THE YEAR OF LIVING O.J.

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June

O.J. Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and restaurant waiter Ronald Goldman are stabbed to death June 12 outside Ms. Simpson's home in Los Angeles' posh Brentwood neighborhood.

First-degree murder charges are filed against Mr. Simpson June 17; he and friend Al Cowlings lead police on a bizarre 75-mile low-speed chase in a white Ford Bronco before Mr. Simpson surrenders to authorities. The chase, carried on the four major networks, pulls in an estimated 95 million viewers, or just a bit shy of the previous Super Bowl. The publicity results in a spurt in Bronco sales: For the first five months of 1994, sales totaled 13,150, up 12.4% from a year earlier; for the last seven months, a 34.3% uptick is recorded, to 24,217.

Time and Newsweek run virtually identical covers of Mr. Simpson's mug shot, but Time gets criticized for darkening his features in the photo.

Interactive Network, Sunnyvale, Calif., pulls a 30-minute infomercial starring the pro football Hall of Famer; Time-Life Books yanks him off the cover of a book about to be released on Heisman Trophy winners.

News of Mr. Simpson's no contest plea in 1989 to beating his then-wife Nicole comes to light; asked why he wasn't dropped as a spokesman then, Hertz Corp. says: "Had we known what we now know, our decision in 1989 would have been quite different." When the murder charges were filed against Mr. Simpson, the car rental company initially refused to even acknowledge he had been a spokesman.

July

"Fallen Hero: The Shocking, True Story Behind the O.J. Simpson Tragedy," a quickie biography, is published.

Fox begins casting a TV movie, tentatively called "White Bronco."

The Simpson defense launches a toll-free line that receives 250,000 calls in the first week.

"O.J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose," a quickie video biography from Vidmark Entertainment, hits stores.

September

Court TV rejects scheduled buy by the Florida Citrus Commission for fear three new, upbeat spots for orange juice would conflict with trial coverage.

Jury selection begins before Superior Court Judge Lance Ito.

October

Nielsen Media Research reports CNN's third-quarter 24-hour rating rose 40% from a year ago; Simpson pre-trial coverage gets the credit.

Faye Resnick, Nicole's self-proclaimed "best friend," and a series of interviews about her book, "Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted" draw complaints from Judge Ito, who worries whether all the publicity will make it more difficult to seat an impartial jury.

Playboy releases an exercise video, filmed earlier, featuring Mr. Simpson.

November

With increased attention on DNA testing due to the Simpson case, Houston lab Identi-gene breaks what is thought to be the first consumer ad for DNA testing, a TV spot in seven markets.

December

Edward Holness unveils a 21-inch-high, 30-pound bronze sculpture of Mr. Simpson, selling for $3,395. Mr. Holness says he hopes to sell 25,000, and says the project was in the works eight months before the slayings.

Recycled Paper Greetings unveils a card that says "I did it," with Mr. Simpson's mug shot on the cover; inside, the card reads, "Now that I have your attention-Happy birthday."

Jacobson & Jardine, Provo, Utah, finds a bullish market for its 5,000 silver ($34.95 each) and 1,000 gold ($69.95) coins commemorating Mr. Simpson's greatest pro football season. Another of those projects that was in the works earlier.

No Excuses Sportswear, which earlier brought us Donna Rice and Marla Maples in jeans ads, holds a news conference at which Nicole's sister Denise Brown is given $50,000 for the Nicole Brown Simpson Charitable Foundation, an organization to educate people on domestic violence.

January

"I Want to Tell You," a book written by Mr. Simpson with Laurence Schiller, is published, with an audio version read by Mr. Simpson.

Interactive Network forms a "jury" of 150 subscribers. The pre-trial survey found 35% believe he's guilty, 23% said innocent; the rest were undecided.

"The O.J. Simpson Story" garners Fox an 11.2 rating/17 share, the highest ever for a theatrical or made-for-TV movie on the network.

March

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' request to make electronic media pay for costs incurred by Simpson trial coverage is denied by Superior Court Presiding Judge Gary Klausner.

Source: News reports

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