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O.J. and Harvey: A Buffalo Connection

By Mickey H. Osterreicher

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For those of us in Western New York in the news business, there was always a Buffalo connection to most major news stories. In 1981 after the aborted U.S. hostage rescue attempt in Iran, Buffalo freelance writer Cynthia Dwyer endured nine months in an Iranian jail after being found guilty of espionage. When Terry Anderson, the AP Beirut bureau chief was taken hostage in Lebanon in 1985, it didn't take long to learn that he had lived in Batavia (between Rochester and Buffalo) and that his sister Peggy Say still lived there. That led to six years of news coverage as she sought Terry's released. And in 1995 when the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City killed 168 – the prime suspect was Timothy McVeigh – from a town just outside Buffalo. And for those who don't know or remember, the Late Tim Russert and CNN's Wolf Blitzer grew up in Buffalo.

But those connections paled in comparison to former Buffalo Bills star O.J. Simpson's 1994 arrest for the murder of his ex-wife and her friend along with the subsequent "trial of the century" the following year. Which leads us to the backstage photo that I found in my files from forty years ago of the then still-adored Bills running back posing with the yet to be infamous Harvey Weinstein.

I came to Buffalo from the Bronx in 1969 to attend SUNY at Buffalo. Shortly after I began taking photos for the school paper, The Spectrum. I also met Harvey who was from Queens and selling advertising for the other paper, Ethos. Harvey moved on from ad sales to concert promotion, forming Harvey and Corky Productions with Corky Burger, a Buffalo native.

I shot many concerts for them including the Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Bette Midler, Chuck Berry and Frank Sinatra, to name a few. I also photographed many of those celebrities backstage with Harvey and Corky. When the story about Harvey broke, my wife Cathaleen Curtiss, who is the Director of Photography at the Buffalo News asked to see what images I had of Harvey from over 40 years ago to go with an article they were doing. I found the black & white negatives, which she took to the paper for scanning. Later that day she called me to ask if I had ever photographed O.J. Simpson and Harvey Weinstein together? I didn't recall. She then texted me the image to check if that was indeed them together backstage and the rest is Buffalo no-degrees-of-separation history.

Mickey H. Osterreicher is General Counsel of the National Press Photographers Association.

 
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