Even less circumspect is Fox, which has decided to make a Simpson movie because it "will get them attention," says a source at a competing network. Although Fox won't confirm it has a film in the works, it has contacted an actor for the lead role. Dorian Harewood, a star of the syndicated series Viper, was approached last week to portray Simpson. "He has some moral dilemmas about doing this," says John Blanchette, Harewood's publicist. "He's not going to play a bloodthirsty killer."Instant books: Soon after Birnes' first calls to publishers, he sold his book to supermarket-tabloid publisher Globe Communications. The volume is set to hit shelves July 6. Such breathtaking rapidity is nothing new in the world of quickie publishing. "In this business," says Sarah Gallick, executive editor at Pinnacle Books, whose 328-page Simpson bio was the first to reach stores (on June 27), "if you're not the lead horse, the view is always the same."
But even before the first pages of this book could be thumbed, the second Simpson publishing wave had started. Best-selling writer Joe McGinniss (Fatal Vision) was reportedly closing in on a $1 million deal last week for the "definitive" book on the case.
Pending projects: An exercise video, a TV pilot, and an educational film, all featuring Simpson, were jolted into new prominence after the murder and arrest.
The Playboy exercise video, Minimum Maintenance Fitness for Men, like all other Simpson paraphernalia, is now in high demand 37 news organizations had requested a copy within days of the arrest. "It's not that what we have is that desirable," says Bill Farley, a Playboy spokesman. "It's just another piece of information regarding the last days of O.J." But as of last week, Playboy had yet to decide whether to release the tape. NBC was also undecided about what to do with Frogmen, a one-hour pilot about a group of Navy SEALs led by Simpson.
Perhaps the reason so many people are desperate to obtain these works is that they might discover another scene like the one found in For Goodness Sake, a KCET educational film that aired on June 25. In the program, which features vignettes of moral dilemmas, Simpson appears in a two-minute allegory about temptation. Shown poring over a restaurant menu, Simpson blithely discusses immorality. "I'm going to try this one," he says at one point, "'spreading an unsubstantiated rumor.'" After news of the murders broke, the film's distributors edited out the scene.
The irony is astonishing: Double-murder suspect O.J. Simpson discusses morality. It's a small detail, but the scrutiny on this story is such that all details, no matter how tiny, become telling, at least in the eyes of mesmerized journalists, publishers, and producers. "This is the biggest story I have ever seen," observes Steve Friedman, executive producer of the Today show. "Or at least the latest biggest story."