From Podpedia
File:Crimetown logo.png
Hosted byMarc Smerling
Zac Stuart-Pontier
  • Crime
  • Investigative journalism
ProductionMarc Smerling
Zac Stuart-Pontier
Drew Nelles
Austin Mitchell
Kaitlin Roberts
Mike Plunkett
Laura Sim
Theme music composed byJon Ivans
Opening theme"Run To Your Mama" by Goat
Audio formatPodcast
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes18 (plus 7 bonus episodes)
Original releaseNovember 2016 – present
ProviderGimlet Media

Crimetown is a serial documentary podcast about the ways organized crime has shaped particular American cities, hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier and produced by Gimlet Media. The first season, which started in 2016, focuses on the city of Providence, Rhode Island.

Background and production[edit | edit source]

Hosts Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier first worked together on the film Catfish, and later collaborated on HBO's The Jinx. Publisher Gimlet Media's CEO, Alex Blumberg, met Stuart-Pontier when Blumberg interviewed him for a This American Life segment in 2000. Smerling and Stuart-Pontier initially tried to bring Blumberg on as producer of an audio follow-up to The Jinx, but Blumberg was more interested in a new project, rather than a companion piece.[1]

Production of season 1 began in summer 2015.[1] Smerling and Stuart-Pontier took senior producer and host roles. Production staff also includes Drew Nelles, Austin Mitchell, Kaitlin Roberts, Mike Plunkett, and Laura Sim.[2] It is edited by Blumberg and Caitlin Kenney.[2]

Smerling and Stuart-Pontier conducted extensive local research for the podcast, and received help from the Providence Journal, the Rhode Island Historical Society, and the Providence city archives.[3] In particular, podcast personnel worked with the Journal and its staff at many stages of the process, from developing connections with sources to regular reviews of each episode as they were released.[3] Nieman Lab's Ken Doctor noted this unofficial partnership between podcasters and local journalism — which has struggled to adapt to the Internet — might be the beginning of "a new local media format."[3]

It was the Journal's first step into podcasting other than its sports-related coverage.[3] Although the paper's Managing Editor, Alan Rosenberg, is unsure how far it can go into the medium, former executive editor Dave Butler said "Promoting, using, and helping Crimetown was a natural for the Providence Journal. It gave us the opportunity to relive history thru a podcast — as in real voices. This part of the future — partnering with others on their specialty — is great for readers and offers revenue opportunities. [...] a great reminder of the kind of material we have in our archives but don’t know what to do with it..."[3]

The creators and producers of Crimetown have explored the possibility of turning the series into a film or television show.[1]

Season 1[edit | edit source]

Season 1 of Crimetown focuses on organized crime and corruption in Providence, Rhode Island. It debuted in November 2016 and includes 18 episodes plus 7 bonus episodes.[4][5]

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Unlike many other examples in the true crime genre, there is no single narrative, such as a particular crime, that runs through the show, but several recurring, interrelated characters and events connected to the Patriarca crime family and Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci. The shows relies on techniques of investigative journalism to supplement the drama with hard reporting on new details or little-known connections. The New York Times called it "less Law & Order, more The Wire," referencing two popular television series.[6] Most episodes focus on a particular character or story and draw connections to those in previous episodes, coming together to form a picture of crime and corruption in Providence in the late 20th century. Smerling and Stuart-Pontier talked about their interest in the "tree roots" in Providence shared by a wide range of people.[7]

Though many of the episodes do not cover Cianci, his career and persona run through the show, paralleling the city's complicated relationships and contradictions arising from the interplay of good intentions and crime.[1][8] According to The Boston Globe, "everything in the series is built on duality and dichotomy, from the two hills that make up the city (one controlled by the mob, the other home to the WASP elite) to the mayor himself."[8] Cianci began his career as a prosecutor fighting against corruption and organized crime, ran for Mayor on an anti-corruption platform, got elected with help from organized crime, and last later convicted for corruption.[1][9][7]

Subjects[edit | edit source]

  • Dennis Aiken, FBI special agent working on Operation Plunder Dome, following Buddy Cianci.[10]
  • Brian Andrews, police detective who spent a large part of his law enforcement career pursuing thief Tony Fiore, whom Andrews credits with helping his career.[10][11]
  • Joseph Bevilacqua, Sr., defense attorney for members of organized crime who became the state's Chief Justice. When he maintained some ties to organized crime, he resigned during impeachment proceedings.[12][13]
  • Buddy Cianci, former prosecutor who ran for Mayor of Providence on an anti-corruption platform but became corrupt himself. After resigning when convicted of assault, he ran for Mayor again and won, only to be convicted again for racketeering and other charges years later. The Boston Globe described Cianci's portrayal as "a walking embodiment of the city’s contradictions."[8]
  • Robert Dussault, lead thief of the Bonded Vault heist who turned state's evidence when a hit was put on him.[14]
  • Tony Fiore, organized career thief with connections to the Patriarca family. Pursued for years by officer Brian Andrews. After a 10-year prison stint, Fiore began robbing armored cars. He and several associates were caught during an attempted robbery at Emerald Square Mall. After a total of about 30 years in prison, he was released and went into the painting business.[10][11]
  • Charles "The Ghost" Kennedy, a major drug trafficker and lock picker who got his nickname because he was so difficult to catch. He became known for his financial success, elaborate parties, and pet wolves at his house in East Greenwich.[15][10]
  • Raymond L. S. Patriarca, head of the Patriarca crime family.[10]
  • Barbara H. Roberts, Rhode Island's first woman cardiologist and director of the Women's Cardiac Center at Miriam Hospital. She was Raymond Patriarca's cardiologist who kept him out of court for health reasons towards the end of his life. Also, as she disclosed publicly for the first time on Crimetown, she had been mistress to mob boss Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio.[10][16]
  • Gerald "Gerry" Tillinghast, a Vietnam veteran turned mob enforcer for Patriarca. Tillinghast helped to get Buddy Cianci elected and, despite Cianci running on an anti-corruption platform, he was given a high-profile government job in exchange. He was acquitted in the Bonded Vault heist trial, but convicted on a later murder charge. At the time of recording, he was spending time as a Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master.[1]
  • Arlene Violet, sometimes called "Attila the Nun," left the convent who became Rhode Island's attorney general and foresaw the banking collapse of the 1990s.[17]
  • Bobby Walaston, worked for Patriarca doing loan sharking and running protection rackets. After being shot and nearly dying, he decided to leave organized crime. He has since sold a fitness product on the Home Shopping Network and started a moving and storage business.[18]

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

The title song, used throughout the show, is "Run To Your Mama" by the Swedish band Goat.[2] Gimlet Media's Matthew Boll was sound designer and theme music was composed by Jon Ivans, with additional scoring by Edwin, Bienart, and John Kusiak.[2]

Towards the end of the season, producers released a stand-alone soundtrack with music from the show. It includes a combination of original and previously released tracks.[19]

Reception[edit | edit source]

Crimetown received mostly positive reviews from critics, and by the end of the month was the most downloaded podcast on iTunes in the United States, third most popular in Canada, second in Australia, and sixth in the United Kingdom.[4][1] The New York Times named it one of the "Best New Podcasts of 2016," saying it "advances the [true crime] genre."[6] Reviewing the first episode, USA Today said that while the basic description of the show might sound boring, "[r]are audio, exciting music and compelling characters make [it] a worthwhile listen."[20] The A.V. Club called it "as slick and engrossing as a podcast by Oscar-nominated producers promises to be" and praised the way the show captures touching moments in interviews with violent criminals.[21]

The Ringer called it "a bracing, investigating deep dive into crime and corruption — and part of a wave of podcasts that are primed for TV and film adaptation."[1] It also commented that "despite the density of information it conveys, it’s not a slog. It’s a story that would inspire any pulp fiction writer."[1] The Boston Globe described the podcast as "morbidly fascinating and often laugh-out-loud surreal" and called it "as addictive as a bottle of pep pills," but added that the series "represents the latest wrinkle in packaging and selling criminal enterprise as ghoulish, diversionary fun while arguably soft-pedaling the human misery left in its wake."[8] Vulture called it a "pulpy delight."[22] Several reviewers drew comparisons with the podcasts Serial and S-Town, and Netflix's Making a Murderer television miniseries.[8][7][22][23]

Events[edit | edit source]

During and following the end of the first season, creators Smerling and Stuart-Pontier held live events, "Evening in Crimetown" and "Crimetown Live" in Brooklyn, Boston, and Providence.[8][24]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Ducker, Eric (13 December 2016). "Not-So-Divine Providence". The Ringer. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "About Crimetown". Crimetown. Gimlet Media. Retrieved 20 July 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Doctor, Ken (18 April 2017). "Newsonomics: Crimetown shows the podcast potential for local media partnership". Nieman Lab. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Milkovits, Amanda (26 November 2016). "'Crimetown' podcasts on Providence No. 1 on iTunes charts". Providence Journal. 
  5. "Episodes". Crimetown. Gimlet Media. Retrieved 20 July 2017. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hess, Amanda (6 December 2016). "The Best New Podcasts of 2016". New York Times. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Smith, Michelle R. (5 December 2016). "'Crimetown' podcast tells of mob and political corruption". Seattle Times. Associated Press. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Burr, Ty (11 May 2017). "'Crimetown' drops a dime on Providence". The Boston Globe. 
  9. Milkovits, Amanda (24 January 2017). "'Crimetown' Episode 7 review: Buddy Cianci self-destructs". Providence Journal. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Milkovits, Amanda (12 May 2017). "Partners in 'Crimetown'". Providence Journal. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Stuart-Pontier, Zac; Smerling, Marc (22 March 2017). "Bonus Episode: Cat and Mouse Part II". Crimetown. Season 1. Gimlet Media. 
  12. Reynolds, Mark (12 March 2017). "'Crimetown' Episode 12 review: R.I. chief justice kept close ties to mob friends". Providence Journal. 
  13. "Joseph Bevilacqua; Judge Tied to Rhode Island Mob". Los Angeles Times. 22 June 1989. 
  14. Parker, Paul Edward (3 December 2016). "'Crimetown' Episode 4: Heist accomplice tries to talk his way out of death". Providence Journal. 
  15. Gavigan, Parker (23 February 2017). "NBC 10 I-Team: Former kingpin opens up about drugs, cops and the mob". TurnTo10. 
  16. Milkovits, Amanda (5 March 2017). "Crimetown Episode 11 review: Doctor and 'daughter' to crime boss Raymond Patriarca". Providence Journal. 
  17. Bramson, Kate (19 March 2017). "Crimetown Episode 13 review: Arlene Violet's doomed battle and the R.I. banking crisis". Providence Journal. 
  18. Stuart-Pontier, Zac; Smerling, Marc (3 February 2016). "Chapter Nine: A Deal With the Devil". Crimetown. Season 1. Gimlet Media. 
  19. Helman, Peter (19 May 2017). "Stream The Crimetown Podcast Soundtrack". Stereogum. 
  20. Mallenbaum, Carly (3 December 2016). "Podcast pick of the Week: 'The Jinx' creators present 'Crimetown'". USA Today. 
  21. Shure, Marnie (28 November 2016). "Kumail Nanjiani reveals his devotion to rom-coms on Pop Culture Happy Hour". The A.V. Club. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 Quah, Nicholas (28 March 2017). "S-Town Transcends the True Crime of Serial". Vulture. 
  23. Eakin, Marah (20 May 2017). "True-crime stories and a reliable TV news source". The A.V. Club. 
  24. Milkovits, Amanda (22 May 2017). "'Crimetown Live' coming home to Providence in July". Providence Journal. 

External links[edit | edit source]