John Travolta, David Schwimmer and Cuba Gooding Jr in The People V OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.
John Travolta, David Schwimmer and Cuba Gooding Jr in The People V OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. Ray Mickshaw / Fx

Mini-series follows OJ Simpson and the trial of the century

TODAY the name of OJ Simpson isn't nearly as well known as that of the Kardashian clan.

But 20 years ago OJ "The Juice" Simpson was an American celebrity who had transitioned from a record-breaking gridiron career to the silver screen.

Then tragedy struck when his ex-wife Nicole was found murdered and Simpson became the prime suspect.

Channel 10's new mini-series The People V OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, debuting tomorrow night, follows Simpson's criminal trial, dubbed the "trial of the century" because of the international media coverage fuelled by the allowance of cameras in the courtroom.

I was only 12 at the time, but I still have vague memories of seeing footage from the trial on the news, including a fiery female lawyer with curly hair (Marcia Clark).

Cuba Gooding Jr is brilliant as the tempestuous Simpson, managing to create doubt about his character's motivations even though as a viewer you're already aware of the trial's result.

Friends star David Schwimmer returns to the small screen as Rob Kardashian, Simpson's friend and a member of his legal team who is now better known as the late father to reality TV stars Kim, Khloe and Kourtney.

Produced by Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, American Crime Story is well written and well-paced. There is a lot of good acting, particularly from Sarah Paulson as the obsessive prosecutor Clark.

But unfortunately John Travolta's Robert Shapiro is a bit overdone. Aside from his wildly distracting eyebrows, Travolta puts on an exaggerated accent which seems strange when viewed next to the more subtle, nuanced performances going on around him.

So if you can forgive a camp Shapiro, then this well-made drama will either bring back memories of the media circus for those old enough to remember or introduce a new generation to this compelling story.



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