TAMPA — Norman Pardo understands why people might think he tells tall tales.
The 57-year-old Pasco County man found success in real estate and promoted a redemption tour by none other than O.J. Simpson — but only after surviving a childhood, his story goes, where he slept under a tarp in Alabama and lived like a hermit.
Now, Pardo is pushing another story — that Simpson, despite his acquittal in 1995, did indeed kill ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman and that the former NFL star didn't act alone.
Pardo is making his case in a new documentary, Who Killed Nicole? He'll premiere a seven-minute teaser during the Gasparilla International Film Festival 11 a.m. Saturday at the former Hamburger Mary's restaurant, 1600 E. Eighth Ave. in Ybor City.
Following the screening, Pardo will take questions.
"I want them to hammer me," he said.
But don't expect him to reveal all. The movie is still in production. He'll only say "informants" led him to his conclusion about the crime and that Simpson was right when he contended he wasn't wearing the famous Bruno Magli shoes that left bloody footprints at the murder scene in Los Angeles.
The movie shows hired investigators trying to pick apart Pardo's story and others supporting and eventually validating it, said director Kyle Saylors.
Saylors helps bring credibility to this latest exploration of a subject already much scrutinized since the murders 25 years ago. His resume includes producing Kimjongilia, first shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. Kimjongilia features interviews with escapees from the North Korean dictator's prison camps and was lauded for exposing the country's humanitarian crisis.
The Simpson documentary features some of the 70 hours of footage Simpson allowed during the years he and Pardo were working together — footage meant to be used one day as part of a reality show.
"I have zero doubt this will be the definitive story on O.J.," Saylors said.
Filmmakers have turned their cameras before on the stabbing deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, most recently with the award-winning 2006 FX television series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Simpson's attorney, Malcolm LaVergne of Las Vegas, had nothing good to say about this latest take on the story.
LaVergne called Pardo a liar, saying the footage probably shows nothing more than Simpson "eating a hamburger and going to the airport."
Snippets screened for the Tampa Bay Times from Pardo's 70 hours of Simpson footage included scantily clad women grinding on Simpson at a club.
Said Pardo, "I have to show who O.J. really is because that is important to the story."
Hillsborough County film commissioner and festival board member Tyler Martinolich has seen part of the documentary.
Martinolich said it "appeared credible, and compelling." He said the raw footage left him "with a radically different opinion of what" Simpson "may or may not be capable of doing. Even as someone who thought O.J. was probably guilty, the tapes left me shocked."
So how did Pardo meet the notorious Simpson?
"That's another story," Pardo said with a laugh.
With an unhappy upbringing in Alabama, Pardo dropped out of school at 14 and found his way to Florida, he said. He was working in construction in Fort Myers, he said, when the late southwest Florida developer J. Foster Pate took a liking to him and taught him how to work the real estate market.
"That's how I became a self-made man."
Later, brimming with confidence, he diversified. He launched a now-defunct search engine called Spiderboy.com in 1997, and in 1999, he declared to an attorney whom he would not name, "I can promote anyone or any product." A week later, the attorney introduced Pardo to Simpson as Simpson was seeking to rehabilitate his image, Pardo said.
"A preconceived murderer and all-around bad guy," he said. "A challenge."
Pardo agreed to help book Simpson at events if Simpson would promote Spiderboy.com.
At the first event, an August 2001 concert in Fort Myers featuring Haitian-born rapper Wyclef Jean, the audience chanted Simpson's name when he walked on stage and tossed them Spiderboy.com paraphernalia, according to news reports at the time.
"He got teary-eyed and said, 'Norm, whatever you want, you got,'" Pardo said.
Pardo claims he booked events in 36 cities until Simpson was arrested in 2007 and later convicted of stealing sports memorabilia at gunpoint from a group of men in a Las Vegas hotel.
LaVergne, Simpson's attorney, said the number of events was closer to five.
Pardo's response: "How would I get 70 hours of footage from five events?"
Pardo's propensity for overstating his relationship with Simpson led to the "relationship souring" in 2013, LaVergne said. At the time, Simpson was serving nine years for the robbery.
Pardo said the truth is darker.
When he was asked about the murders, Pardo said, Simpson "always told me I don't want to know what happened That wasn't good enough. He should have just said, 'I didn't do it.'"
So Pardo started quizzing some of Simpson's longtime friends and colleagues, he said.
Some told him secrets, he said, and he began to build a case. When word got out about what he was doing, he said, individuals he will only call "informants" contacted him.
From prison, Simpson demanded he stop, Pardo said, and when he didn't, their friendship ended.
"Bull," attorney LaVergne said. "He always has an angle."
In 2006, Pardo offered to trade his hours of footage to the survivors of victim Ron Goldman in exchange for a multi-million civil award a jury ordered Simpson to pay them. They are unlikely ever to collect the award, Pardo said, but they might have profited from the footage.
The Goldman family hopes to get the first screening of the documentary, spokesman Michael Wright said. Until they see it, they have no comment, Wright said.
"Our message has always been that they were given a civil judgement when Simpson was found guilty of having to do with the death of their son," he said. "We will continue to pursue it."
Contact Paul Guzzo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @PGuzzoTimes.
Who Killed Nicole (trailer)?
When: At the Gasparilla International Film Festival 11 a.m. Saturday.
Where: The former Hamburger Mary's, 1600 E. Eighth Ave. in Ybor City.
Admission: Open to festival pass holders, at gasparillafilmfestival.com.