‘HUNTER’ CHASES O.J.

When NBC airs “The Return of Hunter” April 30, viewers will notice that the plot bears a lot of similarities to a certain ubiquitous murder trial. The telepic, based on the hit NBC series “Hunter,” finds Fred Dryer reprising the title role as the “Dirty Harry-style” cop tracking down the man who brutally murdered Hunter’s fiancée. A media circus ensues, when the prime suspect turns out to be the woman’s ex-husband, a former superstar basketball coach. In the end it turns out he’s been falsely accused, when Hunter discovers the real culprit is a serial killer.

When the “Hunter” project surfaced at NBC, there was some internal concern that it would be seen as a script specially ordered by NBC West Coast prexy Don Ohlmeyer, who has been a staunch defender of his old friend O J . Simpson. Indeed, not long after the Juice was indicted, Ohlmeyer had suggested to “Law & Order” executive producer Dick Wolf that the hit series do an episode where a sports superstar is wrongly accused of killing his ex-wife.

While an NBC spokeswoman does admit an O.J.-esque scenario was among the many suggestions Ohlmeyer regularly makes to Wolf, she says he had nothing to do with the plot of “The Return of Hunter.” “The concept was Fred Dryer’s,” says the spokeswoman. “Don didn’t know anything about it until after we bought the script.”

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