The Blotter Presents 127: Surviving R. Kelly Pt. 2 and Blood: A Memoir

Plus Pamela Smart, Polanski, and Reddit herrings.

We put a content warning on the entire episode…but despite difficult topics, Mark Blankenship and I still had a great discussion about Surviving R. Kelly Part 2: The Reckoning. As a narrative, it’s a bit self-indulgent and disorganized — but does that matter in this case? Do we think more time should have been spent on Kelly’s apparent (and likely post-traumatic) mood and personality disorders? And was SRK good at what probably mattered most, namely breaching the moat of silence and denial around a famous man? (I also talked about these aspects of the follow-up on Primetimer last week.)

In the second Most Wanted section, we talked about Allison Moorer’s 2019 book, Blood: A Memoir. I started out not entirely keen, but as we compared the hardcover Mark read to the Audible track I listened to, we found some interesting construction ironies in how a musician’s reading her own work is perhaps LESS musical than writing on a page…and I found myself admiring Moorer’s ability to write compassion, and recollected childhood, more and more. — SDB


From the archives, a review of a Polanski-doc follow-up from 2013…

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A film about Roman Polanski's exile becomes part of the story

The crime
Roman Polanski fled the United States in 1978, facing at that time an unexpectedly lengthy prison term and deportation thanks to having drugged and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl the year previous.

In 2008, Marina Zenovich made a documentary called Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired that examined this part of the case against Polanski -- not whether he did anything to the girl, Samantha Gainey (everyone involved, including Polanski, has conceded that he did), but whether he was justified in decamping to Europe under the circumstances, to wit that the presiding judge seemed set not to honor the terms of a negotiated plea bargain and time served.

In part as a result of that film, authorities here and in Europe again focused more closely on the case; Polanski was arrested in 2009 in Switzerland, and detained for nearly a year while the Swiss justice system decided whether to turn him over to the L.A. district attorney. Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out, also produced and directed by Zenovich, is a film about that phase of the case.

The story
RP:OMO is more rewarding if you've seen the prior film, but watchable and engaging on its own as well, pulling in just enough material from RP:W&D to set the stage and explaining the pertinent legal questions in play. Viewers who felt that the first film didn't take Polanski enough to task for the inciting incident will not think much better of this one, which largely glosses over the details, or of the (largely French) interviewees who complain that Polanski is a titan of film getting bullied by the United States government.

Unfortunately, he did get bullied. Due process failed, and Polanski excused himself to France on those grounds. RP:OMO is about whether, over thirty years later, with Polanski remarried and a father and well into his seventies, the priority is now to close the case by any means necessary…what "justice," for the victim and/or in the abstract, looks like after all this wrangling.

I discussed the first movie here, and while the questions Zenovich raises with both films get thorny -- do we give artists more latitude as human beings? when does an overdue ending turn into the only "justice"? -- they're solid pieces of storytelling that try to make sense of the legal and ethical complexities without condescending to the viewer. — SDB, 5/9/13


20/20 is returning to the Pamela Smart well. Friday’s episode, “Tainted Love, Murder & Pamela Smart,” is a two-hour overview of the case, and the press release touts a “new interview” and the “new chance at freedom” Smart may have thanks to “testimonials from prison workers, fellow inmates, academics, writers and celebrities.”

I’m unlikely to watch this one. I’m not UN-interested in the case, but at the same time I tend to find various Law & Order franchise takes on it more compelling than unscripted material (Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart excepted), and newsmags inevitably jam this case into whatever episode “beats” irrespective of the nuance (i.e., “a loving couple with an idyllic life” is kiiiind of not what any account of the Smart marriage prior to Gregg’s murder looks like).

On the other hand, whenever I do get into Pam Smart materials, I always start out all “like hell she didn’t do it,” but then she’s pretty convincing on that point, so maybe I’ll check it out. It’s not like my DVR doesn’t record all these shows automatically, let’s face it. Do y’all plan to watch? And do you think there’ll be any movement on this case after so many years? — SDB


Like what we’re doing? Hey, thanks! Why not tell a friend, 48 Hours-loving colleague, or Unsolved Mysteries-obsessed relative what we’re up to? The more pins with which to deflate John Douglas’s ego, the better.

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A Reddit thread about “pet cases” takes a turn. I’m not a big Reddit guy — only so many hours in the day, tbh — but if any of you spend time in the /unsolvedmysteries sections of the platform, a recent conversation started out fairly generally, then got personal when a Redditor shared their connection to the disappearance of LeeAnna Warner. If you have an unsolved case, locally or otherwise, that preoccupies you, wade on in. (Mine lately is Jeannette DePalma, who was killed when I was still a zygote, and if any of you has a recommendation on whether the Devil’s Teeth podcast is worth a listen, I’d love to hear.) — SDB


Thursday on Best Evidence: Nisman, what it’s like to go On The Case With Paula Zahn, and a child scammer snitched on by a…police psychic?


What is this thing? This should help.

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