The ugly words shocked and repulsed her. But Laura Hart McKinny listened all the same.
She wanted the story. Mark Fuhrman had it.
Eager to keep Fuhrman talking, McKinny did not challenge even his most repugnant views. But inside, she bristled - and, as a fairly liberal woman’s rights advocate, expressed disgust to friends.
Convinced that the world should know what a Los Angeles cop could say and do, Laura McKinny “talked a lot about the best way to get this story in front of the public,” husband Daniel McKinny said. Her conclusion: Tell the shocking tales on film.
So she listened. He talked. And the tapes recorded. Spinning and spinning, they captured Fuhrman’s racist slurs and brutal boasts. They recorded McKinny’s cautious questions. And then they vaulted smack into the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
Now jurors will hear a few snippets from those famous tapes. And McKinny will be called upon to explain them. A soft-spoken professor known as the mothering type, a driven researcher who once slept in a cardboard box to better write about a homeless character, McKinny will be asked to testify that Fuhrman repeatedly slurred minorities with the worst of epithets.
The long-running tape furor has pushed McKinny tantalizingly close to the big bucks of Hollywood. It’s a glitzy, high-rolling world she and her husband have long struggled to enter.
But she has found this experience more frustrating than fantastic.
Just two years after a financial crisis that forced her to declare personal bankruptcy, McKinny holds pricey assets: Tapes that politicians are desperate to hear, a transcript folks are begging to read, and a well-hyped screenplay that sprang from the Fuhrman tapes. So far, however, she has been unable or unwilling to earn a dime from that material.
Eager to pin a price tag on the tapes, her lawyer contacted a few tabloids in early July - about two weeks before the Fuhrman interviews exploded into the Simpson spotlight. “We were duty bound as attorneys to advise her of the value,” attorney Ron Regwan said.
Now, however, McKinny insists the tapes are not for sale.
At least, not now, her lawyer hastens to add.
McKinny would much prefer to peddle “Men Against Women,” her 120-page screenplay, based on the Fuhrman tapes, about a rookie female police officer who falls in love with her patrol partner - a man who just happens to belong to a club of racist, sexist and all-around nasty cops. She wouldn’t mind selling her novel by the same name either, even though she’s not finished with the second draft.
A screenwriting professor who has never sold a major script, McKinny, 44, longs to turn her decade of laborious research into a Hollywood blockbuster. According to her husband, she has watched with frustration as her copyrighted tapes leaked into the news media and blared from the courthouse - diminishing the shock value, and perhaps the commercial appeal, of “Men Against Women.”
“She has done a lot of journalism to reveal (racism and sexism) at the LAPD, and she thinks it’s important for the public to hear about it, but she wants to be the one to tell them,” Daniel McKinny said. “She did all the work.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.