For Real This Time: Blow · Bezos · Candy Montgomery

Plus: Holmes in court

Sorry about that, folks! A network error at Substack meant that an unfinished draft of today’s issue (basically, what I had done before their servers crapped themselves or whatever) went to you instead of the full issue. So I’m sending this again, with my apologies. Thank you for your patience! — EB

Is Candy Montgomery the hottest figure in true crime? The Texas housewife who killed her neighbor with an ax back in 1980 spawned a quickly-published book called Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs, which was eventually adapted into the Barbara Hershey-starring A Killing in a Small Town, a CBS TV movie that aired in 1990. (The case was also the subject of a 1984 two-parter from Texas Monthly; you can catch up on it here and here.

But that was it, for 30 or so years…until last year, when Hulu announced a show called Candy about the case. This time, Elisabeth Moss would play Montgomery, working with The Act’s Robin Veith with Nick Antosca.

And now there’s a competing Candy project, this one with Elizabeth Olsen in the Candy role. Deadline reports that this time, David E. Kelley will pen the script, and Nicole Kidman is producing another limited Montgomery series for HBO Max.

And get this shady press-release comment from production studio Lionsgate Television Group chair Kevin Beggs: “We cannot imagine a more perfect artist to play the leading role of Candy than Elizabeth Olsen…Her talent, charisma and energy can bewitch audiences like no other.” Kevin, what are you saying about Elisabeth Moss and Barbara Hershey (who won that year’s Outstanding Lead Actress — Miniseries or a Movie Emmy for her work as Candy BTW)?

We don’t have release dates for either show quite yet, so it’s unclear if Hulu or HBO will drop their show first. Please don’t unsubscribe if I end this item by saying “looks like there’ll be plenty of Candy for everyone.” — EB

George Jung has died. The 78-year-old former cocaine smuggler’s death was announced on his Instagram page (a sentence that was just as strange to type as it must be to read). According to TMZ, Jung had been in home hospice care for several days, after his liver and kidneys began to fail.

Jung’s career working for Pablo Escobar was chronicled in Bruce Porter’s book Blow: How a Small-Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All. That book was adapted into the 2001 movie Blow, stills from which I took to a hair salon to replicate Jung/Depp’s highlights. What can I say, it was the early ’00s.

The film was clearly important to Jung, or at least, to his survivors: following his death his Twitter account published a quote from the movie, “May the wind always be at your back and the sun upon your face, and the winds of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars.” — EB

Fans and foes of Jeff Bezos will all find something to enjoy in this longread on his blackmail fight. As you might recall, back in early 2019 the Amazon founder penned a Medium post accusing National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. of a complicated conspiracy to embarrass him that (as the NYT put it) “brought together international intrigue, White House politics, nude photos and amorous text messages.”

An awful lot has happened since then, and I kind of forgot about this whole thing! But not Brad Stone, Bloomberg’s senior executive editor for global technology. His book, Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire, drops on May 11 (but is available for preorder on Amazon now, ha ha). Early reviews make it sound like a pretty standard “how a company grew to monolith status and its founder got rich” tale, but an excerpt on the blackmail story reads more like true crime. Here’s a snip:

Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard, was a short and stout 36-year-old Australian and an acid-penned chronicler of the hypocrisies and indiscretions of American celebrities. The journalistic force behind such tabloid supernovas as Mel Gibson’s antisemitic rants and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child, Howard was protective of his work and combative toward rivals. When the Post aggressively covered AMI’s catch-and-kill problems, Howard told reporters to look into its wealthy owner’s personal life.

One possible line of inquiry, according to an email that went out to AMI staff in late summer, was to examine Bezos’ relationship with the family of his biological father, Ted Jorgensen, and why the CEO hadn’t contacted them when Jorgensen was dying in 2015.

The next day, Monday, Sept. 10, Michael Sanchez wrote an email to Andrea Simpson, an L.A.-based reporter for AMI. Sanchez and Simpson were close friends. He regularly sent her news about his clients, and they had once gotten tattoos together on a whim. (His, on his forearm, read Je suis la tempête: “I am the storm.”) In the email, Sanchez said he had a hot tip for Simpson. A friend, he wrote, worked for a “Bill Gates type” who was married and having an affair with “a B-list married actress.” The friend, Sanchez wrote, had compromising photos of the couple but wanted a six-figure payout for the scoop. Sanchez claimed to be working as the middleman.

The whole story is fascinating, from how Bezos was allegedly sold out by his girlfriend’s brother, to the revelation’s impact on Amazon’s stock, to how Bezos took control of the situation, is gripping. And Bloomberg has helpfully pulled this dish for us, publishing a lengthy excerpt of, really, the only part of the book I’m interested in. So pour yourself a cup of Amazon Basics java and read that excerpt here. — EB

Elizabeth Holmes appeared in court this week, for the first time since the pandemic. Just in case one crassly thought her pregnancy was a defense ploy, we have photos that strongly suggest otherwise — she’s due in July, and her look reflects that.

The subject of this week’s hearing was a “Theranos database that … would show that the inaccurate blood testing central to the alleged crimes was extremely rare,” reporter Ethan Baron writes for the Bay Area News Group. Her defense says that the lack of that database — which Theranos reportedly destroyed — makes for a “gaping hole in the government’s case,” which sure does make you wonder why Theranos destroyed it! Anyway, no big decisions came down this week, and the trial is still set for this fall, after Holmes gives birth. — EB

Friday on Best Evidence: We’ll see!

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