Lifetime’s ‘The Life and Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson’ Gives Voice to a Victim Overshadowed by OJ’s Celebrity: ‘It Was Always About Him’

In the upcoming Lifetime docuseries “The Life and Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson,” audiences will get to hear from O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole, who was found murdered alongside Ronald Goldman in 1994 outside her Brentwood condominium, in ways most viewers have not before. Most of the nation associates her voice with the 911 call she made in October of 1993 to tell a dispatcher that Simpson had broken into her home. In “The Life and Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson,” however, audiences will hear Nicole speaking to her children Sydney and Justin, her father, Lou Brown, as well as friends including Kris Jenner.

The two-part series, which begins airing on June 1, comes just months after O.J. Simpson’s death due to metastatic prostate cancer and 30 years after Nicole and Ron Goldman’s murder on June 12, 1994.

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The docu features 50 participants, including Nicole’s three sisters — Denise, Dominique and Tanya Brown — as well as close friends and fellow family members, some of whom have never been interviewed about the case. Exclusive home videos give a rare glimpse into the life of a woman who was all but forgotten during the 1995 “Trial of the Century,” in which Simpson was acquitted of killing his ex-wife and Goldman.

When the doc’s executive producer Melissa Moore met Denise Brown a decade ago, she approached her about working on a project that honored Nicole.

“I would say to Denise, ‘I really don’t know anything about Nicole,'” recalls Moore. “I told her that we really should do something to bring awareness to who she was because if you close your eyes and try to think of her voice you can’t.”

Denise, who had been approached on numerous occasions about making a documentary about Nicole, was hesitant. She didn’t want the doc to be all about O.J. But last year Moore was able to gain Denise and her siblings’ trust, and together they began working on “The Life and Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.” (The Brown sisters did not serve as producers on the project.)

The docuseries, which originally started out as a project that would involve Nicole’s children Sydney and Justin, now 38 and 35 years-old, morphed into telling Nicole’s life story via family, friends and unseen archival materials of her childhood as well as her adult life.

Variety spoke to Denise, Dominique and Tanya Brown.

There have been many docs made about O.J. and Nicole, including the ESPN docuseries “OJ: Made in America,” which won the Oscar for best feature documentary in 2017. Now there is this highly anticipated docu. What do you attribute the ongoing fascination around the case to?

Denise: I think the fascination around Nicole is because people don’t know who Nicole was. They only know him (O.J.). It was always about him. It was always about the trial. People don’t understand that this was a woman and her friend (Goldman) who were murdered in the most horrific way and then they were put down so much. They were just described so poorly and so ugly and so nasty. But that was to try to get somebody off going to prison. People need to understand that these were real people. Loving wonderful people who had families and who were loved and who were fun loving.

Dominique, in the documentary you mention that you and Denise didn’t speak for years because you thought that by her speaking out against O.J. during the trial and her activism around domestic violence post trial it put a spotlight on Nicole’s children, who don’t like media attention. How do you feel about this doc coming out in terms of them and the media attention it could lead to for them?

Dominique: We have been transparent with them and have been communicating with them, so they know about (this documentary). I stay in communication with the kids a lot. I know what’s going on in their lives, except for that I didn’t know how ill their father was. That came as a shock. But we have been totally transparent with them as far as this documentary being a beautiful portrayal of their mother and that it was made to humanize her. Her love for her children shines through.

When O.J. Simpson died in April, did any of you feel relief?

Tanya: No. I was sad. I was really sad. It was just different emotions. I went over to Minnie’s (Dominique) and we cried and we hugged. Then what came after that was kind of  acceptance.

Dominique: It was very complicated. It was very confusing. Naturally everybody was responding in different ways on social media and asking if you are okay? What’s happening? One person said, “Maybe you all can move on from this now,” but my heart was with Sydney and Justin. That’s where my heartache and my tears came from.

Fifty people were interviewed for this documentary. Did you all have say over who was and who was not interviewed?

Denise: Yes. We did. What I wanted to see in this documentary was not the same people that always talk (about this case). That was really, really important to us because it was about telling new stories and having Nicole in a new light.

I was surprised that Faye Resnick was interviewed for the doc given her relationship to the case in terms of the book she wrote four months after Nicole’s murder and the archival clip in the film where, Denise, you roll your eyes when she is mentioned.

Denise: At one point, I said, no, I don’t want Faye Resnick to be a part of it. I also didn’t want (Nicole’s former boyfriend) Keith (Zlomsowitch) to be a part of it, because I thought that was going to take it in a negative direction. But you know what? Everything that Faye said in it is absolutely beautiful about Nicole.  I’m really, really happy that she is a part of it and that she told some wonderful stories about their friendship.

Dominique: The way that Lifetime had explained it to us was that there were a lot of gaps. There was a period of time — Nicole growing up in Germany and Laguna — that we had a lot of stories about . But there was a period of time when Nicole was in L.A. where she would entertain people and have dinner parties and things at her house and Faye was one of the people that was included in that. So, Faye brought life to and a different perspective to a part of Nicole life when she was (living) in her freedom.

In an archival clip in the film O.J. tells Denise that he essentially funded your parents life. During the trial that was the narrative. Is there any truth to that?

Dominique: O.J. was very charismatic, and very friendly. He became part of the family right away. We did everything together as a family.

Denise: But money wasn’t a part of that.

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