TV Room: ‘O.J.: Made in America’


ESPN’s “30 for 30” series has been responsible for some of the better sports-themed documentaries of recent years (Peter Berg’s King’s Ransom, on the trade of Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles; Ron Shelton’s Jordan Rides the Bus, in which Michael Jordan retires from the NBA to play minor-league baseball) by understanding a simple rule: Sports stories get more interesting the further afield they run from the sport in question.

Ezra Edelman’s sprawling five-part epic O.J.: Made in America follows that rule to a tee. It is not just a high point for the series, it’s one of the great long-form documentaries you will ever see.

It’s been shown on ESPN, had a brief theatrical run, and should be available on various streaming services soon. My review is at Eyes Wide Open:

“I thought he was a has-been.” That’s Marcia Clark, no sports fan, in Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America. She’s describing her reaction to hearing about O.J. Simpson being wanted for double murder. Clark would spend an incredible-to-believe nine months in a courtroom trying to put him behind bars for those murders. But given the portrait of Simpson that emerges from Edelman’s masterfully dense, dramatic, and journalistic five-part documentary, it’s likely that the one-time sports star and permanent celebrity wannabe would be more offended by Clark thinking he was a has-been than a murderer…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Books: ‘Ghettoside’ and the Murder Plague

ghettoside-coverOne of the most surprising entries on the nonfiction bestseller lists now, in between all the diet and self-help and comedy tell-alls and breathless Bill O’Reilly assassination tomes, is Jill Leovy’s gritty Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America. It’s a true-crime potboiler and an X-Ray of a dysfunctioning city and a cry for help all at once. Her writing is sharp, her reporting true.

Ghettoside is on sale now and is very worth your seeking out. My review is at PopMatters:

As the Los Angeles Timereporter who created the newspaper’s blog, The Homicide Report, Jill Leovy understands all too well the numbing cycle of violence that typifies most poor minority neighborhoods in America. The Homicide Report was simple in concept but gargantuan in practice: Cover every murder in Los Angeles. That meant finding out who was killed, who they were, how it happened, and if possible why. By the time the blog started in 2007, the country’s early-‘90s homicide peak had passed, but the murders kept coming. Each one was a story; another human life gone, and a space that couldn’t be filled left behind…