If O.J. Simpson, the former USC running back who later had a brief acting career, is looking for a third chance in Hollywood, he’s unlikely to find it.
He has reportedly been approached to film a reality TV show upon his release, but some agents and executives say his reputation is beyond repair following his 1995 high-profile murder trial and subsequent legal troubles, including serving more than eight years for a 2007 armed robbery. While TV news outlets are going to swarm him for interviews, that’s about all he’s going to get, some say — he’s not likely to land a paying job.
“There’s going to be an onslaught of O.J. coverage, but a network or a brand would have to be out of their minds to give him a platform, even if the proceeds went to charity,” said ITV America CEO Brent Montgomery.
Simpson was granted parole Thursday, leaving him free to pursue opportunities in Hollywood as early as October. He would have to overcome the intense notoriety following recent depictions of his life, football career and the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman.
Last year, ESPN documentary “O.J.: Made in America” and FX miniseries “The People vs. OJ Simpson” revisited the 1994 slayings. Together, the projects renewed doubt over his innocence, providing a comprehensive picture of how his celebrity and wealth affected the murder trial. The two series also exposed racial fault lines, evident in how white and black Americans reacted to the 1995 acquittals.
One talent agent believes Simpson has become too toxic to many in Hollywood. “After the doc and TV series, I’m pretty sure the public has had their fill of O.J.,” the agent said.
Not only that, but Simpson’s star power has waned considerably since his heyday, so much so that one publicist with an extensive client list said some executives didn’t even bother to tune in to learn whether a Nevada parole board would conditionally release “The Juice.”
One publicist said Simpson would have very limited appeal were he to land an opportunity like a reality TV show. “Do people really care anymore?,” the publicist said. “Most of us who lived through that have moved on as well.”
Simpson has been shunned before. Following his acquittal in the ’94 killings, he never recovered from the suspicion of many of his former friends, including those in Hollywood. He became a pariah, a far cry from when he enjoyed a busy Hollywood career before his downfall, starring in films like “The Naked Gun” and “The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear.”
He was also famously known as a spokesman for Hertz, the car-rental company who in 1978 featured him in a commercial running through an airport.
During his testimony before the parole board, he said he has turned down media opportunities during his time in jail. He scoffed when his lawyer read a letter he wrote to Las Vegas Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo, predicting that he may one day do a webcast or blog.
Debra Birnbaum contributed to this report.