Look, everyone, the O.J. Simpson circus is back in town
Thursday, September 20th 2007, 4:00 AM
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O.J. Simpson led the cable news channels on a slow-speed chase through Las Vegas yesterday in a scene that took us back to 1994.
This time there was no gun, no white Bronco and no threat of him killing himself, but the scenario was the same: a gridiron star at the heart of an alleged crime kicking off a media circus.
It was a fitting end to a day that saw Simpson sprung from a Vegas jail and his lawyer conducting a news conference live on TV standing next to Tony Barbieri, a prankster from "Jimmy Kimmel Live" who was shouting "Nice work!" and wearing a shirt reading OJ 07.
Lawyer Yale Galanter at one point thanked the toothless actor, seemingly unaware it was a joke.
"Being welcomed into the world of O.J.Simpson and the criminal law by a man wearing an 'I Love Famous People' hat," said Dan Abrams on MSNBC, "that may really tell the entire story of representing O.J. Simpson and covering O.J.Simpson. It is reflective of the scene that often surrounds O.J.Simpson anywhere he goes."
Simpson has proven time and time again to be the TV gift that keeps giving. He's the male version of Paris Hilton. For the record, Barbieri also stood next to Hilton's lawyer when she was locked up.
In 1995, Simpson convinced the world that people would watch endless hours of courtroom testimony. The first Simpson case changed the way TV viewed such stories. The case also helped launch the career of Star Jones and many others who were hired simply to yap about what was going on in the courtroom.
For that alone, we should hate Simpson.
By late yesterday, the breaking news was that Simpson might soon leave the courthouse. And then he did, in a slow-speed silver sedan.
"There's a good chance O.J. may be in the car," said a producer at MSNBC.
Later, Fox's Greta Van Susteren thrust a cell phone to Galanter as he walked into the Palms Hotel.
"Yale, Yale," viewers heard her say, "want to say something for our phoner?"
"No, thanks," the lawyer said.
This can only get worse.
With Hilton quiet, Lindsay Lohan laying low, and Anna Nicole Smith long dead, Simpson has brought the entertainment back to the courtroom.
It's also ironic that Simpson started the three-ring circus again by trying to steal back that designer suit he wore with a smirk as the jury let him off the hook on murder charges.
The truly sad part here is that the new courtroom portion won't happen until next year.
One can only hope Barbieri becomes a regular fixture on this circuit. Maybe Court TV will give him his own show.
Yesterday, a reporter asked Galanter if Simpson was innocent or not guilty. The lawyer said the law doesn't make a distinction.
"He's both, dude," Barbieri said. "He's innocent and not guilty."
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Richard Huff is the Daily News' Deputy Features Editor/Television, overseeing and writing TV coverage at the paper. In addition to being an expert on TV, Huff is an award-winning motorsports writer for the News. Away from the paper, Huff spends his time helping his neighbors as a volunteer EMT for the Atlantic Highlands First Aid & Safety Squad.