do so. In fact when we turned it in to the court nine months later, they still never did any tests to see if there was blood. I don't believe they really wanted to know the answer. I think it was better to leave speculation and to let the public think there was something sinister about these bags!"
Episode 8: "A Jury in Jail"
Now we get to see the toll that eight months away from media, family and freedom took on the 12 people selected to sit on the O.J. jury, as well as the 12 alternates who were also given two days to pack their bags, get their affairs in order and report for duty in January 1995. Told early on they'd be sequestered for two months, we see them on Day 124 of their stay at L.A.'s Inter-Continental Hotel, getting hostile and fighting over everything, including what to watch during their communal TV sessions. One person asks "What is a 'Seinfeld?' on a night when all the white jurors vote for watching the famous NBC sitcom about nothing and all the black jurors want to watch the hit Fox comedy Martin.
As a number of the jurors are dismissed from the trial for various reasons—one was seen in a photograph happily shaking hands with the defendant; another "forgot" to mention he'd once been arrested for kidnapping his ex; while still another woman shared an arthritis doctor with O.J.—the prosecution and the defense hold their breaths over the decrease and increase in black and white jurors as the originals go out and the alternates come in. Ultimately, Simpson was judged by a jury of nine African-Americans, one Hispanic and two white people.
The show's fabulously unsubtle soundtrack features Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" throughout the sequence.
Back in court, criminalist Dennis Fung takes the stand to testify about Simpson's DNA being found in the blood at the scene of the murders (a number of witnesses testified about DNA and the 1-in-170-million odds that blood on the path at Bundy was anyone other than the defendant's, as well as other seemingly impossible-to-argue-against statistics), and Clarke still sounds confident that the forensics are her ace in the hole. However, DNA expert Barry Scheck is on cross for the defense (welcome back, Rob Morrow) and he paints a picture of a tainted crime scene in which evidence was at least handled sloppily—if not downright planted.
O.J., meanwhile, insists he be allowed to testify, but the entire defense team—minus Bailey (true story)—consider that to be a terrible idea by varying degrees, ranging from Shapiro's "unmitigated disaster" to Cochran's "interesting idea." So they do a test run that proves Shapiro right.
Robert Kardashian continues to be the only one close to O.J. who seems troubled by the overwhelming evidence against the star, and he asks O.J. in jail how all that blood got in the Bronco, because the jurors want to know. "And this is them asking?" O.J. asks his friend skeptically. "Yeah," Kardashian answers uncomfortably. "This is them asking."
But it's going to be blood, shmud, once the world gets wind of what's coming next, as the episode ends with a caller to the O.J. tip line informing the defense of the existence of tapes of Mark Fuhrman using the N-word. A lot.
Hard to Believe: Kardashian visits ex-wife Kris Jenner in emotional agony. He's fairly certain now that his best friend of 20 years is a murderer, but he feels that to quit the team at this point would mean a sure conviction, and he just can't do that either. Kris encourages him to quit, but understands his reasoning. He tells her he's "so sorry" and they hug tenderly.
Fact or Fiction: This was likely another scene added to provide an extra little Kardashian oomph (points for the kids outside wearing coordinating outfits, because Kim Kardashian has said her mom absolutely made them dress alike), but Robert Kardashian, FACT, was doubting O.J.'s innocence. He told Barbara Walters in 1996, "I have doubts. The blood evidence is the biggest thorn in my side; that causes me the greatest problems. So I struggle with the blood evidence."
Hard to Believe: O.J. is merrily playing poker, using Skittles or M&Ms for coin, with his visitors, including Kardashian, in jail.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION. Kardashian later told Barbara Walters about not being able to hug, or even touch, his friend in jail. And Toobin stresses in his book that O.J. received his visitors from behind bulletproof glass, even noting how Johnnie Cochran and Robert Shapiro were familiar with the size of their client's hand because they'd press their own hands palm-to-palm against the glass as a sign of hello.
• The show makes it seem as if the jurors all of a sudden started dropping like flies late in the game; but really, by month four of the trial, Ito had dismissed eight of the original 12 seated jurors and four alternates were left. When it was time to start deliberations on Oct. 2, 1995, two alternates remained.
• The episode also consolidates and/or hands off certain issues between the jurors. It was Tracy Hampton on the show who gets hysterical about not getting as much time to shop at Ross as the white jurors—the nod of agreement from Cochran when Tracy screams, "They know that blacks like Ross more!" is priceless.
But it was Jeannette Harris, who had never disclosed that she herself was a victim of domestic violence and then made a beeline for KCAL News after she was dismissed, who really complained about the shopping incident. Harris had also accused 63-year-old Catherine Murdoch, the juror eventually dismissed for having the same doctor as O.J., of shoving her.
Episode 9: "Manna From Heaven"
Oh, the Fuhrman tapes. Those 13 hours of hateful, damning comments that destroyed what was left of Detective Mark Fuhrman's credibility and made reasonable doubt a slightly more reasonable prospect. A very moved Johnnie Cochran compares the emergence of the tapes—recordings of meetings between Fuhrman and an aspiring screenwriter doing research for a movie about cops—to the titular gift from God (though it was fellow defense attorney Gerald Uelman who really did so), and the majority of last night's installment revolves around the recovery of those tapes from North Carolina and the defense's struggle to get their contents into evidence.
From F. Lee Bailey charming a Southern judge into overturning the decision made by another judge who warned Cochran against using "gratuitous alliteration" in his courtroom, to Chris Darden repeatedly looking on the verge of a meltdown (and then having a few), the melodrama runs deep.
Ultimately the defense has it both ways: Judge Lance Ito only allows two sentences from the transcripts into evidence, but Cochran flays that decision in the press and the content of the tapes gets out anyway. And the prosecution doesn't get its mistrial after Ito determines he can still judge fairly, despite the tapes revealing that his police officer wife had once reprimanded Fuhrman, though she had signed an affidavit stating she didn't know him (remember when we saw her hesitation a few episodes back?).
And when Furhman returns to the stand, he pleads the 5th Amendment (invoking his right not to incriminate himself), including when Cochran asks him, "Did you plant or manufacture any evidence in this case?"
And yet the episode ends on a high note, when Marcia Clark, relieved and with a slight smile, learns that she's won primary custody of her two kids, despite her ex-husband's best efforts.
Hard to Believe: All of it. "Manna from heaven" for the defense is right.
Fact or Fiction: But the tapes, on which Fuhrman used the N-word more than 40 times, were far too real. The veteran LAPD detective resigned while the trial was still going on, in August 1995. When asked, many of his fellow officers described a man who was unrecognizable from the sort of person who would say such things as heard on the tapes, and Fuhrman later said his words were taken out of context. "I was forced to take the 5th because prosecutors wouldn't assure me they would ask questions that I could answer in a narrative fashion," the cop turned news pundit and author told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1997.
Hard to Believe: The defense also attempted to argue that O.J. Simpson was too hobbled by old football injuries and arthritis to even be physically able to commit the murders—but an exercise video shot two weeks before the killings starring the robust defendant in the bloom of health put the kibosh on that theory.
Fact or Fiction: Heck yeah, that was FACT.
Hard to Believe: Clark apologizes to Darden for not heeding his warnings about Fuhrman, admitting she was too stubborn. He, in turn, says, "If we're apologizing, then I'm sorry as s--t about those gloves."
Fact or Fiction: FICTION. Clark told Dateline recently that Darden did at some point apologize for the glove debacle, which she called entirely "his call," but there's no indication she ever felt the need to apologize for Fuhrman. She told Vulture that all of the back and forth on the show between her and Darden about putting Fuhrman on the stand (i.e. all of Chris' unheeded warnings) was "just absurd." She blamed the purportedly factual source material. "Toobin's idea was, why did we even have to call Fuhrman?" Clark said. "And that comes from somebody who really doesn't know a thing about trial work. We cannot get away with not calling Mark Fuhrman. That's a silly, ridiculous thing to say. So the question never was: Should we put Fuhrman on the stand? The question became, who is gonna put him on the stand?" Toobin didn't really harp on that notion in the book, but he did note Darden's initial distrust of Fuhrman.
• To consolidate the exposition and provide background, certain scenarios were made up, such as when Robert Kardashian explains to the rest of the Dream Team why Laura Hart McKinny was interviewing Fuhrman in the first place. All a true story, as described in Jeffrey Toobin's book, but the author laid out the facts as part in a more narrative fashion—and in his version, McKinny didn't hang up on the defense investigator who called, but rather put him in touch with her lawyer.
• Darden was really losing his cool in the courtroom—understandably so—but not just toward the end. The co-prosecutor really was thisclose to being held in contempt after criticizing Ito for allowing the defense enough leeway to purposely inflame the jury. Darden ultimately apologized and was not penalized. The exchange on the show was taken almost verbatim from the court transcript, as recounted in Gerry Spence's book The Death of Justice. However, this exchange went down Feb. 23, 1995, during the defense's cross-examination of Simi Valley resident Detective Tom Lange.
Episode 10: "The Verdict"
And so, in the end, Johnnie Cochran achieved his objective. He made The People v. O.J. Simpson about another issue entirely, and in so doing, Orenthal James Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
The jurors deliberated for all of two hours. Cochran had traveled to San Francisco to deliver a speech (TRUE) and Marcia Clark took her kids to Santa Barbara to decompress (TRUE), about a 90-minute drive away, that's how unlikely such a fast turnaround was.
"They've discussed this case less than anybody in America," Robert Shapiro said in disbelief.
• Maybe Gerry Uelman should've played a larger role. Just as he was the one who Toobin said used the phrase "manna from heaven" to describe the Fuhrman tapes, according to the New Yorker writer he also came up with the catchy "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," which after all was said and done may have been the phrase uttered by Cochran that was most remembered by the masses. In the show, Cochran tries out "gloves too small, easy call" before his light bulb moment. "I first suggested [the phrase] after the glove experiment," Uelman also recalled to Time. "But what I was really proposing was that it would provide a good theme for the whole argument, because so much of the other circumstantial evidence didn't fit into the prosecution's scenario.
• The moment in which Cochran utters what became the takeaway of his entire closing argument is also framed much more dramatically in the show. It was almost jaunty when he first said it in real life.
He did mention how he was thinking the night before about what fit and what didn't.
Hard to Believe: Robert Kardashian, so emotionally roiled by the case and full of doubt, stumbled out of the courtroom upon hearing the verdict and vomited in a sink in the closest bathroom.
Fact or Fiction: That's not really so hard to believe, but it's FICTION as far as anyone knows. Kardashian died of cancer in 2003, but in his much-quoted interview with Barbara Walters from 1996, he admitted he doubted his longtime friend's innocence. "I think he was shocked," Kris Jenner, who was in the courtroom to hear the verdict in real life, recalled in the 2015 LMN documentary The Secret Tapes of the O.J. Case. "He was definitely stunned. I mean you could look at his face and see it. I've known him my entire life. I know that like he was ... he was floored that that was the verdict."
Hard to Believe: One of the deputies guarding O.J. asked for his autograph and told the famous prisoner not to worry—he'd heard from a friend who was on jury detail that...well, he shouldn't be nervous.
Fact or Fiction: FACT, per Toobin's source material.
Hard to Believe: The verdict left L.A.'s black community cheering and its white community disgusted. Just like that, split down the middle.
Fact or Fiction: Based in fact, though of course loyalties to O.J. that continued and those that were tossed aside in the wake of the murders were divided along more than racial lines. But crowds composed mainly of African Americans were shown celebrating on the news, while O.J. was met with white protesters and signs such as "Murderer Loose in Brentwood" upon his return to the neighborhood he'd lived in for 20 years. The Riviera Country Club wouldn't give him a reservation and all of his high-brow buddies really did start staying away on day one. (Or, really, by then it was day 474.)
Ultimately, Johnnie Cochran decided that this was the case that was really going to expose L.A.'s broken police system and the LAPD's historically racist culture, the actual murder at the center of the "trial of the century" be damned. Mission accomplished—and perhaps the scariest thing of all is that Toobin's book, written in 1996, reads like it could have been written this year when it comes to the fractured relationship that law enforcement has with people of color.
And just as it was dramatized in the show, to the strains of "Ain't No Sunshine" as O.J. looks at that massive statue of himself in his backyard and wonders what happened to his life, the party was indeed over.
According to Time, Simpson and Cochran joined in singing "Amazing Grace" as the welcome-home celebration got underway, an indication that O.J. was still in denial of what tomorrow would bring.
As they say, the truth is usually stranger than fiction.