News Column

O.J. Simpson-inspired mockumentary wins laughs at Traverse City fest

August 2, 2013


Aug. 02--TRAVERSE CITY -- Big movies like "We're the Millers" with Jennifer Aniston have a showcase at the Traverse City Film Festival. So do small indie passion projects that are well below the radar.

Sometimes, those newcomers out of left field can be among the most intriguing parts of the event. That was the case with Thursday night's world premiere of "Orenthal: The Musical."

The biggest prior audience for the mockumentary about the making of an O.J. Simpson musical was about 13 people who saw it in the film editor's office, according to the filmmakers, who spoke at a question-and-answer session after Thursday's screening.

The audience at the Old Town Playhouse was at least 10 times that and gave a warm response to Jeff Rosenberg's comedy. It's about Eugene Olivier, a failing playwright who goes to Los Angeles and enlists his friends in a staging of a play that turns the Simpson murder trial into a "Les Miz"-like spectacle -- on a very amateurish scale.

Rosenberg relied on his tax refunds and a Kickstarter campaign to get the movie made. The idea came to him in 2003, he told the crowd, when he was studying "Othello" in a playwriting class. He saw the parallels to the Simpson saga and went back to his dorm room to write a song about the famous Bronco ride.

The tunes in the movie include "If the Glove Don't Fit (You Must Acquit)."

Rosenberg's star and friend from college, Jordan Kenneth Kamp, who plays Eugene, had the crowd laughing when he talked about his blurred-out nude scenes.

Referring to a screening of "Kon-Tiki" earlier in the day, Kamp said, "There are some really hunky half-naked Norwegian men in that movie, and I really apologize for what you had to see tonight."


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