The Real Deal New York

Robert Durst, the epitome of the macabre: dispatch

TRD attends advance screener of explosive new HBO series
By Ann Imperatore | January 30, 2015 02:07PM

“Serial” podcast junkies jonesing for a new true-crime fix are in for quite the treat on Feb. 8, when HBO premieres “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” a six-part docu-series on real estate scion-cum-dismemberer Robert Durst. This series, created by Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling of “Capturing the Friedmans” fame, is a cornucopia of strangeness: a triple murder spanning three states and nearly three decades, cross-dressing, disappearances, multiple identities and a whole lot of darkly comedic zings.

But the real hook here is the ghoulish Durst himself – who after seeing a screening of “All Good Things,” the fictional film version of the Durst story also created by Jarecki – suggested to the director that he do a more in-depth version with his participation.

Durst’s unique vocal affectation – mimicked by several others in the series – makes him fascinating to listen to, and his twitches, obsessive eye blinking and bizarre facial expressions magnify his sinister on-screen presence. With lines like, “I didn’t kill my best friend, but I did dismember him,” and describing his younger brother and real estate titan Douglas as “a pussy,” Durst is the biggest hate-watching draw HBO has offered since Lena Dunham in “Girls.”

Jarecki said last night at an advanced screening of the first two chapters that the series took a whopping eight years to create and produce. It pre-dated the “Serial” phenomenon, but will definitely appeal to the same audience, he said. Unlike “Serial,” however, this show will have a resolution: “At the end of episode six,” Jarecki said, “you will know what happened.”

Durst was investigated but remains uncharged in the disappearance of his first wife Kathleen McCormack Durst in 1982 in New York, and also for the murder of his best friend Susan Berman in Los Angeles in 2000. He did see jail time for beheading his neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas, where Durst lived in 2000 under the guise of a woman. He jumped bail and was rearrested while stealing a sandwich from a local supermarket, even though he had hundreds of dollars in cash in his pocket at the time. He was acquitted of the murder charges, but served five years for bond jumping and related offenses.

At the post-screening Q-and-A, homicide detective Cody Cazalas described Durst as a “creepy little bastard” and said that even though he would not believe 99 percent of what comes out of Durst’s mouth, he marveled at the fact that Durst admitted to lying to the NYPD about McCormack – despite the fact that the investigation into her disappearance is still open.

Four days after McCormack disappeared, Durst alerted the police he had not heard from her after he supposedly drove her to the Katonah train station late Sunday night. Durst originally claimed he stopped at a neighbor’s house for a drink and then called his wife from a payphone to make sure she was safely in their Manhattan apartment. However, on camera in “The Jinx,” he admits he did neither of those things, chalking his lies up to his desire to “make everything go away.”

There is no word on what will transpire in regards to that open investigation. As for future episodes, Jarecki remains mum except to say, “It is the beginning of a journey that is intensely emotional.” While it’s impossible to accurately predict anything when it comes to Robert Durst, the first two chapters of this saga clearly show that we’re in for a very wild ride.

  • M. Ventura

    Wow!! Three things off the bat… First, this Durst guy is the creepiest of creepy–Second, I have to get HBO now–and Third, I was a major Serial fan so this will be the perfect off-season fix!! All psychopaths are obviously not concocted same because this guy is cool as a cucumber, methodical, daring and just out right blatant. You got me, I’m hooked… or shall I say, Sold! on this series!!!

  • Bill Bellamy

    That’s amazing that he gave them access for filming. He must’ve known nothing good was good was going to come out of it. I feel bad for the families that have to relive the loss of their loved ones at the hands of this guy. We live in a strange place.

  • tighe

    I’ve been watching the coming attractions for this on hbo go. I can’t wait to see this.
    Super creepy guy.

  • L. Ferreras

    I am always excited to see something new written by Ann. MORE ANN! She is my favorite writer on this site because of her distinctive brash style used in her Million Dollar Listing reviews and RE: Cap, but everything she writes makes me want to wash her mouth out with soap. L.

  • guest

    the first two episodes were amazing!!!

  • Michelle

    Can you guess which musical instrument is heard on The Jinx trailer (beside piano)?

  • Kamran A.

    Sounds macabre and fascinating. Can’t wait to watch. Great write up too with a well deserved dig at Lena Dunham!

  • DOUG

    i just got called go to precint forthwith- anyone know what that means ? last night’s ” jinx” and a comment on trd— “name game”, anyone else ?

  • guest

    admits lying to nyc police, gee, everyone can now- did he lie to federal government ?

  • doodle

    durst looks old , he has been hiding since ’82. dressed as a women , in jail, bumming around backward states, no children, second ? wife sounds like a lawyer – family Disowned him- OF BILLIONS OF $ , brother has an o.p on him and calls him a psychopath for threatening to kill him & wife- probably has killed more then 3 people— the sheriff says he will kill anyone trying to take his freedom from him- WHAT FREEDOM ?

  • D. K.

    I now have watched the first two chapters of this saga (in fact, I have watched each chapter multiple times), and the most suspicious character, so far, to me, as a former attorney, with an advanced degree in Psychology, is not Robert Durst, the apparent serial killer; it is the retired police detective, Michael Struk. While one might well expect a homicide detective who clearly let a spousal-disappearance case that had “POSSIBLE MURDER!” written all over it, from Day One, to be somewhat defensive about his professional actions from thirty-three years ago, Mr. Struk’s reflexive dismissiveness of the likelihood of murder, even after more than thirty years without any (apparent) trace of the missing woman, and even with his (presumed) knowledge of the husband’s subsequent criminal history involving two other subsequent deaths, is utterly jaw-dropping. As a former attorney, I would love to get Mr. Struk under oath, and I would love to see him polygraphed. Most of all, I would love to have access to his financial records from the past thirty-three years– because I seriously suspect that those records might expose an unreported stream of income, besides his former police salary and, then, his subsequent police pension. This aging “missing person” case has “OFFICIAL CORRUPTION!” written all over it, in bright-red flashing letters.

  • doodle

    “everyone loves a lover” – boobie will pin it on susan / nj boys {it’s not like she can defend herself , now}— claim he covered it up- because kathy was dead already – he did need SUSAN / he had an affair with her all his life. MORE DEAD -ENDS— ALL KATHY’s PHONE RECORDS OF CALLS IN SALEM/ BOB’S CALLS??? – ALL CALLS ARE KEPT AS RECORDS-RAILROAD TICKET— PAYMENT FOR -A ONE-WAY OFF PEAK ???- POLICE RECORDS !!!– A CONDUCTOR –SEEING A CRYING GOOD -LOOKING WOMAN IN TROUBLE- CONDUCTORS ARE PROFESSIONAL VULTURES {POLICE REPORT ?} !!!! BOOBIE WANTS TO WALK FROM THESE HBO EXCERCISES WITH WHAT ? FREEDOM ?, TO DIE IN RESPECT? FAMILY $ / HIS NAME – HE SPENT TIME & HIS $ {or did he ?}*** “get out of jail cards”****

  • doodle