Revisiting the Ted Bundy story on two fronts
From the Mon broadcast center KPCC. This is the frame, I'm John horn on today's show Hollywood is starting to open its wallet for the long list of democratic presidential hopefuls, then where does the obsession with true crime come from filmmaker Joe Berlinger, traces it back to serial killer. Ted Bundy, bundy's trial was the first nationally televised trial and Americans for the first time, we're treated to serial murder as live entertainment for good or for bad. And we have the story of a man who went from being homeless in the nineteen eighties to becoming one of today's most prolific composers in television. All that after this short break. KABC podcasts are supported by wonder brothers pictures, presenting the soulful authentic a star is born. Starring Bradley Cooper, lady Gaga and Sam Elliott in their Academy Award nominated performances for consideration in all categories. And by marvel studios. Black Panther now nominated for seven Academy Awards including costume and production. Design score original song all the stars performed by Kendrick Lamar and Ciza and best motion. Picture welcome to the frame. I'm John horn, the twenty twenty presidential election might not happen for more than a year. But democratic challengers to Donald Trump already are turning to Hollywood in search of money. And that's for good reason. Actors directors producers and studio executives have a long track record of political fund raising kick it in tens of millions of dollars to an array of national candidates in last year's midterm, elections donations and political activism really revved up the industry, and it looks like there's no slowing down ahead of twenty twenty election. Ted Johnson is a senior editor in varieties Washington bureau, where he covers politics media and entertainment, and I checked in with him today for his take on the current. Political landscape in Hollywood, we started by talking about how much money the industry raises and how influential those donations are on the campaign trail in the presidential race in twenty sixteen. We're talking about ninety million dollars that came from the entertainment industry that was overwhelmingly for Democrats in the midterm. There was a record amount that came out of the industry almost fifty minute. Nice should say the movie and TV business for Democrats, especially is a very significant portion of their fundraising haul. It's not the top one though, it tends to get kind of outsized attention in that probably has to do with the celebrity factor. But it's also a very tight knit community. So it's easier to raise money there. They have those connections. They'd be a little different from say if you're having the oil industry, which is spread out throughout the country. And I think it's fair to say that whoever the nominee is. Is he or she will not have any trouble winning the state of California? But when it comes to Hollywood, there are a lot of people who are potentially running. We saw back in two thousand eight when Barack Obama was running against Hillary Clinton in the primaries that the town itself was divided over which candidate to support. So right now, how are the candidates pitching themselves to Hollywood. And as the industry seemed to be favoring one person over another. Everyone. I've talked to says, hey, wait a minute. It's so early. I don't wanna be kinda backed into a corner to endorse one candidate over the other. We saw combo Harris. She had a fundraiser over the weekend at the home of Jeff shell the head of universe studios. And I kind of some people who attended and said, yes, I went to it. I wrote a check, but I'll probably write a check to multiple people this year. So we're not seeing this kind of early race between one to three candidates. A lot of people are kind of taking wait and see approach. One of the bigger ones is time Sabban the big media mogul behind any more from Power Rangers. He's always a big kind of kingmaker in these presidential election cycles. He says he's going to wait to see how this primary process actually rolls out. Every look back at the people who gave a lot of money during the term elections from India. You see people like studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, you see Netflix is Reed Hastings. See some talent agent's like, Brian Lord CA directors like Steven Spielberg giving a whole lot of money that might open doors for other donors. There's somebody want to align yourself with early on because that person is really going to bring in money from other people. Sure thing. Yeah. I mean any studio chief will help because studio cheap will be able to kinda send out word all the employee's. Hey, come to my fundraiser in a lot of people will go they may not necessarily end up voting for that candidate. But hey, the Bosnians back in this person. Maybe I should at least write a check. But when it comes to specific people Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg have always been kind of big endorsement, get you. See the candidates come to town, even well before they declare and have conversations with them, really laid the gr-. Groundwork for presidential campaign in the hopes of getting their alternate. Endorsement is there a potential downside for a candidate who receives either industry money or celebrity endorsements and that that candidate can be painted as kind of a coastal elite whose values are out of step with mainstream America sure thing, and you're gonna see a lot of it. If the midterms are any indication of it Republicans are gonna hammer the Democrats taking Hollywood money any controversial statement that any industry figures says they'll try to link it the look at who that person has given money to and you'll see it you'll see it play out in the presidential campaign. Donald Trump when he gave his state of the union address, his twenty twenty campaigns sent out an Email to supporters and said, hey, look, the Hollywood elites are trying to keep me from doing this speech. I wasn't even sure what he was talking about. But it just tells you that they're ready to pounce on the whole idea. But it doesn't always work out at the ballot box as we saw the last midterms when they hammered that message over and over again, but Democrats still ended up winning the house is there some money for Republican candidates, if it's Donald Trump running for re election or someone else he and I think you may see Trump actually do fundraiser here in Los Angeles as he did back in twenty sixteen. There's not a whole lot of names within the industry who have come out in favor of Donald Trump. And as his presidency has become more divisive. I'd be willing to bet that those who kind of privately support Trump will be even more reticent this next time around to make that publicly known a good example is Antonio Sabado junior. He spoke at the Republican convention in favor of. Donald Trump and afterwards, he says that he really kinda got blackballed by the industry, he'll be perhaps one of the few people to get out there and show his support for Trump. But I think it's going to be few and far between Ted Johnson is a senior editor in varieties Washington bureau, where he covers politics media and entertainment, Ted. Thanks so much for coming back on the show. Thank you. Coming up director, Joe Berlinger is so fascinated with Ted Bundy that he made not one but two projects about the serial killer. KPCC podcasts are supported by. Or brothers pictures, presenting the sole fli authentic a star is born. Starring Bradley Cooper, lady Gaga and Sam Elliot in their Academy Award nominated performances now nominated for eight Academy Awards, including best picture invested Apted screenplay. Kenneth Taran of the Los Angeles Times calls it passionate, emotional and. Fearless. An af I calls the film stellar achievement in its own universe for consideration in all categories. KPCC podcasts are supported by marvel studios, presenting Black Panther the LA times raves. Black Panther is the cinematic event of the year Vanity Fair calls it, a political and social triumph USA today. Claims. Black Panther is a rousing cultural movement and now nominated for seven Academy Awards including costume and production. Design score original song all the stars performed by country. Lamar Ciza and best motion picture him back to the frame. I'm your host John horn, if you're into true crime filmmaker Joe Berlinger has a lot to offer you right now. I is his current four-part. Netflix docu series called conversations with a killer. The Ted Bundy tapes featuring never before heard interviews with Bundy recorded while he was on death row. The series takes a deep dive into the mind of the man who brutally assaulted and murdered dozens of women and girls in addition to that. Documentary series. There's also a narrative feature film that Berlinger directed. It's called extremely wicked shockingly evil and vile. It recently premiered at the Sundance film festival and was also picked up by net. Flicks Zack Ephron plays Bundy in the narrative film, but it's told from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth club for who believe bundy's claims of innocence for years, she's played by lily Collins in the movie, I spoke with Joe Berlinger about both projects while I was at Sundance and he began by explaining how Ted bundy's nineteen seventy nine murder trial change, the media's relationship to crime. We have this insatiable appetite today for true crime programming. And I trace that back to Bundy Bundy for me is kind of the big bang of true crime. And that's because it was a very interesting time in the media, basically, just a few months before the Bundy trial, many new stations were still shooting on film. So there was no such thing as kind of live coverage. And this new technology of electric gathering was just coming into its own around the time of bundy's Florida trial. This new thing called satellite technology was happening. And there was such growing interest in Bundy because he had so. Manipulated the media and Utah Colorado end in Florida before his trial started that there was great interest. Liz man on the FBI is ten most wanted list has been captured in for an suspected of dozens of sex-killings in Washington state, Idaho, Utah and Colorado. The discovery of the skeletal remains of six women twenty young women in five state eighth and strangled abduction was such an overwhelming response to covering the trial that Florida granted cameras in the courtroom for the first time in our history. And so- bundy's trial was the first nationally televised trial and for the first time Americans saw a trial of murder trial salacious sexually charged violent predator on trial for murder who was good. Looking ahead. All had all the trappings of great story and Americans for the first time, we're treated to serial murder as live entertainment and for good or for bad. A lot of your filmmaking has. Been about finding an approximation of the truth. What might have happened? What probably happened there circumstances speculation, and that's the nature of any documentary filmmakers life, and it's certainly something is central to your work as well. You've made a documentary series in a narrative film about Ted Bundy Ted is a kind of the author of his own history in a way in your documentary series head. By anybody about this? Looking for an opportunity to tell the story as best. I can you feel that you can get at the truth of Ted Bundy through both those tactics. Because even Ted Bundy doesn't seem to reveal who he really is. Well, you know, look Bundy is an unreliable narrator in many ways. So it's not it's not like we're taking his word for it and treating it as the truth. We're going beneath the surface of what he's saying contextualising it with footage of the day. So Bundy it's not that we're hanging on every word of Bundy for factual information. It's more a deep dive into the mind of the killer to understand how he operates how he thinks and the enduring lesson of Bundy, which you see, you know, every every frame of of his audiotape tells us that the enduring lesson of Bundy is that, you know, he shattered every stereotype of what a serial killer is because he was believable. Charming and he took advantage of female nurturing instincts by wearing a cast and pretending. He was in need of assistance. And when you hear these tapes you hear how diabolical and and sinister his planning was and you understand how believable he was. And again, the enduring lesson of Bundy is that the people who you least expect to violence and to do terrible things are often the people who are most capable of doing evil. Whether it's a priest who commits pedophilia and does mass the next day, or it's the CEO of polluting corporation who goes to bed at night, knowing he's killing tens of thousands of people, but I'm sure has a loving family and a great circle of friends who think this guy is terrific to a serial killer who presents himself as charming sympathetic loving to some people you talk about Ted, bundy's friends, I wanna. Talk about one of Ted bundy's closest friends, and that's grow front. Don't play him audio from your Netflix series. You begin on February sixteen seventy eight and describe telephone call us E for ten months collect my daughter, the charges, and he said that he would think custody, and I ask him where in Florida repeated over and over again, this was really going to be bad when it broke. It was not every tomorrow morning in the press is going to be really ugly. And I asked him if he was referring to the murders sorority girls in Florida. And he said that he wouldn't talk about it. He told me that he wished that. We could sit down at talk about. Things that anyone listening about why he was way he is. And I said are you telling me you're sick? And he said he was really expensive and he told me to back off who's lose. And how does she become the object of your interest in your narrative ill, Elizabeth club for was bundy's of live in girlfriend, although they maintained separate apartments, but they basically spent every night together. Liz Anne, Ted met in the fall of sixty nine out of college bar local local bar in Seattle, and she was a young mother single mother with a young child, and they hit it off and spent the next six years together before bundy's legal entanglements started in in Utah. And she stuck with him even through the Utah trials because she thought he was being wrongfully accused the idea that somebody could live with somebody who. Is a wonderful boyfriend. She thought she had found prince charming and a wonderful surrogate father to her young daughter, and no real signs that there was something wrong. And then. At night or when they're not together. He's actually committing numerous murders in the Washington area. That to me is fascinating that somebody would not understand and not see the signs because I think that's what happens in life. In many of these situations of people do terrible things woman that gets to the big idea of both of these projects, and that is the idea of narrative, the stories we tell ourselves and the story that Ted Bundy tells himself because of the Netflix series, the breakthrough for the Newsweek reporters were interviewing ham is to do what OJ Simpson did in his book. If I did it which is to speculate about what somebody like Ted Bundy might have done. And when they do that with Ted Bundy ten Bundy describes in very accurate detail what Ted Bundy actually did. But it's a fictional character in his telling kind of invented perspective, and I think his girlfriend at the same thing that there was this other person that was an. Vented story that wasn't a person that she was living with, you know, Bundy, you know, had a need to compartmentalize as many of these people do terrible things do. So I think part of it was just pure compartmentalization. The other reason when Stephen Michaud and Hugh Ainsworth were getting frustrated with their interviews with funded because he was not talking about the crimes came up with this idea of talking in the third person it like opened up the floodgates because it allowed him to not implicate himself. Because of course, bundy's the other famous thing about Bundy, which is atypical of serial killers, you know, most serial killers when they're caught loved to talk at that point in love to confess in love to talk about the details of what they did Monday almost uniquely denied his crimes, of course, prior to the trial denied his crimes, you know. Upon sentencing denied his crimes author the appeals process and only in the final days of his life. Did he start giving details and that was more of a cynical ploy to extend his life to become useful to? A lot of investigators in multiple states who wanted to close out their cases same thing with with Liz. She compartmentalized the occasional clue that she came across. Because she just couldn't imagine somebody doing these terrible crimes in that is that is human behavior. There is a natural tendency to see what we wanna see, and which is kind of the nature of the title of the movie, I think a lot of people when they read were doing a movie called extremely wicked shockingly evil and vile starring Zach Ephron that somehow we were gonna take this light romp through Bundy land anthem somehow glorify him with a lighthearted film that with this awkward title that must mean we're having a having a good time. The opposite is true by the end of the movie when John Malkovich. Utters those words, which is where the title comes from. He's being sentenced to death because of his extremely wicked shockingly evil and vile acts Bundy in the final scene. I don't wanna give too much away reveals the truth of what he did the. Audience for whom this film works. It's controversial film. I know not everyone's gonna like it. But for whom the film work's because you've taken this ride through Liz's POV, and you've almost come to root for their relationship to survive only to understand actually, what the reality of Bundy is you have this revulsion for even having any positive thoughts stores. Zach Ephron in the movie and the truth was right in front of you. Joe? Thanks. Thanks. Thanks for having me. That was Joe Berlinger his docu series conversations with killer. The Ted Bundy tapes is on Netflix. Now coming up, I prolific television composer who was once homeless. When an earthquake hits you need to drop cover and hold on. Definitely. There will be the perception that the rounds is literally waving in front of you. But what do you do after the shaking stumps? And the power is out. There roads are blocked. I'm Jake among olas host of KPCC's new podcast the big one your survival guide. I got plenty of answers for listen. An apple podcasts. KABC podcasts are supported by. Fox searchlight pictures, presenting the favorite now nominated for ten Academy Awards, including best director Yorgos length. Humous best actress Livia Coleman best. Supporting actress, Emma stone in virtual vice best original screenplay best costume design best, film editing. Best production design, best cinematography and best picture of the year for your consideration. Welcome back to the frame. I'm John horn who are the homeless that you pass in LA panhandling at traffic lights sleeping on the street. Trying to survive any way, they can well, they're all real people, and they all have stories about what led them to lose pretty much everything that the rest of us enjoy at last count. There were more than fifty five thousand homeless men and women and children in L A county, and if you'd passed one particular homeless man walking up and down Melrose in the late nineteen eighties. You might have unknowingly cross paths with musician who would become the composer for dozens of popular TV shows over the past thirty years frame contributor. Tim, grieving has his remarkable story. Kurt Farquhar is probably an unfamiliar name. But if you've watched any TV since nineteen eighty nine you've heard his music, he's the composer of sister sister, marisha, the king of queens and currently has multiple shows on the air, including the neighborhood and. Black lightning. He's written more music for TV than any other African American composer both under his own name and through his true music production house, but when I moved to LA in nineteen eighty six he ended up living on the street for more than a year. Everybody lives on the street isn't insane. Isn't the drug addict top to folks talked. I'm now hearing more stories about so in that year, they spent in their car if I had a car that would have been me, we're standing on Melrose avenue near the LeBron or section, right? Where Farquhar often used to sleep? Not exactly the California dream. We're doing something praising we come out here from all around the country all around the world to think that we're gonna be that one person that succeeds in music, it seems perfectly logical to me then, but it really it's a once in a lifetime ride, you know, and not everybody gets it. And a lot of things can happen on the way. I grew up on the south side of Chicago. They had created. Whole music department inside a high school, and you could take me all day, long music theory music history. You could be in the orchestra the band or choir. I had an orchestra at my disposal to write for as a child, and I'd ride this really complex the jazz pieces. Can I ask go pieces and not just get infuriated? They couldn't play. Well, what I will play it. Exactly. Right. And my an teacher said. These kids. I said, I'm a kid stock can do it. With his parents helped Farquhar studied music at a university, and Illinois and the national conservatory from using inverse. I France, then his brother Ralph suggested he come out to Los Angeles. And he and his wife were going to New York. He says, well, you can come and stay at our place. So I did. And that's how I ended up in LA with a hundred and thirty six dollars in my pocket Virk or made some music out here, but not much money, then his brother fell on hard times to and because far Gordon wanted mitt defeat or ask his parents for help yet again, I ended up homeless on the streets. Walking up and down Melrose my life at that point. Probably was a slow moving car wreck and his ended up things weren't good. And and I just didn't understand how I could be there. I remember just thinking that. Oh, this will this wouldn't last longest wouldn't last longer than a year later. You're still there as we walked around this neighborhood Furka shared his techniques for life on the street Allitt though to place, and that like I was going to rent an apartment, and I would always leave a window open and not come in. There had to be placed with carpet. And I would come in and crawl in the window at night and and and sleep on the carpet. I washed myself up in there in the morning, and and and then leave I'd always lock the window to I couldn't come back again. Just do it the one night, and it just made me feel better one of these apartments. Right. There's that on the other side of the alley there right there where I used to do. Gore's big brother Ralf had become a TV writer and in nineteen eighty nine. He was working on a new comedy called live large. He told his kid brother that he should try out for the theme song it pays. Yeah. Yeah. Pay if you can get it. And that's all I went out for it. For Gore's theme song for living large got accepted, the show didn't get picked up. But around that time, he got a small record deal. It didn't pay much really go anywhere. But he finally got an apartment. One day. He was surfing TV channels and saw that the comedy pilot for living large, airing. Thanks to a writers strike, he called up the show's producer, sir. Just wondering the show was on TV with my music due to pay for that. He said, yeah. Yeah. Sure. I said, well how much would that be? He said. Well to anti with probably make a deal about ten ten k. Two thousand dollars. Exactly. What would I get that too? I pass it got it all casted twenty. Literally, honestly toss it up to an was rolling around on my floor. Going to see what it means to go after everything to do everything and be the best that I can be at this. And that that year got better. And then the next year got better my third year, and I had a breakout year where I picked up nine different shows. And it's been from that point on has been a pretty pretty interesting ride. I haven't I haven't had I haven't had less than five shows in production in a given year since then. To be back here knowing that I was walking the streets and then to see a billboard on the same street with Sheila mine is currently number one new show on CBS quite a journey. That show the neighborhood. This story is dedicated to Beth cracker, Kurt farquars publicist who brought me this story and who died from breast cancer in September before she had a chance to hear it for the frame. I'm Tim grieving. And that's our show for today. I'm John horn. Thanks for joining us or backyard tomorrow. Hot casting is supported by FOX searchlight presenting the favorite now nominated for ten Academy Awards, including director your goes length. Actress Levin Coleman supporting actresses, Emma stone. Rachel vice original screenplay and best picture of the year. Now playing.