What Is ‘Frogmen,' O.J. Simpson's TV Pilot?

Don’t you feel like there are times when you are watching American Crime Story and it feels like it's really the ‘90s all over again? There's a good reason for this: The People V. OJ Simpson's script includes so many references to things that haven’t really been talked about since 1995. Like Frogmen , the television pilot that OJ Simpson filmed just weeks before his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and waiter Ron Goldman, were murdered.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember O.J. Simpson as anything other than the man who was acquitted of murder in that infamous 1995 trial — but before that, Simpson was a star. After an illustrious football career, Simpson went on to star in a number of films and television shows. And five weeks before his wife was brutally murdered and he became the lead suspect in the case, Simpson had begun filming Frogmen, a still never-before-seen television pilot for NBC.

The show would be shelved after the case began, but before that happened, the pilot episode — about a crack team of ex-Navy SEALS who work out of a surf shop in Malibu — was filmed.

And here’s where it gets a little interesting: One of the cast members in the original pilot was Evan Handler, the actor currently starring as Alan Dershowitz in The People Vs. O.J. Simpson. In an exclusive interview with Vulture, Handler talked about what it was like working with Simpson for the three weeks that they were shooting scenes together:

"We spent every day together, and everybody had recently broken up or had separated from people. I had broken up with a girlfriend, somebody else had gotten divorced. O.J talked a lot about wanting to get back together with his ex-wife. He very much played the role of the big brother in the locker room and said to us all, 'The one piece of advice I'd give you fellas is don't let your ego f*ck up your relationships.'"
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Additionally, the show itself ended up playing a role in the actual trial when actor Todd Allen — who also starred in the show — told the Los Angeles Times that the actors, including Simpson, received extensive knife training. In fact, the interview with Allen was important because he also claimed to have visited a knife store with Simpson — the same knife store that Simpson allegedly later returned to and purchased a knife from. But even though authorities thought that the knife Simpson allegedly purchased that day might be the murder weapon, the knife was never found.

Turns out, one unaired TV pilot can raise a lot of big questions.