O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession? won't be easy to watch, but it will be fascinating.
As host Soledad O'Brien explained to E! News, the two-hour Fox special, crafted from the "lost" recording of a 2006 interview between O.J. Simpson and publisher Judith Regan, marks the first time the notorious former football player has ever publicly discussed the night his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were brutally murdered in 1994.
"There is a fascination. And I think part of that fascination comes from O.J. Simpson never taking the stand," O'Brien said. "As a reporter, obviously I covered the story, the trial. You never heard from him. He's never really talked about his relationship with Nicole Brown Simpson. He's never talked about the night of the murders in detail. And so I think the fascination comes from the content itself is incredibly fascinating and it's really bizarre and it's very disturbing."
When Simpson originally sat down with Regan, the account of the evening he gave was framed as a hypothetical account of the events that occurred on the night of the murders, with Simpson delivering a detailed and disturbing description of what might have happened in his own words. And it's that juxtaposition that strikes O'Brien as the most baffling.
"To have something that's very hypothetical, completely hypothetical, but described in great detail?" she asked. "It's odd."
The original interview was scrapped after it was met with outrage over its very existence, most notably from the families of the victims. The rights for a planned book of Simpson's account was eventually awarded to the Goldman family in a 2007 civil trial and was released under the title If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer—with the If famously tiny and barely noticeable. O'Brien insists, however, that this time around, the families are on board and supportive.
"Things have changed a lot," she said. "I think the families—the Goldman family and the Brown family—are supportive of the project, and I think that's because all this many years later, they actually think it's important to have O.J. Simpson's own words kind of in the public record. And that there's a value to everybody hearing what he says. He frames it as a hypothetical, but it's odd. And I think they see that as having value for people to hear that. I think back in 2006, that wasn't the case."
In fact, whether the families were on board or not was O'Brien's first concern when approached to host the telecast. "That was one of the first questions I asked when I was asked if I was interested in taking part," she admitted.
The two-hour special will see O'Brien joined by a panel of analysts who will watch and discuss the interview, providing timely analysis and context for the footage. The list of analysts includes Regan herself, attorney Christopher Darden (who Sterling K. Brown played to perfection in The People v. O.J. Simpson), Nicole Brown Simpson family representative Eve Shakti Chen, anti-domestic violence advocate Rita Smith, and retired FBI profiler Jim Clemente. Additionally, the special will air with limited commercial interruption and include public service announcements regarding domestic violence awareness throughout.
O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession? airs Sunday, March 11 at 8 p.m. on Fox.