Court TV · More DB · Chloë Sevigny, Bet-Crapped
Plus the Depp and Jeffs projects nobody asked for
Welcome to a variation on Eve’s budget-doc clear-out: Buntsy’s Vain Pursuit Of Inbox Zero! Spoiler: it ain’t happening, but there’s some good stuff in here. (And some tacky AF stuff too.) Let’s do this!
And just a reminder: I run a true-crime bookshop called Exhibit B.; I get new inventory in eeeevery day; and you, dearest readers, can get 10% off all month with code BestEv10.
“Dang, what can I do with all this money I just saved?” Well, we’re not telling you how to live (…okay, that’s precisely what we do, but it’s more suggesting) but a paid subscription to this joint is just $5 a month…
Okay, enough with the sales pitch; on with the show. — SDB
…Not really much else to say, is there? If you’re not familiar with the case, Literary Hub can brief you, but apparently Brophy’s how-to on killing a spouse won’t make it into evidence in her trial.
Another D.B. Cooper doc is set for the Seattle International Film Festival. Let’s hope the ticket I just bought for the 4/14 virtual screening isn’t geo-blocked! I doubt I Am D. B. Cooper tells us anything new, but at least it’s not purporting to solve the case. Here’s a snip from the press materials:
Two bounty-hunting brothers bail an ailing old man named Rodney Bonnefield out of prison in 2016 and are surprised when he announces that he is the real D.B. Cooper. Intrigued by Bonnefield’s admission, they bring a grain of salt to their interrogation of his past, only to find that a lot of details line up in ways that only the true Cooper would know.
A road trip to dig up the rest of the ransom money ensues. Sure, why not.
Yet another Ghislaine Maxwell project hits Paramount+ “exclusively” today. Ghislaine — Partner In Crime “features revealing, emotional interviews with Maxwell’s siblings Ian, Kevin and Isabel Maxwell; her friends; legal experts; and her alleged victims. … [It] also features the first extensive television interview with Scotty David, known as Juror #50, who takes viewers inside the jury room. Juror #50 would throw a curveball post-verdict that no one saw coming.” I think I’ll wait for snippets to hit Twitter; I just can’t do another four hours with that case, can you?
Speaking of cases I don’t think I can with: “Court TV … will work with local court officials as the pool feed provider for the widely-discussed defamation lawsuit involving Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought — by which I mean hoped — that this case would get settled and go away before we had to learn even more about what an abusive turd Depp is while our TL filled up with garbage “takes” on the testimony, but here we fuggin’ go, I guess. Proceedings begin Monday the 11th.
But it’s not all tasteless on the programming-news front, as Freeform announced a non-fiction slate earlier this week. I admit I haven’t watched a ton of the network’s programming, but shows like The Fosters and Switched At Birth seemed like they were at least trying to do something different, portraying a more diverse range of experience in scripted material, so a move into the documentary space is intriguing. Only one of the projects announced is relevant to our genre interests, but it’s got a great pedigree:
Dear Pony: Keep This Between Us is a four-part docuseries following one woman’s journey as she re-examines her past relationship with a trusted teacher. The series exposes an epidemic of widespread grooming in U.S. high schools. The series is directed by Amy Berg (Phoenix Rising), Jenna Rosher (Dear…) and Kristi Jacobson (Solitary).
You’d expect a logline like that from an HBO property, right? But this one’s set to hit basic cable June 15.
And right back to nauseating subject matter with Peacock’s Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run with Warren Jeffs, whose title should have gotten rewritten so it doesn’t sound like Warren Jeffs is the host IMO. Like the Ghislaine Maxwell doc I mentioned above, this one seems likely to be an overlong rehash of known intel and widely available visuals, with a single “exclusive” interview meant to season the leftovers. Entertainment Tonight has the first-look trailer if you’re interested; I’m likely to give this one a miss. (I have spent a lot of time with the story already.)
Let’s wrap up this section with two New Yorker pieces from the January 24 issue. First up: Patrick Radden Keefe’s “The Bounty Hunter,” a profile of legal counselor to corporate whistle-blowers Jordan Thomas. It’s a nice long one that’ll let you feel like an exasperated expert by the end; here’s a snip:
Thomas represented a whistle-blower from JPMorgan Chase who helped expose a pattern of self-dealing at the bank; the case resulted in a two-hundred-and-sixty-seven-million-dollar penalty, in 2015. Another client alerted the S.E.C. to the misuse of customer cash at Merrill Lynch, leading to a four-hundred-and-fifteen-million-dollar fine, in 2016. Last summer, when the Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen was preparing to take her allegations public, she and her legal team consulted Thomas.
Just a few pages later comes Eren Orbey’s compassionate and troubling “Fault Lines.” Retitled “A Daughter’s Quest To Free Her Father’s Killer” for the website, the subhed — “Katie Kitchen wanted to live up to her progressive ideals. Her own family tragedy presented a chance.” — does most of the heavy lifting, but doesn’t mention that Orbey’s own father was murdered when Orbey was very small; or that Kitchen’s “quest” may have been catalyzed by “a pair of personal development seminars offered by the company Landmark Worldwide”; or that said killer, Yusuff White, really struggles to use “I statements” in relation to the crime that put him behind bars. There’s a lot going on, all of it fascinating vis-a-vis grief, denial, the way those two things can combine to create a functional forgiveness, and how we might start thinking about the journeys of the incarcerated:
Kitchen’s daughter, K. C. Coats, a Realtor who lives in Austin, attributed her mother’s affection for White to her “childlike, innocent quality,” which she described with loving skepticism. “Forgiveness can sometimes really require distance,” Coats said, “because it allows you to accept someone for who they are, and they’re over there.” She added, “My mother hasn’t fully let the reality of what happened wash over her. She could have kept Joseff at an arm’s length, and it all would have been just as good.” Ellen Benninghoven shares her sister’s interest in criminal-justice reform. Before the pandemic, she volunteered weekly with a Houston-based restorative-justice program called Bridges to Life, which, according to its Web site, leads incarcerated people through a curriculum “centered on responsibility, repentance, and restitution.” But Benninghoven has never wanted to meet White, in part because she never got the sense from Kitchen that he was truly remorseful.
Reading the two pieces in one sitting, I wouldn’t say they’re in dialogue with each other or anything, but they do share a quality that I realized is possibly my favorite aspect of the magazine’s crime/justice pieces: an understanding that, while seeing mysteries and ambiguities re/solved is a big part of the genre’s appeal, most of the time it’s not going to get neat like that. “Closure,” “justice,” a confident stride out of a courtroom with swelling strings — that’s what we want, but The New Yorker reports on what we get instead, and the ways we live with that. — SDB
I don’t think we “need” The Girl From Plainville, as a culture, but I’m never going to be mad about watching Chloe Sevigny work. And I’m not going to be mad about Bet-Crapping her, either! (Not sure what the BET-CRP is? Ecce the parameters!) My prediction, before starting the rundown of Sevigny’s 83 credits, is that it’s north of 25%, not because she does that much true-crime stuff but because so much of it is major cases — and because she’s so good in it. But let’s get into it!
Boys Don’t Cry (1999) // Notching a full 5 right off the bat here. You could argue that this isn’t a “name figure” role anymore, but at the time, it was. She should have won that Best Supporting Oscar, too.
American Psycho (2000) // It’s tempting to count this one because Bateman is often seen as a composite, and I remember Sevigny as being diverting in it, but: 0
Party Monster (2003) // 1 pt
Death of a Dynasty (2003) // I never heard of this one before, the cast list is bonnnnnkers, and here again it’s tempting to count it because I think the Dash/Jay-Z beef is still taking up courtroom space here in 2022…but I can’t justify it: 0
Mrs. Harris (2005) // The Tarnower case. Literally everyone is in this shteez, too; 1 pt
Zodiac (2007) // No awards attention for CS here, but it’s a HOFer for sure; 2 pts
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009) // Evidently this is based on the Mark Yavorsky case? That this exists is…really something, but it’s still only getting our girl 1 pt
Mr. Nice (2010) // With Rhys Ifans as Howard Marks. I guess she’s a name figure in the case since Howard and Judy got arrested and extradited together? I can’t quite justify it, though; 1 pt
Lovelace (2013) // Now that everyone who didn’t have a Veronica Mars podcast realizes how goddamned good Amanda Seyfried has been for 20 years, maybe I can justify taking a look at this one, although with the exception of Seyfried, it looks bad. Sevigny’s in it as a reporter, though, and because I consider it a sexual assault/trafficking case: 1 pt
Electric Slide (2014) // Evidently it’s about Eddie “the New York Yankees Bandit” Dodson? Okay then: 1 pt
American Horror Story S05 (2015) // Another neighborhood play with AHS’s “Hotel season,” but because it’s based on the Cecil and that production always weaves a lot of true crime/real events into its stories, I’ll give it 1 pt
Lizzie (2018) // Yep, “that Lizzie.” This was just released in 2018? It seems like it was a decade ago. Sevigny is the titular Borden, so that’s an easy 3 pts
The Act (2019) // This one seems to have fallen out of the genre consciousness as a conversation point, which is a pity; it was quite well done IMO. Not a hall-of-famer yet, though, and Sevigny isn’t playing a Blanchard, so: 1 pt
The Girl From Plainville (2022) // “Name figure”…I can’t quite get there. She could get some awards attention, at which time I can revise, but for right now it’s just the 1 pt
So that’s 21 points for Sevigny; more properties by volume than I remembered, but she’s also often just there…and she does have a shit-ton of credits. Does Buntsy beat the spread? Dividing 21 by 83 gives us a 25.3 Best Evidence True-Crime Résumé Percentage. So…yes! “North of 25%,” albeit barely.
(Got a Bet-Crap you want me to run? Let me know! Want to do it yourself? I’ll let you know that we pay contributors.) — SDB
Friday on Best Evidence: Tokyo Vice reviews, Atlanta tackles the Harts, and more.