The highest profile nominee in this year’s Emmy race for Best Documentary or Nonfiction Series is HBO’s “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” which chronicles the alleged crimes of billionaire real estate scion Robert Durst, suspected in the disappearance of his wife Kathie in 1982 and the killing of writer Susan Berman in 2000. He was also acquitted of the murder of his neighbor Morris Black, whom Durst claimed to have killed in self-defense in 2001. Thanks in part to “The Jinx,” Durst was arrested on new murder charges on March 14, 2015, the day before the finale episode aired. Will this program that could put him away for life win at the Creative Arts Awards on Sept. 12?
The true-crime series won the TCA Award for Best Movie/Miniseries/Special, and it now contends for six Emmys, including Best Nonfiction Editing and Best Nonfiction Directing for filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, who was an Oscar-nominee in 2003 for his big-screen documentary “Capturing the Friedmans.”
“The Jinx” faces a trio of programs from PBS, including “American Masters,” which has won this category three times in the last four years – missing only in 2012, when it lost to “Frozen Planet.” On the air for nearly 30 years, “American Masters” has amassed a total haul of 27 Emmys. This is the long-running show’s only nomination this year, but it had only one other bid when it won last year (Nonfiction Sound Mixing, which it also won), so don’t count it out.
PBS also contends with “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” a three-part, six-hour documentary based on a 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book detailing the history of the disease. It was narrated by actor Edward Herrmann, who tragically lost his own cancer battle before the miniseries aired. It’s executive produced by documentarian Ken Burns, an Emmy darling with five previous victories for nonfiction programming. This is the only nomination for “Cancer.”
Burns also directed and produced PBS’s third nominee, “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” which covers the famous American family, including presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. The 14-hour series has three total nominations this year; it’s also up for Best Narrator (Peter Coyote) and Best Nonfiction Writing.
Rounding out the category is CNN’s “The Sixties,” which covers the political and cultural changes during that eventful decade. It’s produced by Tom Hanks and received a nomination last year for Best Documentary Special, losing to “JFK,” an installment of PBS’s “American Experience” series.
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Photo: Robert Durst in “The Jinx.” Credit: Marc Smerling/HBO