- Aug 19, 2020
- Morally Indefensible, the New Podcast from Crimetown and The Jinx Producer Marc Smerling, Premieres Today
New York, August 18, 2020 – Sixty-five million people tuned into the 1984 television adaptation of journalist Joe McGinniss’ smash best-selling book Fatal Vision to try to make sense of the unfathomable true-life horror story of Jeffrey McDonald, a military medical doctor accused and convicted of brutally murdering his wife and two young daughters. It was a scandalous crime that jolted the world and became a cultural moment that captured the public’s imagination and never let go.
Now, the highly anticipated new podcast Morally Indefensible from Marc Smerling (Crimetown, The Jinx, Capturing the Friedmans) and Truth Media, in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, makes its debut focusing on the divisive backstory of McGinniss’ writing and reporting of the book that gave rise to the landmark TV series and MacDonald’s infamy.
Controversy surrounds Fatal Vision to this day. MacDonald enlisted famous journalist McGinniss, who later became his friend, to write an account of his story that would prove him innocent, but the published book was not what he expected, and it has had lasting repercussions for both men.
In Smerling’s unique multiplatform approach to telling this layered and complicated story, Morally Indefensible launches as a lead-in companion to the premiere of FX’s new five-part docuseries, A Wilderness of Error, based on the best-selling book of the same name by author and documentarian Errol Morris. A Wilderness of Error tells the story of MacDonald, but from a different perspective, and premieres Friday, September 25 on FX, streaming the following day via FX on Hulu. The premiere includes three episodes airing back-to-back-to-back from 8 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. ET/PT, with the final two episodes airing the following week.Marc Smerling directs and executive produces alongside Blumhouse Television (The Jinx, The Loudest Voice, The Good Lord Bird) and UCP (Unspeakable Crime: The Killing of Jessica Chambers, Mr. Robot, The Act), a division of Universal Studio Group, for FX Networks. Additional executive producers include Michael Jackson and Rachael Horovitz, who acquired the rights to the book; Jason Blum, Jeremy Gold, Marci Wiseman, Mary Lisio, Damn Olmstead and Jessica Grimshaw.
Currently, MacDonald is still in prison, but maintains his innocence to this day. A new parole hearing is scheduled for later this year.
Listeners can subscribe to Morally Indefensible across all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more.
About Truth Media
Truth Media is a podcast and television production company founded by Marc Smerling, the Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated producer, writer, director and cinematographer who has been a pioneer in telling true crime stories, With a focus to develop projects that continue to expand how people think of true crime, Smerling opened Truth Media in 2018 out of an old factory building in Brooklyn now converted into a full-service production and post-production facility. In an exclusive partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, his team will create investigative podcasts, including the upcoming Morally (In)Defensible, a companion to Smerling’s nonfiction television series, A Wilderness Of Error, with Errol Morris, and produced in partnership with Blumhouse Television for FX Networks.
Smerling’s credits include producing the landmark documentary film Capturing the Friedmans (2003), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and won 18 major international prizes including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival and the New York Film Critics Circle Best Non-Fiction Film award. He produced and shot The Jinx – The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, a six-part series about Robert Durst, which aired on HBO in 2015, that received six Primetime Emmys nominations including Best Cinematography for Smerling and won for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series. The Jinx also won a Peabody Award and led to the arrest of Mr. Durst for the murder of his best friend in California. Smerling also co-wrote and produced the narrative feature All Good Things (2010) starring Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst and Frank Langella, and produced the acclaimed documentary Catfish (2010) released by Universal Pictures. He is also executive producer of Catfish: The TV Series.
In addition, Smerling laid the path for the explosion and popularity of true crime podcasts when he created and hosted Crimetown with Zac Stuart-Pontier and Gimlet Media in 2016. The second season of Crimetown (2019) featured Detroit’s controversial mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, who is currently serving a 28-year sentence in federal prison. Crimetown has almost 100 million downloads worldwide. Smerling also produced The Ballad of Billy Balls, ranked No. 2 on The Atlantic Monthly’s Top 100 podcasts of 2019, and The RFK Tapes. Both Crimetown: Providence and The Ballad of Billy Balls are being developed for scripted television series at major studios.