Subscribe to The Atlantic and get 2 free issues

Her House of Cards

"The rumpled Houston showed up next, followed by Tobey and Leo." Inside Hollywood's most exclusive poker game.
PUBLISHED: July 1, 2014
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4960 words)

A Sister's Sleuthing Unravels a Teenage Love Triangle Murder Mystery

A twisted tale of teenage love and cold-blooded murder in Hollywood, Florida.

For detectives, the killing at first glance must have seemed an all-too-common crime: another dead thug, likely felled by the same drug culture that had left him homeless and broke. Yet Savage's life and death — as told through hundreds of pages of police records, text messages, and interviews with his family and itinerant friends — were far more complex.

PUBLISHED: June 23, 2014
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6501 words)

Oscar to Suicide in One Year: Tracing the 'Searching for Sugar Man' Director's Tragic Final Days

After the death of Malik Bendjelloul, who directed the documentary "Searching for Sugarman," a THR writer heads to Sweden to talk to his friends, who reveal the perfectionist's quirks, and open up about his fear, doubt and their own surprise.

It was just the type of place that the young man, a 36-year-old Swedish journalist and Oscar-winning film director named Malik Bendjelloul, might have found intriguing. The Stockholm metro system is reputed to be the largest display of public art anywhere in the world -- 68.3 miles of paintings, mosaics, installations and sculptures. The station was an artistic, humane endeavor, an urban fairy-tale landscape that might have piqued his curiosity and fueled his imagination. But on that day, as the train neared, the picturesque station was transformed into a devastating scene of the director's final moments. With a crowd of Tuesday-afternoon commuters looking on from benches or standing against walls, Bendjelloul flung himself into the path of an oncoming train.

PUBLISHED: June 11, 2014
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4928 words)

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories of the week, featuring GQ, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Priceonomics and The Hollywood Reporter.
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2014

'West Wing' Uncensored

An oral history of the beloved political series:

Aaron Sorkin: Kivi knew about the meeting and said, “Hey, you know what would make a good series? That.” He was pointing at the poster for The American President. “But this time you’d focus on the staffers.” I told him I wasn’t going to be doing a series and that I was meeting with John to meet John — I wanted to hear stories about China Beach and ER, and I especially wanted to hear about his years as stage manager for A Chorus Line. The next day I showed up for the lunch, and John was flanked by executives from Warner Bros. and agents from CAA. John got down to business and said, “What do you want to do?” And instead of saying, “I’m sorry, there’s been a misunderstanding. I don’t have anything to pitch,” I said, “I’d like to do a series about staffers at the White House.” And John said, “We’ve got a deal.”

PUBLISHED: May 13, 2014
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6858 words)


What happened when Mark Zuckerberg, Cory Booker and Chris Christie pledged to reform Newark’s schools? A lot of money spent on consultants, and some very hard lessons about enlisting community support for change:

One mother shouted, “We not having no wealthy white people coming in here destroying our kids!” From aisles and balconies, people yelled, “Where’s Christie!” “Where’s Mayor Hollywood!” The main item on the agenda—a report by the Newark schools’ facilities director on a hundred and forty million dollars spent in state construction funds, with little to show for it—reinforced people’s conviction that someone was making a killing at their children’s expense. “Where’d the money go? Where’d the money go?” the crowd chanted.

PUBLISHED: May 12, 2014
LENGTH: 46 minutes (11617 words)

Who Were Those Masked Men, Anyway?

How a trio of bank robbers—inspired by The Town—disguised themselves as white cops and almost got away with a 200k heist:

When Visconti watched the security footage, he saw a team of professionals. The masks were Hollywood-quality, realistic enough to fool people standing inches away. In an era when images spread around the world with the click of a finger, these robbers had managed to throw their pursuers far off the scent. They had turned the law's most powerful tool to their advantage. Then there was the speed: in and out in three minutes. And the spoils: They had scored more than $200,000 cash. These guys were pros.

PUBLISHED: May 9, 2014
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6009 words)

The Horrible Bosses of Hollywood

It sounds so glamorous, working in Hollywood. Doesn't it? Sure, if you're a studio chief or an actor with your own trailer. But if you're a powerless minion, it's a special kind of hell.

M— and L— seem mismatched as a comic team. They're both type A personalities, with no foil, no straight man. Like the worst kind of Funny Guys, they are always, oppressively, “on.” Every time they see you, they do not merely crack a joke; they molest you with comedy. Their assaults are rapid-fire, cringe-inducing, often offensive. (“Nice jacket, Jim. What, did you buy it from a sand nigger in Morocco?” Grunt.) Surely, they must think, this is the way to become noticed as a formidable comic force—to launch one's hilarity from across the room. No one is immune to it. When they walk into a pitch meeting with the Columbia execs, L— invariably begins the meeting with an antic gag, tripping, Dick Van Dyke-like, over a hassock, or a pair of crossed feet, nearly somersaulting across the room, then rubbing his knees and grimacing in theatrical pain. You can see the same pain flickering in the eyes of the execs.

AUTHOR:Jim Nelson
PUBLISHED: May 1, 2014
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5350 words)

Forget CSI

Faith in the forensic system—in large part due to Hollywood's heroic portrayals of forensic investigators—is at an all time high. But despite its invincible aura, the actual system is deeply flawed and at times flat out fraudulent.

In San Francisco last year, a police technician pleaded guilty to stealing cocaine from a crime lab, leading to the dismissal of hundreds of criminal cases that depended on evidence analyzed at the unit. In 2012, a Minnesota lab was temporarily shut down after a report found deficiencies in virtually every aspect of its operation, including dirty equipment, inadequate documentation, and ignorance of basic scientific procedures. In Houston that same year, a lab technician was found to be fabricating results in drug cases; about one out of every three reports he submitted was found to be flawed. District attorneys in the area were told that up to 5,000 convictions in 36 counties could be in jeopardy. Similar failures were uncovered in Colorado Springs, Colorado; St. Paul, Minnesota; Chicago; and New York. Even the FBI has performed atrociously shoddy work.

PUBLISHED: April 30, 2014
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4647 words)