Sunday, January 17, 2021

Soledad O’Brien on O.J. Simpson’s ‘Chilling and Bizarre’ ‘Lost Confession’ [EUR Exclusive]

*On Sunday, March 11, FOX presents a shocking special, “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?,” hosted by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien.

The two-hour broadcast will discuss the interview where Simpson’s explosive words finally will be heard, as he answers the questions that gripped a nation during the notorious “Trial of the Century.”

Soledad will be joined by a panel of analysts, providing timely analysis and context for this shocking, never-before-seen footage.

“We have the interview done in 2005 by Judith Regan and then we have a panel that analyzes this interview,” O’Brien tells EUR/Electronic Urban Report. The two-hour broadcast will air with limited interruptions and will feature public service announcements on domestic violence awareness throughout the program.

“That panel includes Judith Regan because she certainly had a very interesting point of view on the interview and how she got the interview and how she felt the interview went. Chris Darden, the original prosecutor along with Marcia Clark. A friend of Nicole Brown Simpson’s, her name is Eve Chen. We have an FBI profiler. A guy who has been involved with some very big cases, his name is Jim Clemente. Judith Smith is a domestic violence expert. Dr. Carol Lieberman gives a lot of insight into a lot of what O.J. Simpson says. It’s just incredibly interesting to analyze. Our panel gives some context to what we’re hearing O.J. Simpson himself say in that interview done in 2006.”

In 2006, O.J. Simpson sat down with noted publisher and TV/film producer Judith Regan for a wide-ranging, no-holds-barred interview, in which he gives a shocking hypothetical account of the events that occurred on the night his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, were brutally murdered. 

During their conversation, Simpson offers a detailed – and disturbing – description of what might have happened on that fateful night of June 12, 1994. For over a decade, the tapes of that infamous interview remained shelved—until now. 

“All these years later, it turns out that the family members and the victims have decided that they want the public to hear O.J. Simpson’s voice,” says O’Brien. The former CNN anchor is currently the host of “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien,” a nationally syndicated weekly political show owned by Hearst Television.

During our exclusive interview with O’Brien, she describes O.J.’s “Lost Confession” as both “bizarre and chilling.”

Read the rest of our conversation below.

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Soledad O’Brien speaks onstage at the 2017 ESSENCE Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on June 30, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Why is now the right time to roll out this never-before-seen interview?

Soledad O’Brien: That’s a good question and it was actually my first question when the project came to me. If you remember, back in 2006 it was not the right time. But all these years later, it turns out that the family members and the victims have decided that they want the public to hear O.J. Simpson’s voice. He never testified during his own trial. You never heard him talk on the record about Nicole or his whereabouts on the night of the murder. So they decided that having him on record discussing that is really worthwhile for everyone to hear. So I think that’s what changed. Their perspective changed and once I knew that the families were supportive of the project that made it more comfortable for me. That was my very first question and I knew that it would be a very compelling interview. I had no idea just how interesting it would be. It is the craziest most bizarre interview I’ve ever been part of in my entire career, which is now in its 30th year. It’s the most bizarre thing, especially on a case that we all know so much about but never actually heard from O.J. Simpson himself about.

Inquiring minds want to know WHY would O.J. agree to this interview? Why would he write a book titled “If I Did It” at a time when he was the most hated man in the nation? Will his special provide an answer?

Soledad O’Brien: It is so weird. Why would you do an interview especially at that time? It’s just… bizarre. I think where you can get great insight into the “Why?” is by watching him. Watching what he says. Watching his body language. Watching when he becomes very mad. Watching how sometimes he’s very angry–that’s kinda like, simmering under the surface. Watching as he laughs out loud at certain parts of the interview. So I don’t know if he articulates “Hey, this is why I’m doing this.” I think it’s more you have to gleam it from listening to how he answers some of the very blunt questions that Judith puts to him. It’s just bizarre. It was bizarre then and it’s bizarre now.

If you could sit down with O.J. Simpson today, what would you ask him?

Soledad O’Brien: I think there’s just the question: Why? And let him answer it any way he wants. He can take it in any direction he wants to go and answer it any way that he wants. Just the completely and utterly open-ended question: Why? Just let him talk and you would gain a lot of insight.

Are viewers going to be surprised by anything they learn from the panel discussion or through the never-before-seen footage?

Soledad O’Brien: It is the most compelling, bizarre interview that I’ve ever taken part in and some of that is the panel. They all have this very personal stake in watching what O.J. says. And also, some of it is just what he says. Some of it is how he says it. Some of it comes from our panelists analyzing what he says. You could have seen every single thing that has ever been done on O.J. Simpson, this is nothing like anything we’ve seen.

Did you or the producers or the network receive any pushback from O.J. or his lawyers over this?

Soledad O’Brien: I personally have not heard a word.

Perhaps he’s just as curious to watch his “Lost Confession.”

Soledad O’Brien: That’s a really interesting question, right? Will O.J. watch this and what will his reaction be to watching his interview from 2006?

And will he follow the conversation afterward on social media? In this age where news is being received via tweets and sound bites, no doubt O.J. Simpson will be a trending topic in the coming days. Are you looking forwarding to following the conversation on social media?

Soledad O’Brien: I have said to almost every single person who I have talked to about this interview that I want to talk to them on the other side after they watch it because they have so many questions. But I feel like you’re going to make a decision after you see this interview. You will feel a certain way and I’m so interested and certainly, I’m fascinated to know what O.J. Simpson thinks. I’m fascinated to know what everybody who watches this thinks after they have watched this entire interview. It is bizarre and chilling in some places and really nothing like anything we have ever heard. And I really don’t say that lightly. I’ve been doing this a minute.

In terms of how social media and technology is shaping journalism and media coverage, how is it also affecting the way you cover the news in general?

Soledad O’Brien: I’ve always loved social media. I’m a bit of a ninja on Twitter and social media generally. But I look at it as an excellent addition. I think it’s a really good way to have conversation around topics that you can be watching on another platform. So I know, for example, as I’m watching this, there’ll be people who are having a conversation with me only on social media about what we’re all watching. I’m really fascinated to hear from other people and I think social media is an amazing conduit to do that. 

Lastly, were you surprised when your tweets with CNN’s Chris Cillizza about his Trump piece went viral?

Soledad O’Brien: I think anybody who knows me on social media knows that I am very straightforward and I’ll try to be respectful and blunt and honest and regardless of what I’m tweeting about or who I’m tweeting about, the topic I’m tweeting about, whether if it’s O.J. or it is journalism or it is pictures of horses, I’m always this straightforward person and I think people are kinda used to that.

“O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession” airs Sunday, March 11 at 8:00 PM ET/PT on FOX.

Join the discussion on social media: #DidOJConfess

Watch:

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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