When prolific producer Ryan Murphy decided to bring Jeffrey Toobin‘s best-seller “The People v. O.J. Simpson” to TV under FX’s new “American Crime Story” banner, he couldn’t have dreamed it would be this well-received. With a 95% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 90 score at MetaCritic, the verdict is in and “O.J.” is guilty of being wildly addictive TV.
The much-anticipated limited series delves into all facets of the murder trial of NFL Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.). Over the course of 10 episodes, it explores the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and maneuvering on both sides of the court. Other notable cast members include John Travolta as defense attorney Robert Shapiro, Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark, Courtney B. Vance as lawyer Johnnie Cochran, David Schwimmer as family friend Robert Kardashian and Nathan Lane as attorney F. Lee Bailey.
Murphy won Emmys for directing the Fox musical series “Glee” and producing the HBO telefilm “The Normal Heart,” but “O.J.” could yield his biggest Emmy haul yet. When we chatted with Murphy at the FX after-party last week, he told us that this is the perfect time for the O.J. Simpson story to be told, as the trial took place almost exactly 20 years ago.
He’s right, of course. With movements like Black Lives Matter and Oscars So White dominating headlines from coast to coast, America is at the forefront of another racial divide. That should help peak interest in the series, while ESPN’s own documentary “O.J. Simpson: Made in America” (airing later this spring) will help carry the conversation all the way to the Emmys.
Speaking of Emmys, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” will fit voters like a glove. Paulson could finally win her much-deserved Emmy in the lead actress category, while Vance could prevail for lead actor. The word is still out on whether FX will submit Travolta (who’s also a producer) and Gooding in lead or supporting, but there’s still plenty of time to sort that all out. Talk about a good problem to have.
“O.J.” looks to be a lock for an Emmy nomination as Best Limited Series, with its top competitors including FX’s own “Fargo” and “American Horror Story: Hotel,” ABC’s “American Crime,” HBO’s “Show Me a Hero,” National Geographic’s “Saints & Strangers” and Starz’s “Flesh and Bone.”
Gold Derby readers have been eagerly awaiting “The People v. O.J. Simpson” for months, ever since editor-in-chief Tom O’Neil raved in our message boards after seeing the first two episodes, “We were slain. We all agree — it’s gonna SWEEP the Emmys.”
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” premieres tonight on FX and airs every Tuesday at 10 p.m. Now it’s time to have YOUR say in our TV forum, which is filled with many Hollywood famous folk who hide behind screen names.
Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FX Networks