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The Jinx (miniseries)

The Jinx
File:The Jinx (miniseries) POSTER.jpg
Genre Documentary
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 6 (list of episodes)
Production
Running time 45 minutes
Release
Original channel HBO
Picture format 16:9 HDTV
Original release February 8, 2015 (2015-02-08) – March 15, 2015 (2015-03-15)
External links
Website

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, generally referred to as simply The Jinx, is a 2015 HBO documentary miniseries about Robert Durst,[1] written by Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling, and Zachary Stuart-Pontier.[2] The series was also directed by Jarecki, who previously directed All Good Things (2010), which was inspired by the life of Durst.[3][4]

Robert Durst professed admiration for All Good Things and telephoned Jarecki after its release, offering to be interviewed (a conversation recorded and incorporated into the documentary). Durst would ultimately sit with Jarecki for more than 20 hours over a multi-year period, having not previously cooperated with journalistic media.

The Jinx gained widespread exposure when Durst was arrested on first degree murder charges the day before its finale aired.[5]

Synopsis

The series investigates the unsolved 1982 disappearance of Durst's wife Kathie, the 2000 execution-style killing of writer Susan Berman, and the 2001 death and dismemberment of Durst's neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas. It uses a wide array of existing footage including news, security footage, police evidence, and archival interviews combined with footage shot by Jarecki, which is composed of contemporary interviews, visual reenactments (some of which were shot at Jarecki's upstate New York home),[6] and self-reflexive footage of Jarecki's film-making process and peculiar working relationship with Durst. Its complex editing style and narrative construction emphasize the contradictions within both Durst's life and the bizarre and grisly murders he allegedly committed.

In the sixth and final episode, Jarecki confronts Durst with a letter hand-addressed and mailed by him in March 1999 to his friend Susan Berman in "Beverley [sic] Hills, California". Durst concedes he cannot distinguish his block letter handwriting on the 1999 envelope from that on an anonymous December 2000 note, presumably mailed by Berman's murderer, alerting the "Beverley [sic] Hills Police" to a "cadaver" at Berman's address. After the interview Durst goes to the bathroom and, apparently unaware that his microphone is still recording, makes a rambling, off-camera statement to himself, ending with "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course."

Episodes

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No. Title Original Air Date
(United States)
U.S. Viewers
(millions)

^Note A Chapter 6 is also referred to as "The Second Interview" on some promotional platforms.[7][8][9]

Cast

In order of appearance:

  • Gary Jones (detective, Galveston Police Department)
  • Joel Bennett (Assistant District Attorney, Galveston)
  • Cody Cazalas (detective, Galveston Police Department)
  • Randy Burrows (member of Galveston Dive Team)
  • Debrah Lee Charatan (current wife of Robert Durst)
  • Charles V. Bagli (reporter, The New York Times)[10]
  • Jeanine Pirro (former District Attorney, Westchester County, New York)
  • Douglas Durst (younger brother of Robert Durst; chairman, Durst Organization)
  • Robert Durst
  • Michael Kennedy (Durst family attorney)
  • Dick DeGuerin (attorney for Robert Durst)
  • Andrew Jarecki (director & producer, All Good Things)
  • Marc Smerling (writer & producer, All Good Things)
  • Eamonn Bowles (Magnolia Pictures, distributor, All Good Things)
  • Ann McCormack (mother of Kathie Durst)
  • Jim McCormack (brother of Kathie Durst)
  • Gilberte Najamy (friend of Kathie Durst)
  • Geraldine McInerney (McCormack family friend)
  • Eleanor Schwank (friend of Kathie Durst)
  • Michael Struk (former detective, New York City Police Department)
  • Ellen Strauss (friend of Kathie Durst)
  • Bill Mayer (neighbor of Robert Durst)
  • Joe Becerra (detective, New York State Police)
  • Gabrielle Colquitt (later owner of Durst lake house)
  • Ed Murphy (senior investigator, Westchester District Attorney's Office)
  • Susan Berman (friend of Robert Durst)
  • Tom Padden Sr., Tom Padden Jr. (cousins of Susan Berman)
  • Kim Lankford (friend of Susan Berman)
  • Lynda Obst (friend of Susan Berman)
  • Julie Smith (friend of Susan Berman)
  • Kevin Hynes (former Assistant District Attorney, Westchester County, New York)
  • Sareb & Mella Kaufman (children of Susan Berman's boyfriend)
  • Deni Marcus (cousin of Susan Berman)
  • Paul Coulter (detective, Los Angeles Police Department)
  • Stephen Silverman (friend of Susan Berman)
  • Kurt Sistrunk (former District Attorney, Galveston County, Texas)
  • Michael Ramsey (attorney for Robert Durst)
  • Susan Criss (judge, Galveston County, Texas)
  • Chris Lovell, Joanne Gongora (jurors, Texas v. Durst)
  • Chip Lewis (attorney for Robert Durst)
  • Evan Kreeger (nephew of Robert Durst)
  • Edward Wright (former private investigator)
  • Elizabeth McCormack (niece of Kathie Durst)
  • Ross Vitalie (cab driver, Eureka, California)
  • John Osborn (forensic document examiner)

Arrest of Robert Durst

On March 14, 2015, the eve of the final episode's airing, Durst was arrested in New Orleans by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on a first degree murder warrant obtained by the LAPD in connection to the 2000 death of Susan Berman, as the result of an investigation stemming from new evidence presented in the miniseries.[5][10][11][12] The Associated Press reported that a 1999 letter written by Durst to Berman, unearthed by the filmmakers, provided "key new evidence" leading to the filing of murder charges.[13]

According to The New York Times, the filmmakers sought legal advice on when to share new evidence with law enforcement, weighing journalistic privilege against possible claims of evidentiary inadmissibility in a future trial.[10]

Douglas Durst litigation

Apprehensive about the documentary's portrayal of the Durst family and, in particular, its use of videotaped depositions which were subject to a confidentiality agreement, Robert Durst's estranged brother, Douglas Durst, who heads the Durst Organization, petitioned the New York Supreme Court in January 2015 to compel filmmaker Andrew Jarecki to reveal his sources.[14][15] "Douglas Durst is worried [that] The Jinx will be a violent broadside against the family name and history,” the petition stated.[16] By showing that his brother Robert or wife Debrah Lee Charatan violated a Westchester County judge's 2006 order sealing the material, Douglas Durst could sue to recover a $65 million family trust settlement.[14][16] According to The New York Times, Robert Durst gave filmmakers "unrestricted access" to his personal files, which included the videotaped testimony.[17][18]

A lawyer for Douglas Durst argued that The Jinx is a "sensationalized docudrama" and that its director is exempt from New York's shield law, designed to protect journalists. Jarecki replied that his use of dramatic reenactments (by actors whose faces were never shown[6]) was not evidence of fictionalization, and despite attempting to "portray Robert Durst as a human being in a fashion that could help explain some of his behavior, rather than as a burlesque figure," never promised Durst his film would ultimately defend his innocence.[16]

Interviewed 10 days after his brother's arrest, Douglas Durst told The New York Times that his brother had stalked him as recently as February 22, 2015, in Palm Beach, Florida, and that he felt "a tremendous sense of relief" at the turn of events which brought him into custody. Although sharply disputing some assumptions about the Durst family presented in Jarecki's documentary (which he had not seen), and continuing to stress the very real threat Robert posed to him and others, Douglas sounded a conciliatory note: “I no longer am looking over my shoulder,” he said. “I’m very grateful to ‘The Jinx’ for having brought this about.”[19]

Douglas Durst dropped his legal action against Jarecki in late April 2015, and was reportedly considering a move to freeze $74 million of his estranged brother's assets.[20][21]

Soundtrack

The theme song is “Fresh Blood,” written by E & Koool G Murder, performed by Eels.[22]

The original score was composed by West Dylan Thordson[23] with co-composition by John Kusiak.[24]

Musical saw, performed by Natalia Paruz, is featured throughout the series.[25]

Reception

The Jinx received widespread critical acclaim and media buzz, particularly upon airing its revelatory finale. John Hendrickson at Esquire called the series' ending "one of the most jaw-dropping moments in television history."[26] Mike Hale from The New York Times said it was "gut-wrenching, remarkable television."[27] Sean T. Collins of The New York Observer called the series "a documentarian’s unicorn: a quest for the truth that, it seems, found it, and found it spectacularly," adding that in comparison to usual television true-crime documentary fare, The Jinx "pulls an SUV with a vanity plate that reads 'BEVERLEY' up on the curb and mows it all down."[28]

Other critics accused the documentary of charting an uncomfortable line between storytelling and journalism.[29][30] Two days after Durst's arrest and one day after the final installment of The Jinx was aired, The New Yorker reported that "[t]he filmmakers, having been quizzed on the time line of events as represented, have cancelled forthcoming interviews."[31][32][33] Specifically, when challenged over whether Durst's arrest for trespassing on Douglas Durst's property occurred before the filmmakers' second interview with Robert Durst, as implied by The Jinx, Andrew Jarecki replied, "Yeah, I think I’ve got to get back to you with a proper response on that."[34][35][36] Several media outlets questioned how long the filmmakers had sat on evidence damaging to Durst before turning it over to law enforcement.[36][37]

Jarecki subsequently sent an explanation to multiple media outlets: “Given that we are likely to be called as witnesses in any case law enforcement may decide to bring against Robert Durst, it is not appropriate for us to comment further on these pending matters. We can confirm that evidence (including the envelope and the washroom recording) was turned over to authorities months ago.”[38]

A study of Westchester County case notes by The Guardian indicated that, contrary to then-District Attorney Jeanine Pirro's assertions in The Jinx that "we were about to speak with" Susan Berman about Kathie Durst's disappearance, New York investigators had not yet scheduled an interview nor funded an investigator to visit Berman in California at the time of her December 23, 2000 murder.[39] Durst said in a 2005 deposition, excerpted in The Jinx, that Berman called him shortly before her death and said: "The Los Angeles police contacted me. They wanted to talk about Kathie Durst’s disappearance.”[40]

Although the Los Angeles Police Department denied any connection between Durst's arrest and HBO's airing of The Jinx finale,[41] Dick DeGuerin, Durst's defense attorney, lashed out at the timing. “Do I think this is a coincidence? Hell, no,” he said. “There has been rumor, innuendo and speculation for a number of years, and now we’re going to get our day in court on this.”[42][43]

International broadcast

The miniseries premiered in Australia on May 7, 2015 on showcase.[44]

References

  1. Li, David K. (December 2, 2014). "HBO to air documentary on cross-dressing killer Robert Durst". New York Post. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  2. Mike Hale (February 6, 2015). "‘The Jinx,’ 6-Part HBO Documentary on Robert Durst". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 
  3. Jim Dwyer (January 1, 2015). "Douglas Durst, in Rare Move, Speaks About Robert Durst Ahead of HBO Documentary". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2015. Mr. Durst said he refused many times to be interviewed for the documentary because the same filmmakers had previously made a feature film based on the Dursts, “All Good Things,” which he believed distorted the truth, and would not give him assurances that the HBO series would not be twisted by his brother’s fabrications. 
  4. "Andrew Jarecki Interview: Director Discusses "All Good Things"". FilmSlate. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Caroline Bankoff (March 15, 2015). "Robert Durst Arrested for Murder". New York Magazine. Retrieved March 15, 2015. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gazelle Emami (March 17, 2015). "What It Was Like to Be a Re-Enactor on The Jinx". Slate, originally published in Vulture. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  7. Saba Hamedy (March 16, 2015). "Finale of HBO's 'The Jinx' averages roughly 35,000 tweets". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  8. Cynthia Littleton (March 15, 2015). "‘The Jinx’ Finale Recap: ‘What The Hell Did I Do?’ (SPOILERS)". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  9. "The Jinx HBO: Chapter 6, "The Second Interview"". Retrieved April 13, 2015. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Charles V. Bagli, Vivian Yee (March 15, 2015). "On HBO's 'The Jinx,' Robert Durst Says He 'Killed Them All'". New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  11. Richard Winton, Matt Hamilton and Shelby Grad (March 15, 2015). "Robert Durst arrested in slaying of L.A. writer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 15, 2015. 
  12. Ashley Southall (March 15, 2015). "Robert Durst, Subject of HBO Documentary on Unsolved Killings, Is Arrested". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2015. 
  13. Janet McConnaughey and Brian Melley (March 17, 2015). "Durst's letter helped prosecutors bring murder charge". Associated Press. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Barbara Ross (January 22, 2015). "Durst’s brother wants filmmaker to tell how he got videos". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  15. Jonathan Bandler (February 7, 2015). "Robert Durst admits lying about wife's disappearance on HBO". The Journal News. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Kyna Doles (March 17, 2015). "Douglas Durst's "Jinx" litigation rests on a single question". The Real Deal. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  17. Charles V. Bagli (March 20, 2015). "Robert Durst's Papers Are Seized From Hudson Valley Cellar". New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  18. Jeremy Barr (April 14, 2015). "The Times‘ Charles Bagli on Bob Durst and HBO’s ’The Jinx'". Politico (CapitalNewYork.com). Retrieved April 16, 2015. 
  19. Jim Dwyer (March 24, 2015). "For Durst Family, Arrest Brings a ‘Tremendous Sense of Relief’". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  20. Ryan Hutchins (April 24, 2015). "Robert Durst's brother drops litigation against HBO filmmaker". Capital New York. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  21. Julia Marsh (May 1, 2015). "Brother could freeze Robert Durst's millions following legal deal". New York Post. Retrieved May 2, 2015. 
  22. Eels - Fresh Blood. YouTube. 2 December 2009. 
  23. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4299972/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast
  24. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0476322/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
  25. http://boingboing.net/2015/03/12/the-musical-saw-is-on-the.html
  26. John Hendrickson (March 15, 2015). "About That Robert Durst Quote at the End of The Jinx". Esquire. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  27. Mike Hale (March 15, 2015). "TV Review: HBO’s ‘The Jinx’ Finale Was Gut-Wrenching, Remarkable Television". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  28. Sean T. Collins (March 16, 2015). "The Perfect (Spoiler!) Crime: Art, Justice and ‘The Jinx’". New York Observer. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  29. Robert Greene (March 24, 2015). "The Jinx: not my documentary renaissance". Sight & Sound. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  30. Jonathan Mahler (March 22, 2015). "Two Maxims at Odds: Tell a Story, Tell the Truth". New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  31. Rebecca Mead (March 16, 2015). "The Queasy Finale of 'The Jinx'". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  32. Mike Hale (March 16, 1015). "Why Is the Timeline of ‘The Jinx’ So Confusing?". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  33. Victoria Kim and Joel Rubin (March 16, 2015). "Will evidence in Robert Durst trial be 'Jinxed'?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  34. Bruce Fretts (March 16, 2015). "Director of Durst Film Says He Is ‘Relieved’ About Arrest". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  35. Jason Lynch (March 16, 2015). "What Are The Jinx's Filmmakers Trying To Hide?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  36. 36.0 36.1 Kate Aurthur (March 20, 2015). "The Holes In 'The Jinx' Might Go Deeper Than We Thought". Buzzfeed. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  37. Andrew Gumbel (March 16, 2015). "The Jinx makers face questions over when they found Robert Durst evidence". The Guardian. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  38. Polly Mosendz (March 16, 2015). ""The Jinx" Director Andrew Jarecki Silent After Robert Durst’s Arrest". Newsweek. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  39. Andrew Gumbel (March 29, 2015). "Did Robert Durst's nemesis ignore clues before following his trail to California?". The Guardian. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  40. Charles V. Bagli (March 31, 2015). "Robert Durst's Wife Steps Back After Years of Defending Him". New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2015. 
  41. Kate Mather and Richard Winton (March 16, 2015). "LAPD says Robert Durst arrest not connected to HBO series 'The Jinx'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  42. Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Richard Winton, and James Queally (March 16, 2015). "Robert Durst, charged with murdering writer, faces new weapons charges". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  43. Tess Hofmann (March 30, 2015). "DeGuerin’s dilemma: Post-"Jinx," can Robert Durst win again?". The Real Deal. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  44. Knox, David (April 22, 2015). "Airdate: The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst". TV Tonight. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 

External links

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