After OJ, the cash still goes round and round

Trial of the century: The main player now cuts a sorry figure but the supporting cast is wheeling and dealing with a vengeance
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Are Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, the black and white prosecutors in the OJ Simpson trial, having an affair? Will they walk down the aisle together? Or is Darden "seeing" Anita Hill? Will OJ's girlfriend, Paula Barbieri, have him back? Will any woman take him? Who scored the bigger book deal: Johnnie Cochran, OJ's defence lawyer, or Ms Clark?

For all the best efforts of Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich to focus national attention on the budget, it is these and other questions that continue to agitate the celebrity-mad public. "Juicewatch", the tabloid soap opera, just runs and runs.

Some of the questions have been answered. Some still linger, as unresolved as the murders of Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman. Ms Clark and Mr Darden were seen on holiday together at the Lake Tahoe resort a few days after the trial. They were photographed coming out of a Los Angeles hotel. So they might have been involved. But sadly, no, they are not getting married. Ms Clark said during a speech at a women's conference in Long Beach, California, on Tuesday that she "burst out laughing" when she read the report in a supermarket tabloid.

But, yes, according to sources at the William Morris talent agency, their client Mr Darden is engaging in consenting sex with Anita Hill, a law professor from Oklahoma who leapt to fame a few years back when she accused Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court judge, of sexual harassment. William Morris have an interest in perpetuating the Darden mystique, for they helped him sign a publishing deal worth $1.3m with HarperCollins: a nice sum but $2.9m less than Ms Clark secured from Viking for her book.

Mr Cochran has also signed up for a book: My Journey to Justice. He has obtained "a very substantial multi-million dollar deal". But his refusal to specify just how much he is getting suggests he is miffed at Ms Clark for having lost the legal battle but winning the Battle of the Books. Alan Dershowitz, another lawyer of the Simpson "Dream Team", is picking up a mere $500,000 for Reasonable Doubts, a book he says will be of an academic bent.

OJ, meanwhile, is cutting a rather sorry figure. He has been kicked out of his favourite golf club; he has been dumped by his agency, Creative Managements; he continues to be bombarded with death-threats; he still faces ruin in pending "wrongful death" civil suits brought by the Brown and Goldman families; no one has yet made him an offer to write a new book; and last weekend he endured the ignominy of being told to stay away from a sports memorabilia convention in Atlantic City: he had been hoping to sell autographed photographs, at $159.95, of the highway pursuit that preceded his arrest in June 1994.

The word is that OJ spends most of his time at his Los Angeles home doing nothing - and alone. Ms Barbieri, a 28-year-old Playboy and underwear model, dumped him live on ABC television a couple of weeks back. She said she had stayed celibate during OJ's imprisonment but was disappointed in her hopes that he would return a better person. What did it, she said, was his proposal that they should sell photographs of their reunion to the highest tabloid bidder.

"It was all of a sudden. 'Well, they'll pay lots of money for pictures of you and I together'," Ms Barbieri told ABC. "And then the next thing I know he's coming. And he's got the photographer with him."

In case anyone has failed to get the moral of the OJ story, that money in America is everything, here's the quote of the year from Ms Barbieri's brother, Michael.

Angry that his father and half-brother were paid to appear on television but that he had missed out, he told People magazine when they refused to cough up for an interview: "I'm not going to stab my sister in the back for nothing."

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