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O.J. goes free, and now it can be told: Clark and Darden might be doing time


I DON'T normally do gossip, but this is different. This little piece of nasty business is so bizarre, so delicious, so O.J., that I had to tell somebody.

Come a little closer. I can't even type this out loud: Marcia Clark and Chris Darden might be getting hitched.

That's right, married. Or as they put it in the tabs: "Legal Eagles Are Planning Their Own Dream Team."

You don't have to believe it. I mean, it can't possibly be true, except that it's O.J.-related, meaning anything is possible -- so long as you stop at any reported romantic tryst involving F. Lee Bailey.

If it were just in the tabloids, though, I wouldn't have even heard about it. I don't watch "Hard Copy." I don't read the National Enquirer. Sometimes I even forget to read Liz Smith. What I'm saying is, I completely missed six of Liz Taylor's marriages.

But when I got to work yesterday, everybody was talking about Chris and Marcia. It seems that WBAL, your news talk radio station, was reporting that they were an item and might be getting married. Apparently WBAL's special O.J. correspondent said Darden's sister had confirmed the news.

O.J. mania lives.

(O.J. himself is in Florida playing golf as part of his country club to country club search for Nicole's killers. It couldn't just be a golf date that caused him to miss his daughter's 10th birthday, could it?

The amazing thing is that after 17 months in prison, the man shot an 82. No, I don't think O.J. had the strength in his hands to grip the knife, either.)

I spent much of yesterday -- if you don't count a long lunch and a short nap -- working this story.

Here's what I found.

One printed report had the pair in San Francisco where -- and I'm not making this up, although somebody else might have been -- they were seen dancing cheek to cheek at The DNA Lounge.

Meanwhile, "Hard Copy" had its cameras at Los Angeles Airport, trained at Darden and Clark as they deplaned. The flight, it was reported, had originated in Reno, Nev., where, we know, 80 percent of famous people get hitched.

I called "Hard Copy." A spokeswoman, who wouldn't identify herself but did speak with a British accent, said they never reported the pair were married. She said they were just reporting what they had read in the Globe, which, journalistically speaking, may not be the way Woodward and Bernstein did it.

And so, I purchased a Globe.

I did this with some trepidation. The Globe and the other supermarket tabloids sell in the millions, but I don't know anyone who has ever admitted buying one. What troubles me is that Globe readers are apparently allowed not only to vote but also to own property and even produce children.

When the woman behind the counter asked me if I wanted a bag for my copy of the Globe, I said, "Yes, a brown one."

There it was on the cover: "Marcia & Darden To Wed!" There's a picture of her looking at him, smiling as if she'd never heard the words "not" and "guilty" used in that order.

Inside, before you get to the sidebar about O.J.'s fear that Denise Brown will kidnap the kids, you get to the romance of the century. You don't just get a story. You also get a photo of the "love nest," which is where people in tabloids make out. Everyone else does it in houses or, if you're under 20, in the back of a car.

The story was wonderfully sourced. In fact, here are the names of the sources: a friend, a pal, a sleuth, an insider, a neighbor. The "sleuth," who was apparently staking out the "love nest," said that Clark emerged the next morning "with a spring in her step." Wink, wink.

I'm thinking here's how it works at the Globe. They need an O.J. story. They go around the table for ideas. They reject Johnnie Cochran being kidnapped by aliens. They reject O.J. kidnapping aliens. They decide on Clark and Darden, which is almost believable, although they hated to lose the always-popular alien angle.

Clark and Darden do have a lot in common. They're both prosecutors. They're both represented by William Morris. They're both writing books. They both never played golf with O.J.

So, Liz Smith reports that they should pen a book together. She writes: "They've been inseparable for months -- and still are -- so why not?"

Is it true? Sun gossip columnist Sylvia Badger put in a call to former Baltimore TV newsperson Beverly Burke, now a TV newsperson in L.A. Burke called someone named Sandy Gibbons at the D.A.'s office in Los Angeles. Gibbons told Burke who told Badger who told me that "they're just friends."

Which sounds legitimate.

Until you factor in how often the L.A. prosecutors actually get something right.

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