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OJ Simpson Tries To Stop TV Movie

Logo - NY TimesAugust 15, 2000 | The New York Times

By The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — O.J. Simpson sent his lawyers to court Tuesday seeking to halt production of the first television movie dealing with his murder trial.

A judge, however, refused to issue a restraining order.

The movie, “American Tragedy,” is based on the best-selling book of the same title by Lawrence Schiller and James Willwerth. Simpson said it reveals inside secrets of his defense team and violates his attorney-client privilege.

The lawsuit names Schiller and former Simpson lawyer Robert Kardashian as well as Project 95, the company producing the movie for CBS.

Superior Court Judge David Yaffe set another hearing for Sept. 6 and said he would read the script in the interim to see if it discloses any information not already in the book. By the time the hearing is held, filming on the miniseries is expected to be complete.

Schiller’s lawyers said the challenge comes four years too late, that Simpson never pursued litigation when the book was published and that he can’t show that the movie will cause him any harm.

Simpson was acquitted of murder in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. He was subsequently found liable for the killings in a civil trial and ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages.

The miniseries, starring actors Christopher Plummer, Ron Silver, Ving Rhames and Bruno Kirby, is being directed by Schiller. The script was written by Pulitzer Prize winner Norman Mailer.

Attorney Gary Bostwick, representing Schiller, said in his brief that Simpson has been threatening to sue since 1996 when the book was published. It was republished in paperback in 1997, but he still took no action.

“Simpson chose to sleep on his purported rights, waiting until defendants were in the middle of filming the multimillion-dollar television miniseries on a tight production schedule to seek extraordinary injunctive relief,” the brief said.

Bostwick argued that stopping production would violate free speech rights and cause millions of dollars in damages.

Simpson’s lawyers, Adam Belsky and Terry Gross of San Francisco, filed affidavits from eight members of the defense team who claimed they were misled into talking to Schiller during preparation of the book.

They said they were told Schiller was helping Kardashian with a book and that anything they said would not be published unless approved by Simpson. Schiller and Kardashian said they made no such promises.

In his own declaration, Simpson said he sent a letter to all members of his defense team while jurors were deliberating his case in October 1995, warning that communications they had about his trial were privileged.

“No one is permitted to divulge any of our privileged communications unless and until you receive a written authorization signed by me,” Simpson stated in the letter, which was quoted in his brief.