Tag Archives: L.A. riots

Forrest Gumpish Me

I felt so Gumpish yesterday.

The Milwaukee Green Sheet “Blasts from the Past” had an item from 1979 about Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini receiving “a tumultuous welcome in Tehran as he ended nearly 15 years of exile.” My children and I had just been evacuated from Tehran the month before with what we could carry in a few suitcases as the Islamic Revolution became chaotic in Iran, and my husband was still there with no indication that he was going to get out.

An interview on NPR with TV critic Eric Deggens about “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” miniseries scheduled to debut on FX last night included mention of the Rodney King-beating trial verdicts and resulting L.A. riots threw me back to all of those events.

When Rodney King was stopped by law enforcement for a malfunctioning taillight and beaten, I was city editor at the Pasadena Star News with a coverage area that included King’s hometown of Altadena. I had moved to my position as Los Angeles courts public information officer just three months before four L.A.P.D. officers stood trial for beating King. That trial was a real baptism by fire! But not nearly as hot as the subsequent riots during which I was one of the few people to keep showing up for work every day at the downtown County Courthouse.

And, of course, the accusation and subsequent trial of O.J. Simpson for murdering his ex-wife practically consumed my life for more than a year and a half in 1994 and 1995, which is now the foundation of the TV drama “The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

I have to say the Simpson case practically consumed my life, because sandwiched between court sessions, dealing with related media issues and meeting with the trial judge, Lance Ito, were the Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss case and preparations for the Menendez brothers retrial.

Feeling Gumpish comes over me at other times of the year, too, such as during the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, in which I drove a float one year and… and…

Oh, well, that’s enough for now. Sorry to get carried away.



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.”


Out of the Blue

This was a bit of a surprise.

Award-winning journo Bob Tur reveals he’s taking hormones to become a woman  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/journalist-bob-tur-announces-treatment-woman-article-1.1372258#ixzz2WBuqH5Pr

Although television news helicopter pilot Tur became most well known during the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial, I remember his coverage of the L.A. riots a few years earlier following the four police officers were acquitted in the Rodney King-beating trial.

There are, no doubt, other unknowns about the people the Simpson trial catapulted to fame, but this one did catch me off guard.

Here’s an interview with Tur, who now calls himself Zoey, about how he came to make this change.

Bob Tur’s Transgender Process Started With Suicidal Thoughts, Disconnecting From Friends  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/13/bob-tur-transgender_n_3438630.html

I wish him the best and hope others will, too.