TMZ really outdid themselves on this one. Check out the first line on their piece on the divorce proceedings between Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman: “Harvey Weinstein is officially free to date whoever he wants -- in prison, of course -- now that he and Georgina Chapman's divorce is a done deal.”
Previous reporting on the prenup between the convicted rapist and his fashion designer/Project Runway judge wife detailed the amount of support Chapman could demand (with bumps for line items like child support and housing), and a settlement reached in 2018 preceded the petition to divorce.
Page Six reports that the total settlement amount is “estimated to be worth between $15 million and $20 million,” which does make one wonder what will be left for that victims’ fund for Weinstein’s many accusers. Meanwhile, Chapman is reportedly involved with actor Adrien Brody.
According to the LA Times, Weinstein will soon be extradited from New York (where he is serving a 23-year sentence) to Los Angeles, where he’ll face “four counts of forcible rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual penetration by force connected to the alleged assaults of five women that took place between 2004 and 2013.” That trial is expected to start next month. — EB
Sorry, South Africa, “Showmax” sounds like a 30 Rock channel. But it’s not (nor is it a portmanteau of Showtime and HBOmax or Cinemax); it’s a five-year-old, Czech-based SVOD platform that’s big in South Africa, which is why its first original true-crime property takes place in that country.
The docuseries is called Devilsdorp, and the case it covers is wild. Per Channel24:
In 2016, a spate of brutal Appointment Murders gripped the town of Krugersdorp, leaving salespeople and consultants terrified to book meetings in case they were the serial killer's next victims. The investigation led detectives to a series of unsolved cold cases, the so-called Satanic Murders, and to links between 11 Krugersdorp killings between 2012 and 2016. They discovered these were the work of the Electus per Deus (Chosen by God) cult.
(Sarah, we might need to revive our The Following Poe Head for this one.)
Expect “footage of exorcisms, church meetings, and trial testimonies and judgments” as well as interviews with local cops and prosecutors. Its narrator, reporter Jana Marx, wrote a book on the case called The Krugersdorp Cult Killings: Inside Cecilia's Steyn's Reign of Terror, which is available in U.S. via Kindle and Audible. Otherwise, all four of the series’ episodes drop on July 29, but only for folks in Showmax’s coverage area — which we in the U.S. are not. You obviously have options to search the show out if you want it now, but it’s likely that a States-bases streaming service will strike a deal for the show if we’re all a little patient. — EB
Can someone please ask true-crime podcasters to just chill until I get on top of my backlog? True story: I chose to take BART (the Bay Area’s cross-city train system) instead of drive somewhere yesterday, even though I knew the trip would take twice as long, because I feel so buried in podcasts and knew I could make a decent dent on public transit.* But they just keep coming, y’all. Here are three more podcasts, which means I am going to need to take a lot more transbay trips to catch up.
This is the fifth season for Unravel, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s excellent true crime podcast. And this season hits all my sweet spots, as the season is about the disappearance of journalist and model Juanita Nielsen, a socialite anti-gentrification activist who was last seen in 1975. The first two episodes dropped on Tuesday, so catching up shouldn’t be too tough.
This show’s from Candice DeLong, a former fed familiar to anyone who follows profiling: she’s got two ID shows (Deadly Women and Facing Evil with Candice DeLong) and a long history in San Francisco’s FBI bureau. She’s the person you get when you want someone to speculate on a case (she famously suggested that Scott Peterson killed his wife long before he was arrested, based on his use of the past tense). Consider this show an extension of that speculative brand, as its logline says she “draws on her decades of experience to reveal why … murderers and criminals committed these acts and that she’ll “reveal fascinating new details about what drove these people, including cases she was close to.” This one feels very grain-of-salt-y to me, but I’m gonna check it out.
The people searching for missing family members during the pandemic
Blessedly, this is just a single episode of the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast, but it’s a doozy: it’s about people who deliberately vanish, and how to find them. The 25-min episode flew by (it was over before I got all the way across the Bay) and was a touching listen, but (as so frequently when I hear about “amateur” crime) I sort of feel like I could do it better? I’m just saying, folks, if I decided to vanish I’d do it right. — EB
*But if anyone asks, I did it because I care about congestion and the environment, thanks.
British folks will soon have a dedicated true-crime content platform. Broadcast station Channel 4 will launch “True Crime on 4,” a streaming service that will launch — per its press release — with “over 150 hours of crime content to stream, with fresh shows landing fortnightly.”
A lot of the content is stuff we’ve seen already, like Surviving R. Kelly, and Surviving Jeffery Epstein (which haven’t been released for free in the U.K. before now). There’s also a partnership with Vice (content from which can be hit or miss), and some originals that sound promising, especially for BE reader Heather Moss:
Prod Co: Double Act Productions
This 3-part series from Double Act will lift the lid on one of most infamous crime sprees of the internet age. Between October 2008 and August 2009 a wave of burglaries took place in some of the richest suburbs of LA. Dubbed the ‘Bling Ring’ by reporters, the thieves stole over $3m worth of cash, art, designer goods and jewellery from A-List celebrities including Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan. The culprits were eventually revealed to be a group of middle-class suburban teenagers who planned their heists based on paparazzi sites and social media posts, which revealed when their famous victims would be away from their homes.
The platform will launch this fall, Channel 4 says, but has yet to provide a specific date. — EB
I had just put this issue of BE to bed when the Slack came in. “Did you see this Tiger King shit?” Sarah asked. I had not, but I paused The Tomorrow War (capsule review: It’s the Designer Impostors version of Edge of Tomorrow/Alien/The Thing) to investigate.
And here’s what I found: per the New York Times and pretty much everyone else, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled Wednesday that Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, was over-sentenced after his conviction in a murder-for-hire plot against Carole Baskin. You can read the full decision here.
The argument presented by Maldonado-Passage’s defense claimed that “a Federal District Court in Oklahoma did not group his two murder-for-hire convictions when his sentence was calculated,” and that if it had, “his prison term could have been as low as 17 and a half years” instead of the 22 years he’s currently serving.
So, what does that mean? Most importantly, his conviction still stands: He’s still considered fully convicted and guilty, so unlike, say, Bill Cosby, he isn’t going home any time soon. He’ll remain in a Texas prison, and his federal sentencing phase will get a do-over.
In a recorded message, Maldonado-Passage is now asking the president to set him free. “President Biden, if you are listening,” the Times reports Maldonado-Passage said, “this is the time that you need to be a world hero and sign that pardon.” As of this writing, the Biden administration has failed to respond to his plea. — EB
But wait, there’s MORE Tiger King foolishness in the headlines! According to Variety, Nicolas Cage is no longer attached to Amazon’s Tiger King scripted take, and in fact Amazon may have kiboshed the thing entirely. Among Cage’s comments:
“I read two excellent scripts, which I did think were excellent, but I think Amazon ultimately felt that it was material that had become past tense because it took so long for it come together. They felt at one point that it was lightning in a bottle, but that point has since faded into the distance and it’s no longer relevant.”
On the one hand, I agree re: the timing, and this isn’t surprising given the number of projects that have collapsed/restructured thanks to COVID. On the other hand, see the previous item as far as Maldonado-Passage falling out of the headlines, which he’s…not doing. I suspect this may have more to do with budgetary “workflows” at Amazon connected to the launch of IMDbTV etc. etc. than with this specific project…what do you think, does this ever see the light of day or do they recast it with, like, James Marsters or something? (Now I want this to occur.) — SDB
Friday on Best Evidence: Dr. Death open thread!