Legal Padding

UPDATED 08/07/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/07/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT

ALL DAY, THE WITNESSES COME AND go, the lawyers bicker, Judge Lance Ito admonishes. And millions watch as O.J. Simpson jots on a legal pad. But what is O.J. writing?

National Lampoon cofounder Henry Beard and agent and book packager John Boswell have provided a puckish answer in O.J.'s Legal Pad (Villard), which has spent the past nine weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Billed as "a spoof, a whole spoof and nothing but a spoof," the book—in the form of an actual yellow legal pad, illustrated by Ron Barrett—is cluttered with satirical doodles and fabricated musings attributed to the defendant. (Sample: "Possible real killer: Third Menendez brother!!! La nee. HA HA.") "Last March, I called Henry and said, 'There are three O.J. books on the bestseller list. Are we missing an opportunity here?' " says Boswell, 49, who has collaborated with Beard, 50, on more than a dozen humor books, including French for Cats.

Boswell began e-mailing topics to Beard, such as, "Why was the supposedly suicidal O.J. carrying $8,000 and a fake beard in his Bronco?" And Beard would fax back, "Needed to make downpayment on cemetery plot; would get better deal if they didn't recognize me." They finished the book in three weeks.

Critics have charged the authors with tastelessness, and in May the Torrance, Calif., city council blasted the book as "racist, demeaning and condescending" (particularly the buck-toothed caricatures of Judge Ito). But the authors plead not guilty. "Lighten up," says Boswell. "The book is obviously humor."

After all, under "Definite Grounds for Appeal," they write, "My lawyers look like a bunch of sleazeballs." That has to be a joke. Doesn't it?

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