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Insider casting tips for an O.J. film

We talk to industry professionals about their choices for the cast of the inevitable feature film

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Talk about an out-of-court settlement. Marcia Clark may have crapped out in Judge Lance Ito’s courtroom, but in the wake of the O.J. trial the deputy district attorney has hit the jackpot. Clark’s $4.2 million book deal with Viking-Penguin (which beat out seven other publishers in a bidding war) is the third biggest nonfiction payday ever, following soldier/scribes Colin Powell ($6 million) and Norman Schwarzkopf ($5 million). Though the memoir, due next fall, will no doubt scream Movie-of-the-Week, the litigator reportedly won’t even consider offers for small-screen adaptations, only feature films. Which raises the question of casting. A few choices from the professionals:

As Marcia Clark, Susan Sarandon. ”I know she already did The Client,” says casting director Billy Hopkins (Nixon). ”Too bad; she’s perfect. But since she’s so politically correct, she probably wouldn’t do it.”

As Robert Shapiro, Jon Lovitz. ”Lovitz looks like him, plus he can talk out of both sides of his mouth,” says caster Janet Hirshenson (Apollo 13). Hopkins disagrees: ”Is Martin Landau too old? Who cares? [Landau] just seems right. He’d have to go to a tanning salon, though.”

As Johnnie Cochran, Samuel L. Jackson. ”Because of his sheer charisma. They both have it,” says Hirshenson. Hopkins offers Lou Gossett Jr., Danny Glover, and Bill Cosby as runners-up.

As Chris Darden, Laurence Fishburne. Hopkins picks the Just Cause actor. Hirshenson prefers Andre Braugher from Homicide: ”He has this quiet intensity.”

As Judge Ito, Pat Morita. Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid saga is Hirshenson’s top choice, but Hopkins might go with another Ito: ”Quincy‘s sidekick (Robert Ito) would be perfect — and they have the same last name.” Hopkins adds that either actor would be preferable to Hollywood’s past choices. ”In the old days, they probably would’ve cast Mickey Rooney.”