Snakes · Linda Tripp · Doris Duke
Plus: An ISIS podcast (hope it's not fake)
|Best Evidence||Nov 17, 2020||5||4|
A new HBO documentary will detail the case of a Southern preacher who tried to kill his wife with a couple deadly snakes. Alabama Snake’s promo page on HBO describes it as the tale of “a man accused of attempting to murder his wife with a rattlesnake,” but folks who were following true crime in the early 1990s know it’s way more than that: Pentecostal minister Glenn Summerford ended up with a 99-year sentence in the case, after his wife, Darlene, was bitten twice by vipers his church used in snake-handling rituals.
I know I read this book on the story (which fascinated me) but I have no recollection of it, so it’s almost like the doc will be new to me, which I guess is the upside of living through a time in which there is so much information that your brain starts deleting things in a panic. But according to a press release, “Alabama Snake paints a Southern Gothic portrait of Glenn Summerford and his tale of demon possession.” (Anyone else hearing the opening twangs of the True Blood theme song in their head?)
If IMDB is to be believed, Alabama Snake will drop on December 9. We’ll keep you posted! — EB
And now, a snakeless sale! We just knocked Best Evidence down to $46 for a year, in honor of our 46th president.
Substack’s coupon mechanism is a little goofy, so what we have to do is offer you 17 percent off, which just about does it! You can buy a sub for yourself, or give one as a gift…we’re not ready to say the “c” word yet, but it’s coming.
Everyone wants to see how various famous people look as Clinton-era figures. Impeachment: American Crime Story just started principal photography, if Sarah “Linda Tripp” Paulson’s above tweet is any indication. Paulson will be wearing “a lot of prosthetics and body transformational accouterment,” Paulson said during a summer appearance on Jimmy Kimmel.
ABC doesn’t have any surprise insights into how everyone else will look (which, it shouldn’t: ACS:I is a FX show) but they do have a fun “compare and contrast the actor with their character rundown.” Based on that rundown alone, Billy Eichner is pretty damn perfect as Matt Drudge…but Clive Owen as Bill Clinton remains a very, very tough sell. Check out their whole listicle here. — EB
I did not shoot anyone in Reno, to watch them die (or for other reasons). What I did was order takeout, watch hotel TV, and catch up on magazines, especially all the Vanity Fairs I avoided due to anxiety about the election.
So, the good news is that now I don’t have to read all those long-ass “what’s at stake in the 2020 election” stories, and what’s even better was that the mag’s great true-crime longreads were able to get my full attention. Here are three standouts I unearthed in between diner meals.
Homicide at Rough Point // How many stories has VF done on Doris Duke? Seriously. [“It’s gotta be up there with the Safra case.” — SDB] Well, if going hard on her alleged crimes (however belatedly) suggests that the glossy is going full Eat The Rich, I’m all for it. The subhead says that “In the fall of 1966, billionaire Doris Duke killed a close confidant in tony Newport, Rhode Island. Local police ruled the incident "an unfortunate accident." Half a century later, compelling evidence suggests that the mercurial, vindictive tobacco heiress got away with murder.” Uh, no shit? But OK.
Blue Bloods: America's Brotherhood of Police Officers // The September 2020 issue of VF was guest-edited by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and it’s clear that his role was more than a formality — the entire issue is brimming with authority-challenging content, much of it focused on police brutality. This piece on the role of police unions will have you think again about their prominent voice any time coverage of power abuse comes up. Can you imagine another union in America that would fight for the right of its members to kill without consequence?
A Beautiful Life // Speaking of: this lengthy feature by Coates takes you straight into the broken heart of Breonna Taylor’s family. It’s a remarkably painful and frustrating read, one that will leave you so angry about her slaying that you might feel ill. I wouldn’t ordinarily tell you to read something that would make you feel bad! But this is important. — EB
I’m Not A Monster is a podcast with a pedigree. Deadline reports that BBC Panorama and PBS’s Frontline have teamed up for the show, which “will chart the story of Sam Sally, the American mom who left behind a comfortable life and travelled to the heart of the Islamic State group caliphate with her family. Her husband became an ISIS sniper, and her 10-year old son, Matthew, appeared in an infamous propaganda video threatening President Trump.”
It’s a story that made big headlines a few years ago, with Sally telling CNN that she was “beaten, tortured, [and] sexually abused.” A year or so after that, Sally’s sister Lori disputed some of her story to Elle. “Everything with Sam is very glamour,” Lori says. “It's very on the outside. It’s what she shows to you. But Sam herself? When I see her, I see a person who is broken into many, many pieces.”
So, there’s a lot to unpack there! That’s the job of host Josh Baker, a documentarian “who in 2016 narrowly survived a suicide bombing,” Deadline notes. The podcast’s first episode drops on Monday, November 23, and you can hear a trailer here. — EB
Wednesday on Best Evidence: Actual note from our budget document: “New season of Life After Lockup DON'T JUDGE ME” [“<— That’s Eve, judging me. IT’S FINE.” — SDB]