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TV Reviews : Huell Howser Visits D.A.'s Office

“I’m sick and tired about hearing nothing other than O.J. Simpson (and) occasionally about Heidi Fleiss or the Menendez brothers,” Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti complains to Huell Howser. “This office is so much more than that.”

To prove it, Garcetti takes Howser and cameraman Luis Fuerte on a “not rehearsed or planned” tour of the downtown Criminal Courts Building, which becomes fodder for a special edition of Howser’s “Visiting . . .” series this weekend, on the eve of opening arguments in the Simpson-Goldman murder case.

With Garcetti at his side, Howser moves from office to office in his usual chatty, folksy style, visiting with various deputy D.A.s about their heavy caseloads and providing the kind of valuable primer on the workings of the department that other local media have ignored in their frenzy to cover the Simpson-Goldman case.

There are better ways to get inside scoop, of course, than to ask the D.A.'s staff about the department in the presence of their boss. And Garcetti exploits the occasion to deliver a self-serving commercial about making the county a safer place by “putting people away every day.”

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Yet Howser at least takes time to show viewers a side of the D.A.'s office that no one else in local television appears the least interested in, in contrast with their obsession with O.J. Simpson. The point is aptly made when Garcetti and Howser make an unannounced visit to a floor reserved for media covering the Simpson-Goldman case. Microphones are thrust at the D.A.'s face and he disappears inside a thicket of camera crews.

* “Visiting . . .” airs at 6:30 tonight and repeats at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on KCET-TV Channel 28.


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