O.J. SEEKS INFOMERCIAL DEAL;SOME SAY SUCH A PROJECT WOULD SET BACK THE INDUSTRY

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Just when the infomercial seemed to be making strides toward improving its image with marketers such as Apple Computer, Microsoft and Toyota, along comes O.J. Simpson.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer, acquitted on charges of murdering his ex-wife and a friend of hers, is negotiating an infomercial deal with Maui Productions President Tony Hoffman to sell a $30 video in which Mr. Simpson tells his story, said Steve Dworman, publisher of West Los Angeles-based Infomercial Marketing Report.

"O.J. apparently wants a million bucks upfront before producing the infomercial," said Mr. Dworman. "He and Tony have met a number of times discussing parameters while Tony looks for a financial backer."

Mr. Hoffman-who recently produced Loretta Swit's successful infomercial "Lasting Kiss"-wouldn't comment.

Mr. Simpson apparently has shopped his idea to at least three other infomercial companies that turned it down. In fact, many executives in the industry are appalled by the idea of Mr. Simpson making an infomercial.

"I've spent 10 years trying to improve the image of long-form advertising in the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies," said Tim Hawthorne, president of Hawthorne Communications, a Fairfield, Iowa-based infomercial producer. "It's another huge setback for the industry, like psychic networks. Those kinds of infomercials become topmost in people's minds and undermine the reputation of [infomercials] as an acceptable marketing vehicle."

But this infomercial, like many other supposed media deals of Mr. Simpson, isn't ready for production yet.

"Getting this thing made will be a problem because most people think it's in bad taste," said Mr. Dworman.

"But as in all media, there's always one magazine or station that will take anything," he said. "It goes with the territory-this infomercial just won't be the sparkling light of the industry."

Mr. Simpson has his fingers in other media pies as well.

Cable News Network legal commentator Greta Van Susteren said she has met with Mr. Simpson and got a commitment for CNN to telecast his first TV interview since the trial, to be conducted by Ms. Van Susteren and CNN colleague Roger Cossack. She said there were no conditions on the interview.

She said Mr. Simpson did not say when that would be, but that she believed it would be in a few months.

Mr. Simpson still faces civil charges in the deaths, but no court date has been set yet.

Joe Mandese contributed to this story.

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