Constable: O.J. miniseries tough for Ron Goldman's family
When your big brother's brutal murder is the crime behind FX's star-studded "The People v. O.J. Simpson" miniseries debuting tonight, you can't escape, says Kim Goldman, a Buffalo Grove native who now lives north of Los Angeles. She is the sister of Ron Goldman, a Stevenson High School graduate stabbed to death at age 25 alongside Nicole Simpson in the sensational 1994 crime that still ignites passions, racial tension, heartache and drama.
Taking a break from their daily routine, Goldman and her 12-year-old son, Samuel, whose middle name is Ronald in honor of the uncle he never got to meet, watch the Bulls and Clippers NBA game Sunday in Los Angeles. Billboards around the Staples Center show Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson, the superstar football player and affable film and TV actor who was found not guilty of murdering his former wife and Goldman's brother.
"We get a Clippers yearbook, and there's a full-page ad for the show," Kim Goldman says. "It's just hard. It's all over the place again."
The "American Crime Story" miniseries, with an all-star cast that includes John Travolta, David Schwimmer, Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance, Nathan Lane and Selma Blair, wins positive reviews from critics.
"We will watch, not because I want to, but I feel I have to," says the 44-year-old mom. "I want to be able to know what's fact and what's fiction. It's happening around us, so we can watch it and know what's going on, or we can stay in the dark."
Her brother, played by Jake Koeppl, appears only in the first episode, a virtual extra in the drama that ended his life. Actors portraying Kim Goldman and her father, Fred, who were interviewed often during the trial and still speak on victims' rights, appear in seven episodes. Blair, who plays Kris Jenner, a friend of Nicole and O.J. Simpson and the former wife of Simpson defense attorney Robert Kardashian, shows up in every episode,
"Kris Jenner was there (at the trial) for half a day," Goldman remembers. "I sat with her."
Goldman says she has no "ill will" toward any of the Kardashians or family members of people who played roles in the investigation and trial.
The miniseries is free to lavish more airtime on Kardashian's young daughters, Kim and Kourtney, than it does on Ron, concedes Goldman. She clearly knows the difference between a murder documentary and miniseries, but that doesn't make it easy to see her family's worst day served up as entertainment.
"This is a rough patch right now," Goldman admits. "It just feels like going backward."
She and her 75-year-old father, retired from selling real estate in Arizona, won a 1997 wrongful death civil judgment against Simpson on behalf of the victims' families but never received their share of the $33.5 million. Goldman wrote "Can't Forgive: My Twenty-Year Battle with O.J. Simpson" and "Media Circus," a collection of interviews with families of other victims of high-profile cases including Manson Family victim Sharon Tate, a child killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre and Eric Garner, who died at the hands of New York City police in 2014.
She also wrote commentary for "If I Did It," a book originally written by Simpson, which became embroiled in a legal battle before it was published as the "confessions of the killer."
Simpson, convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges in an unrelated crime, has been in a Nevada prison since 2008 and is eligible for parole in October 2017.
"A lot of people might think we're bitter, angry, hostile, greedy people who just want to be on television," Kim Goldman says. "But we do our best to be good people."
Immersing herself in not-for-profit work on causes such as AIDs, autism and developmental disabilities, Goldman is executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Project, which helps teens cope with depression, drug/alcohol abuse, bullying, academic issues, sexual identity and a lot more.
The miniseries is just another reminder of the life her brother lost. She and her father recently met with one of Ron's good friends from their days in Buffalo Grove. Her brother would be 47, and his friend is married and has a good career.
"You wonder if my brother would have those things now," Goldman says. "The what-ifs are rough."
'People v. O.J. Simpson'What: 10-part miniseries on 1995 murder trial of O.J. Simpson, part of "American Crime Story" on FX
When: Begins 9 p.m. today
Who: Cast includes Cuba Gooding Jr., John Travolta, Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance, David Schwimmer, Nathan Lane