Cashing in on O.J. Clearly, America hasn't run out of interest or money to spend on all things Simpson.

November 21, 1996|By SUN STAFF Information for this article was compiled by Sun staffers Lori Sears and Margaret Ansley.

It seems like forever. In fact, it's been only two years, five months, one week and one day since the discovery of the bodies of a Hall of Fame football player's ex-wife and a waiter from a trendy L.A. cafe sparked a national obsession that, well, just will not die.

Tomorrow, that obsession could reach new heights -- or depths. Tomorrow, the man at its center, O.J. Simpson, is expected to take the witness stand in a court of law and be asked for the first time to publicly testify to certain facts about the double murder. (No, you can't see it happen, but you can watch a "re-enactment" the next day on E! entertainment television.)

This means one thing: Ladies and gentleman, re-start your cash registers!

If the brief but dizzyingly sordid history of the industry spurred by the Simpson case is any indication, his long-awaited testimony could inspire a whole new generation of O.J. entrepreneurs.

But what is there left to say, or to sell? What tiny sector of the Simpson landscape has not already been strip-mined? O.J. phone cards? Done. O.J.-inspired TV series? Done. A dismissed O.J. juror posing for Playboy magazine? Done. A tousle-haired, vacant-eyed witness who could barely utter his own name with his own book and starring on his own radio show? Done and doner.

Doubtless someone will find new grist for the insatiable Simpson mill, some new way to milk the Juice. (In fact, the mill grinds on from O.J. Round 1: Marcia Clark, for one, has yet to publish her insights into prosecutorial hairstyles, makeup and how she lost the criminal case.)

But as Simpson comes to the stand in the civil trial, one year and seven weeks after he was acquitted, Today takes stock of all the dollars and nonsense produced by O.J. Inc. to date.

O.J. money machine

How much has O.J. Inc. generated? Nobody knows. But estimates from a wide range of sources run to as much as $1 billion in gross media and merchandising sales. And that's just the official stuff:

Sales of unsanctioned merchandise, from T-shirts to the board game "Squeeze the Juice": $50 million plus

Cost of the first trial to Los Angeles County: $9.3 million (including bonuses for the losing prosecutors)

How much the "Dream Team" defense team cost Simpson: An estimated $3.5 million to $4 million

O.J.'s earnings from "I Want to Tell You": $3 million to $4 million

What first-trial jurors who did not write books or pose nude earned: $1,330 ($5 a day for 266 days)

Revenue from the "Ask A.C" (Cowlings) 900 chat line in its first month: $300,000 (at $2.99 a minute)

How much Wasfi Tolaymat, a Jordanian immigrant, paid for the Chicago hotel room bed O.J. slept (or didn't) in: $200

How much he's been offered for it and other hotel room furnishings he now owns: $300,000

What Judge Lance Ito was offered to star in a new version of "People's Court": $1 million

The one-eyed monster

Alas, there is no O.J. TV this time around. No cameras at the civil trial. But Simpson spinoffs are everywhere in TV's half-vast wasteland:

Doing it daily: "Inside Edition," "Hard Copy," Court TV and E! all faithfully report on the civil trial. (E! offers lifelike re-enactments of the previous day's highlights.)

Inside dope(s): Robert Shapiro is analyzing the civil trial for CBS, Barry Scheck for NBC. Alan Dershowitz and Christopher Darden chat often with Geraldo Rivera on CNBC. Johnnie L. Cochran begins a Court TV talk show in January.

Still testifying: Lawyers turned TV stars Roger Cossack and Greta van Susteren are still going strong on CNN's "Burden of Proof."

Art imitates death: Uber-lawyer Teddy Hoffman is gone, but "Murder One" is back for a second season. Producer Stephen Bochco says it was not derived from the Simpson case. No, its first season just happened to revolve around a notorious murder of a young blond woman in L.A., allegedly by a jealous celebrity.

Great moments in publishing

OK, OK, this is yet another piece about the whole tired Simpson saga. But we certainly aren't alone out there:

Number of Simpson case-related books and audio tapes published so far: 50-plus

Total book advances paid Marcia Clark, Darden, Shapiro and Cochran: $11 million-plus

Total number of Time, Newsweek and People magazine covers on the case up to this month: 18

Total number of Time, Newsweek and People magazine articles on the case: 910

How much National Enquirer circulation rose during the criminal trial: 500,000 (from 3.4 million)

Initial printing of Marc Eliot's "Kato Kaelin: The Whole Truth" (sorta, kinda): 800,000

Number of O.J.-related Web sites found via Alta Vista search engine: About 3,000

Still to come: Books from Clark, Dominick Dunne, Mark Fuhrman, among others

Celebrities R Us

No one, it seems, was too far from the Simpson spotlight to find at least 15 minutes of fame. Among them:

Kato Kaelin, houseboy/witness/rocket scientist: Book, radio show, TV appearances, mall openings

Allan Park, limo driver/witness: Featured guest on "Trial of the Century" theme cruises from L.A. to Mexico

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