Where’s Andrew Jarecki?
The director of HBO’s The Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst canceled scheduled appearances on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes and other venues. He and producer Marc Smerling also released the following statement, after telling one journalist they are no longer available for interviews:
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.
On Monday morning, Jarecki was interviewed on CBS This Morning about the stunning finale of the six-part documentary, broadcast by HBO on Sunday night. In the final moments of the film, Durst — a suspect in the disappearance of his wife Kathie and the killing of two others — is heard mumbling to himself after he leaves an on-camera interview to use a washroom, his lapel microphone still “live.” “What the hell did I do?” he asks himself. “Killed ’em all, of course,” he answers.
In a confluence of events that raised more questions than it answered, Durst was arrested Saturday night in New Orleans and charged today (read the felony complaint here) with the 2000 killing in Los Angeles of his close friend Susan Berman, a gangster’s daughter-turned-writer whom he had once supported with regular checks. The penultimate episode of The Jinx, shown last week, seemed to prove beyond doubt that Durst himself had alerted the L.A. police to a “cadaver” at Berman’s Benedict Canyon home, where her body was discovered. In the final episode’s interview with Durst, he denied having written the letter, before ending the formal interview and removing himself to the washroom.
In the wake of what sounded like a stunning confession, however, questions arose about the timing of Durst’s arrest the day before the last segment of The Jinx was to be shown, as well as the timeline of the entire documentary. The Los Angeles Police Department and District Attorney released statements saying that they had been working for two years on the case and that Durst’s arrest had nothing to do with the timing of The Jinx.
Jarecki’s interview on CBS This Morning didn’t quite jibe with a lengthy report in Monday’s New York Times — specifically, whether the second and final interview with Durst had taken place before or after his arrest for violating a restraining order that his younger brother, Douglas Durst, had placed because he feared that Robert might try to kill him.
Those questions and others seem guaranteed to open a Pandora’s box of issues about the documentary that could hurt any case against Durst. In my review of the first two episodes, I wrote that I was uneasy with Jarecki’s dependence on the use of cheesy dramatizations and horror-flick music and sound effects to pump up the suspense in a story that really needed no embellishment: Durst, a rich eccentric given to cross-dressing, disguises, false names and other forms of subterfuge, has been pursued for decades by local and federal law enforcement for crimes ranging from murder to shoplifiting a deli sandwich when he had $37,000 in the trunk of his car.
One of the few things about Robert Durst that’s beyond question is his ability to hire the best talent to get him off the hook. He is, after all, the man who convinced a jury that when he killed his Texas neighbor, an old man, chopped up the body, stuffed the remains in trash bags and deposited them in Galveston Bay, it was all in self-defense. So the question is, will a play for ratings and some sleight-of-hand in a serious documentary be the latest loophole Robert Durst leaps through — to freedom?