Whoopi · Super Evil · Seagrams

Also: The power a podcast had over a murder trial

Whoopi Goldberg sure does have an affinity for definite article, single noun shows. Think about it, there’s of course The View, that reboot of The Stand, and now, The Con, a true-crime series narrated by Goldberg.

The Con is from ABC, and drops in primetime on October 14 (aka “next Wednesday”). According to a press release on the matter, it

…explores the troubling tales of people taken in by claims and promises that proved too good to be true, from identity fraud and misleading romance to the high-profile college admission scandal and Fyre Festival. It will reveal how the victims were fooled and the cost of their false trust – emotional and financial.

Expect victim, witness, cop, and suspect interviews (performed by off-camera producers, it seems). The show kicks off with the Paolo Macchiarini/Benita Alexander affair, which was the subject of this great 2016 Vanity Fair piece that I suspect most of you have already read. Or perhaps you’ve seen He Lied About Everything, Alexander’s own take on the case that ran on ID back in 2018. All this to say, ABC is probably not breaking any stories with this show.

Here’s a trailer for the first episode (which reminded me that any time someone says a guy has a “George Cooney quality” he never, ever does), and I have to say, Whoopi’s voice elevated the quality in a way I can’t quite define! Is this show essential true-crime viewing? Definitely not. Does it seem like a fun and snackable option for a distracted and lazy afternoon with a pal? Most definitely. — EB


Add another show to Nancy Grace’s portfolio. Bloodline Detectives has a logo reminiscent of a strip-mall fertility clinic. That vaguely medical type is because unlike her other shows, this one involves SCIENCE. From a press release:

Bloodline Detectives, a new true-crime documentary series, hosted by preeminent legal analyst and renowned former prosecutor Nancy Grace, takes viewers behind the scenes of cold cases as detectives solve years-old murder investigations using two kinds of technology: genetic genealogy and familial searching. Detectives can harness these techniques to pinpoint an unknown criminal’s relatives and then trace their “bloodline” or family tree to reveal the killer, as used in high-profile cases such as The Golden State Killer and The Grim Sleeper.

It’s a syndicated show, so it’ll some a little work to find it…maybe more work than is worth it to you? Here’s a not insubstantial list of stations that have been roped into carrying Grace’s latest masterpiece, which may or may not make for a decent drinking game. In most markets, the first episode aired on October 3, and its distributor — a company called FilmRise that also distributes Unsolved Mysteries — also drops its content on platforms like Amazon Prime, Roku, Peacock, and IMDB, so streaming might also be an option. — EB


I know I’m tempting fate by mentioning our inaugural Best Evidence Forcening so close to Nancy Grace. Here’s the deal: propose true-crime TV shows/podcasts/movies for Sarah or me to consume here, and we’ll create a poll to help choose what we will force each other to listen to or watch. Everyone is welcome to participate in all forcening pick rounds, but only paid subscribers will get our write-ups of the final choices. — EB


The Philippine Daily Inquirer has an off-putting URL, but don’t worry, it’s a good paper. It’s true, Inquirer.net feels a little sketchy, like one of those local fake news sites that are proliferating like weeds these days. So when I say “Inquirer Podcasts” has broken ground, I promise I haven’t been taken in by a QAnon site.

The Inquirer just launched what’s reportedly the Philippines’ first serialized true-crime podcast, a show called Super Evil. The Inquirer has a fun backstory article on how the show came to be, and its subject matter: politician Antonio Sanchez was convicted in 1993 of the rape and murder of two University of the Philippines students named Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.

The seven-episode show took a full year to produce, Super Evil’s producers say via press release, and “top government officials, investigators, Inquirer reporters, women’s rights champions, and good governance advocates all lend their voices to this podcast.” The podcast is only one episode in, so it’s easy to catch up — you can get started here. — EB


The Vow fans got some resolution last week. Folks who watched the HBO docuseries on NXIVM likely marveled at the influencers Keith Raniere lured in, like Smallville’s Allison Mack and Clare Bronfman, the heir to the Seagram’s liquor fortune. On September 30, Bronfman was sentenced to 81 months behind bars for her role in the sex cult slash pyramid scheme, the Associated Press reports.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis actually sentenced Bronfman in excess of what prosecutors requested, saying at the sentencing hearing that “she chose to double down on her support of Raniere.” The decision comes nearly a year after she agreed to plead guilty for harboring an undocumented person “for unpaid ‘labor and services,’” as well as to a credit-card fraud scheme she allegedly embarked on on Raniere’s behalf.

According to one witness, even after her guilty plea, Bronfman continued to attempt to intimidate witnesses against Raniere. “You’ve been under house arrest for two years, yet you have never stopped,” one former NXIVM member said of the alleged harassment. “Will you never stop?” — EB


The popularity of the Teacher’s Pet podcast has prompted the murder trial against former Sydney teacher Chris Dawson to be postponed. According to the ABC (the “A” is for “Australian” this time), Dawson’s defense team claimed that the podcast about his wife’s disappearance caused "considerable forensic disadvantages in advancing his defence.”

Australian listeners actually lost access to the show last year, after a request from the Office of the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions, Caroline Crampton reports. While Dawson’s team requested that the trial be permanently postponed, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton split the difference, saying that the current “unrestrained and clamorous” debate about Dawson’s role in his wife’s presumed death means the trial should be held until June 2021, it will, indeed, be held. —EB


Thursday on Best Evidence: The Capote Tapes and other recent releases in review!


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