Osage Murders · Con Queen · More Manson

Plus: The Washington Post on Crime Cons

Martin Scorsese will direct an adaptation of David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon. I guess that means we’ll have to get Omar Gallaga back on The Blotter Presents, as he was Sarah’s guest for the last Grann-focused episode -- The New Yorker staffer also wrote “The Old Man And The Gun” and “Trial By Fire,” both of which have also hit big screens in recent years.

Grann’s book covers the conspiracy to kill scores of Osage Indians between 1921 and 1925, reportedly motivated by the oil found on native lands. Despite the prominence of the tribe in the tale, however, this far no native actors have been publicly linked to the Scorsese adaptation. Instead, reports Deadline, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio are set to star.

That said, last week, Scorsese met with Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear to discuss the project, the Osage News reports. During the meeting, Scorsese said that De Niro would be playing cattleman and multiple murderer William Hale, the alleged mastermind of the plot to kill members of the tribe for their oil rights. When asked by Standing Bear why Scorsese was interested in the story, the director said that after his manager gave him a copy of Grann’s book, “he knew it was a project he wanted to be a part of.” “What really got to me, was the intrinsic sense of evil,” Scorsese said. “What is it in us that makes us capable of committing these acts of evil.” -- EB

Oxygen is dropping Manson: The Women on August 10. If you’re a Manson completionist, you might feel compelled to watch the two hour special, which airs at 7 PM. If your interest is more casual, however, the show doesn’t hold much in the way of revelations -- though it boasts interview with “Family” members Dianne Lake, Catherine “Gypsy” Share, Sandra “Blue” Good and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, you’ll be shocked to learn that though on the show Manson chronicler Lis Wiehl asks "what was it about Charlie Manson that made these women join his family,” no one comes up with a definitive answer for that question.

There’s a certain samey-ness to the answers provided by any surviving member of a belief group, from those who escape ostensibly mainstream religious organizers to frat brothers, to the followers of Jim Jones. All of them -- like the women features on this show -- say that they have been disappointed by others, and that a charismatic leader promised something better. We know all that. So why do we keep turning over the same fallow ground?

Well, I know why Oxygen does -- Manson is obviously having a moment right now, and they’re noting if not trend-savvy. I’m surprised, honestly, that I haven’t seen any marketing from the network promising the “real” story behind the women you saw in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood. So, good for them, I guess. But do you need to set aside two hours for this show? I won’t judge you if you DVR it, but I’m telling you now, you won’t hear anything that you haven’t heard a hundred times before. -- EB

Why hasn’t this been adapted yet: The Con Queen of Hollywood. Best Evidence subscriber and journo Violet Blue recently forwarded us one of her Patreon updates, and pointed me to its third item, saying “she’s back!” Violet was referring to a con artist who, according to a great Hollywood Reporter story from 2018, has repeatedly impersonated numerous high-profile female entertainment executives, stealing loads of cash in the process.

Earlier this month, the FBI built out a special website and questionnaire for victims of the so-called Con Queen, who earlier this year began targeting Marvel Studios, where she lured “people into sexually charged phone conversations, with no apparent financial stakes involved.” (Hmm, what about blackmail?) According to the Hollywood Reporter, the suspect -- who pretended to be Victoria Alonso, an EVP at Marvel --urged an aspiring actor “to engage in sexually explicit role-play in order to convince her that he had the necessary acting chops” to appear in a Marvel TV series. Hollywood loves con stories, and Hollywood loves stories about itself, so this one seems like a no brainer. The big question, I guess, is how to cast (or catch!) the suspect when no one has seen her face? -- EB

The Washington Post’s magazine just did a deep dive into the double edged sword of true crime conventions. Reporting from CrimeCon (Oxygen’s annual true crime event), journo Britt Peterson spent a lot of time talking to the families of murder victims who attended to help bring attention to their loved one’s stories. They all seem glad to be there, but every time they turn a corner, they’re confronted by folks who approach the genre as pure entertainment.

The piece focuses on Bill Thomas, whose sister is one of what police believe are eight victims of a serial killer active along Virginia’s Colonial Parkway. “We understand that ID and Oxygen … need to tell a story. They provide something that can be very valuable for us as family members who are trying to increase visibility,” Thomas says. “But there are times when I think to myself: How much more do I need to compromise to get Cathy and the other Colonial Parkway Murders victims’ stories out there?” It’s a worthwhile perspective check, and a reminder that everyone we’re talking about is a human being, not (as Thomas puts it) “just a character.” -- EB

Friday on Best Evidence: I’m probably going to say some mean things about Nancy Grace. I call it as I see it, folks.

What is this thing? This should help.

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