For ten years, a serial arsonist, also known as a firebug, terrorized Southern California, burning down businesses in broad daylight and setting whole neighborhoods ablaze. Four people died. Then a manuscript called “Points of Origin” circulated around Hollywood, telling the story of a fictional arson investigator on the trail for a serial arsonist. The fires described in that manuscript looked a lot like the fires that had been set across Southern California, leading investigators down a path to discover if “Points of Origin” was truly a work of fiction or the confessions of a prolific arsonist and murderer.
I’m hosting a new podcast called Firebug to explore the complex story of how a manuscript for a novel circulating throughout Hollywood helped to reveal the true origins behind catastrophic fires blazing through Los Angeles. Produced by Truth Media, in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, Firebug leverages cinematic sound design, archival material, and newfound footage to invite listeners to join me as I figure out where fiction meets reality.
I have lived with this story for three decades, and I am immensely grateful to the teams at Truth Media and Sony Music Entertainment for making it possible for me to tell it in such an impactful way.
Firebug is executive produced and edited by Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated storyteller, filmmaker, podcaster and pioneer Marc Smerling at Truth Media. Smerling’s credits include producing the landmark documentary film Capturing the Friedmans (2003), producing and shooting The Jinx – The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015), and created and hosted podcast Crimetown (with Zac Stuart-Pontier and Gimlet Media) in 2016.
The first two episodes are now available and listeners can subscribe to Firebug on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.