Los Angeles- Drop everything, folks. Call in sick, cancel the kids’ soccer games, load them into the Bronco and head for Northridge.
O.J. Simpson is back in town.
The former USC and pro football superstar is scheduled to take a well-deserved break from his exhaustive search for the killer of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman to sign autographs ($90) and pose for pictures ($20) at a Halloween-themed comic book and collectible convention.
Hard to believe?
Come on. It’s L.A.
“If the Earth doesn’t open up, and the fires don’t come all the way down to Northridge, he’s going to be there,” said Tom Riccio, a promoter who has been advertising Simpson’s visit. After reading that Simpson had been kicked out of a sports memorabilia show near Chicago this summer, Riccio called a colleague who knows the ex-football player. The colleague assured Riccio that Simpson, who lives in Florida, “was all for getting back into L.A. and seeing his fans.”
Assuming he shows up, Simpson couldn’t pick a more dramatic moment. Monday marks the 10-year anniversary of his acquittal on murder charges, and on Sunday, he’ll be appearing with a special guest.
No, not Charles Manson.
No, not Kato Kaelin.
Simpson will team up with none other than his old pal Al Cowlings.
Cowlings, of course, was the driver of the infamous white Ford Bronco and co-star of a live, televised chase that has inspired a decade’s worth of nitwits, with no end in sight.
If Riccio has any class – a possibility thrown into doubt by his promotion of this event – Simpson won’t arrive by limo or cab. He won’t walk, or run, or pull up in a Hertz.
He’ll be in a Bronco with Cowlings at the wheel and a disguise in the glove compartment, but only after taking a long, circuitous route, with a swarm of TV copters practically knocking each other out of the sky.
“Who knows, there may be more people against it than he has fans,” Riccio said of the three-day show, which starts tonight at Spooky House at Parthenia and Tampa.
“But I think he has a right to do it.”
Simpson’s air fare and hotel expenses will be covered, Riccio said, but he won’t get paid for his appearance or the autographs and photos.
“That’s mine,” said Riccio, who also plans to hawk Simpson jerseys from USC and the Buffalo Bills.
It might not be in Simpson’s interest to make any money on the deal, anyway, since he’s got a $33.5-million wrongful-death judgment hanging over his head. His NFL pension can’t be tapped under California law, and under Florida law, his house can’t be seized to pay a debt.
But don’t let wrongful death keep you from collecting a souvenir from the most elusive and slashing runner in history.
For $125, you can get O.J. to sign a USC helmet. For a mere $80, an autographed copy of the Simpson book “I Want to Tell You” will make a great holiday gift for a loved one. I once saw a remaindered copy in which someone had changed “Tell” to “Kill,” but it’s not clear whether O.J. would sign such a book.
“It’s only for sports-related items,” Riccio said. “He won’t sign pictures of him in the courtroom, or him running around in the Bronco, or him holding up a glove.”
It gets worse. Riccio told me O.J. won’t sign a knife, either.
When you’re on the trail of your ex-wife’s killer, you don’t want to come off like some kind of carnival act.