5 American Crime Stories from the 90s that should be dramatized

I don’t care if they’re in mini-series or movies but as I’ve become unexpectedly enthralled in this dopey “American Crime Stories” first season covering The People vs O.J. Simpson, it has made me hungry for more dramatizations of 1990s real life crime dramas. I choose the 90s not just because I lived through them and desire a similar “look at new angles” depiction of the stories I remember seeing in bits and pieces as a kid but also because of the historical significance of the time for such cases. The advent of more extensive nightly news segments, news talk shows, investigative news shows, talk radio, and cable news channels all popped in the 90s like never before and the stories that captured the attention of all these outlets, feeding on each other as those stories among all the other crazy crap going on in the world retained the tv box-office leaderboard status is a story in itself.

These are my top 5 picks I want to see done anywhere, anyhow, in a similar approach to the American Crime Story series, which stupidly is wasting their 2nd season on “Hurricane Katrina”… Maybe it will shock me and be not-garbage, but doing a season about American Crime Stories on bad weather (and presumably the alleged “criminal” malpractice of poor evacuation and aid by the inept local government) sounds like a massively squandered opportunity. These would have been infinitely better choices. I will include the Wikipedia entries for each case afterward but won’t be reading any of them beforehand and instead will be presenting my list from memory only, since that is what is fueling my desire to see them dramatized.

1- JonBenét Ramsey

What I remember about the story: A 6 year old beauty pageant contestant no one had ever heard of before is mentioned in a bizarre ransom letter and while the parents seemingly arrange to pay it, police are involved but find no evidence of a break-in or kidnapping. Then the girls body turns out to be in the friggin basement of the house, covered but not exactly hidden, and the physical trauma suggested horrors from sexual abuse to brutal beating in the poor child’s last hours. Speculation was on one of the parents but I forget which one while I got the impression that the other parent was oblivious. The crazy extent of the sexualizing of a 5 and 6 year old that took place in the doll dressing that went into these pageants (that evidently isn’t uncommon for such pageants) creeped everyone out, adding fuel to the weird details of the story. What I can’t decide if I’m weirded out by or if I glowingly approve of is the girls name… It sounds like perhaps its an homage to a French aunt or something but its her parents names: John Bennet Ramsey marries a woman named Patricia and they name their daughter = JonBenét Patricia Ramsey. lol.
What I want to see in a dramatization: What in the eff was going on with these parents? And who the hell did it? Does the evidence suggest it was one of them or was it really a random hit by a wandering psychopath that they were just oblivious to?

Wikipedia entry.

2- The Menendez Brothers

What I remember about the story: Adult brothers conspire to shotgun murder their parents, do it, and then have a lengthy trial for some reason. To my knowledge, the parents were wealthy, but not famous, so I didn’t and don’t know why this was such a big story that lasted so long in the news cycles. I remember allegations of abuse from the parents being used to unconvincing degrees on why they deserved to get surprise-murdered (it wasn’t even over a dispute or argument or any crime of passion from what I remember) in their living room. The boys tried to make it look like a home invasion or something and then went to go see a movie as an alibi. The movie they saw? The James Bond film License to Kill (because Batman was sold out).
What I want to see in a dramatization: Why did they hate their parents so much? Even if it was a money grab, I remember the reporting of the murders sounding very personal and not the kind of “just doing business mumzy and dadzy. nothing personal” coldness you might expect.
Wikipedia entry

3- Amy Fisher & Joey Buttafuoco

What I remember about the story: Dubbed “the Long Island Lolita” after the book and films about a 12 year old nymphomaniac who successfully seduces a 40something year old man, Amy Fisher had an affair with a central-casting style Long Island Italian male stereotype named Joey Buttafuoco when when she was 17. She became obsessive and attempted to murder his wife by ringing the doorbell in broad daylight and just shooting her right in the face when she answered, giving rise to the knock-knock joke we told at the time whose punchline to the “who’s there?” question was “AMY FISHER – BOOM” as you finger-gun the joke recipient in the face. Mary Joe Buttafuoco survived, now with limited facial mobility, and stayed with Joey for at least a decade afterward before coming to her senses in a series of crazy details that kept cycling. 

What I want to see in a dramatization: The sleeziness from Fisher and Joey under the nose of the oblivious Mary Jo. Evidently Fisher was fame-whoring for awhile and that contributed to the reasoning for the attempted murder in such a way. She pursued getting her name in the headlines at the time and when she got out of jail, doing tv specials and a few porn films afterward. Seeing the start of this lost soul going all wrong mentally and using her sexuality to “make it” would be fascinating to see unfold.

Wikipedia entry for AmyFor Joey.

4- Michael Jackson’s Molestation Allegations

What I remember about the story: In the early 90s Michael Jackson was at the peak of his sensation levels as a rockstar personality and everyone loved his weirdness in a David Bowie style way where his androgyny was considered cool. Then in 1993 he was accused of diddling a kid and that androgyny turned into “proof that he’s a fag” and the tide of public opinion turned from a weird mixture of everyone still liking him as a performer and weirdo tv figure but now no longer respecting his eccentricities the way they used to.
What I want to see in a dramatization: Michaels story. Which is that he was railroaded and witch-hunted for being bizarre and effeminate but was innocent of the crimes he was accused of. I maintain that the truth is that Jackson suffered from arrested development and saw himself as a child, which led to potentially inappropriate conduct an adult might have with children – but not molestation, not sexual abuse, and not the predatory arrangements accused. I wanna see the fake “see how adult and heterosexual he is??” publicity stunt marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, his interactions with Macaulay Culkin (who always denied any harm or inappropriate activity to him or in his presence) and the media circus around the whole ordeal (which is the secondary character in all these stories).

Wikipedia entry

5- Tanya Harding & Nancy Karigan

What I remember about the story: I’m afraid to search this story and find out that details I had grown up with where somehow not true. This is my original “too good to check” news item that just seemed so crazy that it not only actually happened in real life but in such a public way. As far as I know: Figure skater Tanya Harding and her boyfriend or husband or something, hired some dude to break the leg of her main competitor Nancy Kerrigan and it actually went down. Meaning, some guy stalked a figure skater and hit her in the leg intending to break it so she couldn’t compete. He failed and only bruised her thigh or something but Kerrigan didn’t go on to the Olympic heights she was on track to anyway because of it and Harding finished in poor placing anyway.
What I want to see in a dramatization: The white trash conspiracies involved in this hit, the execution of it, the aftermath and the cultural spike in figure skating interest that ensued is all ripe for interesting characters and situations to be acted out.

Wikipedia entry

Watch the Real Videos reenacted on The People vs OJ Simpson

On account of me being an American, I am following my patriotic duty to closely follow the FX series American Crime Story and its maiden voyage: The People vs O.J. Simpson. The drama and pacing as a piece of media is surprisingly not bad at all (I originally tuned in to see a shitshow of bad soap-opera ridiculousness but was shocked to actually enjoy it) but my real interest is in seeing how real-life events from the not-too-distant-past are being re-created. Aside from David Schwimmer taking me out of all suspension of disbelief, I have enjoyed the casting and comparing each actors portrayal to their real life counterpart. Cuba Gooding Jr actually captures OJ’s mannerisms and expressions pretty well a lot of the time but unfortunately his much smaller stature than the football player constantly brings it down.

If you too are doing your duty as a patriot, or interested foreign-national, you may find these news clips that were re-enacted on the show of interest.
I will do my duty to the nation like the unflappable hero that I am and update this post accordingly as new episodes come out and new clips are found.

Here’s what I’ve gotz so farz:

1- “He’s back again”…the 911 call
Nicole Brown calls for help as an enraged OJ Simpson is heard screaming threats in the background. Takeaway quote: (When the operator asks her to stay on the line) “I don’t wanna stay on the line, he’s gonna beat the shit out of me”…

2- The Awkward Attorney Press Conference
Here is John Travolta (played in real-life by Robert Shapiro) and Ross-from-Friends (played in real-life by Robert Kardashian) on the afternoon of Friday, 17 June 1994 giving a press conference in response to O.J. Simpson vanishing from his house and failing to show up at Parker Center to be charged with murder. Shapiro explains to the press and Robert Kardashian reads a letter O.J. wrote that day before disappearing, commonly interpreted as a suicide note.

3- Bronco Chase
A little under 2 minutes into the clip you hear A.C. (driving the Bronco) on the phone with police delivering the “you know who I am goddammit!” line along with other details shown in the show about the chase:

[Episode 4]:

4- O.J. pleads “Absolutely 100% Not Guilty”.

But not the way the show showed it… Unlike the show depicted: it wasn’t Judge Ito presiding, O.J. had to be tapped to stand after he is addressed by name (he didn’t just pop up with his attorneys following), and he delivers his plea in a defensive manner instead of the smug way Cuba Gooding Jr says it in the show…

5- Bailey vs Shapiro…
Attorney F. Lee Bailey on Larry King, passive-aggressively smack talking Robert Shapiro: This may not exist but I’m still looking… Instead I found this:
Not depicted in the series (yet?), Robert Shapiro in a Larry King interview responding to a recording from F. Lee Bailey 11 minutes and talks about the rift between them as well as denies that he made the suggestion for a man-slaughter plea depicted in Episode 4:

6- Faye Resnick Tell-All Book Interview

Nicole Browns friend Faye Resnick talks about her tell-all book with Larry King, covering Faye’s cocaine rehab 3 days before the murder and other tidbits mentioned in the mini-series…

In real life, Faye was on a tv and Larry’s set was not the iconic map pointillism that is more recognizable to his shows history but the show changed the set and made the backdrop the more familiar one. & Larry King plays his 1995 self in the show.

For lots more bits, this 20/20 episode covers all the main beats excellently:

Awkward Fox News Interview

I’ve seen this lady on CNN, MSNBC and Fox before, but never like this…what IS this? and is she in front of a green screen? Or is she just glowing? The host, Martha MaCallum is front of a screen – it looks like a giant window but it’s actually a giant moniter – and she’s never glowy. wtf is going on here? Did she do this at a home studio? That would explain the green screen, poor lighting, phone ringing in the background and whatever is responsible for the moments at 2:40 and at 5:35…

Mediaite describes:

Radio talk show host Nancy Skinner sparked an entertaining–and at times somewhat bizarre–discussion on Fox News Thursday afternoon, as host Martha MacCallum attempted to lead a discussion of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign announcement. Skinner, who has a show on Detroit radio and has served as a political commentator for Fox, MSNBC and CNN, quickly shifted from Romney to Bush. She suggested that Romney’s speech was about “laying out the case of how badly President Bush screwed up our economy” before beginning a disjointed defense of President Obama that led to an argument over poll results.

Dexter star divorces his co-star wife

In this “real life” place, circa 2008, Dexter (“real” name: Michael C. Hall) married his sister and now they’re gonna go ahead and not do that anymore:

Dexter star Michael C. Hall and his co-star wife Jennifer Carpenter are divorcing after just two years of marriage.

The actors, who play brother and sister on the hit drama, wed at the end of 2008 – a year before Hall was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Carpenter said in October that Hall’s cancer battle had brought them close than ever.
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“His illness was the best thing that ever happened to us,” she said

However, a representative for the stars has confirmed that they have decided to part ways.

“Having been separated for some time, Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall have filed for divorce,” the publicist told Entertainment Weekly.

I didn’t know of his illness, other than his sociopathic need to murder people and dismember their bodies (there is no actor behind the character for me, if you haven’t noticed) but I also don’t really care. I care about how this affects the show that I just started getting into at Thanksgiving. I’m almost done with Season 3 now. Season 5 just wrapped. Actually, the episodes I’m watching were aired right around the time Dexter married his on-screen sister. and now they’re done… I was hoping the only time we’d seem them split would be when one of them got cut in half – which.. may happen now, right?

They have to either write out this chicks character with some decision to move to Oregon or kill her, right? Otherwise the awkwardness on set would be just too much to get through.

Maybe she’ll get accidentally killed by Dex cuz she has a bag over her head like that urban legend where a reluctant dude joins a gang rape of a hooded victim and after he’s done it’s revealed that it was hiss sister (wait, is that a real urban legend? or did i read that in a dirty novel or something?). Or maybe he will and they’ll change the name of the show to DEBRA as she carries on his legacy after finding out about him – or even better – they keep the name and her inner monologue is about his memory with flashbacks of him that guide her instead of Dexter remembering Harry….ya, thats not gonna happen.

FINALLY a Simpsons Halloween Special BEFORE Halloween!

AT LAST my monkey paw wish was granted! ALAS, it came with a price…

Not that big a price though. about as bad as the turkey sandwich Homer wished for being “a little dry”. For years Simpsons fans had the magic of the annual Simpsons Halloween special ruined by being too late. This year, finally that was fixed, but at the cost of it coming too early.

There have been 20 Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Specials, and unforgivably, 8 of the most recent ones were broadcast after Halloween. I was so mad at this recent history and so pleased with the series return to sanity that I went and looked up the original airdates for every single Simpsons Halloween special. I thought it would have been slightly more spotty, but no: as you can see, the “dark age” started in the year 2000 and lasted up until last year:

  1. I · October 25, 1990
  2. II · October 31, 1991
  3. III · October 29, 1992
  4. IV · October 28, 1993
  5. V · October 30, 1994
  6. VI · October 29, 1995
  7. VII · October 27, 1996
  8. VIII · October 26, 1997
  9. IX · October 25, 1998
  10. X · October 31, 1999
  11. XI · November 1, 2000
  12. XII · November 6, 2001
  13. XIII · November 3, 2002
  14. XIV · November 2, 2003
  15. XV · November 7, 2004
  16. XVI · November 6, 2005
  17. XVII · November 5, 2006
  18. XVIII · November 4, 2007
  19. XIX · November 2, 2008
  20. XX · October 18, 2009

OUTRAGEOUS! infuriating and unacceptable. at least this generation will not have to suffer the indignity of trying to get in the Halloween spirit up to a motherfkking WEEK after the god damn holiday, and at least the 3 stories were of a Halloween nature instead of the bullshit science-fiction/just weird nature of the crap that was fed to us during the dark ages…

This years episode is below:

The bikini chick from American Idol was hated on for looking good

American Idol contestants try to get noticed by things other than their alleged talent like costumes or signs or costumes. It usually just serves as a way to mock the attempt but this is clearly the best attention getter stunt of the series.

Of course the new chick on the panel had a problem with it but bikini girls talent was just as good as any of the others and her sexable body was slightly more appealing to watch than Ruben Studdard or Justin Guarini’s so I approved of the fluff that makes this otherwise mediocre talent show a predictable slog. The lady judge had an immediate problem with the stunt because of the innate sense within the chick brain that desires to “nest” and seek safety. A younger, attractive female is a threat to this safety and her youth must be mocked and her attractiveness derided in order to neutralize the perceived threat. In this case the threat is psychological, as her presence and the inevitable attention it gets shifts the power dynamic away from the hippie core of the feminist-with-something-to-prove mindset. It’s an interesting case study in gender psychology and the sociological reactions to evolutionary defaults. Plus bikini.

UPDATE: Katrina Darrell, the bikini girl, returned to Idol for some…thing. idk. but now sporting a new set of boobs (breast implants). What a heart warming lateral-moving Cinderella story. or something.

Sorry body-shamers, but this move was a definite improvement.