March 6, 2004 — -- O.J. Simpson has been watching the latest high-profile criminal cases and says he has offered advice to fellow celebrities Michael Jackson and Robert Blake, who have found themselves under the same media scrutiny he once faced.
In a videotaped interview with a teenage talk show host, the former football legend said defense lawyers have commended his unsolicited advice to Blake, the former actor accused of murdering his ex-wife.
"His [Blake's] lawyer, as well as two or three top lawyers in America that I saw on Court TV, said the simple fact is that the advice O.J. Simpson gave to Robert Blake was solid," Simpson told 16-year-old Graham Bensinger, who hosts a St. Louis radio show. "It was good and he should listen to it."
Simpson had extended his unsolicited advice to Blake on the entertainment news show Extra, advising the former TV detective that he shouldn't watch television and shouldn't take a lie detector test. He also said Blake's lawyers should not release unflattering details about the background of Bonny Lee Bakley, Blake's slain wife.
Though Simpson was acquitted of the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, he was held liable for their deaths in a civil jury trial. Simpson said he is just a distant viewer of the trials of Scott Peterson and basketball player Kobe Bryant, but he did have some advice for the King of Pop.
"Michael Jackson I did call and left some encouragement for him, because I know him and I know his family," Simpson told Bensinger.
Bensinger, who hosts a sports radio show in St. Louis, managed to get Simpson to sit down for a lengthy interview, which he aired on his show on Feb. 28. The young host had been anticipating the encounter for a long time.
"I called his agent twice a week for nearly two years," Bensinger said on Good Morning America. "Finally, they said he would be coming to St. Louis, where I live. And they said I could interview him."
The interview was very hush-hush, and Bensinger said he was escorted by Simpson's handlers to the hotel where he was staying.
"Before the interview, I got a dozen calls asking where the interview was going to be held," Bensinger said. "I was stressed. I got calls the night before from Simpson's agent, telling me not to tell anyone where or when it would be," he said.
The teen, who also runs a sports talk Web site, www.gsportradio.com, asked Simpson some tough questions about the impact his trials had on his children.
Bensinger said Simpson told him his children are doing well and getting on with their lives.
While talking about his children, Simpson smiled, and was surprisingly open about his family, Bensinger said. But Simpson was critical of the way the media handled his case, and said that heavy coverage taints the jury pool.
"We see it happening right now with the Peterson case — probably — the Kobe and the Michael case," Simpson said. "By the time you are looking at a jury, they've heard so many things. And if it's a long trial, they can't differentiate what they heard on TV and what they might have heard in the first week of the trial. I think it's smart what Canada does: that the media can't really write or talk about a trial."
Simpson felt the media was completely unfair when covering his case, and that reporters made him look guilty because it made for a better story, Bensinger said.
Simpson would not confirm rumors that he might soon star in a reality TV show or work as a reporter covering a celebrity trial like Bryant's, but did say that he would be doing something soon.