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No book, no problem -- why it's still 'great' being O.J. Simpson Add to ...

It's a living, of sorts.

At a night club, O. J. Simpson is being treated to lap dances from a couple of scantily-clad women as he comments on the pleasures of life, one of a series of promotional appearances by the onetime pro football superstar and some-time actor.

"Don't show me no thong unless you're going home with me," Mr. Simpson, 59, can be heard saying on a videotape of the event.

At a horror movie convention in Los Angeles, Mr. Simpson signs sports memorabilia for fans, admitting that the experience is "strange."

Last May, he found time to take in the Kentucky Derby, putting his money on a horse called Lawyer Ron. "I love lawyers, I know all about lawyers," he quipped, praising the late Johnnie Cochran, who led the legal team that got Mr. Simpson acquitted of murder charges in the 1994 deaths of his estranged wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman.

More than 25 years after retiring from football and a decade after being at the centre of the most notorious celebrity murder case of its time, Mr. Simpson's reputation is so tarnished that even tabloid king Rupert Murdoch has decided to beg off.

Monday, Mr. Murdoch's News Corp., parent of publisher HarperCollins and Fox Broadcasting, pulled the plug on Mr. Simpson's pseudo-confession of his role in the killings after commentators, advertisers and even Fox personalities criticized the exploitive nature of the plan.

Nicole Simpson's sister Denise Brown accused News Corp. yesterday of offering her family "hush money" to keep quiet about the project, Reuters reported. The company acknowledged offering proceeds, but a spokesman insisted there were "no strings attached."

Published reports say Mr. Simpson sold his story for $3.5-million (U.S.). It's believed that he will still be paid at least part of his fee despite the project's cancellation.

"What he's managed to do is get Fox to give him a few million dollars and then never run the show. He manipulated them all to the max. He knew they'd never be able to run that show, that the people wouldn't let him," said Norm Pardo, who organized promotional events for Mr. Simpson between 2000 and 2005.

"I think life is great for him," Mr. Pardo said in an interview from Detroit yesterday. "He's amazing. It's almost as if he managed to get acquitted for the third time. The first time for the murders, the second time for road rage [in 2000]and the third time, he's got Fox, which he hates, to give him some money . . ."

Whatever Mr. Simpson manages to extract from Fox or HarperCollins, it is likely to be considerably more lucrative than the kind of events he promoted with Mr. Pardo in recent years.

For years after he retired from pro football, Mr. Simpson was able to translate his athletic achievements and his good looks into a career as a B-rated actor in films such as The N aked Gun and as a spokesman for Hertz car rentals. But since his wife's killing, he has become a pariah among image-conscious corporations and advertisers.

Although he was acquitted in a criminal trial, he was later found responsible of the slayings in a civil case and was ordered to pay $33.5-million (U.S.) in restitution to the Brown and Goldman families.

Anxious to protect his assets, he moved to Kendall, Fla., just south of Miami, where state law allows him to shelter his home from seizure. The families also cannot touch his income from a National Football League pension and from his personal production company, purported to be at least $300,000 a year.

To augment that income and to keep him busy, Mr. Simpson was easily persuaded by Mr. Pardo to join him on periodic celebrity junkets to venues willing to pay for a live appearance by the notorious O. J., known in youth as Bait for his ability to attract comely women.

"He's very personable," said Mr. Pardo. "People like him." Especially women, it seems.

Mr. Pardo shot 70 hours of videotape of Mr. Simpson's travels, a taste of which has been broadcast on cable-news stations.

Mr. Pardo has now decided that the time is right to sell his complete stash. He's convinced there is demand for his product. "Even NBC was drooling," he said.

With a report from Brad Linn

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