Dopesick · California City · Robbing Banks

Plus: More big thoughts about true crime podcasts

Michael Keaton will star in the Hulu adaptation of Dopesick. Beth Macy’s Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America was a straightforward set of first-person interviews of people struggling with pharmaceutical addiction overarched by an explanation of how drug companies worked the system. (Sarah reviewed it for paid subscribers to Best Evidence here.)

The dramatic adaptation has quite the lineup: In addition to Keaton, there’s veteran director Barry Levinson, the man behind (oft problematic!) movies like Diner, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Rain Man. He’ll direct all eight episodes of the series, which bills as its creator Danny Strong, the co-creator of Empire that folks of a certain demo will know simply as Jonathan.

According to Variety, Keaton will play “Samuel Finnix, an old-school doctor who approaches his practice with kindness and compassion, but finds himself embroiled in Big Pharma’s deadly secret.” A release date has yet to be announced, but in a statement, Fox 21 TV Studios president Bert Salke said that “we have every reason to believe this important story will be one of the tv events of the coming year.” — EB


In the latest issue of Hot Pod, Wired reporter Charley Locke asserts that “True Crime Podcasts Perpetuate The Myth of an Effective Criminal Justice System.” It’s kind of a wild allegation, made wilder when, in the first paragraph, she casts aside the shows that she admits are all “digging deep into the injustices of the criminal justice system rather than extending the myth of its competence.” Instead, she focuses on those with a “facile perspective,” not that you’d get that from the item’s provocative headline.

Indeed, this essay (which you can read in full here) might instead have been headlined “Many Bad True Crime Podcasts Perpetuate The Myth of an Effective Criminal Justice System.” According to Locke, “many of the genre’s most popular shows follow a conversational format: one host explains the case, and the other reacts as an emotional foil for the listener.”

This is not untrue, but many pizzas are topped with green peppers (truly, the most vile villain of the vegetable world, I will not be taking questions), yet in my day job as a food journalist my editors would not have allowed me to cast green-pepper-free pizzas aside to allow me to pursue an argument on why pizza is bad because green peppers are on it. But that’s what we have here. It is quite odd, and I’m not sure why it’s structured the way it is. It seems to me like Locke could just as easily take down the pods she’s after (oddly, Crime Junkie — arguably the worst offender here — gets only a passing mention) without painting the now-massive genre with the same brush, or, even worse, barely acknowledging that many of the true crime podcasts that get the most acclaim and attention aren’t the lazy chat shows that she’s, quite rightfully, taking to task. — EB


Today in Best Evidence, 2019: What did we care about a year ago? What is time? When did I last wash my hair? Only one of these answers is good.

In the June 18, 2019 issue of Best Evidence:

Paid subscribers can read the whole thing (and every other back issue of BE) here. If you’re a free subscriber and are even vaguely intrigued, you know what to do.


LAist is behind a new true-crime podcast. The SoCal website is planning a show called California City, about “a planned ‘city of the future’ in the Mojave Desert that promised potential investors a future of riches but, ultimately, lured a number of immigrants into a web of deceit,” the Hollywood Reporter reports.

This is very exciting for me, as California City is also home to one of my favorite road-trip gas stations, a regular stop when I’m headed either way on Interstate 40. It is kind of a weird place, and I’m looking forward to learning more from the show, which will be hosted by KPCC environmental reporter Emily Guerin. The trailer is here, and the season kicks off on July 13.


A new film will tell the tale of Peggy Jo Tallas. Variety reports that Lily James, the English actress perhaps best known for her role as Debora the hapless waitress in Baby Driver, will play Tallas. Tallas, a Texas bank robber who was famous for committing crimes while dressed as a man, is the subject of a great Texas Monthly piece called “The Last Ride of Cowboy Bob” (spoiler: Peggy is Bob, how Twin Peaks-y is that?)

The film will be called Peggy Jo, and will be directed by Phillip Noyce, the man behind (oft problematic! Yes, I can do this all day!) films like Sliver, Patriot Games, and The Saint. Additional casting, or a release date, has yet to be announced. — EB


Friday on Best Evidence: We’ll be celebrating Juneteenth, and we hope you are, too.


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