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O.J. SIMPSON'S NBC INTERVIEW NOT PART OF "QUID PRO QUO"
Published October 10, 1995
NBC News will conduct a live interview with O.J. Simpson on Wednesday night during a three-hour "Dateline" special. The interview, which will be conducted by Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric and air without commercial interruption, will have "no ground rules" and was agreed upon without payment of any kind, according to NBC News President Andrew Lack (NBC). In L.A., Sallie Hofmeister and Jane Hall note Simpson's "personal and professional ties" to NBC. Before his arrest, Simpson was an analyst on NBC's NFL broadcasts and NBC West Coast President Don Ohlmeyer is a longtime friend. But NBC VP/Corporate Communications Judy Smith said, "There is no quid pro quo for this interview. We have no contact with O.J. and no plans to hire him." Network sources say it was NBC President Robert Wright's decision not to sell ads during the interview. The show has already drawn complaints by groups such as NOW with opposition to the idea of Simpson profiting from the trial already leading cable channels and pay-per-view outlets to rejecting the idea of a PPV Simpson interview. Talent agency ICM also confirmed Monday that they no longer represent Simpson (L.A. TIMES, 10/10). THE O.J. INDUSTRY: Media critic Ben Bagdikian: "It sounds as though the trial that was a soap opera is now going to be an industry" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/10). The price tag on an "O.J. exclusive" was said to be in the range of $11-12M, even though potential ad revenue is seen as "nil" (J. Max Robins, VARIETY, 10/9). AD AGE estimates a pay-per-view event could have generated numbers seen only by heavyweight bouts -- $50 per order with buy rates between 500,000 and 1 million. In addition, analysts believe Simpson-related marketing could generate as much as $1B in gross media and merchandising sales. Mark Weiner, Dir of Research for Medialink Public Relations, on the other big media events of '95 -- Windows '95 and Disney/Cap Cities: "Those were huge stories, but they lasted for about a week. The O.J. Simpson story sustained that level for 11 months. This has just dwarfed anything we've seen since the Vietnam War" (Mandese & Jensen, ADVERTISING AGE, 10/9 issue). FUTURE HOME? "Entertainment Tonight" reported on O.J.'s future, with Black Entertainment Television possibly interested. BET President Robert Johnson: "In the black community, there is a concept of redemption. So I think O.J. has an avenue where he can comeback to the mainstream of commercial success" ("ET," 10/6).