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American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson Fact v. Fiction: Where the Ripped-From-Reality FX Series Gets Creative

By / Published on Wednesday, 24 Feb 2016 12:26 PM / No Comments / 299 views

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. SimpsonFX

Scroll down for all the Fact v. Fiction for Episode 4, “Absolutely 100 Percent Not Guilty”

Even as it was unfolding two decades ago and it was obvious that never before had something gripped America’s fascination quite like the O.J. Simpson murder trial, who could have possibly thought that watching it unfold all over again 20 years later would be so entertaining?

A coarse word, entertainment, considering the subject matter. But good lord, is American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson not downright captivating?!

Watching the series premiere last week felt strangely familiar, like watching the movie version of a book you know well—even though you may not have read any of the dozen books written about the case (such as O.J.’s own If I Did It or the series’ source material, Jeffrey Toobin‘s The Run of His Life) or even tuned in in real time for any of the drama that unfolded between June 12, 1994, when Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were killed, and Oct. 3, 1995, when O.J. was found not guilty of their murders.

FX has touted the 10-episode anthology series as being the real account of what went down, including behind-the-scenes details that you’ve never heard before.  

PHOTOS: American Crime Story Cast: Who’s Who in the O.J. Simpson Trial Saga

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But it’s also a TV show full of actors, including John Travolta devouring the scenery as defense attorney Robert Shapiro and Ross from Friends portraying Simpson confidante and attorney Robert Kardashian, so who’s to know what really happened and what’s been added to spice up (or streamline) the proceedings?

“This series is not a documentary,” Toobin, who’s a consultant on the series, has explained. “It is not a word-for-word recreation. But in terms of the essential truths of the events, in terms of the insights into the characters, it is brilliant and everyone will learn a lot and be entertained a lot.”

That’s for damn sure. But since you’re watching a show based on a true-story-plus-embellishments, we’re here to separate the facts from the flourishes. And don’t worry about us stealing any thunder from the plot, because what’s true is still truly unbelievable.

Episode 1: “From the Ashes of Tragedy”

After a montage depicting the L.A. riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating verdict gives context to the LAPD’s tense relationship with the city’s African-American community in the mid-1990s, the series starts off with O.J. being picked up by a limo at his Rockingham estate to go to the airport. He apologizes for being late. Cut to a neighbor, who’s out walking his dog, finding Nicole and Ron’s bodies in the front courtyard of her Brentwood condo after seeing Nicole’s Akita and noticing its paws were covered in blood (in real life the discovery did involve the Akita, but the dog first followed the neighbor home, then led his neighbors to the scene).

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The episode proceeds to chronicle how the LAPD identified O.J. as a suspect, the early role longtime O.J. pal Kardashian (David Schwimmer) played before he was asked to join the disgraced football hero’s defense team and how Shapiro was hired (a TV executive called him, not Kardashian). We’re introduced to Johnny Cochran (Courtney B. Vance), who wants nothing to do with the case (Cochran later denied calling the case “a loser” but it’s in the book); prosecutor Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson), who’s going through a divorce and is on hairstyle No. 1; frustrated assistant prosecutor Christopher Darden (Sterling K. Brown), who looks at Cochran as a mentor; infamous O.J. house guest Kato Kaelin (Billy Magnussen); and LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman (Steven Pasquale), who spots blood inside and on the door of a white Bronco parked outside Simpson’s home, as well as finds a black leather glove on the property that looks like one found near Ron Goldman’s body.

PHOTOS: The People v. O.J. Simpson‘s Incredible Transformations

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Upon his return from Chicago, O.J. gives a rambling, disjointed account to police of his actions that night, including how he got a cut on his thumb. He later fails a lie-detector test, scoring a minus-24. “Shapiro calls it “the worst you can do.” Kardashian reassures a defensive O.J., “This was just for us, it doesn’t mean anything.”

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Nicole’s friends Faye Resnick (Connie Britton) and Kris Jenner (Selma Blair) recall during her funeral how she was “terrified” of O.J. and had hidden away pictures documenting his past abuse in case something happened to her. The episode ends with O.J. fleeing Robert Kardashian’s house in his white Bronco, being driven by Al Cowlings (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) as Clark laments that he’s going to make them “look like morons.”

Overall, the series seems poised to show how detectives and the D.A.’s office steadily put together what they thought was a slam-dunk case…and then watched it disintegrate before their eyes.

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Hard to Believe: Hiding out at Kardashian’s house (the show uses the late attorney’s actual former home), O.J. handwrites a letter to his mother, a letter to his kids, a statement to his fans and a will before he’s supposed to turn himself in to police. Kardashian finds O.J. in his study with a gun, and O.J. proceeds to walk up the stairs and into Kim Kardashian‘s childhood bedroom, complete with Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Joey Lawrence posters. “O.J., please do not kill yourself in Kimmy’s bedroom,” Kardashian pleads with him. That was surely put in for effect, a wink at Kim’s present-day fame?
Fact or Fiction? FACT, for the most part. Robert recalled to Barbara Walters in 1996 confronting O.J., who was looking at pictures of his children and had a gun wrapped in a towel. “In the book it says you said to him,’ You can’t kill yourself, this is my daughter’s room,'” Walters recalled a line from the 1996 book American Tragedy: The Uncensored Story of the Simpson Defense. “I said,” Kardashian concurred, “‘O.J., I could never walk in this room. My daughter couldn’t sleep in this bed, she’d know what happened here.'”

PHOTOS: Stars Playing Real People

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Hard to Believe: While the forensics team is collecting evidence at Nicole’s condo, the phone rings and daughter Sydney leaves a tearful message from the police station pleading with her mom to “please answer.” Immediately we wondered who in the hell was letting 8-year-old Sydney Simpson call Nicole, knowing damn well what was going on?! Couldn’t be real, right?
Fact or Fiction? FACT. While Toobin doesn’t specify who first discovered Sydney’s message, he wrote that she did leave a message on the home phone “at some point.”

We Had Totally Blocked Out: The fact that Justin and Sydney Simpson were upstairs sleeping in the house when their mother was killed, and that a woman named Jill Shively had told police that a white Bronco had almost crashed into her car on the night of the murders and that the agitated driver was O.J. Simpson. A 2014 Dateline special revealed that Clark never put Shively on the stand because she was mad at her for selling her story to Hard Copy.

-Kardashian, who’s being painted as the voice of reason, wasn’t the one to tell O.J. he needed a more hardcore defense attorney and call Robert Shapiro, who’s lunching at Mr. Chow when he gets the call in the show. In reality, TV exec Roger King stepped in and called Shapiro, who was actually at House of Blues.
-Marcia Clark had to cancel going to a bridal shower she was throwing, she didn’t forget about a friend’s baby shower. (It’s far bitchier to forget about a baby shower, though.)
-There’s video of young Kim and Kourtney Kardashian at Nicole’s funeral in real life, but who’s to say whether Kris had to scold Khloe and Kourtney for horsing around, telling them to put away the candy, as she does in the show? Hmmm…

O.J. Simpson, White BroncoBranimir Kvartuc/ZUMA Press

Episode 2: “The Run of His Life”

The episode takes its name/football metaphor from the title of Toobin’s aforementioned book and focuses entirely on the infamous white Bronco chase on June 17, 1994. Episode 1 left off with Kardashian and Shapiro realizing that O.J. was in the wind, just as LAPD officers arrived to take him into custody. While on the road, a couple of looky-loos in a VW van came face to face with Cowlings and excitedly pulled over to alert California Highway Patrol at a roadside phone (because their van wasn’t equipped with the type of massive car phone that Al and O.J. used in the Bronco).

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As the infamously low-speed chase went on, the series depicts how seemingly the entire country tuned in—partly because they had no choice, as even NBC opted to relegate the NBA Finals into a corner while Tom Brokaw covered the action on the majority of the screen (fact and fact).

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Knowing because of Cowlings’ call to 911 that O.J. was in a bad state of mind, the networks started putting together obituary packages for the football great, and ultimately one aired, having quickly been converted to a regular montage that noticeably resembled a eulogy. Ultimately Cowlings drove O.J. back to his Rockingham Avenue home in Brentwood (“We’re goin’ to Brentwood!” he authoritatively informs a detective beforehand) and the cops—aided by Kardashian, who along with O.J.’s eldest son, Jason, were the only two not evacuated from the house—got O.J. to leave his gun in the car and walk inside. (True, but he and Al didn’t sit in the car till it turned dark. O.J. surrendered less than an hour upon their return.)

In what was concluded to be Simpson’s travel bag, they found O.J.’s passport; a loaded .357 Smith & Wesson handgun registered to a cop friend of O.J.’s; and, in a plastic bag, a fake goatee, a fake mustache and makeup adhesive remover.

Extra Factual: The interweaving of real news footage and pop culture tidbits from the time, including the VW couple blasting the Beastie Boys‘ “Sabotage” (brand new in 1994), Chris Darden’s dad’s insistence that they continue watching golf (Arnold Palmer‘s final U.S. Open), Brokaw anchoring the chase coverage for NBC and Bob Costas promising updates during the basketball game (before the game was shafted for the chase). More props for the scene of a pizza place running out of cheese due to all the orders from people glued to their TVs. Domino’s would say that they received a Super Bowl-like number of orders that day.

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Hard to Believe: Before they see what’s happening on TV, Robert Kardashian tells O.J.’s family, who were assembled at the fugitive’s house, that “we have reason to believe that he’s killed himself…O.J.’s in a better place.”
Fact or Fiction: FICTION, as far as anyone who wasn’t in that house knows. It certainly seems wildly irresponsible for Kardashian to have said that, and then the chase comes on the TV and his daughter Arnelle (Ariel D. King) goes, “No, wait, look!”

Hard to Believe: While O.J. was purportedly trying to figure out the right place to end it all and the L.A. District Attorney’s Office was doing its best to save face, Shapiro hashed a plan to excuse himself of any complicity in O.J.’s decision to run, he had Kardashian read O.J.’s suicide note—signed with a happy face punctuating the “O” in “O.J.”—at their press conference.
Fact or Fiction: FACT, for all intents and purposes. The show shortens the note, which in reality was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, but Kardashian—wearing a similar suit and flowered tie as the one Schwimmer’s Kardashian wears—really did read it, despite the fact that it sounded like the words of a guilty man.

Hard to Believe: That Cowlings drove O.J. to the Orange County cemetery where Nicole was laid to rest before the Bronco chase really got underway.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION. At least no one who’s studied or had anything to do with the case has officially confirmed this took place.

Hard to Believe: That it got that intense in the Bronco, with O.J. really holding a gun to his head and wailing and raving during a series of phone calls, including one to Kardashian, to whom he mentions a number of people—including fellow USC turned NFL star Marcus Allen—to say goodbye to. He ended up talking to Det. Tom Lange about surrendering, saying of his gun, “It’s not for you…it’s for me. I gotta be with Nicole, that’s all I’m trying to do.”

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Fact or Fiction: FACT. Though it’s unclear what exactly Kardashian said to O.J., he later indicated to Barbara Walters that they spoke during the chase. “By taking him around the house, I know I saved his life,” the attorney said about talking O.J. out of harming himself at Kardashian’s home. “I also think I did in the Bronco, as well as A.C. [Cowlings]. A.C. definitely saved his life.”
Bonus Fact: O.J. did mention Allen in his real-life suicide note, the one Kardashian read on TV. Toobin points out how odd that was considering Allen had an on-and-off affair with Nicole. O.J. at least forgave Allen, because the football star later got married at O.J.’s Rockingham estate.
Another Bonus Fact: They didn’t even show how weird it got in that car! Bob Costas recently revealed that Simpson tried to call him during the chase—at home and his usual studio, but he was at Madison Square Garden for game 5 of Rockets vs. Knicks.

PHOTOS: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story‘s Craziest Quotes

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Hard to Believe: When Kardashian appears on TV to read the suicide note, young Kim, Khloe, Kourtney and Rob get so excited watching him at home that they start cheering, obviously not paying attention to what he’s reading.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION. You know, as far as anyone knows. We’re assuming the idea to have the future reality-TV stars chanting “Kar-dash-i-an! Kar-dash-i-an!” when their dad concludes his somber appearance was just too wickedly delicious for the show’s creative team to pass up.

READ: What if the infamous Bronco chase happened today?

We Had Totally Blocked Out: That the white Bronco of the chase wasn’t the Bronco police found blood on. As it’s mentioned in the show, Al Cowlings purposely bought the same car as his friend and idol.

Artistic License:
To get the point across, District Attorney Gil Garcetti (Bruce Greenwood) calls June 17 the worst day of his life. “It’s worse than the day I was diagnosed with cancer.” In reality he didn’t make such a pronouncement, but the series wants to paint a more detailed picture of Garcetti, who is a cancer survivor. His rueful, “I thought I was gonna run for mayor” comment is a wink at the fact that his son, Eric Garcetti, is currently mayor of Los Angeles.

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-Same goes for the conversation Chris Darden has with his neighbor about football great turned actor Jim Brown‘s contributions to the black community vs. O.J.’s reluctance to use his celebrity to advance any social causes. Toobin’s book juxtaposes the two, so this is the show’s way of including that point.
-Marcia Clark was a smoker, but Sarah Paulson smoking cigarettes in the office at every turn is just for effect. In reality, the California Indoor Clean Air Act of 1996 would have precluded her from doing that. Or at least it should have.

CLICK: The Kardashian Kids Didn’t Really Cheer When Robert Kardashian Read O.J. Simpson’s Letter on TV

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Episode 3: “The Dream Team”

After a whole lot of O.J. last week, last night brought us a whole lot of lawyers—including, for the first time, murder trial veteran F. Lee Bailey (Nathan Lane), Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz (Evan Handler) and DNA expert Barry Scheck (that hair, Rob Morrow!). This episode established just how cocky the prosecution was (“It was premeditated murder,” Marcia Clark announces at a televised press conference, supposedly overheard by O.J. in his jail cell) and how the defense’s initial plan was to bury the other side in motions (there would be 393 before all was said and done) and object to everything—before they decided that the only tenable strategy was to make it all about race. Racist cop Mark Fuhrman planted evidence, one more example of the LAPD’s appalling pattern of mistreatment of African-Americans, Robert Shapiro concluded for the sake of argument. O.J. is initially resistant to the idea of bringing on activist attorney Johnnie Cochran, but Shapiro convinces him it’s a winning move.

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Shapiro explains to Cochran that he, Bob Shapiro, will remain head counsel for O.J. (news outlets reported on Shapiro insisting as much at the time), but Cochran willingly comes on board, so long as he believes Simpson isn’t guilty. He visits O.J. in jail, and the disgraced athlete tearfully tells him, “I loved Nicole more than you can possibly imagine. She was the mother of my children. I didn’t do it, Johnnie…I couldn’t have done it, I swear. There’s no way I could’ve killed her.”

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Meanwhile, assistant prosecutor Christopher Darden, who playfully calls Clark “Big Time,” hasn’t yet joined the O.J. case but he’s the first to alert Clark to the fact that “a lot of black people think he didn’t do it.” And she seems truly stunned.

“Cochran!…Motherf–ker,” the episode concludes with Clark’s epithet when she sees the front-page news that he has joined O.J.’s “Dream Team.”

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Hard to Believe: Before guilelessly telling the lawyers assembled in Shapiro’s office, “Excuse me, he’s never going to stop being the Juice,” Robert Kardashian takes his son and daughters to lunch on Father’s Day and they don’t have to wait in the packed Beverly Hills restaurant Chin-Chin because the hostess recognizes him (or “Richard Kordovian,” anyway) from TV. The kids mercilessly grill him about what he’s famous for and point out how “Mom and Bruce” are really famous. A Full House-worthy moment ensues when Kardashian earnestly explains, “Look, you know your grandparents. You know me and what I try to pass on to you. We are Kardashians. And in this family, being a good person and a loyal friend is more important than…than being famous. Fame is fleeting. It’s hollow. It means nothing at all without a virtuous heart.”
Fact or Fiction: FICTION. The trial portion of the series would be sorely lacking in Kardashian—who’s obviously being set up for one of the ruder awakenings this series will have to offer—if it proceeded using only facts. “It was a fictionalized moment by the writers, but it was important for them and for us to show what was happening to Robert,” David Schwimmer explained to E! News at the Television Critics’ Association Winter Press Tour. “The goal is to humanize all these characters, and for my character, part of that journey was being on camera for the first time in his life. He was a very modest, private person. Not a public person. So, his relationship to celebrity was something we thought, ‘Well, that has to be explored.”

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Make that a blood relationship. So chalk this up to the chance for another moment of wink-wink foreshadowing of what would be the family’s unfathomable-at-the-time level of fame. (Whether Kris Jenner lashing out at her ex-husband for “abandoning Nicole” in favor of her killer when Kardashian arrives at her house to pick up the kids is also questionable.)
For the Time Capsule: Kardashian concludes his impromptu speech as Michael Bolton‘s “Said I Loved You…but I Lied” swells in the background.

Hard to Believe: In episode 3, O.J. finally makes the comment that’s been leading all the promos, telling Robert Shapiro, “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” What sort of canned comment is that, anyway?
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Or, at least, it is something O.J. really said. There’s no word on how often he repeated that opinion of himself, but it’s what he told The New York TimesRobert Lipsyte in 1968.

WATCH: Kris Jenner still feels guilty about Nicole 20 years later

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We Had Totally Blocked Out: Time really did use a filter on its “American Tragedy” cover with O.J.’s mug shot that made his face look darker. The magazine defended the decision, with managing editor Jim Gaines explaining that “the harshness of the mug shot…had been subtly smoothed and shaped into an icon of tragedy.” But critics saw a racist move, with NAACP Director Benjamin Chavis Jr. saying at the time, “The way he’s pictured, it’ like he’s some kind of animal.” Jesse Jackson, on CNN, attributed the cover to “institutional racism.”

OJ Simpson, O.J. Simpson, Booking Photo, Mug Shot, Time CoverRon Galella/WireImage; Time

Artistic License: “Pretty crazy, huh? They made him blacker,” a newsstand owner points out to Chris Darden, who continues to be the only one in the D.A.’s Office who’s aware that some people in L.A. are supportive of O.J.

We Had Also Tried to Block Out: The recording of Nicole’s Oct. 25, 1993, call to 911 in which she frantically told the dispatcher, “He’s going to beat the s–t out of me,” was indeed blasted out by the media for all to hear after O.J. was arrested for her murder. (Some things are truly unforgettable.)

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For the Time Capsule: After the 911 call is released, an astonished Clark cracks, “Should I invite Bernard Shaw over to rifle through my files?,” namedropping the most famous anchor on CNN (which would become Malaysian-plane-style addicted to the O.J. trial) at the time.

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• In the show, The New Yorker‘s Jeffrey Toobin (Chris Conner) shows up unexpectedly at Shapiro’s office while on assignment for another story and Shapiro uses the opportunity to instead lay out O.J.’s race-based defense. In reality, Shapiro did do just that when Toobin showed up uninvited but, per Toobin’s own account, the journalist was there to inquire further about information he had already dug up on past racist comments made by Fuhrman. (Going on a comment from Dershowitz about a cop on the case being a liar, Toobin had trekked down to the L.A. Superior Court records room and found a civil case file that contained the damning statements.) Toobin’s book doesn’t suggest that Shapiro masterminded the whole encounter in a split second; rather, Toobin opened with, “I had a very interesting morning looking at Mark Fuhrman’s employment records.”

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• In real life, before the famous New Yorker article (“An Incendiary Defense” in the July 25, 1994 issue—newsstand price $2.50) that resulted from his convo with Shapiro went to press, Toobin called Fuhrman up for comment on the accusation that he had planted evidence. “That’s a ridiculous question,” the detective responds at first, before ultimately saying, “Of course if didn’t happen.” In the show, Darden tells Clark that a New Yorker reporter called their office to inquire about Fuhrman’s possibly racist conduct and that he stalled him.
• Really, the show should spend more time with Toobin. From the files of “Too Good to Be True,” Naked Gun 33 1/3 was the in-flight movie on his trip back to New York.

People v. O.J. SimpsonRay Mickshaw/FX

Episode 4: “Absolutely 100 Percent Not Guilty”

Fact, O.J. infamously said that when was re-arraigned before his case went to trial. However, it was not Judge Lance Ito who procured that memorable response. Rather, the show is consolidating the sprawling saga for time, so Ito—who presided over the murder trial, but not the preliminary hearing—has been introduced already. (Similar idea with the battle over the hair sample, which really was a battle—the question of whether the prosecution could take more than 10 hairs from O.J.’s head for DNA testing actually got its own hearing in real life. And while Cochran was there for the memorable plea, he didn’t join the Dream Team till July 18, close to two weeks after the preliminary hearing had concluded.)

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But at no time after any of Simpson’s pleas did “Mama Said Knock You Out” come pulsing from the speakers, nor did O.J. and Johnnie immediately exchange thumbs-up.

This week was all about the process of getting ready for trial, as Johnnie Cochran usurped Bob Shapiro as head of the Dream Team; Chris Darden joined the prosecution (the “we’ve got a black lawyer too” stare-down between Marcia Clark and Cochran while Above the Law‘s “Black Superman” plays is priceless, and O.J. wonders aloud, “When did they get a black guy?”); and jury selection got underway—and would proceed to last for two months. 

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Also, Nicole’s so-called BFF Faye Resnick (Connie Britton) negotiated herself a book deal (FACT, Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted, co-written with the National Enquirer‘s Mike Walker, really did top the New York Times best-seller list when it came out). The 44 minutes were such a blur of power plays, one-upmanship and scheming, we…well, we can’t wait for next week.

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Repeated Fiction? Robert Kardashian later told the L.A. Times that he and O.J. couldn’t have any physical contact when he would visit. “I want to hug him, I want to show him that I care. It’s very difficult,” he said. So, all the encouraging hugs and pats on the back, et al., have been added for effect.

Hard to Believe: In flashback, O.J. remembers him and Robert Kardashian partying at a nightclub, surrounded by party girls, the booze flowing, drugs and a lavish seafood buffet (shrimp on ice = luxury) nearby.

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Fact or Fiction: FACT. Whether or not the coke was just there for effect, Simpson and Kardashian most certainly were jet-setting party pals. O.J. was there when Robert met Kris as a young flight attendant, and Robert was there when O.J. met Nicole, an 18-year-old club waitress.

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Hard to Believe: Cochran tells O.J. a story in prison about how one of the former football great’s memorable runs on the field snapped him out of a funk after his first marriage ended. “It became as if you were running for me, driving up that field, crowded with adversity and obstacles…This right here, O.J. Simpson, is the run of your life.”
Fact or Fiction: Well, Toobin’s book upon which the series is based is called The Run of His Life, so there’s that connection. Otherwise, whether Cochran ever actually told his client this spirit-building story is unknown. It seems unlikely that an attorney who wrote in his memoir, A Lawyer’s Life, “The clients I’ve cared about most are the ‘No-Js,’ the ones who nobody knows,” was that inspired by a football play.

Hard to Believe: F. Lee Bailey insists to Cochran that he must take over the defense from Shapiro. “You and I are creatures of the courtroom,” the Boston-based defense attorney purrs. “The parries and jabs, the turns of phrase…that’s where the case is won. Not by settling like a pussy…We owe it to our client to take it to the finish line.” In a most cringe-worthy scene, Shapiro later encourages O.J. to plead to manslaughter just as the other lawyers are giving him a pep talk.

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Fact or Fiction: Depends on who you ask. In real life, Bailey told CNN in 1995, a few days after the verdict, that Shapiro had indeed tried to get Simpson to plead to manslaughter—and moreover, that Shapiro wanted Kardashian to plead guilty to accessory after the fact for hiding evidence. Shapiro told CNN he “never talked at any time with anybody about a plea bargain.” He also in real life denied wanting anything to do with playing the race card.

Hard to Believe: Cochran brilliantly hijacks a front page headline from Shapiro when, while Shapiro is giving a press conference in the lobby of the courthouse, Cochran gives an impromptu one while he’s getting a shoe shine and steals all the thunder.
Fact or Fiction: FICTION—although maybe the journalists didn’t know what was up yet. The Los Angeles Times article from Oct. 28, 1994, “Prosecutors Targeting Black Jurors, Simpson Team Says,” doesn’t mention the shoe shine and it also refers to the defense’s two-pronged commentary appearing “carefully choreographed.” But the Dream Team was headed for a schism whether Shapiro was outraged by the front page story or not.

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Hard to Believe: After a jury of nine black people, two whites and one Hispanic person is seated, O.J. leans over to Cochran and whispers, “If these people convict me, maybe I did do it.”
Fact or Fiction: FACT. Vanity Fair‘s Dominick Dunne, who covered the trial for the magazine, wrote in the December 1995 issue, “Months and months ago, I was told in a private conversation that after the jury had been picked O. J. Simpson said to Johnnie Cochran, ‘If this jury convicts me, maybe I did kill Nicole in a blackout.'” So, a little more flippant for TV, but basically the same arrogant sentiment.

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Artistic License:

• On the show, murder victim Ron Goldman’s father, Fred (Joseph Siravo), and sister, Kim (Jessica Blair Herman), go to see Clark in her office, and an outraged Fred tearfully laments how his son has become “a footnote to his own murder.” But while Fred Goldman’s feelings about the case are well-documented, this particular exchange was TV-only in order to remind us just how much short shrift the man murdered alongside Nicole was getting in the media. “There’s a great line that they gave to Fred Goldman’s character when he says, ‘My son’s murder is a footnote,'” the real Clark said on The View earlier this month. “I just paraphrased it badly. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a heart-wrenching scene.”

• After conducting a focus group, the prosecution’s jury consultant, Donald Vincent, informs Marcia Clark, “Black women don’t like you.” She fires back, “That’s idiotic!…I have a rapport with them…your data is horses–t.” He adds, “You might also consider softening your appearance-skirts instead of business suits, a new hairdo, try smiling a bit more.”

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In reality, Clark’s appearance was raked over the coals and those polled about the case in focus groups didn’t much care for her. But Clark has recently said that, while she put up a confident front, that wasn’t entirely reflective of how they felt about the case. “The focus groups were, I hate to say, a godsend, but they were very helpful because when the defense came out with the story of [Fuhrman] planting the glove and calling Mark Fuhrman a racist cop, I knew it was big trouble right there,” she told Vulture recently. (Meanwhile, the defense team didn’t do it alone—they too had a jury consultant, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius.)

Check back next week for the Fact v. Fiction rundown for Episode 5, “The Race Card,” premiering next Tuesday, March 1, at 10 p.m. on FX

PHOTOS: The People v. O.J. Simpson: Fact v. Fiction


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