Fred Hampton · John Wayne Gacy · Stolen
Plus a heist-iversary and a Gay/Lewinsky convo
|Best Evidence||Feb 22||2||3|
It’s the 15th anniversary of the Securitas depot heist. Kent Online has a good explainer on the case:
In the early hours of February 22, 2006, a Wednesday, seven masked men brandishing guns burst into Securitas Cash Management Ltd’s building in Vale Road, tied up 14 staff members and in just over an hour stole £53m belonging to the Bank of England.
The gang left almost £154m behind as they could not fit any more into their seven-and-a-half tonne lorry.
And you can read more on Wikipedia about the aftermath — but said aftermath doesn’t seem to include a podcast or docuseries (or even a scripted take, which it seems ripe for). If I’ve overlooked such a property, alert me immediately! — SDB
I’d also love a little help figuring out what exactly the upcoming Secrets of a Psychopath is about. Uh, besides the literal facts literally kept hidden by a remorseless imitation of a fully-functioning human. The three-parter is hitting Sundance Now next month, and kept popping up in my saved Google searches at the end of last week, but I can’t seem to get much further than the parodically vague bullet on Futon Critic, which says the mini
recounts the facts behind the most complex and surprising murder to come before the courts in Irish criminal history. The true crime series takes the viewer through the many coincidences, twists and turns of the investigation, uncovering an obsessive and unconventional relationship which ultimately ended in tragedy.
This truly is every single docuseries in the sector, guys — with the exception of the Irish aspect, so maybe give us ignorant Yanks a name? (“Narrator: ‘They didn’t.’”) If you’ve got guesses, I’m listening.
We do have a premiere date for SoaP — March 23 — and just two days later comes a John Wayne Gacy project at Peacock, John Wayne Gacy: Devil In Disguise. No guesswork involved there (and partial credit for not going with clown wordplay in the title). Brought to us by NBC News as well as the guy who produced Amanda Knox for Netflix, Devil In Disguise is going to work the never-before-seen angle…and there’s another angle hinted at in the brief:
It tells the story of Gacy through his own words, those who were forever changed by his unspeakable deeds and those who believe that the full truth about the case remains concealed to this day, according to Peacock. It features a multi-hour interview with Gacy himself from prison, most of which has never been seen, as well as exclusive audio and video interviews, including with one of his closest confidantes and his second ex-wife. The series follows the investigation of Gacy and poses new questions about what may have happened and who else may have been involved.
I don’t know the case well, I admit, so maybe this is a legit angle on it, but…are they trying to imply that the clown was framed? And is that a valid direction, or just cynical coverage-mongering?
You can probably imagine which category I think the artwork falls into; sigh. The trailer is below. — SDB
Again, that hits the NBC streamer March 25. — SDB
Connie Walker, creator of well-regarded podcast Missing and Murdered, has a new podcast dropping March 1 — Stolen: The Search for Jermain. Walker produced Missing and Murdered for the CBC, but Stolen is her first project for Gimlet Media,
ous woman, Jermain Charlo, in Montana, who was out one evening at a bar in Missoula and never made it home. Over the course of eight episodes, Walker is on the ground in real time tracking down leads through the dense mountains of the Flathead Reservation, all while examining what it means to be an Indigenous woman in America, as Jermain was.
The demographic is eagerly anticipating this one, based on what I’m seeing on Twitter; you can check out the trailer below. — SDB
The big premiere in true crime last night was Allen vs. Farrow, which I highly recommend — but I also recommend Showtime’s three-part docuseries on Daniel “Tekashi 6ix9ine” Hernandez. Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine is sometimes a little tricksy and may not entirely know what its strengths are — but it’s extremely watchable, as I noted in my Primetimer review:
Perhaps it's not fair to hold Supervillain to the case timeline expectations of a traditional true crime doc. Supervillain's larger focus is on image-making in hip-hop and what happens when social media, the need for gangster "authenticity," and the Trumpian concept that there's no such thing as negative attention combine (and combust). In fact, the dearth of law-enforcement talking-head interviews is rather refreshing. But viewers who go into the docuseries expecting a more conventional approach may not enjoy the ways Gill chooses to illustrate that focus.
Those ways include a chemistry-lab/doll-construction animation framework narrated, with many swears, by Giancarlo Esposito. If this sounds either corny or compelling…it’s both. Give it a look. — SDB
If you’d like more behind-the-scenes process-y intel on Allen vs. Farrow, Vanity Fair has a piece on the filming of the limited series, why Mia Farrow is still afraid of Woody Allen(’s lawyers), and more. The filmmakers talk about what sets the series apart from previous coverage; here’s a snippet:
Ziering said she and Dick were inspired to make Allen v. Farrow after talking to Dylan and realizing “how much there was in her story that we’d never heard before.”
“There’s an incredible amount of cover-up behind what you think you know about the Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, and Dylan Farrow story,” said Dick. “That was one of the things we set out to uncover and make public, really…. Woody Allen has been able to present this as saying he was cleared in two investigations. And once you dig into the truth behind those investigations, in one case there’s very strong evidence of cover-up. And in the other investigation, there’s a lot of questions, which we ask in the film.”
Elsewhere in VF, Monica Lewinsky interviews Roxane Gay on “writing trauma” on the heels of Gay’s essay for Scribd, “Writing Into the Wound.” That piece “describes Gay’s experience attempting to write about being gang-raped at age 12” as those attempts evolved over time; in the interview, Lewinsky and Gay discuss fat-shaming, media “callousness,” and how writers should confront the trauma of others in a way that’s effective but compassionate. It’s something I think about a lot, reviewing true-crime properties and now running a bookshop that’s entirely in the genre — yes, I have my jobs to do, assessing the watchability of a docuseries, reselling Ann Rule compendia, but always trying to keep in mind that these are people’s lives. With Lewinsky at the questioning helm, that’s easy to do — and the exchange is sometimes even funny!
You wrote in the essay, “How do we write about the traumatic experiences of others without transgressing their boundaries or privacy?"
That’s a question I think that we are always going to have to grapple with, but I always think we have to err on the side of respecting other people and their lives and not putting words or experiences into their mouths that they have not shared. I don’t ever want to suppose that I know anything about someone who’s experienced trauma, if I haven’t asked them about it directly. We see all kinds of speculation. You’re very familiar with this. The media will invent stories, whole cloth.
According to the tabloids, I had an alien child once, you know?
Oh, I did not realize. How are they doing?
Wonderful. I’m getting the tax credit.
Lucky! Yeah. It’s wild to see what writers can do.
It’s a really good discussion about the mechanics of writing “from emotion,” too, and the things that reviewers and interviewers miss by fixating on garbage-y details, and how it’s not helpful to minimize one’s own experiences even as one tries to keep perspective. Like Allen vs. Farrow, it’s tough but worthwhile. — SDB
We have really good discussions around here, too — thanks to you guys! Know someone who’d enjoy joining in? Give ’em a shout, we’d love to have them.
If you’re looking for an explainer on the demise of Fred Hampton before settling down with Judas and the Black Messiah, WaPo has you covered. Robert Mitchell’s “The secret FBI informant who betrayed Black Panther leader Fred Hampton” opens with Jeffrey Haas — one of the lawyers suing Chicago, Cook County, and the federal government on behalf of family members and survivors of the December 1969 raid during which Fred Hampton and Mark Clark died — realizing that the William O’Neal “with the disarming smile and casual attitude” was a double agent. The piece goes on to untangle various conspiracy threads, all of which are all too believable to this correspondent (granted, I am in the middle of not one but two books steeped in COINTELPRO machinations — not to mention the deathbed confession of a former NYPD officer regarding his stated role in entrapping the security guards of Malcolm X prior to the latter’s assassination).
I’m looking forward to watching Judas, though per my esteemed colleague Odie Henderson’s review at RogerEbert.com, it may saddle one of my favorite actors, LaKeith Stanfield, with clunky dialogue — and take its eye off the ball somewhat:
We also spend too much time within the FBI. Despite the excellent cinematography by Sean Bobbitt and the editing by Kristan Sprague, these sequences are not as interesting as anything featuring the Black Panthers and their goals. As “MLK/FBI” showed, J. Edgar Hoover took an active role in trying to squash any type of Black attempt to force the country to provide equality and reckon with its racial and economic sins. Here, Hoover is played by Martin Sheen under so much makeup he looks like a melted candle, and he gets the film’s worst scene, stopping the momentum cold with dialogue that references the Korean War, protecting one’s family and the possibilities of Mitchell’s eight-month-old daughter dating a Black man. Plemons looks as flabbergasted as the audience feels.
Oof. If you’ve already seen it, leave us your recs in the comments; if you haven’t, HBO Max subscribers can find it there. — SDB
Tuesday on Best Evidence: Cult journos, 83-year-old parolees, and more.