The Blotter Presents, Episode 107: Free Meek and Who Killed Jam Master Jay?

Plus: Impeachment: American Crime Story

Free Meek is an engaging and watchable depiction of rapper Meek Mill’s allegedly wild treatment at the hands of a Philadelphia judge and a reportedly corrupt cop. The five-episode series, which will be released on Amazon on August 9, relies heavily on interviews with the star. This is great, because he’s wildly charismatic, witty, and genuine.

Where it falters, as Sarah and I discuss on today’s episode of The Blotter Presents, is when it decides to get too “true crimey,” falling back on narrative and genre tropes that don’t really fit the subject matter. To paraphrase Sarah, when you’re watching the show you can see the network notes, which seemingly realign it from an organically evolving narrative to a more standard Prestige Investigation one. You can listen to our conversation on the show here. -- EB

For this week’s Cold Case, we circled back to Who Killed Jam Master Jay?, an episode of Netflix’s Remastered series. The documentary effort is intended to investigate “high-profile events affecting some of the most legendary names in music, presenting groundbreaking discoveries and insights beyond what’s been previously reported,” its press materials say.

Did it appear to do that here? Not so much, Sarah and I agree. This episode of the series, at least, spent a lot of time on the history of Run-DMC, which made us wonder who’d be watching the show who wouldn’t know about shell-toe Adidas. We’re sad to report that the “discoveries and insights” were in pretty short supply here, though there were some pretty amusing (but hard to believe) theories floated. Here’s our discussion of the show. -- EB

Programming note/reminder: I’m discussing Down City with Alex Segura next week. If you want to (re-)read along with us, now’s the time to grab a copy of Leah Carroll’s book from your local book shop or library! Or use the Amazon link above, which helps us out with a couple coins. — SDB

You guys, I can’t believe Ryan Murphy ignored our helpful suggestions for the next season of American Crime Story. Back in May we asked you folks what true-crime property you’d like to see ACS attack next, and the resounding winner was the investigation of the death of JonBenét Ramsey. We even cast all the leads! But our work was apparently for naught, as FX announced Tuesday that the next season would be entitled Impeachment, and would be about the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal.

This is a seemingly abrupt reversal, as Murphy said in April of 2018 that though he’d optioned A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President the year before, he’d “had second thoughts.” Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Murphy said that he ran into Lewinsky at a party and told her that “nobody should tell your story but you, and it's kind of gross if they do,” but that “if you want to produce it with me, I would love that; but you should be the producer and you should make all the goddamn money.” It appears that they later struck a deal, as Lewinsky has been named as a producer on the show.

I’m already intrigued by the casting: Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein will play Lewinsky, Sarah Paulson will play Linda Tripp, and Annaleigh Ashford will play Paula Jones. (The network didn’t say who’d play Clinton. [“Dennis Quaid? He’s done it before, and rumors had him playing a role in a future ACS.” — SDB]) Shooting will begin in February, and it’s set to air on September 27, 2020, which the AP helpfully notes is “within weeks of the general election.”

If you’re looking for a glimmer of hope in the mess that is our country’s mass shooting epidemic, may I suggest Jolted? The show, from Vermont Public Radio, details an averted school shooting over its five episodes (plus an update), each of which runs at 30 minutes or less. Over the course of the show, we get some insights into why a student at Fair Haven Union High School allegedly wanted to inflict “mass casualties” on the school, leaving the community with a combination of gratitude (that nothing happened) and trauma (that it could have) to this day. You can listen to Jolted here. -- EB

This item previously misidentified Jolted’s producer as “Virginia Public Radio.” Thanks to Best Evidence subscriber Alli for noting the error.

Are you a white male between the ages of 7 and 48? If you are, and you’ve always dreamed of a life in true crime, do I have the gig for you. For an upcoming episode of Evil Lives Here, Investigation Discovery says that it is looking for actors to play a single dad named Randolph and his son, Alex, “at various stages in his life.” According to the casting call notes, Alex was an attempted cat killer as a kid, then turned into a rotten adult, eventually ending up on death row after killing a hospital exec. That’s not quite enough information for me to figure out who these people are in real life, but if you’re in NY or NJ and are free to film on the week of August 19, please apply and report back. -- EB

Thursday on Best Evidence: Did a police podcast help track down an alleged murderer? Maaaaybe?

What is this thing? This should help.

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