HBO’s controversial The Jinx: The Life And Deaths of Robert Durst just won a big show of support from the TV Academy, nabbing the Emmy for best documentary or nonfiction series tonight. It beat out PBS’ three much less radioactive American Masters, Cancer: The Emperor Of All Maladies and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, as well as CNN’s The Sixties.
Accepting the award, Jinx director Andrew Jarecki read an email sent by Durst in which he said, ‘I’m going to watch Episode 6 and then decide if I’m going to Cuba.’ “He didn’t go because he was arrested and that’s testament to the power of television,” Jarecki said. He gave thanks to his wife for overcoming her better judgment to allow him to “intentionally antagonize a triple homicide suspect.”
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The Jinx gained widespread exposure when subject Robert Durst was arrested on first-degree murder charges the day before the finale aired on the docu, in which the son of a New York real estate mogul and suspect in three notorious murder cases over three decades, appeared to confess, while wearing a microphone, to them all.
Jinx director Andrew Jarecki, asked backstage if he thought the project would lead to Durst’s arrest said, “Only thing we did feel… when Durst reached out to us was he had something to say.” “We had the sense he wanted to tell the truth and it was going to take a lot of work to figure out what that was.”
While receiving acclaim – “HBO caught a murderer. Top that Netflix!” crowed HBO’s Bill Maher – some critics accused the documentary of blurring the line of journalism, with the New Yorker reporting that “[t]he filmmakers, having been quizzed on the time line of events as represented, have cancelled forthcoming interviews. Several media outlets questioned how long the filmmakers had sat on evidence damaging to Durst before turning it over to law enforcement.” Durst’s defense attorney jumped on the questions about the timing, specifically when second interview took place and how long it actually took producers to unearth the audio of Durst’s bathroom break in which, still miked, he was heard muttering to himself, “What did I do? Killed ’em all, of course.”
Jarecki said he has not heard from Durst since his arrest but “he’s been in prison in New Orleans and it would be difficult for him to reach out.” That said, Jarecki added, “I don’t think it’s impossible we’ll end up talking again.”
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