TV: ‘People v. O.J. Simpson’ Set to Sweep the Emmys and More



The People V. O.J. Simpson” was an unprecedented scandalous case in the mid-‘90s, it had the right combination of famous faces, luridness, conspiracy theories and tragedy to glue people from all over the world to their televisions as they watched the high-profile courtroom drama unfold like a soap opera. FX’s first season in its “American Crime Story” anthology series offers the same sense of sensationalism, which quickly made the show must-watch TV. It became not just a simple re-enactment of events, but an opportunity to address issues like institutionalized racism, gender inequity in the workplace, the fallacy of fame, the role of the press in lionizing and demonizing the wrong people and the deficit of justice when celebrities are on trial. The show also featured some of the best performances of the entire TV season. All these ingredients add up to a promising turn-out at this year’s Emmy’s.

It’s hard to talk about “The People v. O.J. Simpson” without mention of its star-studded cast. Expect to see Courtney B. Vance nominated for Lead Actor (in the Limited Series category) for his role as the alliterative-loving Johnnie Cochran, one of the defense attorneys in the O.J. trial whose advocacy for victims of police brutality and famous words in courtrooms made him perfect for the media circus that would become the most famous criminal case of the century. Vance, without question, was born to play Cochran and he stands a very good chance at winning. Also expect to see Sterling K. Brown get nominated – I’m guessing in the Supporting Actor category, but I would argue a “lead-ish” run – for playing prosecuting attorney Christopher Darden, the scene where he and Vance’s character face-off in court over the use of a racial epithet is enough to convince voters to nominate Brown. The Lead Actor category will be a tight race this year, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” will see tough competition from John Ridley’s “American Crime” series over at ABC. However, I think Vance stands a good chance. He’s never been nominated for an Emmy before, but he’s clearly the one to beat.

In the Supporting Actor category, a few actors have a chance at a nomination. Cuba Gooding Jr., for starters, for playing the infamous O.J. Simpson. Gooding Jr. didn’t have as much screen time as initially perceived, but he had enough moments to warrant some recognition. There’s also John Travolta who plays the snaring lawyer, Robert Shapiro. He’s a big name, so expect to hear it called when nominations are announced. Two other names you shouldn’t be surprised to hear come nominations morning are Nathan Lane and David Schwimmer. Neither really stands a chance at winning and their nominations are not as secure as their co-stars in the Lead Actor or Actress category, but they’re the only two actors of all the aforementioned actors who have been nominated for Emmy’s before. Schwimmer was previously nominated for his famous role as Ross on “Friends” back in 1995, while Lane has been nominated an impressive five times, mostly for roles as Outstanding Guest Actor on a Comedy Series. It’s anyone’s guess in the supporting actor category, at this point, though.

When it comes to the Lead Actress category, there’s no question Sarah Paulson deserves a nomination for her portrayal of Marcia Clark, the main attorney in the prosecution team who faced media scorn, sexism, libel and personal matters while trying to bring down the most celebrated football player of his time. Paulson delivered one of the most nuanced performances of the TV season, bringing gravitas to Clark who was crudely misrepresented in the press. Paulson has been nominated for an Emmy four times since 2012; 2016 will be her fifth and very likely her first win. Expect the show to also be nominated in the Best Limited Series category, which stands a good chance at winning, despite stiff competition from shows like “American Crime,” “Fargo” and HBO’s limited series “Show Me a Hero.” The series will also surely get nominated in the writing and directing categories, especially for the prolific episode, “The Race Card.”

Possible Nominations in a Limited Series Category:

  • Best Limited Series
  • Lead Actor – Courtney B. Vance;
  • Best Supporting Actor – Cuba Gooding Jr.; John Travolta; Nathan Lane; David Schwimmer; Sterling K. Brown
  • Lead Actress – Sarah Paulson
  • Directing
  • Writing
  • Single-Camera Picture Editing
  • Casting

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