Central Park Five · Florida Man · Harper Lee
Plus: The Redemption Project drops, Elizabeth Holmes moves, and Buried in the Backyard is back
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Photo: CBSNews.com/CBS Sunday Morning (used with permission)
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning yesterday, members of the so-called Central Park Five said that the $41 million settlement wasn’t enough to pay for the years they lost behind bars. You can watch the segment here - it runs about seven minutes, and was presumably coordinated as promotion for When They See Us, the upcoming (May 31) dramatic series from Netflix and Ava DuVernay based on the case.
Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and Kevin Richardson, all of whom were wrongly convicted as teenagers for the 1989 rape and beating of a woman in Central Park, received a $41 million settlement from the city of New York in 2014, after the members of the group served between seven and 14 years in jail. The settlement means “we were able to relocate, put our children in better situations," Santana said, but, says Salaam, "No amount of money could have given us our time back."
Of course, DuVernay’s take won’t be the first adaptation of the case. In 2012, PBS broadcast The Central Park Five, a doc on the case co-directed by Ken Burns and his daughter, Sarah. Writing for The Blotter, Kevin Smokler listed the film as one that changed the course of the case, noting that “outtakes from the film were subpoenaed as evidence” during the malicious prosecution case eventually settled by the city. If you’ve got Amazon Prime, you can stream the Burns doc now for free, or you can rent/buy it via iTunes. — EB
Oxygen’s new slate of true crime programming includes a dubious celebration of Florida headlines. “Florida Man is responsible for a large amount of abnormal incidents that appear in Florida,” Darius famously told Earn as the second season of Atlanta began. It sounds like someone at Oxygen took that concept and ran with it, as the network sent a breathless press release last week that claimed that “when the murder is so bizarre, the motive so far-fetched and the crime so outlandish that it sounds like something from a Hollywood screenplay—there’s a good chance it was actually committed by a ‘Florida Man.’”
The show, which will be produced by Blumhouse Television (the broadcast arm of the low-budget high-profit horror-film house), doesn’t have a release date, but the gleeful take on what’s — let’s face it — real homicides in which people suffered and died is certainly a bold move! While I’ve texted/Slacked my fair share of weird crime news links (a disproportionate number of of which, yes, seem to go down in Florida), I don’t cackle over it publicly. Judging by the tone of the release, though, this stuff is going to be played for laughs. Is there a place for that in your true crime diet? — EB
How did we not know that Harper Lee tried to write a true crime book? Released last week, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, And The Last Trial Of Harper Lee details both a 1970s-era mass slaying (for, it’s said, insurance money) and the To Kill A Mockingbird author’s attempt to write a book about the case. Author Casey Cep has been everywhere since the book’s release, and has chalked up glowing reviews by the Washington Post, New York Times, and scores of others.
It’s unclear, Cep says, who truly committed the crime, though “I hope I’ve given people all the evidence that I can for readers to draw their own conclusions about everything,” Cep tells the Times. It’s even less clear why Lee never finished her book, for “she had a mind for the investigation. She had all the pieces. She should be able to write it, and then we have to sit with the question of, what happened?” — EB
Van Jones says that his new show, The Redemption Project, isn’t true crime. In an interview with the L.A. Times, Jones says “true crime is a whodunit. We already know who did it. The questions we ask are: What is the truth long after the crime?” While I disagree with the esteemed commentator regarding his definition of the genre, there’s something strangely confident about saying that your show isn’t one of the hottest genres out there (kind of like telling a little kid that some melted cheese on flatbread isn’t pizza but assuming they’ll eat it anyway). His show, which is totally true crime but from the perspective of the penitent do-er, airs at 9 PM on Sundays. — EB
Buried In The Backyard picks up its second season tonight. If you’re unaware of the show, it’s pretty much what it says it is — coverage of cases that begin when human remains are uncovered. This show occupies a sort of awkward spot on the true crime continuum, as its forensic coverage can feel superficial to the super CSI fan, and its focus on remains identification can bog down people eager to get to the whodunit part of the yarn. Perhaps some of those bumps will get smoothed down in its second outing. — EB
We here at The Blotter Presents love us some Theranos/Elizabeth Holmes. We’ve covered Bad Blood, The Inventor, and The Drop Out, on previous episodes of the pod. So imagine my excitement when I found myself in line behind Holmes, herself, at a San Francisco juice bar a couple months ago. Crews with Inside Edition tracked her down in the neighborhood around the same time as my spotting, and shortly thereafter she moved out of the “luxury apartment” she was living in, CNBC reported this weekend. The outlet now has photos of the apartment she’d been sharing with her alleged fiancé, Billy Evans, which it says is again available for rent for $5,395 a month. Here’s the listing for the two bedroom/two bath spot, if you’re interested in seeing how the other half lived — but don’t trip out too much about the price; the average market rent for a San Francisco two-bedroom as of April 2019 was $4,690, making Holmes only slightly above average. — EB