O.J. Simpson’s Only Post-Trial Late Night Appearance Never Aired

As a one-time football great, O.J. Simpson’s initial forays in late-night TV were generally as a jovial guest, and even included a gig as host of Saturday Night Live on February 25, 1978 . But all of that changed in the summer of 1994, when Simpson became the prime suspect in the double-murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. 

Over the next year and a half, late-night hosts made a meal out of Simpson’s subsequent arrest and what was dubbed the “Trial of the Century,” which ended with the fallen athlete’s acquittal—a decision that all the “Dancing Itos” Jay Leno could have assembled would likely never have predicted. 

Despite his acquittal, and the public’s obsession with all things O.J., no self-respecting late-night host seemed very eager to have the Juice come on and share his part of the story. Which is how Oscar-winning documentarian Michael Moore ended up securing an interview with O.J.

In November 1997, Moore—who was then best known for his early documentary Roger & Me—sat down with O.J. for a tête-à-tête for a new late night talk show he was developing with FOX. 

The interview took place in front of a live audience at a taping of the show’s pilot episode. As The Seattle Times reported at the time, Moore did not tell the audience that Simpson would soon appear. Instead, he was teased as a “mystery guest.” 

After a presumably less controversial interview with Sheryl Crow, Moore then introduced Simpson to the crowd of 276 audience members. He kicked off his Q&A by noting, “We haven’t seen you in a while. What’ve you been up to?” Simpson replied, half-jokingly, that he had been “a little busy.” It only got worse from there.

As Rich Drees wrote for The Seattle Times: 

“The two then launched into a discussion of the current football season and how the game has changed since Simpson retired. Moore mentioned all the new equipment that professional football players now have, including gloves. ‘Would you have worn gloves, O.J.?’ Moore asked, slyly alluding to one facet of the murder trial.”

The cheeky nature of the interview was more than many individuals in the audience could handle. People began shouting out their questions—“Did you kill her?”—while others just yelled their assertions: “You beat Nicole!”

Moore had planned to continue with his own questions, but when Simpson made it clear that he’d be happy to engage with the audience directly, the “interview” morphed into what Drees described as more of a town hall format.

While the bulk of the audience were Moore fans who had been invited to the taping via his website, at least a few of them seemed to turn on the author and filmmaker. When one woman asked “Why is he here?,” Moore replied that “I wanted to hear his side.” The woman’s assessment? “You’re nothing but a ratings slut.”

FOX executives seemed to agree that Moore had taken the interview, which lasted more than an hour, too far. The show was never picked up and just days after the taping, a spokesperson for the network told The Seattle Times that the footage would likely never see the light of day.

That hasn’t stopped Moore from talking about the experience over the years. While appearing on the Late Show in early 1998, Moore had barely gotten situated in his chair before David Letterman began firing off questions about the whole debacle. 

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Moore explained that when Simpson first walked out in front of the audience, a lot of people seemed to think it was an O.J. impersonator. He also said that when he really began questioning him about the murder, Simpson seemed to start sweating.

In 2016, Moore discussed his O.J. interview with another late-night host, Seth Meyers. 

“[O.J.] comes out and the audience thought it was an actor. Like we were doing a comedy bit,” Moore told Meyers. “He sits down and they realized after a while [that it’s him]… They start booing. The audience starts booing, a third of the audience got up and walked out. I just kept a straight face and said, ‘I don’t know why they’re [booing], it’s probably me. Something I did, so don’t  take it personally.’ I talked football with him for four or five minutes.”