Inventing Anna · Wondery Agita · True-Crime Bookshop

Plus, SDB vs. the Netflix queue!

Check out the pictures from the set of Inventing Anna, Netflix’s Anna “The SoHo Grifter” Sorokin series. When it came out that the series was in development, I was skeptical that anyone would still care about the case by the time it hit small screens, but I find that I’m kind of psyched for it myself — not least because Julia Garner is playing “Anna Delvey.” Most viewers likely know her from Ozark, but I was quite impressed with her work in the first season of Dirty John.

Also — dang, Anna Deavere Smith is in this? Now I really can’t wait. I’ll have to, as coronavirus delays mean it won’t drop until Q1 of next year at the earliest…and I still think ten episodes is maybe pushing it? But it seems like it’ll look great, at least. — SDB


Lansing has a new true-crime bookstore. Deadtime Stories (…love it) opened last month in Michigan’s capital; owner Jenn Carpenter, who apparently has spent years leading tours for Demented Mitten Tours (…really love it) and authored a book called Haunted Lansing,

describes the Deadtime Stories as a bookstore filled with paranormal, horror and true crime related books. A lot of these books are from local authors and have a connection to Michigan.

“I’m happy to support local authors,” Carpenter said. “I’m happy to be able to share these stories, not just the books but the stories about why that’s a good book for you and help people find the right books.”

I cannot lie: I am super-envious. Walking Bear E. Williams down the commercial streets in Bay Ridge, I see a lot of empty storefronts the last few months, and I always end up wool-gathering about what it might look like to run a little bookshop in one of the spaces on the side streets. A stack of crisp Ann Rules, a cat in a basket on a top shelf (probably Lucille, the least hateful of the current felines)…I know starting a retail venture is a fool’s errand at this point in American history, and probably at most other times as my esteemed colleague Eve is sure to note in the comments, but it’s fun to think about. Maybe someday… — SDB


Podcast “powerhouse” Wondery is living in even more complicated times than the rest of us. The pod publisher behind Dirty John, Dr. Death, and many other high-charting true-crime audio narratives that made the company what one industry analyst called “the HBO of” the industry is looking into a sale — while its CEO, Hernan Lopez, may well become the subject of a Wondery six-parter himself: “He is among two former Fox TV executives charged with money laundering and wire fraud over alleged bribes involving broadcasting rights to the World Cup and other high profile soccer tournaments. Lopez has pleaded not guilty to the charges filed in March.” The L.A. Times has a pretty decent explainer from earlier this week.

Today’s news that Spotify is acquiring Megaphone adds to the urgency. Legal battles aside, Wondery may have to get eaten by a bigger fish in order to survive in a pond increasingly dominated by a few wealthy players. — SDB


The true-crime-review sector is a similar pond, let’s face it. Eve and I love doing this newsletter, and we love hanging out with you lot in the comments; we also love not running up excessive credit-card debt buying teetering stacks of books on art forgery. …Okay, I shouldn’t indict Eve in that compulsion, but you get my point. A monthly paid subscription gets you extra content, and it’s just $5! — SDB


It’s time to put my Netflix queue in…The Line-Up. I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here’s a refresher: I listen to or watch the first ten minutes, or read the first 10 pages, of a true-crime property, then decide based on that whether to keep going, bail, or save it to knit in front of next month. My Netflix “to-do list” has gotten well out of hand, HBO alone is going to keep me hopping on new docs until the new year, I still have to watch The Murders At White House Farm for y’all…it’s time to Kondo this shteez.

I hope you’ll let me know if I should stick with any I chose to de-list (or quit while I’m ahead in the other direction).

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In the meantime, in alphabetical order, five selections I sampled from my streaming queue, and what I’ve chosen to do with them — watch; knit; or punt.

Audrie & Daisy // This “2016 documentary film about three cases of rape of teenage American girls, in 2011 and 2012” also deals with suicide — so watch and read with care, as always, but I will be continuing with this one, because the directors use animation to disguise the identities of some participants…but it’s striking how little it does to disguise how apathetic these boys are towards girls’ dignity and humanity, and how their discomfort seems to arise primarily from having gotten caught, at least in the opening few minutes. There’s more on the film on Wikipedia, but be warned that the entry contains post-production spoilers. I can tell this one’s going to turn me into a rage volcano, but that’s the gig. …WATCH

Carmel: Who Killed María Marta? // I was meant to cover this for Primetimer, but didn’t get screeners in time — and now that I realize it’s four episodes, I’m kind of relieved. Still, I put it on my list anyway for a reason: the death of María Marta in 2002 dominated headlines in Argentina. Based on the first ten minutes, it’s standard Netflix fare — carefully shot; expensive-looking; good access to case figures — but it also burns a few minutes on that impatience-making “here’s a trailer for the thing you’re already watching, at the beginning of the thing you’re…already watching” introduction. As well, it’s a Spanish-language series, so if you’re not a captions guy, this might not be for you. I’m interested, but my current schedule means I’d rather go with a longread on the case. …KNIT

Studio 54 // Ian Schrager, one of the entrepreneurs behind history’s most notorious disco, tells the story of its meteoric rise and fall “as it really happened.” (Steve Rubell, probably the more recognized name of the two founders, died in 1989.) I feel like I might have seen this one already and forgotten about it? But it drew me right in; director Matt Tyrnauer (who also helmed the upcoming The Reagans doc for Showtime) knows how to weave together great visuals and insider talking-heads…grading on a curve for the fact that a lot of the people who made 54 such an object of fascination even now have died, in no small part because of what was going on in the bathrooms. Which is where the crime comes in (recreational drug use; tax evasion), and while this might not feel like an essential watch, I love immersing myself in that time from a safe distance. …WATCH

Tread // I know Netflix’s algorithm kept recommending this one for me until I finally broke and threw it on the watchlist. “An absorbing documentary about a real-life rampage that often plays like the dark side of ‘70s rural revenge thrillers” doesn’t necessarily seem like my jam,” and 85% percent match is not the best, but: why not? …Well, why not indeed. Director Paul Solet somehow gets the almost disorienting majesty of the Colorado landscape across almost immediately, as well as the mindset of certain small Western towns…and that first re-enactment, omg you guys. I don’t know who that gentlemen is, but his commitment is unquestionable. (There is spittle.) …WATCH

The Trial Of The Chicago 7 // Aaron Sorkin has occasioned more Buntsy eye-rolls than a jazz club called Raisin Hell as it is, even before that story started going around that he was all “the Chicago how many now?” when his dad mentioned it or whatever, like, the creator of The WEST WING doesn’t know that story when he was alive at the time? Fine, he was in grade school; I was still AN EGG and I know that fuckin’ story. Read a book maybe? AND Netflix has autoplayed me ol’ Eddie Redmayne freckling on in a C-plus American accent like 161 times in the last few weeks, and yet, I feel obligated to check it out. That sampling ten minutes’ worth would still leave me with two full hours was not my favorite information of the day — and said ten minutes’ worth was, predictably, fine; and Sorkin-y; and if my husband wanted to settle in with it on a rainy evening, I wouldn’t object, but if he very much didn’t, I wouldn’t object either. We’ll see if any rainy evenings over the holidays bring me back to this one. …KNIT


Thursday on Best Evidence: We’ll see what yarns (geddit?) (don’t get up; I’ll fire myself) Eve has in store!


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