Mark Fuhrman's Final Oprah Show Appearance
One of the key players in this real-life soap opera was Los Angeles Police Department detective Mark Fuhrman. Under oath, Mark denied ever having used the N-word, but tapes revealed that he was lying. The defense seized on this lie as part of their strategy to create enough doubt in the minds of the jurors about the evidence to lead to a not guilty verdict.
Oprah first interviewed Mark in 1997. Now, she'd like to have him as one of her Season 25 guests. "I wanted to talk to Mark Fuhrman again because it's fascinating to me how one single decision that a person makes can affect the rest of your life," she says. "So I wanted to be able to talk to Mark Fuhrman just to see all these years later what happened to his life."
During a phone call with Jill's team, Mark won't budge. "I just don't want to waste my time," he says. "I have wasted 15 years of my life on that crap."
Listen in on the phone call
"To find out Mark's on the fence, that was a little shocking," Jill says. "And then to know we told Oprah about it and now to be like, 'We don't know if we have him.' That wasn't good."
During the pre-show meeting, Jill tells Oprah about Mark's reluctance to discuss race. "We've had a lot of conversations with him and he's not coming on the show to defend himself about being a racist," Jill says. "He's been there, he's done that. He's apologized to you. He's apologized to the human race."
Oprah still thinks race needs to be part of the conversation. "The truth is you can't have Mark Fuhrman on without talking about race, racism and O.J. Simpson," Oprah says. "But I also understand his reluctance to do so. Because if you're looking at him as a man, a human being, a father, a husband, a citizen of his community, whatever it is he's now doing, he's trying to move on with his life."
Above all, Oprah wants the show to connect with the audience. "So it's not just his story," Oprah says. "That it becomes about a pivotal moment in your life. You can't take it back. And that moment changes the trajectory of your life forever."
Jill has some thinking to do. "We have to figure out how's this going to work and everyone's going to walk away happy."
When Oprah and Mark meet again, Mark says he's clear about what the show will bring. "I think that they should know that they got a half of a story," he says.
But five minutes before taping, Jill is still nervous that Oprah will go places Mark isn't comfortable with. "He had some definite hesitations about some of the things that Oprah would talk about, but he can't come and then [say], 'No comment' and 'I'm not answering that question,'" she says. "He has got to give the interview that is worthy of Season 25. So it all hinges on if Mark comes to play."
Mark's vague answers begin throwing Oprah off. "I am watching him sort of flailing all over the place," Oprah says. "He just said a couple sentences and I'm off track. I don't know where he is."
Executive producer Sheri calls for a break so Mark can collect his thoughts. Oprah decides to continue on. "It is my job to help that person articulate what it is I know they're trying to express," Oprah says.
The rest of the interview takes off from there. "Oprah doesn't do interviews with boundaries. She kept going there and going there and I have to say Mark handled it beautifully and he went with it and he had really good answers," Jill says. "It's funny, what he feared the most I think ended up being one of the most interesting interviews he's ever done and maybe one of the best things he's done for his career."
See what Mark said about life after the O.J. trial
Oprah is also pleased with the outcome. "I don't want anyone to feel disrespected. I don't want anybody to feel uncomfortable," Oprah says. "But in the end, I thought it was great because the truth in any form will set you free. I thought it was great."
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