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June 30, 2022

Hollywood lawyer to MCT director

Peter Gelblum sits in the darkened, empty Park Hall in Ben Lomond and reflects on his former hectic life, when he was named One of the Best Lawyers in America – a life that saw him on the worldwide stage as part of the legal team that won a $33.5 million wrongful death judgment against O.J. Simpson.But he found that it was a profession with little creativity.“I hadn’t gone to a lot of plays,” remembers Gelblum of his 30 years working as a partner at Mitchell Siberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles. “I didn’t think about it at all.”But he found that it was a profession with little creativity.“I hadn’t gone to a lot of plays,” remembers Gelblum of his 30 years working as a partner at Mitchell Siberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles. “I didn’t think about it at all.”He certainly thought about drama when he walked past Park Hall shortly after renting a house in Ben Lomond in 2008.“I poked my head in one day and then got really involved,” he says. “Now it’s a very big part of my life.”In addition to serving as vice president of the theater board, Gelblum is currently directing Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a comedy playing on weekends through May 28.Life has come full circle for Gelblum, who earned a performing arts degree at Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1974. He soon moved to New York City to ply his trade as an actor, working as a waiter between auditions.After a brief stop in San Francisco to work as stage manager for Hold Me!,Gelblum followed the play as an understudy when it moved to Los Angeles in 1977. He continued to pursue acting.Viewers can see him on YouTube as Ralph Donner, a psychopathic killer, on a 1978 Kojak episode entitled “Halls of Terror.”“I thought I’d made the big time,” he says, adding that his agent fired him after his big break. “I never worked again.”For “fun” he entered Southwestern School of Law and earned a degree summa cum laude in 1982. He soon began representing high-profile clients in civil courts of law.Goldblum fought for the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, against Napster’s ability to stiff artists, and represented the family of Fred Goldman, whose son, Ron, was brutally murdered along with Nicole Simpson in 1994 in the civil suit against O.J.Although Simpson was found not guilty of murder charges after a 1995 criminal trial, the Goldman’s filed civil charges in Santa Monica Superior Court in 1997.“It wasn’t about money,” says Gelblum, referring to the Goldman’s inability to pay for the massive legal tab. “There was no doubt in our minds that he (Simpson) had done it.”Gelblum oversaw the photographic expert witnesses and all of the punitive witnesses and evidence. Of the $33.5 million award, Simpson has paid the Goldman’s about $500,000, according to Gelblum.Gelblum’s work tying the photograph of the now-famous Bruno Magli shoes to Simpson is legendary, especially considering that the former football star said he would never wear those “ugly ass” shoes during his 10-day deposition.Twenty-two witnesses disputed Simpson’s version of the events.“He (Simpson) was very charismatic and completely unethical to truthfulness,” remembers Gelblum.Currently, Gelblum, who lives in Boulder Creek with wife Michel, is essentially retired, except for an appeals case in which he represents the heirs of Walt Disney in a matter that involves “several-hundred million dollars.”The couple discovered Big Basin while exploring an old-school style paper map while visiting friends in Corralitos. “We’d never heard of San Lorenzo Valley,” he says of their initial visit. “It was magical; everyone was so nice.”Gelblum was key in resurrecting the mountain theater company after it lost the rights to publish the stage version of Miracle on 34th Street, reducing the non-profit’s budget by about $12,000 annually.Gelblum and his attorney brother Seth came to the rescue and worked and at deal with the story’s owner, 20th Century Fox to get the rights back. He played Kris Kringle in the play from 2010 – 2012.Gelblum is currently working with a group of volunteers reviewing 30 plays that have been submitted for next year’s season. That number will be reduced to four productions.One thing is constant for Gelblum, and that’s believing in O.J. Simpson’s guilt as he comes up for a parole hearing this summer for a 2008 burglary conviction.“I don’t have any sympathy for him,” he says. “He got away with murder.”The Play: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Friday through Sunday, May 29, Friday and Saturday 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., Park Hall, 9400 Mill St., Ben Lomond

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Scotts Valley active shooter drill

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