Every week audiences tune in to watch FX’s The People V OJ Simpson and each week the amount of head scratching continues. Many don’t remember a lot of the on-screen dramatics and have taken to social media to question the series’ validity. So what’s fact and what’s been added for dramatic purposes? Let’s dive in!
According to Vanity Fair:
Johnnie Cochran was the victim of racial profiling by the L.A.P.D.
True. But the scene did not take place exactly as depicted. According to his autobiography, A Lawyer’s Life, it was not his two daughters, but his daughter Tiffany and his son, and the scene took place in 1980, not 1982; they were on their way to a drugstore to look at toys, not the Hamburger Hamlet. Getting stopped on the way to buy toys for your kids seems even more shocking and egregious, so the change to a dinner outing seems a bit contrived.
Cochran implied to the press that Darden was hired only because he was black.
True. According to Darden’s memoir, In Contempt
A star-struck Judge Ito bragged about being sent an autographed picture of Arsenio Hall.
True. Instead of presenting the photograph to Vanity Fair journalist Dominick Dunne, Ito, described as “beaming,” showed it to Jeffrey Toobin and “cradled [it] like a precious heirloom.” Unlike some other trivial changes made to the episode for, at best, superficial but mostly irrelevant-seeming reasons, this is a smart, minor alteration that streamlines the always-growing cast of characters.
O.J.’s then-girlfriend Paula Barbieri had broken up with him the day of the murders.
The defense failed to inform the prosecution of all of their witnesses before opening statements.
True. Referred to as “discovery failures,” according to Toobin, the defense’s withholding of these names and their testimony, “put the prosecutors at a real disadvantage.” It fell to Carl Douglas, of Cochran’s office, to stand and “fall on his sword” for Simpson, telling the court, “It perhaps is regrettable that I stand before this Court, that we have not coordinated all of our defense efforts as well as I would have liked . . .”
Co-prosecutor Bill Hodgman had a heart attack in the courtroom during opening statements.
Not true. This is clearly embellished for dramatic effect—go figure, in an all-around authentically dramatic case. According to Toobin, it was during a closed-door meeting among Clark, Hodgman, and D.A. Gil Garcetti, after the opening statements, in which the discovery failures were revealed and where Hodgman started to feel chest pains. Paramedics were called and he was treated for a temporary stress condition, which did result in his stepping down from the case.
Darden tried to have the N-word banned from the trial.
True. In what Toobin calls “nearly twenty minutes of stream-of-consciousness babbling,” Darden delivers much of what we see portrayed on-screen with feeling and clear intention, whereas in the courtroom, his statements seemed to veer off topic, coming back to O.J.’s “fetish” for “blond-haired white women.”
Johnnie Cochran’s “Ni**er, please.”
Yep, this happened. All of it, with a handful of super-small changes in the dialogue. As Darden delivers his speech, Cochran sits back in a sprawling, unconcerned posture. When he finally speaks, he does so with the measured cadence of a Greek king. As Toobin recounts inThe Run of His Life, “When Cochran finally finished this peroration, he pushed to an even greater theatrical height, emotionally embracing Simpson and all the other lawyers at the defense table. Leaving at last . . . he had time only to whisper a brief word to Darden—the classic rebuke: ‘Ni**er, please . . .’ ”
O.J. confronted Darden at the crime-scene visitation.
According to Darden’s memoir:
I sat down on a bench just outside [Simpson’s] front door, and Simpson leaned forward and pointed at me. “Get off my bench!” he began yelling. “I don’t want you on my bench or in my house!”
I turned to Cochran, who stood nearby. “Johnnie, you better restrain your client before I have him muzzled.”
(Photo Source: Courtesy)