The Blotter Presents, Episode 117: Leavenworth and "The Escape"

Plus: A "Catch and Kill" podcast

On this week’s episode of The Blotter Presents, Sarah is joined by Jeb Lund to consider Stars docuseries Leavenworth. The five-part show grabbed headlines this summer due to its connection to Steven Soderbergh (he’s its executive producer), but this isn’t some Ocean’s-y true crime romp: it’s a dissection of the Clint Lorance case, a former U.S. Army lieutenant who is serving a 19-year sentence in the titular prison following an “incident” in Afghanistan that left three locals dead.

Sarah and Jeb were left frustrated by the first episode, citing a “painstaking set-up” that left them wishing the show would cut to the chase. They had praise for its texture and how evocative it is, but also worried that it had bit off a more than it could chew from a geopolitics angle. Did you check it out? If so, please let us know what you thought in the comments -- you can hear Sarah and Jeb’s discussion on it here. -- EB

For this week’s Cold Case, Sarah and Jeb took on an episode of the podcast Criminal called “The Escape.” You can listen to the episode here: it’s about the June 11, 1962 escape of Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin from Alcatraz, about which you likely know as many details as I do. As a San Franciscan, I feel like the details of this case have been injected into my DNA, so I’m incapable of evaluating Criminal’s take on it -- you might as well ask me to evaluate my mom’s chocolate chip cookies. Sarah and Jeb really enjoyed it, as they do most of Criminal, which leads them to discuss why that podcast consistently seems to rise above the typical anthology pod. You can hear their chat on the matter here. -- EB

Here’s hoping Ronan Farrow doesn’t do impressions on his new podcast. The Pulitzer-winning celebrity scion caught some heat for the so-called “deranged impressions” he does in the audiobook version of Catch And Kill, with Slate doing a mean-ass (but v hilarious) listicle on the subject. Now Variety reports that in November, Farrow will launch The Catch and Kill Podcast With Ronan Farrow, in which he’ll roll out new audio material and interviews with people involved in the alleged NBC coverups of sexual misconduct and assault allegations against high-profile figures like Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein.

According to Farrow, several pod companies approached him offering deals, but only one offered the opportunity to do first-person interviews to expand the reporting he did for his book. Given the emphasis the coverage is placing on new material for the pod, I have high hopes -- between the book and the coverage around the book, I don’t think I could handle an additional rehash. But new revelations? That, I can maaaybe make time for, especially if I dump one of my 4916646682982 Epstein pods. You can hear an excerpt of one of the pod’s first episodes here, and producers say the show will eventually run between five and 10 episodes, clocking in at a blessed 30 minutes each. -- EB

John Grisham isn’t a snob about true crime. When I saw the headline “John Grisham on True Crime, Junk Science and His New Novel,” I got a little worried, because it seems like cranky old guys are getting especially nasty about things that regular people like these days. But he’s actually super cool, telling Nashville Scene that he believes that the increase in true crime interest is “fascinating” and that its “gratifying to see this much attention directed to the wrongfully convicted, the injustices and the problems within the system.” Good for him! You can read the full interview, which is quite engaging, here. -- EB

Keep your eye out for a new book on the death of Rebecca Zahau. Her bound hanging at Coronado, CA’s historic Spreckels Mansion has been the subject of numerous true-crime properties, including two Sarah dove into on an episode of The Blotter Presents last May. Now true-crime author Caitlin Rother says on her website that she’ll be writing a book on the case, tentatively titled Justice for Rebecca. Speaking with KUSI, Rother says that “I’m already getting some great interviews with people you haven’t heard from before on TV or elsewhere, so I’m pretty excited.” The book is slated for publication in May 2021. -- EB

Thursday on Best Evidence: Identity theft!

What is this thing? This should help.

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