The Blotter Presents 097: Who The Hell Is Hamish? And The Woman Who Wasn't There

Plus: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

In this week’s episode of The Blotter Presents, Sarah and I (yes, I got to guest!) begin with a discussion of Who The Hell Is Hamish?, a podcast from The Australian (the country/continent’s daily paper). In the show, host (and Australian writer) Greg Bearup pieces together the case of Hamish Watson, an admitted con artist who stole at least seven million dollars from his marks (in most cases, as part of a “romantic” con).

The Sydney Morning Herald has a great rundown on the case, if you’d like an overview of his crimes, and listeners of the podcast will enjoy this slideshow (note: The Australian has a semi-permeable paywall, so you may or may not run into a barrier with that link. If so, Google “The people involved - The Australian,” and that’ll get you there) which puts faces to the voices of Watson’s many victims. (If only David Boreanaz weren’t so bad at accents. I’d totally cast him as Hamish’s trainer, who you’ll see in slide #6.) As previously mentioned, Watson’s sentencing has been delayed until June 13, after his attorneys said that their client required psychiatric evaluation.

Our “cold case” topic was The Woman Who Wasn’t There, a 2012 documentary about Alicia Esteve Head, aka Tania Head, who was named president of the World Trade Center Survivors' Network before an NYT investigation revealed that she -- as the title says -- wasn’t even in the US on September 11, 2001.

The Times piece, which ran in the fall of 2007, is quite remarkable in its thoroughness. Reporters David Dunlap and Serge Kovaleski dismantled every bit of Head’s narrative, proving that nearly everything she’d told other survivors (including details of a Golden Retriever that did not exist) was false.

Amazon Prime members can watch The Woman Who Wasn’t There as part of their subscription here (note: if you search via your smart TV or Roku or whatever, you’ll see the film listed twice -- one option is a rental, the other is “free” via Prime). The non-Prime can rent it for $3.99 here.

If you’re into Head (oh, hush) and want more, there’s an earlier doc on her con called Tania Head: The 9/11 Faker, which is -- I am not making this up -- narrated by reason number 97636161 balding men should just shave it all off, Mark Strong. The New Statesman gave it a mixed review, saying that it was a basic rehash of the Times yarn. I’ve embedded it for you below.

Finally, there’s a book on Head’s scheme entitled The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story Of An Incredible Deception. It’s by the same folks who brought us the 2012 doc, and according to Dunlap sheds a bit more light on the case, especially the film’s perplexing ending, in which a camera operator approaches Head and she appears to strike the device. Filmmaker/author Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr. says he spotted Head and her mother outside a hotel they were staying at on East 34th Street just days after the tenth anniversary of the attacks. After a brief confrontation, Guglielmo says he turned off the camera and walked away.

“That night,” he writes, “I replayed the video and cringed. I felt sad. And sorry. Did that mean I forgave her? Who the hell knows? I didn’t even know who she was.”

You can listen to this week’s episode of The Blotter Presents here. -- EB

On Tuesday, a new trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood dropped, and it (finally) included a bunch of Manson stuff. I’d honestly forgotten that that’s what the movie was about, enthralled as I was in previous trailers by the kind of mind-blowing chemistry between actors Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.

But this time around, things get Family-style, as we meet Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), Squeaky Fromme (Dakota Fanning, who I guess is making a habit of such roles), and Damon Herriman as Manson. It also appears that Tuesday was the day that the embargo was lifted on reviews of the film, as Variety ran its thorough assessment yesterday, and The Hollywood Reporter has rounded up all the other Cannes-based reviews. The movie, which likely stretches the “true” part of true crime, will open in U.S. theaters on July 26. -- EB