LOS ANGELES – Work wanted: 71-year-old actor recently acquitted of killing his wife seeks job in entertainment industry.
Moments after his trial ended, Robert Blake (search) was making a pitch to Hollywood.
"I'm broke. I need a job," he told reporters Wednesday after the verdict.
Industry types said Thursday the legal battle could revitalize the career of the tough-guy actor best known for starring in the 1970s detective drama "Baretta" (search) with a cockatoo named Fred.
"There could be a book. There could be a made-for-TV movie, but I don't think it would be the one that he'd want," said Mike Sitrick, a Los Angeles publicist whose firm specializes in crisis management. "I think he could, down the road, get some roles."
Blake will need money. He said he spent $10 million defending himself in the criminal case. He faces added costs in the upcoming wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. The civil trial is set for July 7.
Pop psychologist Joyce Brothers called Blake a likable guy who should have no trouble getting work after being embraced by America.
"They will not only accept him back but accept him back in spades," she said. "We are a nation that loves comebacks. We have `Rocky' and `Rocky 2' and `Rocky 3.'" She predicted TV producers "will be fighting for him to be a guest star on an existing TV show or even build something around him."
Brothers said she believes many people sympathize with Blake for wanting to protect the young daughter he had with Bakley. Bakley made a living scamming men out of money with nude pictures of herself and promises of sex.
"He wanted her to grow up in innocence," Brothers said. "Who doesn't want that?"
After nearly nine days of deliberations, the jury acquitted Blake of murder and one count of trying to get someone to kill Bakley, but deadlocked on a second solicitation charge. The judge then dismissed that charge.
Sitrick said that because of Bakley's past and the uncertainty about who killed her, the public is not likely to see Blake as another O.J. Simpson — that is, someone who got away with murder. The former football star was acquitted in the 1994 killings his ex-wife and her friend, but was found liable in a civil trial and ordered to pay $33.5 million.
"I think the defense did a pretty good job of painting Blake's wife as an unsympathetic character," Sitrick said. "While it shouldn't make a difference, it did. People just didn't feel sorry for her."
Blake had not been in big demand in Hollywood for a decade before the murder. His biggest turn was an Emmy-winning performance as a mild family man turned killer in the 1993 TV docudrama "Judgment Day: The John List Story."
In 1995, he played a racist police captain in the Wesley Snipes-Woody Harrelson bomb "Money Train." In his last film role, he was the grim-reaper-like character known as Mystery Man in David Lynch's 1997 surreal thriller "Lost Highway."
"I can't say he's on our short list," Kevin Reilly, programming chief at NBC, said about the prospect of casting Blake. However, Reilly said he would not be surprised if Blake popped up on something "kooky" on television.
Hollywood has a history of embracing celebrities who have gotten in trouble. Among them: Robert Downey Jr. and Martha Stewart.