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Crime After Crime: Future Season Wishlist

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The Manson case

The Jeffrey MacDonald (Fatal Vision) case

The West Memphis 3 case

Classic Hollywood cases like Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Thelma Todd, William Desmond Taylor

 

Just to name a few! 

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I find the Manson case one of enduring fascination, but ACS might reasonably think, "It's been done." Not just once, but so often. Helter Skelter has been made into a television movie twice, 30 years apart, and that's just the beginning for movie and TV coverage. I would watch, of course. I do think a ten-part miniseries would be a good format for a story of that complexity.   

 

Fatty Arbuckle would be a great one. 

 

I was thinking of Colin and JoAnn Thatcher, but then I remembered, you know, "American" crime stories. So it might not qualify. JoAnn Thatcher was Iowa-born, but the events took place in Canada. At least they could claim it was a North American crime story. 

 

There were some parallels between that and the OJ Simpson case, and if possible, the Thatcher crime was even more disturbing and upsetting. JoAnn Thatcher (JoAnn Wilson by that point) even went on television after one failed attempt on her life, faced a whole bank of reporters, and said that her politically powerful ex-husband was trying to kill her...and she still was murdered in her own garage, not long after. Colin Thatcher, like OJ, had an adult son who figures in some people's theories. This too has had a TV movie; it starred Kate Nelligan and Kenneth Welsh.  

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Wow I didn't know about the Thatcher case! I'm going to have to find an internet hole to dive down on that one, when I have some time. It's hard to think of something in my lifetime as utterly gripping as OJ, with it all being on TV and him being famous and so many big characters on both sides...it was kind of a perfect storm. I sort of see why they went with Katrina - it'll be harder to compare it apples to apples, because right now I do feel like anything else would be a letdown. But I like the idea of the classic Hollywood stuff too, or something like the Stanford White/Evelyn Nesbit case. I read a great book on that 5 or so years ago. It was called the Crime of the Century when he was killed not long after 1900.

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The so-called Preppy Murder, because it's about class and gender case, not race. There are sexy young people being sexy, which is always good tv. I think there's only been one book, so we aren't worn out on the story. We're still dealing with similar issues, though, which keeps it topical. Lastly, it wasn't that long ago, as period pieces go, making it cheaper to produce than classic cases.

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Maybe part of why they are doing Katrina is because it is so far apart from OJ. We are still dealing with issues of class and race, but there is no celebrity, glitz and glamour, and over-the-top personalities. In many ways it is a story for the forgotten.

If done tastefully, the JonBenet Ramsey case could work, especially if they use the Schiller book.

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Echoing the Manson murders since (believe it or not), I've never seen Helter Skeltor and know only the most basic info about the case.

The Menendez brothers- I remember this being a high profile case, but remember no details (I was pretty young)

The Von Bulow (?) case- I remember watching a movie about it in high school and finding it interesting.

Casey Anthony or Jodie Arias or Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman, if they don't want to go too far into the past.

Maybe that case from the early 90s (?) about the little girl being removed from her adoptive home because her birth parents changed their minds 3 or 4 years later. I think her name was Jessica, but they changed it when they were granted custody. I don't remember how high profile it may have been, but I remember it sticking in my young mind.

Maybe the Schivo case where the husband was going to terminate his wife who had been in a come for years and the parents fought hard against it. I think that was a big deal and I remember politicians chiming in on it. It was also the reason I made it very clear to my parents and friends that I wanted the plug pulled if it was ever me.

Those are the ones that stick out in my mind as cases that received a lot of coverage and could be interesting to watch play out.

ETA: I just realized the last two on my list aren't really criminal in nature, but I think they'd still be interesting if they could find a loophole to classify them as such.

Also yes to Lindbergh, Jon Benet, etc...

Edited by Jenniferbug
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The Lindbergh case. I think this could be incredibly compelling. 

 

I think that the Manson case is something I'd actually be interested in seeing Ryan Murphy's take on. 

 

If it's a Hollywood crime though, my first choice would be William Desmond Taylor. I remember really enjoying the book A Cast of Killers and think it could be a great season. There are so many good roles. She might not be the right age but I think that Sarah Paulson would make a great Mabel Normand. RM likes Emma Roberts so she could be a decent Mary Miles Minter. I can also Taissa Farmiga in that role. Bruce Greenwood could be a good William Desmond Taylor. 

 

I think the murder of Rulon Allred and digging into the Lebaron and Allred polygamist communities could be fascinating. That case has a little bit of everything including one of the shooters being acquitted of murder. Not only was this woman Rena Chynoweth acquitted of murder but later she actually published a book and admitted to killing the guy. Chynoweth found herself in an OJ situation when she was found liable for Rulon's death but the Allred family were never able to collect the money they were owed. This stuff is all in addition to the other crimes that were associated with the Church of the Lamb of God. An entire season on this could easily be exciting and Mormon fundamentalism in 1970s setting could be fun to explore since this is close to the time where some changes were happening in the mainstream LDS church. 

 

I know loads of documentaries have been done on Jonestown and that it could be problematic to have some of the action in the series not take place on American soil but I think the story is ultimately very American and a truly horrific crime. I can even see the argument for the bulk of the action not even taking place in Jonestown but focusing on the church before they make the move to Jonestown, the concerned families and their POV, Congressman Ryan's POV and everything to do with that, and finally the massacre itself. 

 

The murder of Nicholas Markowitz and the eventual capture of Jesse James Hollywood could be interesting and certainly more well done than the movie Alpha Dog

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I want to say the Martha Moxley case: a lovely young girl, a rich community, a Kennedy connection, a long road to prosecution. But that would bring us more Mark Fuhrman, so...

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I want to say the Martha Moxley case: a lovely young girl, a rich community, a Kennedy connection, a long road to prosecution. But that would bring us more Mark Fuhrman, so...

And more Dominick Dunne, because without him, the last trial would have never happened.

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The von Bülow movie was "Reversal of Fortune"; Jeremy Irons was perfectly cast. And of course, more Dominick Dunne.

Edited to add this quote, because it's sort of OJ-relevant. Alan Dershowitz is talking to his law student minions about taking on Von Bülow's case:

Raj: I agree von Bülow is guilty, but then, that's the fun - that's the challenge.

Alan Dershowitz: Now THERE is a lawyer.

Edited by WertherEffekt
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I think a wrongful conviction case would be fascinating; something like the Michael Morton case in Texas. Or even a suspected wrongful conviction, like Cameron Todd Willingham.

For next season, since we know it's Katrina, I'd really like them to tackle the case at the center of the book Five Days at Memorial. It's about a doctor and two nurses who were charged with euthanizing otherwise healthy patients during he hurriciane. The book is meticulously researched, unbiased, and it's a case with an extraordinary amount of gray areas.

For seasons 3 and beyond, I'd be most interested in subjects that haven't been covered a lot, so no Manson, Bundy, or Dahmer for me. I'd be interested to see what they could do with:

-Timothy McVeigh

-Cropsy (there's a great doc about this, but you could do so much more with a miniseries)

-Adam Walsh

-Richard Ramirez

-Albert Fish

I waffle on whether or not I would want them to tackle Jon Benet. I find the story so fascinating, but it's also so heartwrenchingly sad.

Edited by Princess Sparkle
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The Menendez Murders

Jodi Arias

Scott Peterson

Hollywood and the HUAC Hearings

Iran/Contra Hearings

The Rosenbergs and The Nuclear Spy Ring

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Echoing the Manson murders since (believe it or not), I've never seen Helter Skeltor and know only the most basic info about the case.

The Menendez brothers- I remember this being a high profile case, but remember no details (I was pretty young)

The Von Bulow (?) case- I remember watching a movie about it in high school and finding it interesting.

Casey Anthony or Jodie Arias or Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman, if they don't want to go too far into the past....

Maybe the Schivo case where the husband was going to terminate his wife who had been in a come for years and the parents fought hard against it. I think that was a big deal and I remember politicians chiming in on it. It was also the reason I made it very clear to my parents and friends that I wanted the plug pulled if it was ever me.

 

Would love a series about Trayvon's stalking and murder. Although it might be too soon.

 

I well remember the Schiavo case. Utter insanity. That could be interesting.

 

I know loads of documentaries have been done on Jonestown and that it could be problematic to have some of the action in the series not take place on American soil but I think the story is ultimately very American and a truly horrific crime. I can even see the argument for the bulk of the action not even taking place in Jonestown but focusing on the church before they make the move to Jonestown, the concerned families and their POV, Congressman Ryan's POV and everything to do with that, and finally the massacre itself. 

 

The murder of Nicholas Markowitz and the eventual capture of Jesse James Hollywood could be interesting and certainly more well done than the movie Alpha Dog

 

The Jonestown massacre was tragically American at its core. Jim Jones ended up an utter fucking monster (oh God, the whole story is so depressing) but at the very beginning, the Peoples [sic] Temple was a very hopeful idealistic experiment in socialism, with an emphasis on racial equality, very much a product of the '60s. A lot of black people joined the Temple, inspired by its egalitarianism. And then of course Jones was seduced by the money and power that flowed to the head of a church and everything turned to shit. (Random fact: the massacre happened the same month as the murder of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. There was a dark cloud over San Francisco in November of '78.)

 

Did you not like Alpha Dog? I thought it was well done--so much so I can't watch it after a certain point. It's just too heartbreaking--such a spectacularly pointless murder.

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I wouldn't mind seeing an adaptation of The Burning Bed about the abused woman who got fed up with her abuser and set him on fire.  

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CBS is apparently doing an anthology series about JonBenet, so that probably takes ACS out of the running.

 

Menendez brothers would be interesting, especially since it's right before O.J. and it's another case of rich people in Los Angeles on trial for a high-profile murder. They had a hung jury the first time and a notorious defense attorney.

 

What interests me a lot about Jamestown is a young woman that was shot (but survived) is now a long-serving U.S. Congresswoman.

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I've long thought that The People vs. Fatty Arbuckle would make a good follow-up. Obviously, it's nowhere near as well documented as the OJ Simpson case, but it's got a similar breadth that would translate well to a ten-episode miniseries. Poor bastard went through three separate trials before he was acquitted, plus you'd inevitably need to provide more backstory regarding Arbuckle's life and career, the state of the film industry at the time, etc.

 

It's also got a great setting -- Prohibition-era Hollywood, with sex, drugs, and slapstick silent comedy -- and a host of colorful characters. There are superstars like Arbuckle himself, his best friend, Buster Keaton, and pioneering, hard-partying comedienne Mabel Normand. There's the deceased, Virginia Rappe, often misremembered as a dirty casting-couch slut and overdue to be rediscovered as the ambitious and savvy self-made woman she actually was. And there are the accusers, including bigamist nutball Maude Delmont, who fashioned herself as Rappe's dear friend and defender despite the fact that the two had barely met, and Henry Lehrman, film director and Rappe's ex, who elbowed his way into the story by claiming to be her grieving, vengeful fiancé.

 

It's also a good counterpoint to the OJ saga, as it's another case that marks a sea change in the way the press covered Hollywood celebrity -- and where the OJ coverage sort of sounded the death knell of shame in celebrity coverage, the moral outrage that accompanied the Arbuckle case sort of gave birth to it. And, of course, where the OJ trial is about a probably guilty man whose celebrity allowed him to escape the consequences of his actions, the Arbuckle trials are about a probably innocent man whose celebrity almost caused him to be wrongfully imprisoned.

 

(By the way, if anyone's interested in reading up on the Arbuckle affair, I recommend Room 1219, a recent reexamination of the case that debunks a lot of the myths and misassumptions that have built up over the years.)

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I'd love to see them go into the Central Park Five. It was not only tragic, it also covered a lot of topics: police corruption, rush to judgment, media frenzy, class, race, the nation transfixed by it (if you were aware of anything at that time, you knew about this), Donald Trump calling for the death penalty, and at least some on the police/prosecution side knowing they had the wrong people and going ahead with it, anyway. And not unlike Ron and Nicole, the innocent victims were lost in a massive and ugly sea of presumptions and lies because it suited someone's agenda.

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NBC & Dick Wolf, the developer of the Law and Order & Chicago (Fire, PD, Med, & now Law [or Justice]) franchises are developing a new entry in the Law and Order franchise, Law and Order True Crime, as a result of the success of ACS. They're intending to do the Menendez Brothers case first. So that's probably out.

http://deadline.com/2016/04/law-order-true-crime-anthology-series-the-menendez-brothers-murders-dick-wolf-nbc-1201733198/

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The Jonestown massacre was tragically American at its core. Jim Jones ended up an utter fucking monster (oh God, the whole story is so depressing) but at the very beginning, the Peoples [sic] Temple was a very hopeful idealistic experiment in socialism, with an emphasis on racial equality, very much a product of the '60s. A lot of black people joined the Temple, inspired by its egalitarianism. And then of course Jones was seduced by the money and power that flowed to the head of a church and everything turned to shit. (Random fact: the massacre happened the same month as the murder of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. There was a dark cloud over San Francisco in November of '78.)

This is a bit of an aside to your comment, but it reminded me - while I go back and forth on the Sword and Scale podcast, they have an excellent episode on Jonestown. Its difficult to listen to because that particular episode contains the final audio of Jim Jones convincing his followers to drink the poisoned Kool-Aid, but they speak to a historian of Jonestown who makes a pretty strong case that it was murder as opposed to a mass suicide, and the audio really backs a lot of that up.

It really would be an excellent subject for a miniseries, and I think it's a story that people have largely forgotten about. In the podcast they make the point that people say, pretty flippantly, that someone is "drinking the kool aid", because at this point in the collective conscious, it's out of most people's head how horrifying and devastating Jonestown was.

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This is a bit of an aside to your comment, but it reminded me - while I go back and forth on the Sword and Scale podcast, they have an excellent episode on Jonestown. Its difficult to listen to because that particular episode contains the final audio of Jim Jones convincing his followers to drink the poisoned Kool-Aid, but they speak to a historian of Jonestown who makes a pretty strong case that it was murder as opposed to a mass suicide, and the audio really backs a lot of that up.

It really would be an excellent subject for a miniseries, and I think it's a story that people have largely forgotten about. In the podcast they make the point that people say, pretty flippantly, that someone is "drinking the kool aid", because at this point in the collective conscious, it's out of most people's head how horrifying and devastating Jonestown was.

 

Oh, I absolutely agree that it was murder. Jones had armed guards standing by in case anyone refused to drink the Kool-Aid, and plenty of the victims were in fact shot. And that of course was after murdering Leo Ryan in cold blood. Yes, I've heard that audio--you can find it online, a few sites host it. It's AWFUL. That one woman, valiantly trying to turn the tide, reminding them of the children, and Jones saying "have some pride, go out with dignity." Just unbearable to listen to.

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Oh, I absolutely agree that it was murder. Jones had armed guards standing by in case anyone refused to drink the Kool-Aid, and plenty of the victims were in fact shot. And that of course was after murdering Leo Ryan in cold blood. Yes, I've heard that audio--you can find it online, a few sites host it. It's AWFUL. That one woman, valiantly trying to turn the tide, reminding them of the children, and Jones saying "have some pride, go out with dignity." Just unbearable to listen to.

Oh god, that woman broke my heart. Her trying SO HARD to convince everyone that they should live and could make it to Russia and that asshole Jim Jones just making up roadblocks to every single one of her points. And then to hear the children crying in the background, while some woman says they're just crying because the kool-aid tastes bad and not because they're suffering combined with Jim Jones seeing that cyanide isn't a painless death so he shoots himself instead - as you say, awful.

Now, I really do want them to do Jonestown as the third season. There is just so much there that could be fleshed out in a 10-part miniseries.

I do also think it'd be interesting to go back to crimes in the early 20th century. In addition to the Fatty Arbuckle case mentioned above, the Errol Flynn trial could be interesting, or maybe the Sacco and Vanzetti, Rosenberg, or Leopold and Loeb trials.

I fear this thread is going to reveal how much of a true crime junkie I am....

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I do also think it'd be interesting to go back to crimes in the early 20th century. In addition to the Fatty Arbuckle case mentioned above, the Errol Flynn trial could be interesting, or maybe the Sacco and Vanzetti, Rosenberg, or Leopold and Loeb trials.

I fear this thread is going to reveal how much of a true crime junkie I am....

 

I'm a little worried if they do the Fatty Arbuckle and Errol Flynn cases that it'll encourage MRA types to say "see? Women lie about rape all the time!" Leopold and Loeb would be fascinating, though.

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The Menendez Murders

Jodi Arias

Scott Peterson

Hollywood and the HUAC Hearings

Iran/Contra Hearings

The Rosenbergs and The Nuclear Spy Ring

 

The Rosenberg case is a fascinating idea! Or Alger Hiss could be interesting. 

 

Al Capone could also be interesting.

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I just read a very long New York Times article about Memorial (Hurricane Katrina). I didn't see it as a good and evil story, just very sad.

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I so agree about Jonestown.

And it's ripe for discussion now -- as far as I can see most younger people don't know much about it and it hasn't been overdone.

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They need something that would appeal to a broad audience.  Some of the older stories, while interesting, would not generate much interest from a younger crowd (which is why, I think, they kept bringing up those damn Kardashian kids in OJ, so the younger audience could relate).  So I would suggest something more current like Jonestown, Casey Anthony, Columbine, Jon Benet Ramsey.  

 

I'm pretty sure I won't watch the Hurricane Katrina series.

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This is a bit of an aside to your comment, but it reminded me - while I go back and forth on the Sword and Scale podcast, they have an excellent episode on Jonestown. Its difficult to listen to because that particular episode contains the final audio of Jim Jones convincing his followers to drink the poisoned Kool-Aid, but they speak to a historian of Jonestown who makes a pretty strong case that it was murder as opposed to a mass suicide, and the audio really backs a lot of that up.

It really would be an excellent subject for a miniseries, and I think it's a story that people have largely forgotten about. In the podcast they make the point that people say, pretty flippantly, that someone is "drinking the kool aid", because at this point in the collective conscious, it's out of most people's head how horrifying and devastating Jonestown was.

IDK, people pretty casually reference grassy knolls or throw out, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" yet those events have hardly faded into obscurity. PBS dedicated one of their American Experience episodes to the assassination of President Garfield. He lingered for 11 weeks with pretty negligent medical care. Throw in the political patronage issues (plus a cameo from Alexander Graham Bell) and there'd be enough material for a season of crime. It's probably way too distant and not infamous enough for FX.

Edited by Dejana
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I'd love a season on Diane Downs, the woman who shot her three kids because she thought it would entice her lover (who didn't want children) to commit to her. That woman is a fascinating psychological study. Farrah Fawcett played her in the TV film Small Sacrifices, but I can see ACS giving the story a much better treatment.

I'd also be on board for Fatty Arbuckle, Richard Ramirez (I was a pre-teen in Los Angeles when he was on the loose, and it was a nightmarish time), and Casey Anthony.

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I had the hilarious idea the other day that if they want to eventually shake Travolta's paws off the show (he seems to want to be attached to it permanently the way Sarah Paulson is to all of Ryan Murphy's shows), all they have to do is have a season surrounding The Crimes of the Church of Scientology.


re: straight Hollywood cases--the problem is that so many of them have been done elsewhere--the Manson case for example.


One thought is that since they're clearly not linked to a courtroom, that them doing an unsolved case certainly isn't a problem. So that brings in stuff like Elizabeth Short (although again, it's been done to death I think). 

 

I'd shit bricks if in a few years they'd be willing to do Cosby.. but I bet they won't.

 

Going real classic, if they didn't want to do Fatty Arbuckle, there's also the Thomas Ince death. Real shit-stirry because names surrounding it? William Randolph Hearst--who's yacht something happened. Marion Davies, Charles Chaplin, and columnist Louella Parsons--who were all also on the yacht. Ince didn't die on the yacht, but disappeared off of it and died soon after. The theories being that Hearst thought Ince was cheating with Davies, Heart's mistress and shot him. Then covered it all up. Even jucier, the theory goes that Hearst actually mistook Ince for Chaplin--the real person he thought the affair was happening with. (EDIT - okay, even here apparently a film I've never seen called The Cat’s Meow did a version of this already... so... never mind--again this is going to be a problem with most of the real classic stories). 

 

Or they could just follow the life of Charlie Chaplin. Man, scandal followed that guy around like crazy. Or Errol Flynn.

 

Non-Hollywood I'll echo the suggestion upthread about The Central Park Five. I know there was some kind of documentary (EDIT - a Ken Burns documentary apparently--so likely a good one), but I don't know if it's been done otherwise, and it hits all of the right themes. It's totally on point with it's potential examination of racism. About Police and political misconduct. It involves Donald Trump (who even two years from now when it could be made into a season of a TV show will still be news even if he's not a sitting President). And it's something people should know more about, if they don't know it.

Edited by Kromm
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I'd love a season on Diane Downs, the woman who shot her three kids because she thought it would entice her lover (who didn't want children) to commit to her. That woman is a fascinating psychological study. Farrah Fawcett played her in the TV film Small Sacrifices, but I can see ACS giving the story a much better treatment.

I'd also be on board for Fatty Arbuckle, Richard Ramirez (I was a pre-teen in Los Angeles when he was on the loose, and it was a nightmarish time), and Casey Anthony.

 

 

I thought Farrah Fawcett did a great job playing Downs.  Ann Rule's book on the case is one of her best IMO.  

 

I have read many, MANY true crime books and the only book to literally scare me blind was Philip Carlo's book on Ramirez.  I wouldn't even sleep in the same room with the book.   I think because Ramirez was indiscriminate in his victimology and his eyes were absolutely dead - - there was nothing there to me.  He radiated pure evil to me.

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I just read a very long New York Times article about Memorial (Hurricane Katrina). I didn't see it as a good and evil story, just very sad.

I see a great deal of crime, and yes, pure evil from our government, national and local, and horrific racism, and disregard for the poor. 

 

I don't think I can watch it, but who knows?  I may give it a try.  I didn't think I could watch OJ either, and it ended up being a great catharsis for me, because OJ murdering them, and the subsequent circus and trial all coincided with some similar things in my personal life. 

 

Katrina though?  It still makes me want to vomit, how long it took us, the greatest power on earth at that time, to do ANYTHING to help those people.  The aftermath, which is still going on.  Ugh.

 

Most of the other suggestions have already been done pretty well in film or on TV.  OJ has been done a couple of times, perhaps not that well though, so there is that.  The other ideas I've had have also had movies or specials.

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I thought Farrah Fawcett did a great job playing Downs.  Ann Rule's book on the case is one of her best IMO.  

 

I have read many, MANY true crime books and the only book to literally scare me blind was Philip Carlo's book on Ramirez.  I wouldn't even sleep in the same room with the book.   I think because Ramirez was indiscriminate in his victimology and his eyes were absolutely dead - - there was nothing there to me.  He radiated pure evil to me.

 

The problem with the Downs case is, that as terrific as Farrah was in the movie, Diane Downs is just so inane. It's weird to describe someone who gunned down her three children in cold blood as banal, but she was, just kind of aimless and stupid and trashy. After the shootings, when she was under suspicion by the police but had yet to be charged, she bought a personal notice in the paper for the girl who died, Cheryl with this cheesy poem ("He took you to heaven/when you were only seven"). She had this unicorn statue that she bought that was supposed to be...I don't know, something nonsensical and cheesy that supposedly the kids treasured. And her whole story was so full of holes--a shaggy-haired man just walks up and shoots into a car at night (somehow he's able to see into the completely dark car and discern three children sleeping below the windows)?--so obvious, so trite, she's not compelling at all. She didn't put any more thought into the crime than she did in conceiving the children*. I mean, at least OJ was charming, and could do at least one thing very well. Ann Rule tried to make DD out to be very intelligent, but the essay she quoted in the book just underscores how I see her.

 

The real drama is the oldest girl Christy, who had the guts to take the stand and name her own mother as the one who shot them. Maybe if she's the focus, or the ex-lover, "Lew."

 

*Oh my God, her mothering skills. There's an anecdote in the book, a neighbor remembers looking outside and seeing Cheryl run out into the street and nearly get hit by a car. She goes to her saying Cheryl, you have to be more careful, you could've been seriously injured. The little girl just looks at her--no more than 5-6 years old--and says it doesn't matter. Nobody cares. And if you look at the pictures of her in the book, she never smiles. That little one haunts me to this day.

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I just read a very long New York Times article about Memorial (Hurricane Katrina). I didn't see it as a good and evil story, just very sad.

 

I see a great deal of crime, and yes, pure evil from our government, national and local, and horrific racism, and disregard for the poor.

 

I should have worded my response better. I meant I didn't see there being a big villain in the way that ACS had an OJ Simpson. I didn't see Dr. Pou as an evil woman. There were definitely other components of evil (the negligent government, the random shootouts, rapes at The SuperDome, et cetera).

 

The article I read was by the same woman who later wrote the "Five Days in Memorial" book.

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The problem with the Downs case is, that as terrific as Farrah was in the movie, Diane Downs is just so inane. It's weird to describe someone who gunned down her three children in cold blood as banal, but she was, just kind of aimless and stupid and trashy. After the shootings, when she was under suspicion by the police but had yet to be charged, she bought a personal notice in the paper for the girl who died, Cheryl with this cheesy poem ("He took you to heaven/when you were only seven"). She had this unicorn statue that she bought that was supposed to be...I don't know, something nonsensical and cheesy that supposedly the kids treasured. And her whole story was so full of holes--a shaggy-haired man just walks up and shoots into a car at night (somehow he's able to see into the completely dark car and discern three children sleeping below the windows)?--so obvious, so trite, she's not compelling at all. She didn't put any more thought into the crime than she did in conceiving the children*. I mean, at least OJ was charming, and could do at least one thing very well. Ann Rule tried to make DD out to be very intelligent, but the essay she quoted in the book just underscores how I see her.

 

The real drama is the oldest girl Christy, who had the guts to take the stand and name her own mother as the one who shot them. Maybe if she's the focus, or the ex-lover, "Lew."

 

*Oh my God, her mothering skills. There's an anecdote in the book, a neighbor remembers looking outside and seeing Cheryl run out into the street and nearly get hit by a car. She goes to her saying Cheryl, you have to be more careful, you could've been seriously injured. The little girl just looks at her--no more than 5-6 years old--and says it doesn't matter. Nobody cares. And if you look at the pictures of her in the book, she never smiles. That little one haunts me to this day.

 

It is true.  Diane Downs wasn't that special.  She was basically emotionally stuck as a teen, pining away after a man, thinking that if she killed her children he would leave his wife for her, interpreting the lyrics of a Duran Duran song to equate to her situation.  It was crazy.  She was unusual for the early 80s though, when it wasn't as common to hear about women killing their children.  Add to that the fact that Diane was a surrogate, tried to start her own surrogate agency with herself as a surrogate mother (!) and that she was pregnant with yet another child during her murder trial - - well, it was big news for Oregon.

 

I agree with you about Cheryl.  She had a sad, tragic life from the beginning.  She clearly knew she couldn't depend on either her mother or her father - -her older sister was more her caretaker than her own mother.    

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I never heard of Diane Downs and I am REALLY glad I didn't at the time it happened. I saw too many commercials for the Fatal Vision movie and was terrified for months my mother was going to kill me in my sleep.

 

I was thinking something like Ted Bundy. He was so charming, supposedly, and he escaped at least once. Maybe twice. (I'm sick and my brain is kind of fuzzy so I apologize if it was suggested and my eyes glazed over it.)

 

I like the idea of Katrina, that it doesn't have to be one specific crime, but I'm not excited for it. I'm sure it'll be good.

 

So many interesting crimes might not be enough for a full season. I wonder if they'd do two five-episode arcs instead of one 10-episode arc. Lincoln's assassination was pretty bizarre, but maybe not 10 hours' worth of compelling.

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I actually have a connection to Ted Bundy, and did think of him as a possible case for this show.  My sister was kidnapped by him, one of the few who escaped, which she did by jumping out of a car going the 70 MPH speed limit, on a freeway headed for the mountains in Utah (where body parts later floated downstream.)  She waited until she saw a station wagon full of kids behind them, in the side mirror and jumped, rolling down a steep, rock strewn embankment.  Bundy's car sped up, the station wagon stopped.

 

We had no idea why the police and FBI kept coming to our house.  She never testified (they didn't need it) and we only found out about Ted Bundy when his face came over the TV as caught, and my sister turned white, speechless, and pointed at the screen, eventually saying "that's him."

 

By the way, she was uninjured except for numerous cuts and bruises, the doctors think she probably blacked out and went limp after the jump, saving her life.

Edited by Umbelina
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I actually have a connection to Ted Bundy, and did think of him as a possible case for this show.  My sister was kidnapped by him, one of the few who escaped, which she did by jumping out of a car going the 70 MPH speed limit, on a freeway headed for the mountains in Utah (where body parts later floated downstream.)  She waited until she saw a station wagon full of kids behind them, in the side mirror and jumped, rolling down a steep, rock strewn embankment.  Bundy's car sped up, the station wagon stopped.

 

We had no idea why the police and FBI kept coming to our house.  She never testified (they didn't need it) and we only found out about Ted Bundy when his face came over the TV as caught, and my sister turned white, speechless, and pointed at the screen, eventually saying "that's him."

 

By the way, she was uninjured except for numerous cuts and bruises, the doctors think she probably blacked out and went limp after the jump, saving her life.

Er.... Wow. That's a hell of a personal reveal. it certainly gives you a perspective on that case almost nobody else in the world is going to have.

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Jonestown could be done again, but CBS did a mini-series about it in 1980 that was really well done. Powers Boothe played Jim Jones and was excellent (he won an emmy). It might be available on Netflix or Hulu.

Edited by absolutelyido
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I thought Farrah Fawcett did a great job playing Downs. Ann Rule's book on the case is one of her best IMO.

I have read many, MANY true crime books and the only book to literally scare me blind was Philip Carlo's book on Ramirez. I wouldn't even sleep in the same room with the book. I think because Ramirez was indiscriminate in his victimology and his eyes were absolutely dead - - there was nothing there to me. He radiated pure evil to me.

No, I totally agree about Farrah (she was terrific in that role, although I didn't think she resembled Diane at all--much like Cuba didn't resemble OJ), and Rule's book was a fascinating read. But I think a show like AHS that has proven storytelling abilities could draw out other aspects of her crime story, such as her relationship with the children prior to the shootings, her relationship with "Lew," her prison romance/correspondence with the I-5 Killer, and her initially successful prison break. All of these aspects of her life have long piqued my interest. I will say, though, that she's definitely got those dead eyes too, like Ramirez.

EDITED TO ADD: Not to mention the killer '80s soundtrack that the music director could put together for a Downs season, with "Hungry Like the Wolf" kicking off the first episode, naturally.

Edited by SinInTheCamp

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I know it's been done a million times but if you want Ryan Murphy level pulp then Amy Fisher. A dude sleeps with a teenager and said teenager shoots the dudes wife in the face. #Whitepeopleproblems

Or possibly Lisa Nowak the astronaut who drove to Florida in a diaper to kidnap the Air Force captain who was seeing the same man she was.

What? I like the cray cray.

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I know it's been done a million times but if you want Ryan Murphy level pulp then Amy Fisher. A dude sleeps with a teenager and said teenager shoots the dudes wife in the face. #Whitepeopleproblems

The problem with the Fisher case is that I don't know what kind of moral weight a story about that would have, or what deeper context. It's just a story about a bunch of assholes, and yes, a victim. But what deeper resonance is there to it?

 

I don't like a lot of Murphy's output, but with this show he's clearly leaning towards every season having a social message. That's really the only explanation for risking a story as unfocused as "Katrina"--because the common theme with Season 1 is an exploration of race and social issues. I'd imagine theoretical Seasons 3, 4, 5 etc. will all follow that pattern (which is why I'm realizing some of my own suggestions upthread are kind of crap, other than me going along with the Central Park Five suggestion someone else made first), and my upset that Cosby probably won't ever be done (at least by this show--some crappy Lifetime movie will be made, to be sure), because in a way it falls right in line with this framework and theme...

Edited by Kromm
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Er.... Wow. That's a hell of a personal reveal. it certainly gives you a perspective on that case almost nobody else in the world is going to have.

I don't have that much really. 

 

My sister didn't want to talk about it much, even years later.  She told me about the station wagon, and I remember thinking that she was always good in emergencies, but still,  that was a very smart move for a 17 year old girl.  She was always brave though.  She looked just like all the other victims, slender, long dark hair parted down the middle, pretty.  She was walking home from school and it was only about 2 blocks from the freeway entrance.  This would have been 1971 or 72 I think.  Bundy pulled over to ask directions, handsome, youngish guy, and when she put her hand in to point to the right area of the map (or whatever it was) he grabbed her arm.  He had a huge knife, I do remember that, that it was a knife, not a gun.  At that moment I think she was stunned and slower to react, but about 5-7 minutes later she'd hatched her plan to jump from the speeding car.  She knew that freeway would take them right into the Wasatch mountains, since we went up there all the time, and she knew about the first body parts that had been found.

 

The one thing she did tell me was that she waited for the right car to be behind them, and when she saw the station wagon full of kids, she acted.  She didn't try to jump before because she was afraid he'd just stop and then recapture her.  I also remember the police telling my mother they were amazed she was alive after the jump, but then the FBI showed up, and the police didn't come again.

 

I can't ask her anything more, because she died two years ago from breast cancer.  I still remember that night that his face came on the TV though, and her shock.  I know she was fearful they would have her testify, she really didn't want to see him in court, but they never even called.  She was very happy when he was convicted.  That's about it really. 

ETA

Thinking about it, I can't remember what year of high school she was in, and I know the FBI came after I moved to California, because she would often complain about the FBI still questioning her about her abduction many years later.  My guess is, since they didn't charge him with murders during that time, because they had much more evidence of later crimes, she wasn't called to testify.

 

Also, the reason I remember the knife is that I thought, why didn't you run then, what's the worst he could do, cut you?  You were on a busy, busy road (13th east) someone would have stopped.  I never said that to her though.

 

Also, I fixed the dates, based on the year she graduated.

Edited by Umbelina
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I don't have that much really. 

 

My sister didn't want to talk about it much, even years later.  She told me about the station wagon, and I remember thinking that she was always good in emergencies, but still,  that was a very smart move for a 16 year old girl.  She was always brave though.  She looked just like all the other victims, slender, long dark hair parted down the middle, pretty.  She was walking home from school and it was only about 2 blocks from the freeway entrance.  This would have been 1967 or 68.  Bundy pulled over to ask directions, handsome, youngish guy, and when she put her hand in to point to the right area of the map (or whatever it was) he grabbed her arm.  He had a huge knife, I do remember that, that it was a knife, not a gun.  At that moment I think she was stunned and slower to react, but about 5-7 minutes later she'd hatched her plan to jump from the speeding car.  She knew that freeway would take them right into the Wasatch mountains, since we went up there all the time, and she knew about the first body parts that had been found.

 

The one thing she did tell me was that she waited for the right car to be behind them, and when she saw the station wagon full of kids, she acted.  She didn't try to jump before because she was afraid he'd just stop and then recapture her.  I also remember the police telling my mother they were amazed she was alive after the jump, but then the FBI showed up, and the police didn't come again.

 

I can't ask her anything more, because she died two years ago from breast cancer.  I still remember that night that his face came on the TV though, and her shock.  I know she was fearful they would have her testify, she really didn't want to see him in court, but they never even called.  She was very happy when he was convicted.  That's about it really. 

Wow! your sister was so brave to act the way that she did..She was one of the lucky ones....

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I know it's been done a million times but if you want Ryan Murphy level pulp then Amy Fisher. A dude sleeps with a teenager and said teenager shoots the dudes wife in the face. #Whitepeopleproblems

Or possibly Lisa Nowak the astronaut who drove to Florida in a diaper to kidnap the Air Force captain who was seeing the same man she was.

What? I like the cray cray.

People.com had an interview with the Air Force Captain she attacked, not too long ago. She said her commander and others down the line blamed her for not doing enough to make the scandal go away, like it wasn't the prosecutor's idea to press charges. She and the astronaut had only been dating for three months when the whole thing went down, but they got married and have a child now.

How about a crime that doesn't necessarily involve death?

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She was feisty.  I did have the dates wrong though, she wasn't even in high school on those first dates I used.  Duh. 

 

It sounds like the FBI already was on it though, and stayed on it, kept interviewing her for years.  Odd that he was later caught in the same city.



How about a crime that doesn't necessarily involve death?

I'd prefer that as well!

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Jesus. I was just about to ask you how she is now, then I saw your sad epilogue. I'm so sorry. I hope she had some wonderfulness in her life, too.

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Jesus. I was just about to ask you how she is now, then I saw your sad epilogue. I'm so sorry. I hope she had some wonderfulness in her life, too.

Thanks.

She did, and a fantastic husband and two lovely daughters.

 

I remember calling her when they executed Bundy.  Her one word response was "Good."

 

Oddly enough, she had one more weird experience years later, detained, suspected of being Patty Hearst, taken in, questioned, the whole deal. 

Edited by Umbelina
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How about a crime that doesn't necessarily involve death?

Maybe because I don't pay much attention but I can't think of a major "crime" that doesn't involve death. Unless you dig into the lesser know stuff or do things like Katrina which deals less with actual crime and more with government shenanigans. I mean nothing recent at least. The only thing that comes to mind and this is just because I just watched Trumbo is the McCarthy hearings but that was awhile ago so I doubt that one either. There is just something about murder especially when it involves a public figure. Edited by Chaos Theory
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