'OJ - the video' has TV in tabloid frenzy

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The Independent Online

Los Angeles

A home video more than two hours long, in which OJ Simpson offers his side of the story, goes on sale in the US today. For $29.95 (pounds 19.50), murder trial addicts are offered the real OJ in his bedroom explaining the bloody sock.

"Finally, OJ Simpson breaks his silence and responds to the American public," commercials proclaimed. Purchasers could call a free mail-order number, 1-800-OJTELLS, though were warned to wait up to a month for deliveries.

The video's release sent tabloid TV shows into a frenzy. Hard Copy, the brashest, started serialising excerpts, sandwiched between trailers for the film Eye for an Eye, in which a vengeful mother hunts down the man she believes killed her daughter and got away with it.

Simpson was acquitted three months ago of the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman. He pulled out of a live post- trial grilling on networked television, and shelved plans for a pay-per- view show after distributors refused to handle it. The video promised a more controlled environment.

The journalist picked to interview Simpson as he toured his West Los Angeles estate was Ross Becker, a former local TV anchorman who now owns a radio station in Kentucky. Hard Copy showed footage of the star rehearsing his performance.

Gloria Allred, an attorney for the Brown family, who have so far failed to get Simpson to testify in their civil law suit against him, responded bitterly. "To make a buck over the dead bodies of two innocent human beings is really repulsive,'' she said, "and I hope that people do not help him to profit from these murders."

The Simpson camp has denied media reports he collected $3m. Hard Copy declined to say how much it had paid, but the rival A Current Affair said it was offered clips for $600,000.

In the video, Simpson stands at the entrance of his estate where prosecutors claimed a blood trail led to his bedroom. "Once again no blood on any of the gates," he says. "If there was a bloody glove, or a hand that's dripping blood, one would think that there would be blood around.''

He ridicules the idea he dropped the famous bloody glove when he ran into an air conditioner on the way home. "There ain't no way I'm going to run into an air conditioner," he says. "I spent my whole career not running into things or people. Now suddenly I'm fumbling things, gloves and hats, and running into things?"