Brian Gerard "Kato" Kaelin (/ˈkeɪtoʊ ˈkeɪlɪn/; born March 9, 1959) is an American radio and television personality who gained fame as a witness during the 1994–95 murder trial of O. J. Simpson.
Early life and education
Kaelin was nicknamed "Kato" as a child after the character played by Bruce Lee in the television series The Green Hornet. He graduated from Nicolet High School in Glendale, Wisconsin, in 1977. He attended, but never graduated from, the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He pledged SAE Fraternity in the fall of 1980 and was accepted at the end of the term at California State University Fullerton. During his time at Eau Claire he created his own talk show, Kato and Friends, and hosted The Gameshow on the campus television station, TV10. Kaelin eventually moved to Hollywood.
Kaelin was "best friends" with actor/comedian Norm Macdonald from mid-2000 to mid-2001, according to Macdonald's The Norm Show co-star Artie Lange. Kaelin was even given a guest role on the show. Kaelin and Macdonald had a falling out which ended their friendship.
Kaelin was married to Cynthia Coulter from 1983 to 1989; they have one child, Tiffany Kaelin Knight.
O. J. Simpson murder case
Kaelin gained notoriety for his role as a minor witness for the prosecution in the 1995 O. J. Simpson murder trial. In 1994, Kaelin was staying in a guest house on Simpson's Rockingham estate and was present at the compound on the night of the two murders on June 12. He witnessed some of Simpson's movements before and after the time of the murders. Kaelin's story seemed to contradict Simpson's version of the events on some key points, as Kaelin testified that he could not account for Simpson's whereabouts between 9:36 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on the evening the murders took place, which the prosecution alleged occurred between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. In spite of "valuable evidence" provided by Kaelin in his testimony, prosecutor Marcia Clark took the unusual step of having him declared a hostile witness, "allowing her to attack her own prosecution witness without repeated objections from Simpson's defense team". Kaelin received considerable media attention following his testimony.
In If I Did It, it is alleged that Simpson's children mocked Kaelin as a freeloader.
Landmark libel case
After Simpson was acquitted, the tabloid newspaper National Examiner published a cover story declaring "Cops think Kato did it!", featuring a photo of Kaelin shirtless. Kaelin sued the publisher, Globe Communications, for libel. A federal trial judge dismissed the case, saying the story was not libelous or malicious. However, Kaelin appealed, and that decision was reversed. The appeals court ruling stated: "We hold that reasonable jurors could find that clear and convincing evidence established: (1) the front page headline falsely insinuated that the police believed that Kaelin committed the murders; and (2) the false insinuation was not necessarily cured by ... subheading or by the non-defamatory story about Kaelin that appeared 17 pages away. We also hold that Kaelin produced sufficiently clear and convincing evidence of the newspaper's knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth of its headline to defeat a motion for summary judgment."
The decision was a landmark case in libel law, finding that a headline could be considered libel. Kaelin later settled with Globe Communications out of court.
Before his involvement in the O. J. Simpson trial, Kaelin appeared in the movie Beach Fever (1987), in which his character created a love potion with his friend and hit on girls at the beach; he also starred in a low budget horror movie Night Shadow (1989).
Kaelin briefly made national headlines when he claimed he never told New York Post columnist Cindy Adams that O. J. Simpson definitely killed his wife. Kato said he has expressed his opinion before, that he thinks Simpson did it, but "I have no firsthand knowledge."
Soon after the trial, he appeared on the first episode of the Fox sketch comedy MADtv (October 1995) and made a cameo appearance on the HBO sketch comedy Mr. Show with Bob and David during the series' first season (November 1995); in the latter series' episode titled "We Regret to Inform You", he shows up at lobotomized actor Borden Grote's party. He appeared in the feature film The Still Life (2006) and had a minor role in National Lampoon's Dorm Daze 2 (2006). In February 2009, Kaelin guest-starred in the Web series Star-ving and the movie Whacked. Kaelin was a guest on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, on March 29, 1995.
Kaelin made numerous forays into reality television. In 2002, he participated in the series Celebrity Boot Camp. In 2004, he participated in the development of a reality show called House Guest, in which he would live in other celebrities' homes; that show never aired. He was seen on an episode of the E! reality series Sunset Tan, asking specifically for a "farmer's tan". He was also a guest player on the 6th episode of the Comedy Central series Reality Bites Back. In 2008, he was a contestant in the Fox Reality Channel show Gimme My Reality Show, in which minor celebrities competed to receive their own reality show.
He has also participated in game shows. He appeared on the NBC version of The Weakest Link. He was a contestant on the game shows Russian Roulette as well as the reality dating show BZZZ! hosted by Annie Wood. In 2005, Kaelin appeared in the first three National Lampoon's Strip Poker pay-per-view programs (Kaelin is an avid poker player); the titles were filmed at Hedonism II, a naturist resort in Negril, Jamaica, which led Kaelin to quip, "The first few days there were the hardest!" The Playboy bunnies, WWE Divas, and pin-up models competing in the no-limit Texas hold 'em games, and upon losing all their chips and clothes, had to dive into the "Pool of Shame" and visit "Kato's Guesthouse", where Kaelin would interview the nude defeated players. Kato also appeared in numerous comedic skits.
He also has worked as a radio and television host. For a short time in 1995, he worked as a radio talk host on KLSX in Los Angeles, and provided online content for National Lampoon. From June 2005 to sometime in 2006, Kaelin co-hosted Eye for an Eye, a daytime TV court show syndicated in 34 countries. Kaelin was a recurring guest on the video game review show X-Play.
Kaelin has also appeared in multiple parodies. In 2009, he was seen on the series Tosh.0, in a parody of the Keyboard Cat video titled "Keyboard Kato". And in 2010, Kaelin appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, wearing a wig to play his younger self in a taped skit parodying 1990s television appearances by 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell.
Since 2011, Kaelin has hosted the TV talk show Tailgating with Kato. In 2016, he made a brief appearance on the FX comedy series Baskets, where he performed the national anthem at a rodeo.
In 2016, Kaelin appeared in the Troma Entertainment film B.C. Butcher.