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Mixed Messages : Simpson Is Hastily Edited Out of Film on Values, but Some Prefer the Original

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The distributor of an educational film on goodness and morality that features O.J. Simpson is offering to replace several thousand already sold copies with a new version in which Simpson has been edited out.

But the president of Los Angeles-based Mentor Media says that more people seem to want the O.J. version than the non-O.J. version.

“It’s strange,” said Mentor Media’s Kris Winter, distributor of the film titled “For Goodness Sake.” “We’ve had four people call so far and ask for replacement tapes without O.J. But at least a dozen people have called and wanted to order the film with him in it.”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles public television station KCET, which plans to air the film on Saturday, said the station will use the non-O.J. version.

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“Given the events of the past two weeks, including the (Simpson) spot would detract from the purpose and spirit of the program,” KCET spokeswoman Laurel Lambert said.

The film features celebrities in vignettes depicting moral choices, including Simpson, Jason Alexander of “Seinfeld,” Faith Ford of “Murphy Brown,” Bob Saget of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and Florence Henderson of “The Brady Bunch.” A promotional flyer for the film describes it as “a ‘values’ video for the ‘90s. ‘For Goodness Sake’ makes a compelling case for responsibility, integrity and virtue.”

The two-minute Simpson scene opens in a fancy restaurant with the narrator sitting at a table. “Every day, life presents us with a veritable menu of temptations,” he says, as the camera pans over to Simpson and a female companion sitting at a nearby table, looking at menus.

“So, sweetheart,” Simpson says, “what do you feel like having?”

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“I don’t know, it all looks so good,” the woman says. “I’m trying to decide between cheating on my taxes and scalping theater tickets.”

“I’m going to try this one--spreading an unsubstantiated rumor,” Simpson says as a waiter approaches.

“But, monsieur,” the waiter says in a mock French accent, “we have lovely specials today, starting with plagiarizing a report and, for madame, having an affair with your boss.”

“Do you have anything a little less spicy?” Simpson asks.

Winter said “several thousand” copies of the film have been distributed to corporations and educational institutions in the United States and 13 other countries, at a purchase price of $695. Winter said Simpson and the other stars donated their time for the film, which was produced in 1992 by the Micah Center for Ethical Monotheism, a nonprofit Los Angeles organization. It was released in January.

A spokeswoman for the Micah Center declined comment.

Winter said her company began preparing to take Simpson out of the film soon after his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman were found murdered, and investigators’ attention began concentrating on Simpson. His part was edited out over the weekend after Simpson was formally charged with the murders, Winter said.

Times staff writer Nick Riccardi contributed to this story.

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