Friday, March 04, 2016

People V. OJ Ep 5

Holy shit, I totally remember this! 

I've been wondering about this Hodgman character and waiting to see if the show would address his sudden absence from the trial, because it's one of the incidents I remember quite well. 

Turns out, yep--they did! But in a totally melodramatic it-didn't-really-happen-that-way fashion. 

In the show, they had John Hodgman (Marcia Clark's litigating partner) suffer a heart attack and dramatically keel over right there in court after getting all pissed off at the defense (specifically, Johnny Cochran). Watching that scene, I actually shouted "Bullshit!" at the TV, because I didn't remember it going down like that. Turns out, I was right.  

From Vanity Fair: 
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.
From a writer's perspective, I can see why they took some license with that, even if it was a bit over the top.

Here's what I remember...

The first week of the OJ trial, I was sitting in class talking with my friend Heidi and some other people from school,* and someone mentioned that one of the prosecuting attorneys in the Simpson case had been rushed to the hospital with chest pains the day before. That's when my classmate Cindy said disdainfully, "Yeah, he's having chest pains because he's lying! He knows he's lying!"

It's worth pointing out here that Cindy--a "good ole girl" from Texas--had an African American fiance and two bi-racial children. Cindy was cool; extremely blunt, very funny, and a blast to hang out with (she was part of a group of us who would sometimes high-tail it over to the nearby Chi-Chi's for nachos and margaritas at lunchtime), although she was obviously one of those "OJ is innocent!" people, a stance that I think had something to do with the fact that she was a white woman living in the black community.

The racial tension surrounding the OJ case is something that is definitely not exaggerated for the sake of the show, as it was a very real and very unfortunate aspect of the whole thing. It couldn't be avoided, especially in LA circa 1994-95, when the LA riots following the Rodney King verdict had happened just a few years prior. It's easy to see why the defense team played the race card like they did. Were they dirty opportunistic shyster assholes for doing so? Oh hell yeah. But still, it was pretty much a no-brainer. Of course they'd make it all about race, especially when Mark Fuhrman made it so damn easy. That's why I totally believe the scene where Christopher Darden tells Cochran he hopes they can be respectful to one another in the press, and Cochran goes, "Brother, I ain't trying to be respectful. I'm trying to win." It's another moment comes off a bit melodramatic, but--even if it didn't happen--it totally seems like it would have.

    Oh, just kiss him already.

On another note, I think Robert Morse is perfect as Dominick Dunne. I always get so excited when actors from Mad Men pop up on TV shows and movies.  

Burt Cooper!!!

The dialogue in the judge's chambers where Ito says something like, "I know you have a special interest in this case because of your daughter's murder" was a bit ham-fisted but I guess it was necessary because at this point most people probably wouldn't know or remember that his daughter, actress Dominique Dunne (she played Dana, the older sister in Poltergeist) was strangled by her ex-boyfriend in 1982. Trivia: her murderer, a chef named John Sweeney, really did get off with a ridiculously light sentence (6 1/2 years, and he served only 3 1/2) and soon after his release got a job as head chef at a fancy restaurant in Santa Monica. Upon learning of this, Dunne and his family decided to serve up some Goldman-style realness, standing outside the restaurant handing out flyers that read "The food you will eat tonight was cooked by the hands that killed Dominique Dunne." Soon after that, Sweeney quit his job and left town.

Dominique Dunne in Poltergeist

In yet another strange Hollywood murder coincidence, Marcia Clark was the attorney who prosecuted Robert Bardo, the crazy stalker famous for killing actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989. At least in that one, Clark was able to send the scumbag down the river (he got life without parole). I've read a lot about that case, and it's super creepy. One of the things that surprised me was how young Robert Bardo was--only 19 years old--when he killed Schaeffer. You wouldn't think that to look at him, because dude looks at least 35 in photos from the trial, but I guess all that crazy can age a person. By the way, I'm too superstitious to post a photo of Bardo's creepy mug on my blog. Google him if you're curious, but be sure to wear garlic around your neck and sprinkle salt around yourself for protection (I'm only half-kidding) because ewwwwwww. As another blogger wrote, you can almost hear the demon wings flapping inside his head.  

I was glad to see that the show included the infamous "redecorating" of OJ's mansion, where the defense went in and cleared out photos of OJ posing with (white) Playboy models, golfing buddies and girlfriends, replacing them with African art and photos of black family members...supposedly some of the photos they planted there were of random black people OJ didn't even know. And I love that Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage" played over that scene, because how appropriate is that? 

What's the deal with all those rappers wearing button-down flannel shirts at the beach? 
Didn't they get hot?

It also reminded me that Coolio actually did do a song that I liked back in the day, because I hated his one other hit, "Gangster's Paradise," which was so annoying and inescapable that year. (For the record Weird Al's take on it is sooooo much better.) 

*I attended school to be a court reporter from 1993 - 1995. It came to a sudden end when the school folded and declared bankruptcy. (The bright side? I got my student loans forgiven!) I was about 6 months from graduating. Needless to say, I ended up going in another direction job-wise, one of many "Plan B's" I took during my twenties, which was really a decade full of "Plan B's".

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