How Pizza Hut Ended Up in The People v. O.J. Simpson

Chain stepped in after Domino's didn’t give permission

The Ford Bronco was front and center during last night's episode of FX's hit miniseries, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which covered Simpson's efforts to flee authorities in pal Al Cowlings' Bronco, setting off what became the most-watched police chase in U.S. history. But another prominent brand was also on display in the show's second episode: Pizza Hut.

As 95 million people are glued to their TVs watching the daylong ordeal culminate in a two-hour police pursuit, the episode cuts to a scene in a Pizza Hut, which shows the restaurant has been so inundated with pizza orders that they have run out of their cheese supply and are unable to make any more pizzas.

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski's script for that episode, called "The Run of His Life," initially set the scene in a different pizza chain. "It was originally Domino's, but we ended up getting permission to use Pizza Hut," said Nina Jacobson, the show's executive producer. "The idea was that the most popular pizza places ran out of cheese."

Although Pizza Hut okayed its appearance in the miniseries, the company did not provide the production team with any 1994-era logos or material. "Our production designer put that together," said Jacobson.

And while FX's broadcast sibling Fox recently aired a period-appropriate integration with Coca-Cola during last month's Grease Live, Jacobson said there are no mid-'90s brand integrations in The People v. O.J. Simpson. "It might be a little bit trashy, in this context," she said.

Pizza Hut didn't pay for the promotion, but the chain should still benefit from its cameo in the critically acclaimed miniseries. Last week, The People v. O.J. Simpson—which is based on Jeffrey Toobin's 1996 book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson—had the most-watched series premiere in FX history, with 12 million total viewers (6.1 million of them in the 18-49 demo) in live-plus-three ratings (including two encore broadcasts).

The Ford Bronco, however, won't be able to capitalize on its return to the spotlight. Ford discontinued the model in 1996, two years after Simpson's police chase.

FX hasn't shied away from featuring brands in its shows that aren't paid integrations. Its new Zach Galifianakis comedy Baskets prominently features Costco and Arby's, though that production received no money from either company.