Wednesday, February 03, 2016
How am I supposed to binge on one episode?
I guess I really liked the opening installment of THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON because I will be back next Tuesday to watch episode two.
The series benefits from terrific writers in Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski. They wrote ED WOOD, the Larry Flynt movie, BIG EYES, and the underrated Andy Kaufman story, MAN ON THE MOON (among others). They’re the A-list biopic guys, and trust me, those are not easy to do. Most biopics end up looking like cheesy Lifetime movies. For God sakes, Ozzie & Harriet got a TV biopic (and I’m sure many of you are saying, “Who are Ozzie & Harriet?”)
But Scott & Larry do exhaustive research and have a knack for presenting factual material in a compelling riveting way. And they find the madness and absurdities of their larger-than-life subjects which give their scripts a slightly surreal quality. Producer-director Ryan Murphy hired the perfect guys. There’s enough bizarre shit in this case to fill two mini-series and a Coen Brothers’ movie.
THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON has a cast of thousands (they weren’t kidding when they said the “people”). And casting is always key. I’ve only seen the premier (I still can’t get over not being able to see the whole thing at once – what are we, in the Stone Age?), but there appear to be some great performances.
I love Travolta in the right thing (like PULP FICTION or GET SHORTY) but as Robert Shapiro? Puhhleeze. There are no Jews in this town who could play him? Yes, I know Travolta is a “name,” but get real – he was a name. I guarantee that any Millennial watching this mini-series who is not familiar with the OJ case will also have no clue who John Travolta is.
Oh well. At least Ryan Murphy didn’t get Lady Gaga to play Marcia Clark.
Those quibbles aside, THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON (Tuesday nights at 10 on FX) is off to a very promising start. When you can be completely engrossed in a ten-hour story in which you already know the ending, THAT’S filmmaking. Congratulations to all concerned.
Now if Robert Shapiro would just represent Steve Avery…
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM