O.J. Simpson may have made my career

O.J. Simpson may have made my career

I woke up to the news about O.J. Simpson dying and can’t believe I never wrote about him here.

He may have made my career. 

That slow-speed chase on a Friday night, when I had to work early the next morning for the news at WSVN starting at 6 a.m.

I had to go out that night, which I never did before an early day of work. 

It was my friend Seth’s bachelor party before his wedding to Ally. 

We went to a place I wouldn’t go to these days and the chase was on TV. So were the New York Knicks, in a playoff game. The manager turned the TVs off since the customers weren’t paying attention to — using a TV word — the talent.

Simpson became the story for a long time, and the public didn’t seem to care. How do I know? Looking at lists in trade magazines of the highest-rated programs. The top 10 were all about Simpson, always.

Being a Fox affiliate without soap operas or other network programming, we had an entire afternoon to show the trial. The idea was brilliant. Patrick Fraser stood by the National Satellite News Center, watching and anchoring. Some lawyer by the name of Howard Finkelstein gave analysis. I wonder whatever happened to that guy with a ponytail.

Lisa was the producer, helping write for the newscasts and getting Courtroom Clips edited.

She got her first on air job as a reporter around the time the prosecution rested. I took over when the defense got the case.

O.J. Simpson may have made my career
F. Lee Bailey (from left), O.J. Simpson, and Robert Kardashian, 1995. (Pool photo)

It was a lot of fun but of course I worked too hard. Patrick was always telling me to keep things simple. I had to pick the best soundbite or exchange, and go with it. Not a dissertation that wouldn’t make slot. We didn’t need anything else when Johnnie Cochran mentioned a certain glove to the jury: “If it doesn’t fit you must acquit.” That was an”easy” day because who couldn’t listen to that over and over?

Jeff even sent a plastic blue WSVN coffee mug to Judge Lance Ito, not as a bribe but to show off on the beach when the camera turned to the judge. That was great publicity!

Sure, there were issues. Stormy weather caused the live satellite feed to turn to hash, making it unairable. The signal was on the KU band, rather than the C band and made for an additional element of live TV on those days.

And when the case was wrapping, I got called for federal jury duty. Talk about the worst time!

O.J. Simpson may have made my career
From left: O.J. Simpson grimaces on June 15, 1995, as he tries on one of the leather gloves prosecutors said he wore the night of the murders. Then, Oct. 3, 1995, Simpson reacts as he is found not guilty in his criminal trial. (Pool photos)

I went in and filled out a form everybody got. It asked if I knew anybody on a list, probably to avoid a conflict of interest. Maybe I should’ve pointed out knowing Macdonald Carey — from Days of Our Lives. I didn’t, and spent the day at the courthouse.

That afternoon, we were brought into a large courtroom, and I was angry. Finally, I got to tell the judge why I should be excused. I told her off in a loud voice, saying I didn’t get appointed to my job for life like she did, and had to go back to work. That drew attention and I wondered whether there was any sort of transcript.

Later, we were divided into three groups. The people in my group were very happy to be with me. They knew we were about to go home.

Anyway, the trial ended, the jury gave its verdict, and the rest was history — including Simpson moving to Miami of all places.

I left with great memories and a promotion from the feedbay to writer on the overnight shift for the morning newscast.


  1. Lenny—your career wasn’t made by the OJ trial. You would have been successful with or without it. Your talent would have carried you—of course you wouldn’t have had the nickname ‘Feedbay Lenny’ since you spent so much time there recording the trial:)

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