Lucky Duck Strikes Out

Linda Ellerbee

Does Lucky Duck Productions.

It’s for the children.


After a career in news broadcasting with major TV networks, Ellerbee and her business partner and husband started Lucky Duck  Productions, which produced programs for children, including “Nick News” for Nickelodeon.  Her visit to the Simpson trial didn’t make it into Anatomy, but it did into my notes. She had done documentaries, or “special editions,” about “news stories so big kids can’t ignore it, such as the Gulf War, L.A. riots, Aids and Magic Johnson. We don’t raise anxiety.” She said she had tried to ignore the Simpson trial for so long. “I didn’t want to add to the noise.” But she couldn’t any longer. “We want to use it as a teaching opportunity — about the American justice system. It would be a good place to talk about the media as an illustration of reality and TV. Parents and kids could watch it together, explore it together.”

She wanted Ito to help. He could explain how the legal process worked. “I would interview you while the trial is in progress and you could explain how it works.”

Nothing would air until long after the appeal process, she promised.

Ito could get her another judge to do that, he said.

“But this would be a teaching opportunity. You’re the man,” she said. He would be the draw, the attraction that would bring in the viewers to see him. “There’s constant criticism about you being the ring master of the circus. It galls me! There is a circus out there, but it’s not in the courtroom.”

The idea of kids was tempting, I could tell. But, Ito said, “The one interview I did was to be a single, local, no advance promotion deal turned into a six-parter with a full-page ad in the Times, and it went national.”

“If you would agree to do an interview the day after the trial, I would take only a hour and a half of your time,” Ellerbee pressed. “There’s just so much misinformation, so many horrible assumptions…”

“There are three problems,” Ito said. “One, is the Canons of Judicial Ethics which prevent judges from directly or indirectly commenting on a case. Two, people advise me, the presiding and supervising judges advise me against having any media contact, which you are. I did one interview, which had nothing to do with the case, and got so much criticism, I decided to never do it again. Three, to do it right would take a lot of thought. I can’t commit time to do that. Yesterday, I turned down an offer to speak at a law school graduation. Being involved in this case takes 24 hours a day.”


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