LuLaRoe · American Ninja Warrior · R. Kelly
Plus: The Golden State Killer is confronted
I can’t remember which Fyre Fest documentary was the better one? Netflix has FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened and Hulu had Fyre Fraud; I think I watched them both in one sitting, and from that day forward, smirked every time I saw a bologna sandwich.
It’s the Fyre Fraud folks who are behind LuLaRich, an upcoming documentary on the multilevel leggings marketing racket that I can’t believe I forgot to bring up in our cults discussion thread! Best Evidence contrib Margaret Howie brought the film, which Deadline reported on last month, to our attention: the once billion-dollar company is now faced with pyramid-scheme allegations and a slew of lawsuits, which puts it firmly within the true-crime category.
The film will chart the meteoric rise of the company, its Mormon founder and a culture of dedicated legging-clad millennial saleswomen who rose through the ranks seeking a better life for their families.
In addition to offering LuLaRoe execs Mark and DeAnne Stidham a chance to tell their story, LuLaRich will explore the broader zeitgeist of the Mormon subculture, multi-level marketing, social media, women’s rights, economic equality, fraud and white-collar crime in the digital age.
If that just whetted your LuLaRoe appetite, then you might like the latest (of many!) longreads on the company, a report from Buzzfeed’s Stephanie McNeal from February. For more MLM reading material, this reading list from Longreads, which includes stories on the dark side of Mary Kay and essential oils, might help tide you over until LuLaRich starts streaming. — EB
The real headline here is that the Tiger King zoo was still open! The New York Post reports that the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park — that’s Joe Exotic’s zoo — has shut down. There’s a weird Facebook post about the closure, in which current owner Jeff Lowe shows texts that he’s forfeiting his USDA exhibitors license voluntarily, following allegations that the federal agency was “folding” to criticism from PETA.
I mean, I kind of can’t with any of these people or this overall story, but a claim that the USDA is in bed with PETA is too much to pass up. Just speaking as someone whose day job involves food journalism — there are fewer organizations that are less in bed with each other than PETA and the USDA. That’s like saying the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote are colluding.
Lowe says, “The animals are now in private hands and will remain in private hands,” but Carole Baskin isn’t so sure, saying via Facebook (I mean, of course all these people are big Facebook users), “I know everyone is going to bombard me with the question we all want answered; ‘What about the animals?’ We don’t know yet what will happen but will alert you the minute we do.” — EB
Speaking of food journalism, this is a lot of fun. A new Houston Food Finder piece, headlined “Moguls, Murders and Other True Crime Stories Behind Some of Food’s Biggest Brands,” rounds up a slew of cases in which food moguls with very recognizable names (think Coors, Heineken, and Brach, just to start) were kidnapped. I had no idea about most of these stories! Each and every one of these would make a great dramatic adaptation. There are so many holes to go down in this piece, I might not ever emerge. — EB
Another cop pod has launched, this one in New South Wales. State Crime Command seeks to “resolve long standing cold cases,” it says in its Apple description, “from missing persons investigations to homicides, domestic violence and sexual crimes.” It’s a production of the New South Wales Police Force, which says the show “takes you into the minds of the investigators as they work to close active cases and bring justice for victims.”
The first episode is about Passy Reyes, an 18-year-old who disappeared in 2001. It’s a case that’s engrossed amateur investigators for years, perhaps because of details like what she was wearing when she left home (her prom dress), but so far, no progress has been made in the disappearance. — EB
OK, I just got a message that my power is likely to go off soon (no big deal, my state is just on fire again), so I’ll make these last couple bullets snappy:
Andrew Drechsel, the most recent winner of American Ninja Warrior, was arrested earlier this month on allegations of “child sex offenses,” the Department of Justice said via press release. The arrest prompted NBC to “sever ties,” and announce that an upcoming season of ANW in which Drechsel is featured will recut to nix him from the show. An attorney for Drechsel tells USA Today that his client “maintains his innocence and does intend on entering a 'not guilty' plea in his case.”
Survivors of the Golden State Killer are confronting him in court this week. The AP reports that the appearances are part of the pre-sentencing victims’ impact statement phase of the case, and is expected to run for several days. The speakers “tried to break through” to convicted killer and former police officer Joseph DeAngelo, who “sat in an orange jail jumpsuit, wearing a mask to slow the spread of the coronavirus, staring straight ahead.”
We already mentioned three friends of R. Kelly’s who prosecutors say tried to intimidate victims, but wait, there’s more. Federal prosecutors say that Kelly’s manager, Donnell Russell, called in a gun threat to an advance screening of the first few episodes of Surviving R. Kelly. That wasn’t the only way he allegedly tried to disrupt the screening: first, NPR reports, he allegedly told a Lifetime executive to cancel, then sent a fake “cease and desist,” then called the NYPD and NYFD to shut it down…and when none of that worked, he called in a false claim that “there was a person in the theater with a gun who was prepared to shoot up the room.” — EB
Friday on Best Evidence: “My recommendation is that all the citizens in California be ready to go if there is a wildfire,” Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynnette Round told the Bay Area News Group Wednesday. “Residents have to have their bags packed up with your nose facing out your driveway so you can leave quickly. Everybody should be ready to go, especially if you’re in a wildfire area.” That is to say, a lot can change in 24 hours! So, we’ll see…and until then, as always, thank you for your support.