2020 was the first full year of Crime Story’s existence and we thought it would be fitting to mark the end of that year with a list of some of our most memorable posts.
We begin with eleven memorable interviews from The Crime Story Podcast with storytellers who have produced stories in the world of crime and justice. Here they are in no particular order:
Homicide, The Corner and The Wire
This is my 4-Part conversation with David Simon.
David and I met when he came in to HBO to pitch The Corner as a television series. The Corner is a book that he wrote with Ed Burns about the year that they spent in an inner-city Baltimore neighborhood ravaged by drug abuse and distribution. Together with his book Homicide, The Corner was the foundation for David’s series The Wire, which has been widely acclaimed as one of the great television series of all time. My aim in sitting down with David was to try to dig into where his storytelling instincts and values come from and how they manifest themselves in his work on Homicide, The Corner and The Wire… three classics in the crime drama genre.
In Part 1 of our chat, we discuss David’s formative years as a storyteller and as a journalist.
In Part 2, we discuss David’s work as a Crime Reporter for the Baltimore Sun, his writing the book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and his transition to writing for Television.
In Part 3, we discuss David’s reporting for the book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighborhood and his experience producing the multiple Emmy Award-winning miniseries based on that book.
In Part 4, we discuss David’s creation of The Wire and some of the key themes explored in that series.
Vince Gilligan and Michelle MacLaren
Here is my two part conversation with Vince Gilligan, the creator and showrunner of one of the great series in television history, Breaking Bad and one of his key collaborators on that series, director/executive producer Michelle MacLaren.
In Part 1 of the conversation we will hear about Vince and Michelle’s respective paths into storytelling, as well as covering how Vince conceived the show, and how he, Michelle and their colleagues built the system that allowed them to sustain such a high level of quality for each and every episode.
In Part 2, we talk about the actors and will zero in on two of the show’s episodes to discuss how the details of their creation offer us broader insights into the unique creative process behind this television masterpiece.
Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder
Here is my conversation with longtime members of the team at This American Life and co-creators of the Podcast series Serial – Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder.
During our chat we zero in on season three of Serial… a deep dive into the criminal justice system in and around Cleveland Ohio. As I started listening to this season, I became obsessed with it, and worked very hard to secure an interview with Sarah and Julie. They joined me for a final class that I taught at USC… and only then by Google Hangout. (That’s why their voices sound a bit filtered.)
This is my two-part conversation with David Chase, Creator and Showrunner of The Sopranos, which is listed by Rolling Stone as The Greatest TV Show of all time.
In Part 1 of our chat, David talks about his earliest memories of storytelling; his family life growing up, particularly his relationship with his mother; the development of his view of the world and specifically morality and religion; his appreciation of gangster movies; and his path to becoming a professional storyteller leading up to The Sopranos, with a particular focus on the projects that he worked on that were related to crime.
In Part 2, David talks about the origins of the idea for The Sopranos, making a gangster show in the shadow of The Godfather and Goodfellas, how it landed at HBO and the process of getting it to the screen, ending the series and the impact and legacy of the Sopranos.
The Wire and The Deuce
Here is my conversation with George Pelecanos. George is one of the great detective novelists of his generation and the executive producer several HBO dramas including The Wire and The Deuce, the latter of which he co-created with David Simon.
During our chat, George and I discussed the people and forces that shaped his creative thinking, and we zeroed in on his experiences writing detective fiction and then collaborating with David Simon in shaping the series that became The Wire.
Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi
Making a Murderer
This is my interview with Making a Murderer filmmakers, Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi.
In Part 1, we discussed Moira’s and Laura’s respective paths into filmmaking, the origins of their pursuit of the Steven Avery story, the major shifts in the proceedings, their philosophical and aesthetic choices during production and how they supported themselves over the eight years it took to make the series.
In Part 2, we discussed Moira’s and Laura’s making a deal with Netflix to broadcast Making a Murderer as their first documentary series, the experience of watching the series become a cultural phenomenon, the process of making season two of the series and where things stand in the cases of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey.
O.J.: Made in America
This is my interview wit the Producer/Director of O.J.: Made in America, Ezra Edelman.
During Part 1 of our chat we discussed: Ezra’s path into storytelling, the development of his craft as a cinematic storyteller, the evolution of his interest in sports and African-American history, how he was convinced to make the film, and the process of conceptualizing and producing the documentary.
During Part 2, we spoke about Ezra’s editorial process, the most essential interviews of the film, the cultural impact of the documentary, the responses of some of the interview subjects to the project.
Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander
The People v. O.J. Simpson
Here is my interview with Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander, creators, executive producers and writers of the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning limited series, The People v. O.J. Simpson as well as many other award-winning films and television programs.
During Part 1 of our conversation we discussed how they met, their development as storytellers, the evolution of their partnership, how they became known as the “kings of the anti-bio pic,” how they came to write The People v. O.J. Simpson, the writing process on the series, and we began a discussion of how the production itself came together.
During Part 2 of the conversation we take a deep dive into the issues that arose during the writing and production processes of The People v. O.J. Simpson, and then Scott and Larry field questions from the students in the class.
The Night Of
This is my chat with Steve Zaillian. Steve won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for Schindler’s List and won a Directors Guild Award for his miniseries The Night Of.
I got to know Steve working as the HBO executive overseeing The Night Of. Steve served as showrunner, executive producer, director, and co-writer of that series. My experience working with him on The Night Of was a significant inspiration in creating CrimeStory.com and The Crime Story Podcast.
Homicide: Life on the Streets and Oz
This is my interview with Tom Fontana, ground zero in the explosion of this golden age of television. Tom served as executive producer of St. Elsewhere, Executive Producer and Showrunner of Homicide: Life on the Streets, and Creator and Executive Producer of the first prestige drama of the cable television era, Oz.
During our chat, Tom and I discussed the people and forces that shaped his creative thinking, and we zeroed in on his experiences as a pioneer in expanding the artistic possibilities for the prestige drama as the network era transitioned into the premium cable era.
This is my 2-part conversation with Ed Bernero, the co-creator of Third Watch and Executive Producer and founding showrunner of Criminal Minds.
In Part 1 of the conversation, we will hear about Ed’s unusual path into storytelling, as well as covering how came to run the show, and how he built the story mythology that has allowed Criminal Minds to achieve global financial success.
In Part 2 of the podcast, we will zero in on two of the show’s episodes to discuss how the details of their creation offer us broader insights into the creative process that Ed established on the show.