Emmys: Johnnie Cochran's Mentee, Friend Calls Jimmy Kimmel's Hell Joke "Heinous"

The Hollywood Reporter

Carl E. Douglas is not pleased with a joke made Sunday night by host Jimmy Kimmel during the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Douglas, a friend and protege to the late Johnnie Cochran, told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday that Kimmel crossed a line when he quipped: "I have to believe Johnnie Cochran is somewhere smiling up at us tonight." 

Kimmel made the joke after Courtney B. Vance won the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a limited series for his portrayal of O.J. Simpson's defense attorney in FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

"I understand it was a joke, I get it. But I have a right to be offended, particularly because Johnnie has done so much in his life separate from representing a former Heisman Trophy winner accused of a gruesome double murder," Douglas tells THR. "And for anyone to suggest that, on a moral level, that act, as a lawyer, could cause him to spend his afterlife in hell, offended me. And I am sure offended other fair-minded people across the country."

Douglas' office is in Los Angeles. The lawyer specials in police misconduct cases. 

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Cochran died in 2005 at age 67. He was the lead attorney who helped get Simpson acquitted in 1994 of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Douglas, who worked with Cochran for 12 years, was a member of that defense team.

Douglas, calling Cochran his "mentor and hero," says he tweeted his displeasure during the live broadcast because he had to do something. 

"When I heard that joke, it hit me in my gut," he says. "It was visceral for me, so I had to use any platform I had available to express my outrage just so the record would be clear that not everyone agreed with the heinousness of that joke." 

Douglas is still in close contact with the Cochran family. 

"I am sure they are also offended by the very suggestion that this man who accomplished so much in his life could be anywhere other than smiling down on all of us, as opposed to the other way around," he says. 

As far as Vance's performance in The People v. O.J., Douglas says he was blown away. 

"I thought Courtney did a marvelous job reflecting Johnnie's spirit and his essence," he says. "I would close my eyes and hear the reflection of Johnnie Cochran coming through the television screen. It was eerie. His winning the Emmy award was much deserved." 

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