Also: Producer Ryan Murphy defends his track record on race
FX’s O.J. Simpson miniseries will not be keeping up with the Kardashians.
While legal eagle patriarch Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer) is a major part of the 10-episode American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, his world-famous offspring Kim, Kourtney, Khloé, and Rob will, for once, not have the spotlight.
“In the 10 episodes, there are over 400 scenes that were written,” executive producer Ryan Murphy said. “Of those 400 scenes, only four or five of them involve the Kardashian children. That gives you a grasp on how important we felt they were to the story.”
Including some of the Kardashian kids was important to producers, however. One of the themes of the miniseries is that the “Trial of the Century” marked the beginning of the 24-hour-news cycle and the reality trend of random people becoming famous for not really doing anything other than appearing on television (such as O.J.’s house guest Kato Kaelin).
The producers and star-filled cast were gathered at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Pasadena on Saturday, where Murphy was also asked to defend his prior track record on racial issues since he’s now tackling such a racially sensitive criminal trial. In the past, Murphy was criticized for the so-called “white mammy” character in Scream Queens. The TCA reporter added that the producer’s black female characters have come across as “stereotypes.”
“I think [American Crime Story] tackles [racial issues] and is incredibly responsible, for one,” Murphy said (and note the rest of his quote contains a major Scream Queens spoiler). “In the case of Scream Queens, I found that criticism to be valid and interesting at the same time. That show particularly was about a group of young people in the sorority and fraternity system. A lot of that stuff — if not all of it — was based on actual things that [producers Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk] were reading about, [what] these group of privileged, largely white kids were doing. If you watched the end of the show, you will see that those girls who said those things were charged with crimes and found criminally insane and put into an institution. That explains how I felt about that all along. I don’t think we were glorifying it, or saying that they were great, or wonderful for saying that. We were saying that they were broken, and the [Greek] system was broken, and they needed to be brought to some form of justice — and they were. I don’t think [American Horror Story co-star] Angela Bassett would say my characters [are stereotypical], but I think it’s an interesting dialog to have and we could always do better. I was very aware of that when we were working on O.J. and I really, really tried to make sure that — at least from my directorial position of working on the scripts — that we did show all sides and that we did try to be balanced.”
Another reporter asked the Crime Story producers if any of the victims’ family members, such as Ron Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, were asked their feelings about a miniseries portraying their ordeal. “We did not chose not to contact any of the people in the cast,” said executive producer Nina Jacobson. “We weren’t seeking to make a docudrama. Some of the actors reached out to people they were playing. But we never showed the victims in life, and we were honestly very mindful of what Fred Goldman said about the injustice that the victims ended up being a footnote in this trial, it ended up being about everything but them.”
The miniseries, which premieres Tuesday, Feb. 2, is based on the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by journalist and author Jeffrey Toobin, who told reporters he never had any doubt that somebody would make his book into a film. “This is about everything that obsesses the American people — race, sex, violence, sports…” Toobin said. “And the only eyewitness is a dog. This was the most famous event in American history that had never been dramatized.”
ACS stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson along with Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, Connie Britton as Faye Resnick, and Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey