Two years ago, I was contacted by executive film producer, Howard Barrett. Following my December 15, 2013 Blogcritics review of Jeffery Toobin’s The Run of His Life: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, (the book that was the basis for the popular FX movie series about the infamous murder trial), Barrett inquired if I was interested in blogging about his new documentary, “Overlooked Suspect.” It was based on private investigator William C. Dear’s book, O.J. Is Innocent and I Can Prove It (2012). Dear is a former Florida police officer turned longtime international private investigator, who has spent over 18 years exploring the details of one of America’s most infamous murder trials.
At that time, Barrett and Dear were struggling to find a buyer for their film. They had made some inroads at second-tier film festivals, but it seemed no one was interested in analyzing the case anymore. The conspiracy theorists had moved on. But with this season’s hit FX series American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson, which was based on Toobin’s book, that all changed and now there is renewed interest in the case.
Yesterday, I noticed there was a spike in website visits and almost all of the visitors were on the Q&A blog post I had conducted with Mr. Barrett on March 16, 2014.
This morning while I was listening to the Today Show (I can never actually watch it with two little boys running around), there was a segment about the Simpson case. The anchor announced Martin Sheen was producing a new film about the Simpson case. Low and behold it’s Barret’s and Dear’s film, “Overlooked Suspect.” The documentary that struggled so long to find a home will now air on the cable channel Investigation Discovery (Date TBA). It’s now called, “Hard Evidence: O.J. is innocent.”
I thought it would be fitting to repost my 2014 interview with producer Howard Barrett, where we discuss the case, his film, and the possibility that a real killer is on the loose.
What’s your background in film? And how did you connect with Mr. Dear?
This is my first feature documentary. I’ve been involved in the film and television industry for many years through my Marketing and Media firm. Mr. Dear is the other executive producer. We met through a mutual associate, who is the film’s director. William had been investigating the case for many years, but the film project itself started about 3 years ago. From the moment the trial begun and based on over 50 years in crime solving, he never felt right about it. There were too many unanswered questions.
Aside from the assassination of JFK, there are few, if any, other murder cases that have the created the number of conspiracy theories as the OJ Simpson case. Given the potential for criticism, why did you stick with this project?
As a producer, you look for a great story and, when you can- the Truth. This case had all the trappings–Hollywood, murder, race relations, divorce and, how could we forget, the infamous car chase that was viewed live by over 90 million people–even before YouTube!
What Mr. Dear proves to us, in the end, is that OJ, at the core, is a father protecting his own son, Jason, who is the “Overlooked Suspect” and based on all evidence collected, the main suspect and alleged killer.
Jason is from O.J.’s first marriage and has had many personal problems. He was the one present when his youngest sister drowned as an infant. Perhaps he blamed himself for her death. He suffers from bipolar and rage disorder and was taking lots of medication for many years. He has a history of rage, including being on probation, before the murders, of a run-in with a former employer for assault with a deadly weapon. As you’ll see in the film, there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows Jason should be the key suspect and alleged killer–including his personal dairies, his own knife, telling photographs and the jeep Jason was driving the night of the homicides, now in William Dear’s possession.
We have no relationship with Jason, the Simpson family or any of his associates. However, from Williams’ investigation, he has been a bit quite transient and has resided in Atlanta for a while.
Do you think this film is going to force legal authorities to retry the case? Has Mr. Dear heard from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office?
In order to try the case again, one must have indisputable evidence. Based on feedback to date, it appears they do not want to reopen the case. Although it’s highly unlikely that the case will ever be retried, Mr. Dear believes that the public and the parents of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman are owed the truth. We hope this film will serve as a catalyst.
My prime objective is to get a broadcast airing of the film so all Americans can judge for and “vote” themselves. Every week I am asked when the film will be on television!
We have been screened at a variety of film festivals. We also held a private screening in Los Angeles that included accomplished criminal defense lawyers. Each time our film is aired, we ask the audience to raise their hands if they think that O.J. was the killer. Almost every single hand is usually raised. After screening, when asked the very same question, almost no hands are ever raised. It reflects the level of detail and credibility in both Mr. Dear’s investigation plus the actual physical evidence discovered. It’s not unusual for him to display actual evidence at screenings, which always goes over big with educated audiences –which have included senior law enforcement officials, lawyers, criminologists and psychiatrists, among others.