The sordid and seemingly never-ending soap opera captured the Cover Story crown for the fourth consecutive month in September, thanks mostly to the weekly attention supermarket tabloids give to Mr. Simpson, his slain ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her slain friend, Ronald Goldman. People put Mr. Simpson on one of its four September covers, dubbing the gridiron great "The Prisoner."
Simpson Media Mania mustered 9 points on the strength of 9 covers last month, and with the trial only now getting into full swing, the story will likely dominate the Cover Story survey for the rest of the year.
Cover Story is a monthly ranking of celebrities' popularity as reflected by their appearance on the covers of more than 30 of the nation's leading publications.
Many other publications found something or someone else to write about in September. Gossip about Mr. Simpson's private life didn't deter Entertainment Weekly or Us from going forward with "Fall Preview" sections, or prevent People from issuing its yearly "Best and Worst Dressed" report.
In fact, perennial Cover Story favorite Oprah Winfrey almost beat out the O.J. Simpson murder case, earning 8 points on 7 covers. Ms. Winfrey received more than half her points from such non-tabloids as Entertainment Weekly and Redbook.
As usual, the rich and famous talk-show chattress did little to earn such press; apparently, her essential Oprahness is more than enough justification. However, her interviews did address rumors and news reports about behind-the-scenes turmoil on her long-running talk show.
Comedian and sitcom superstar Jerry Seinfeld made a run for the top, but fell short with 6 points and 3 covers. The nothing nyuckster made a memorable appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone, garbed and coiffed to look like the king of a different sort of domain, Elvis Presley.
The mistress of Fox's "Melrose Place," Heather Locklear, finished fourth with 5 points and 2 covers. She was featured on the cover of the recently relaunched Spy and was prominently showcased on People's "Best and Worst Dressed" cover.
The crisis in Haiti dominated the news in late September and received cover play on Newsweek and Time during the same week, helping the story to finish fifth on the survey with 4 points.
Tying for sixth were Ralph Fiennes and Robert Redford, two of the creative forces behind the acclaimed new film "Quiz Show." The hot young British actor and the decorated Hollywood veteran each earned 4 points via 2 covers.
Rounding out the September survey, each with three points: former first lady Barbara Bush; "Natural Born Killer" Woody Harrelson; Hollywood couple Warren Beatty and Annette Benning; and king of pop Michael Jackson and his new bride, Lisa Marie Presley.