Jeffrey Toobin on How His O.J. Simpson Book Became One of the Season’s Best TV Shows

FX's The People v. O.J. premieres tonight

When it came out in 1996, Jeffrey Toobin's book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson became the definitive chronicle of The Trial of the Century and the events leading up to Simpson's 1995 acquittal, which polarized the country along racial lines.

Two decades later, The New Yorker staff writer and CNN senior legal analyst's book has been turned into one of the year's best shows: the FX miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Premiering tonight at 10, the star-studded, sensational series uses Toobin's book and reporting to reveal how the seemingly airtight case against Simpson unraveled, and how the issues raised during the trial remain startlingly relevant today. (Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Simpson, John Travolta is Robert Shapiro, Sarah Paulson is Marcia Clark and David Schwimmer is Simpson's pal Robert Kardashian.)

As The People v. O.J. Simpson debuts, Toobin—who serves as a consultant on the miniseries—talked about how he helped shape the series, what it was like to see himself represented onscreen and how different the trail would have been today.

Adweek: Was there any interest in adapting your book before this?

Jeffrey Toobin: I never sold an option. I believe there were some discussions in the immediate years afterwards, but the argument you always heard was the same, which was: People knew it all, and they were sick of it. I never believed that.

Why now? It's obvious after Ferguson and other events in recent months during production, but why the interest a year ago?

I think this is the biggest media event in American history that had never been dramatized. And it just cried out for it. These are big characters, big issues, a fascinating and surprising story that belongs in a dramatization. I consider myself an evangelist for this production; I think it's great. And it vindicates exactly why you would go to this story again.

Did you have any worries, even initially, about what the producers might do to your book?

I made a decision from the very beginning that I wrote my book, and I stand behind every word of it. I was determined to help the filmmakers do the work they wanted to do, but it was their work, and I wasn't going to agonize about my vision. Now, as it happened, I turned out to be enormously pleased with how it turned out, but I know there is this history with authors being frustrated, angry and disappointed, and I resolved from the beginning that I was going to enjoy this ride. And I have, enormously.

As a consultant, how much input did you have in the miniseries?

I had some pretty extensive discussions at an early stage with Larry [Karaszewski] and Scott [Alexander], the main screenwriters, and [executive producers] Brad [Simpson] and Nina [Jacobson], just about the story. At that point, I then reviewed scripts and said, "This doesn't ring true." I would also frequently answer questions about "What does this look like?"—to the extent I could remember them.

The miniseries devotes more time to the Kardashian family than your book did.

How could they not?

Kim, Khloe, Kourtney and Kris Jenner were in your book because they were a part of the story.

I joke that if I knew how famous the name was going to become, I would have put a lot more emphasis on it. There's that very funny but poignant scene when Robert [played by David Schwimmer] takes them to dinner and he talks about what it means to be a Kardashian. Obviously that's not something in my book, but it would have been dramatic malpractice not to acknowledge what the Kardashian name has become.

You're a character in the miniseries. What was it like to see someone play you on screen?