Cast of characters at Simpson hearing made for the tube

July 08, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

Here's what I've learned so far while watching the O. J. Simpson hearing.

The limo driver who took Simpson to the airport looks a little like Kenneth Branagh.

Kato, the caretaker/actor, has been in at least one movie -- "Cyborg 3." Unfortunately, like many of you, I gave up on the "Cyborg" opus after just one sequel.

Marcia Clark, the prosecutor, used to be a dancer.

Gerald Uelmen, the backup lawyer, used to be Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell's law professor.

One of the L.A. detectives to take the stand counts Roman

Polanski among his celebrity arrests.

And the lawyer/analysts on CNN -- as played by Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin -- never seem to agree on anything, including whether the judge would allow the bloody glove to be introduced as evidence. She did.

What we've been watching all week, of course, is a preliminary hearing on a double-homicide charge, but it might as well be a mini-series, introducing a lot of would-be stars, many of them lawyers. In fact, if you're a lawyer and you're not either on the defense team or in the TV booth as an analyst, you might want to rethink your career.

Let's forget the lawyers, or, if you've read your Shakespeare, we could do even worse.

Consider, instead, the bit players who have suddenly taken their place in the national culture. It may be a trial, but because there are cameras in the courtrooms and tens of millions are watching every minute of the action, it's also show business.

It's hard to tell the difference, actually, particularly when mystery envelopes are introduced that could hold a murder weapon or, for all we know, a bologna sandwich.

And then there's the judge who ends a session by pronouncing that she'll render a judgment tomorrow. Be sure to tune in.

Yes, it's confusing. Who says show business is like no business we know?

I've always been pretty sure that TVs in the courtroom were a good idea. It makes judges and cops and other court officials more responsible.

But I understand one big argument against the camera. It's hard enough to get people to testify these days. In ordinary cases, the person who testifies one day could be a victim the next. We've all heard about those stories.

This case is different. It's the ultimate mega-case. It's the case where every detail is scrutinized. And that detail could be you. Unless you were interested in selling your story for $100,000 to one of the tabloids or feel you're due your 15 minutes of fame, why would anyone actually want to testify?

If you do, you can end up like Kato. Where does Kato end and Sirajul and Mujibur begin?

Have you seen Kato? He is the Allison Porchnik of this trial. Allison was, if you don't remember, the character in "Annie Hall" who complained of being reduced to a cultural stereotype.

Here's Kato's story. Nicole Simpson met him in Aspen. He wanted to be an actor. He had the hair to be an actor. She invited him to live in the Simpsons' guest house.

You see, he wasn't doing much, just hanging around on the slopes, looking for something. All estates in L.A. have guest houses. And in each guest house seems to reside a caretaker with streaked blond hair and hopes of some day getting a part in "Cyborg 4."

Kato certainly acts the role. He comes to court in jeans, no tie and a blue blazer. His hair looks wind-blown. It was wind-blown in exactly the same way both days he appeared in court.

He is the essential almost-handsome guy who lands in L.A. with a dim bulb behind his baby blues and the thought that he's got what it takes to be a movie star.

Or, he could be somebody entirely different. We don't really know.

I know only this. He's on the TV. And people are laughing at him as he testifies. One person says he's been waiting all day, and he can't believe Kato hasn't yet used the word "dude."

Another viewer says Kato is the murderer, which is logical if you've watched enough Perry Mason.

"He's not as dumb as he looks," she explains.

I'm just glad it's not me up there. That's the other thing I've learned while watching the Simpson hearing.

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