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?Oscar shortlist doc contender? O.J.: Made in America was feted this weekend, as Hollywood was already in a celebratory mood ahead of Sunday night’s Golden Globes. Ron Howard hosted an intimate cocktail party to honor the Ezra Edelman-directed doc, with Marcia Clark among the VIPs in attendance.
At the Chateau Marmont soiree, ESPN Films’ Connor Schell lauded his team including Edelman, producer Caroline Waterlow and ESPN’s Libby Geist, who also were on hand. “Ezra told a historical story with incredible context about the city of Los Angeles and race relations, and he told it in a way that is unbelievably relevant today,” said Schell.
As for Clark, the evening’s special guest, Edelman thanked her for trusting him “to sit and talk about something that is a very personal subject to her and not something that she had talked about in, frankly, decades, and she very much makes the film that we made. I’m honored that you showed up and can still endure any conversation about this subject.”
Clark admitted she wasn’t initially inclined to participate in a doc, wondering, “What more was there to say?” But she jumped in once she heard about Edelman’s vision for the project. She added that over a five-hour stretch with Edelman, in a sweltering house, “the thick patina of civilization eroded during that interview.”
Clark patiently fielded questions from numerous party guests about what it’s been like for her to have the infamous case she prosecuted over 20 years ago dredged up again.
“Reopening the wounds is always painful: Ron [Goldman] and Nicole [Brown Simpson] were innocent people who were brutally murdered, and their murderer walked out the door,” Clark told The Hollywood Reporter. “The pain of that never leaves me, but it certainly gets sharpened by the reawakening of all the memories that this brings up for me, with the FX series, this documentary. I think about Nicole and Ron every day, but the specific memories that these two projects brought up are particularly painful, to make me relive the moments. It’s also been really good because it seems to have sparked a completely different conversation about the justice system in general, what’s brought to bear on juries, as well as all the sociological issues that they raise. It think it’s been, on both sides, a very consciousness-raising experience. We’re having heartfelt but high level conversations about what it all means, and I think that’s wonderful. That’s what art is supposed to do.”
She added that her sweaty five-hour grill session with Edelman in the middle of a Los Angeles summer was ultimately a fulfilling experience.
“It was a really intense conversation that forced me to rethink everything that went on and dig deep for the answers,” Clark said. “He would remind me of things that I’d forgotten, in terms of the details, they were so painful. That’s why I think he got a lot of truth out of me — more than I wanted him to. I was on the other side of the witness stand for a change, and I did not dig it!”
Howard asked Clark if it was weird to watch herself in the scripted FX series (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which won the award for best TV movie or miniseries at Sunday night’s Golden Globes), with this preamble: “I’ve made a lot of scripted movies about real people and finally made a Beatles documentary and then had to show it to the surviving band members, and they liked it, fortunately.”
Clark said, “It’s fiction, and I accepted that, you have to. They found some truth, they wove it in, that’s cool, and the performances were great. This [documentary] rocked my world, this blew my mind. The way [Edelman] wove in everything that was going on [in Los Angeles at the time of the Simpson trial], it really opened my eyes to the fact that I didn’t realize what other people didn’t know. I had been prosecuting cases for 10 years. This was my reality, and I didn’t realize that other people outside my bubble didn’t know the context. That’s [Edelman’s] genius.”
Howard first met Edelman when the documentarian had been invited to give feedback on Howard’s Jay Z doc Made in America.
Howard calls Edelman’s 467-minute-long O.J.: Made in America “a remarkable piece of work,” adding, “I’m sorry I’m not one of those who has seen it as a theatrical, with the intermissions. It’s this epic experience. I may yet. It’s been playing like that from the beginning. It’s a great way to see it.”
Among the guests noshing on mini versions of the Chateau’s famous appetizers were directors Tamra Davis and Charlie McDowell; musician Kim Gordon; director and governor of the Academy’s documentary branch, Roger Ross Williams; Imagine Entertainment president Erica Huggins; Fox’s Tony Safford; Sundance’s Michelle Satter and Trevor Groth; producers Sara Risher, Jamie Patricof, Jonathan Dana and Mitchell Block; CAA’s Rowena Arguelles; and IDA executive director Simon Kilmurry.
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