There’s a lot to look forward to in FX’s 10-episode miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson, Ryan Murphy’s first installment in his Amercian Crime Story anthology. You’ll get to see John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, slimy in his expensive suits and giving what’s arguably his best performance since Tarantino brought him back from the dead. You’ll have the chance to witness Cuba Gooding Jr. do an unnervingly believable take on a potential psychopath with teetering sanity. And you’ll have the opportunity to watch David Schwimmer’s silver-streaked Robert Kardashian counsel his accused friend, then gasp in horror as his offspring realize that sensationalism attracts attention. (The horror! The horror!)
But the most impressive part of Murphy’s newest series may be the way it relies on its source material, Jeffery Toobin’s 1996 tome, The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. That doesn’t mean, however, that the showrunners and writers don’t stretch the truth a bit for drama’s sake. Below, five key points from Episode One, fact-checked and rated on a one-to-five “Glove” scale for accuracy.
Just how were the bodies discovered?
In the series’ very first scene, a dog walker who triggers the investigation because the Simpson-Brown children’s pet Akita (named, wait for it, Kato) was barking near their front gate. The passerby sees that the pooch’s paws are stained with blood, peers his flashlight in the gangway, and discovers the bodies of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman — a Law and Order setup if you’ve ever seen one.
In reality, it took much longer: According to Toobin, a neighbor named Steven Schwab had just finished his a Sunday night ritual — watching The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ended at 10:30pm — when he took his dog out for a walk. He did discover the white Akita barking at the house, and noticed the blood, but he didn’t look much further. Instead, the distraught dog followed him home. Around 11:40pm, as Schwab and his wife gave it a bowl of water and pondered what to do, their neighbor Sukru Boztepe and his wife returned and offered to care for the animal for the night. As Boztepe later told the court, the dog was acting so nervous that they let him out. Kato lead them straight to Nicole Brown’s home, and alerted them to the crime scene. They found two bodies, covered in blood. (3/5 Gloves)
Cochran was already part of the case before he joined the team
If you were to just watch the show, it would seem that the legendary trial lawyer was just waiting around for the Juice’s call. He pontificates on air, and offers the victims’ families his apologies, but otherwise has little contact. According to Toobin’s research, though, Cochran and OJ had been in touch since the beginning of the ordeal. “Though television viewers never knew it,” the author writes, “he was a friend of O.J. Simpson’s — not, in normal circumstances, an intimate confidant, but certainly a long-term acquaintance. Since the day of the murders, Simpson had been on the phone with Cochran talking about his plight and asking the attorney to join in his defense efforts.” ACS has kept them separate, however, at least for now, with Cochran participating in the coverage of the case without ever letting on that he might be offering the star advice. (1/5 Gloves)