Simpson case abounds with opportunities for all


The studio audience appeared to agree with the idea tossed out by the show's chirpy hostess. Yes, they the audience found Kato the house guest guilty of being an opportunist.

That's the way it goes in the O.J. Simpson trial. A witness is grilled by Marcia Clark or Johnnie Cochran in the morning, and before the sun goes down, some talk show holds its own trial and decides whether the witness was slippery, honest, a racist or a klutz.

Because Kato aspires to be an actor, it was decided that he was trying to exploit his sudden fame as a witness to seek even more fame in the movies or TV. That meant he was engaging in opportunism.

Poor Kato. He's just the kind of mope everyone picks on.

Sure he's being opportunistic, whether or not he can spell it. But so what? This is supposed to be the land of opportunity, and if Kato failed to grab for his main chance, he'd be guilty of sloth, which is far worse.

Besides, just about everyone involved in the Simpson trial is an opportunist of one sort or another.

Simpson's lawyers could be defending all sorts of obscure fiends right now. But with their love for the law, they could not pass up an opportunity to provide the finest defense possible for a client who had a few million dollars for them to pluck.

And they don't miss a chance to advertise their skills before the nearest TV camera. Who knows what wealthy scamp might need their help when this trial is over?

It also is a golden opportunity for the members of the prosecution team. That's the way it is when a celebrity gets in trouble in any city. The prosecutors see it as a chance to collect a valuable scalp, and they almost need a lottery to see who gets to slice it off. They can't get their faces on network TV by hurling questions at some ordinary head basher or porch climber.

This is the kind of star exposure that can lead bright prosecutors to jobs with big law firms or a lucrative private practice of their own.

That's one of the career options unique to lawyers. A physician can't be a healer and an undertaker. But a lawyer can frantically try to send creeps to the gas chamber one day and the next day save their necks with just as much zeal.

For both sides, defense and prosecution, there will be book contracts and large speaking fees waved under their noses minutes after the verdict. And don't expect any of them to say: "No, I do not have the time for such frivolous pursuits when needy clients await my wisdom."

And it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for members of the jury. They know it, which is why some of them almost begged to spend several months as virtual prisoners.

Those who are literate enough to spell their own names and talk into a ghostwriter's microphone will have a chance to sell their stories.

At least one juror has been booted off the panel for typing his book notes on the sly. I would have thought Judge Lance Ito would have valued a juror who took so deep an interest in the case.

There is opportunity everywhere in this case, from the seedy vendors selling Simpson memorabilia on the streets, to the New York publishing houses that have brought out several quickie books.

One of the late Mrs. Simpson's closest coke-sniffing friends was not so overwhelmed with grief that she wasn't able to pull herself together long enough to sign her own book contract.

It's surprising that when the talk-show hostess brought up the subject of opportunism, she didn't look at the big picture. If she had, it would have included her show and all the others that have been wringing every ounce of opportunity out of the Simpson case.

There are all these big-name lawyers who spend their days at one studio or another giving us the kind of play-by-play instant analysis that John Madden provides football fans. What do they say when their clients call? "Get you out of jail today? Are you crazy? They have just made Kato a hostile witness and I have to explain to the world why. Call me when they hook up your electrodes."

And before some reader fires off a letter, I'll concede that this column is another example of the opportunities provided by the Simpson case.

But remember, I never said opportunism was bad. It's what made this country great.

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