'FIRST it was the riots. Then came the brush fires. Then came the earthquake. And now this tragedy!' I'm back in Los Angeles again and dinner conversations with friends I haven't seen for months all seem to run the same course. The latest city-wide 'tragedy' they're referring to, of course, is what's been appearing as 'The Fall Of An American Hero: O.J. Simpson.' And while my friends are all polite enough to ask me first, 'How is Hong Kong?' their second question is invariably, 'So have you heard about O.J.?' One friend tells me that her mother spent the last two weeks in Egypt riding on the back of camel. 'But she came home knowing more about the O.J. case than I did.' Of course, the script for the movie of the week O.J. Simpson: Fallen Angel was cranked out in about a week and sent over to production offices at Fox Studios. 'They think Nicolette Sheridan (claim to fame: a leading role in TV soap Knots Landing) is perfect for the part of Nicole Simpson,' Jonathan, a screenwriter, tells me. 'But they're really stuck trying to cast O.J. Will Smith is too young. Damon Wayans is too funny. And Denzel Washington is just too classy.' But even if O.J.: The Movie has been stalled, you can still get your O.J. fix by reading one of the three full-length books on the subject that have already hit the news-stands. 'Oh God! You really should have been here for O.J.'s freeway cruise,' Jonathan says. He lives in a condominium not too far from the highway on which O.J., gun aimed menacingly at his own head, attempted his ill-fated escape. 'So while I was watching coverage of it on the television, I could actually hear O.J., the police cars, and the flap-flap-flap of all the television news helicopters outside my window.' 'I mean, it was completely surreal,' he adds. 'A whole squadron of police cars gingerly following O.J.'s jeep at a snail's pace. It was like Speed, he says, referring to the latest Keanu Reeves flick in which Reeves must keep a bus moving at 80 kilometres an hour or deal with the bomb explosion calibrated to the speed of the vehicle. 'Only it was sort of an Anti-Speed. The police had to keep their convoy moving below a certain speed. I could just imagine the police chief bellowing, 'Nobody better move faster than 40 miles per hour or O.J.'s going to blow his brains out!' You would think that more than five weeks after the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and her waiter friend, Ronald Goldman, were found by police, the city's collective psyche would be obsessing over the next big scandal. But in one day alone, the LA Times ran three major features on the case including 'What the O.J. trial is doing to our kids' and on the front page, a lengthy 'celebrity' profile of the Japanese-American judge assigned to the case. 'Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito is about to become the most watched jurist in US history!' the story declared and went on to treat readers to a full rundown of the honourable Judge Ito's vital statistics, like his date of birth (August 2, 1950), his marital status (to Margaret York, chief of Los Angeles Police Department's bunco-forgery division) and even his hobbies (classical music, long-distance running). 'A camera buff and a connoisseur of good coffee,' runs one paragraph from the article, 'Ito lives in Pasadena with his wife, two dogs and a cat'. Given the aura O.J. leaves in his wake, can Judge Lance Ito: The Movie be too far off? SEEKING some sort of reprieve from O.J., I make plans to attend a Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) meeting at Sony Studios, at which a panel of five Asian-American television executives have promised to discuss the mysteries of television development. There's good news to share. The first Asian-American sitcom, All-American Girl, has just landed a prime spot on ABC's schedule: 8:30 pm on Thursday just after the wildly popular Home Improvement. Starring Korean-American comedienne Margaret Cho, All- American Girl is about a Korean-American family making its way in America. 'It's sort of like a Good Times with kimchee instead of soul food,' quipped one panellist. Considering there have been more extra-terrestrials than Asian Americans on American television, this is indeed a landmark occurrence. 'We need more brothers and sisters writing sitcoms,' suggested Chinese-American producer Vince Cheung, a rather vigilant fire burning in his eyes. 'We need to generate more stories about Asian-Americans.' It is at that point that someone in the audience makes a suggestion: 'Hey, what about a movie of the week about Judge Lance Ito?' HAVING heard through the family grapevine that I am back in town, my brother rings me up one morning. Without so much as 'Hello,' or 'Welcome back,' he launches into his latest favourite joke: 'So what did O.J. say to Nicole just before he killed her?' Despite my better judgment, I bite: 'Oh, do tell me. What?' 'He said, 'Your waiter will be right with you!'' When shrieks of laughter - his - filled the line, somehow I know it's time to get back to the territory. So, now I've returned. And I'm looking forward to reading some meaty coverage about the great philosophical chasm between East and West. Enough of O.J. I'm back in Hong Kong, the place where important things are happening. I open the newspaper to read this substantive headline: 'Man spends 38 hours stuck in lift.'