20 Hours of O.J. Simpson

Before FX in February, there will be ESPN in January.

This past week brought news that there will be not one but two ten-hour TV miniseries in 2016 about O.J. Simpson.

The first, FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson, has been getting tons of press. On Tuesday in New York, the cast and creators hosted a luncheon for journalists, during which The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon collected some interesting thoughts from Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays Simpson.

But before the Feb. 2 debut of the ten-part first season of American Crime Story, another major O.J. TV content unveiling will take place. At the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, all seven and a half hours of ESPN’s O.J.: Made in America will be shown, on the same single day, in two parts with an intermission. (When the programming airs, it will run with commercials around 10 hours.)

The ESPN miniseries is part of the network’s acclaimed 30 for 30 banner and was announced by Sundance organizers Monday afternoon, just ahead of Tuesday’s New York FX event. From Steven Zeitchik’s L.A. Times report:

The miniseries traces Simpson personally and during his murder trial, setting its story against the backdrop of Los Angeles while exploring race and celebrity in the process.

“OJ: Made in America is the first 30 for 30 miniseries event and represents the most ambitious project ever from ESPN Films,” said Connor Schell, the senior vice president of ESPN Films and original content. “The quality and intelligence of the storytelling that [director] Ezra [Edelman] achieves over these 7+ hours is stunning for a documentary of this scope.”

Dotting the Simpson “i” this weekend is recently retired AP reporter Linda Deutsch, who is working on a memoir about the O.J. trial and other famous criminal proceedings she has covered. In an interview conducted after she accepted the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in New York, Deutsch was asked by Refinery29’s Kaelyn Forde if she think’s O.J. is guilty. The reporter’s answer:

“I never made a decision. It’s not my job. My job is to tell the facts. And that’s why, after the trial, O.J. called me and said he wanted to thank me for being fair to him, because I just reported the facts. That began a long conversation that lasted years. We talked on the phone all the time. Up until he just went to prison a few years ago, we were always in contact. And he always said he didn’t do it so, you know, I have reserved judgment.

Journalists attending the New York FX luncheon were given copies of the first two episodes of The People v. O.J., with reviews embargoed for this coming week. Meanwhile, Zeitchik writes that ESPN is aiming to air OJ: Made in America in two-hour blocks.