Socialite Life
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Podcasts You Should Know: Talking “True Crime Obsessed” with Patrick Hinds and Gillian Pensavalle

If you’re into true crime and can’t get enough of documentaries like Capturing the Friedmans, Tabloid and the recent Ted Bundy Tapes, have we got a podcast for you. On True Crime Obsessed, Patrick Hinds and Gillian Pensavalle recap true crimes chronicled on film and provide often sassy, always hilarious commentary.

Patrick and Gillian both got their start in podcasting through Broadway-focused shows. Patrick started the Theater People podcast in 2013 and followed that up with Broadway Backstory (currently the number one Broadway-themed podcast on iTunes) in 2016. Gillian is the creator, executive producer, and host of The Hamilcast: A Hamilton Podcast, which she launched in January of 2016. Sharing a love of the stage and true crime, these eccentric, always amusing hosts have gone from attempting to solve the Zodiac case to putting together a podcast that does the (nearly) impossible – making us laugh while making us think. We talked to Patrick and Gillian about the podcast and spilled a little theater tea in the process.

Socialite Life: How did you go from talking about Broadway to talking about true crime?

Patrick Hinds: The thing about that was that Gillian and I had been in the Broadway community together for a long time and hadn’t really gotten to know each other and then, one day, we met and I remember distinctly having the feeling – and I used to say that to you (Gillian) all of the time – how has this person not been in my life forever? For two reasons, a.) I feel like I’ve known you my whole life and b.) my life would have been so much better if I had known you the whole time.

Gillian Pensavalle: Aww. I feel the same way. The friendship was very real and we were off and running. It would have been nice if we had those 30 years but then we realized, let’s just flash forward like we have been friends for those 30 years – and that’s sort of where we are now. So, we were hanging out and meeting up for happy hours and a couple of times a week we were finding ourselves asking, “Are you around?” and our conversation went from Broadway to true crime and we just started chatting and we wanted to solve the Zodiac murder at first – not even as a podcast. We were just going to solve it. I made a graphic and then we decided we were going to have a podcast, and I made another graphic and then we realized, well, maybe we should cover documentaries instead. I feel there are better people to solve the Zodiac murders than us.

Patrick: I have this distinct memory of us sitting at a bar, not that we were officially waiting until 4:30 to have a cocktail, but I was like it’s appropriately late enough in the afternoon, we can have a drink. And I just remember us looking into each other’s eyes and screaming about true crime at each other and it’s this really weird thing when you’re able to make a new friend at this late stage in my life – I’m basically a Golden Girl – but I just remember thinking I want to do something with this person. I want to work with this person. And we both realized we loved true crime and we’re just screaming about true crime all the time, why don’t we stick microphones in front of our faces and talk about it?

Gillian: Maybe our friends will listen once in a while…

Patrick: And when we started, we truly didn’t know what we were doing. We started off literally thinking we’d make a podcast about solving the Zodiac and we evolved. I really wanted to make a very straightforward, sort of boring recap show or an interview show. But, when we sat down to actually talk about the first thing we decided to recap together, which was the movie The Impostor, (Gillian) was just making me laugh so hard, and if you listen to that episode, I’m turning away from the microphone. I’m trying so hard for people to not hear me laughing – because the idea was that we were going to make a serious thing…

Gillian: You were asking me things like, “What did you think of the choice for cinematography in this scene?” And I was like, “I don’t know, but that person who’s talking is an idiot. The light looks great on this dummy, but who cares about the lighting?”

Patrick: And I remember I sat down to edit it and I remember calling her and being like, “I think this thing where we recap something and laugh about it, I think that’s the podcast.”

Gillian: I mean, even the Tabloid episode is not what it has become.

Patrick: Yeah, we recently replayed that as an episode, it was like episode 25 or whatever, and it sounds so different.

Gillian: It sounds like we’re whispering. It sounds like we don’t want to disturb the person in the next room.

Patrick: It sounds so different from the podcast we’re making now. We are two episodes away from our 100th episode and, breaking news, we’re going to redo The Imposter – our first episode will be our 100th episode. We’re not going to listen to that first episode before as though we’ve never seen the movie before. We’re going to redo it and see how different it sounds. 

Socialite Life: Have you found any documentaries that were uncomfortable to cover?

Gillian: Abducted in Plain Sight, Dear Zachary and There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane, those are all documentaries we’ve had phone calls about asking how can we laugh at it

Patrick: The common denominator is kids. Whenever there’s stuff about kids, and I’m a parent, but I’m a human being with a heart, it’s hard to even though we know every time we make a joke, every time we’re laughing, it’s always about the idiot prosecutor or the bad detective. It’s never about the victim. It’s never about the crime, even though we know that. There definitely are times when we wonder if it’s appropriate to laugh at all. And what we always hear, I’d say 99.9% of the time is, “You helped me be able to watch this. You helped me be able to know this story. You were able to find some sort of levity and now I know and I’ve learned something from watching this documentary or listening to this episode” which is great and it’s sort of like what we’ve always said, you have to laugh or you’re just going to cry forever.

Socialite Life:  Is there a documentary you want to cover that you still haven’t?

Gillian: Oh, I have such a long list.

Patrick: It’s more than that. There are subject matters that don’t have documentaries. I wish they had documentaries so we could cover them. People always want us to talk about Jodi Arias and we would love for there to be a great documentary about that so we could cover it.

Gillian: Or the Zodiac.

Patrick: Yes! This all started because Gillian and I were going to solve the Zodiac murders! We were going to make a true crime podcast

Gillian: I made a graphic for it. I went to the library. We were going to solve the Zodiac. It is my favorite movie.  But then we realized that it doesn’t sound fun. It sounds like a lot of work and maybe there are more capable people out there who can do that. We would love to cover a good documentary about it, not a shitty 45-minute YouTube one. I’m talking about a good one with good research.

Patrick: How does that not exist about the Zodiac? The one Zodiac documentary we’ve been able to find is called something like “It’s the Zodiac Calling” or something, and it’s not even that it’s a badly made documentary, it’s more that it’s just interviews with people talking to the camera, which makes it really hard for us to be able to find anything to talk about because we’re just looking at interviews.

Gillian: And sometimes a documentary can be just great, and the subject matter will be something we really want to cover, but if it doesn’t work for our format, then, unfortunately, it’s not going to be a good episode.

Socialite Life: Who would you love to have on the show as a guest?

Patrick: I’m really, truly fascinated by Amanda Knox. Good, bad, ugly, beautiful…I am totally fascinated by her. I would love to sit down and interview Amanda Knox. I would just love to talk to her. I would love to have a conversation to just see what she’s like.

Gillian: Kathleen Zellner from Making a Murderer. We were obsessed with her in the ten episodes she was in and we love her.

Patrick: This is putting it in a whole different realm, but I would love to interview Maura Murray. I would love to talk to her and ask “Girl, where are you?”

Socialite Life: Here’s a question that combines your love of theater and your true crime obsession. If you could make a musical of one of the cases or documentaries you’ve covered, which one would you choose and who would you cast in it?

Gillian: Well, funny you should ask. During our Patreon coverage, one of the first things we did was cover the very first season of Serial, which was the case about Adnan Syed. We are friends now, crazily enough, with Rabia Chaudry, who brought the case to Serial and she’s actively working on his case. We just started talking to her a lot and we sort of became friends and when we did the coverage of the case against Adnan Syed from HBO, in one of our things that just happened, started singing about this bonkers relationship between Hae Min Lee’s ex-boyfriend and her best friend. They were on Spring Break and we just sort of started riffing and now Rabia Chaudry, come hell or high water, every time we talk to her, she asks “When is that musical going to get made?” The idea is there but that’s the only musical we’ve actually talked about.

Patrick: The other really crazy thing is that we found out recently is that Justin Guarini is a really big True Crime Obsessed fan and if you don’t know who he is, he was the runner-up to Kelly Clarkson on the first season of American Idol. He’s also a big Broadway star. He’s been in six Broadway shows and he’s a big star. We actually got to meet him a week ago and he’s actually coming over tonight for drinks, just to hang out. So, I would definitely want to cast him in the Serial musical and there’s this other actress on Broadway who we love, her name is Lesli Margherita. She’s an Olivier-winning actress and she’s also just a brilliant comedian and she’s just this Broadway dame who we love and we would love to cast her as well.

Gillian: And we’d each have bit roles in it!

Socialite Life: Of course! Switching gears a bit, let’s talk about you live True Crime Obsessed show. What can fans expect when they see you on stage?

Patrick: You know, I always say that our live shows are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. A lot of podcasts do live shows where you come and you watch a great show, but our live shows are crazy.  We’re up and down and screaming and I’m throwing myself on the floor and, when we did our live shows in Chicago, I was dragging people up onto the stage. When we did our Pride show in New York City, we had drag queens and we had a comedian open for us. We’re always so happy and are pleasantly surprised that people actually show up to see us that we’re just kind of all over the place. But our live shows are really well put together. It’s very much like our podcast, except instead of using audio clips, we use video clips and it’s just really, really funny.

Gillian: It’s hard to even say, “This is what you can expect” because, if one crazy thing doesn’t happen, another one will, so the expectation is just show up to this party and hang out and something great is going to happen. What’s going to happen is that Patrick and I will show up and we’ll talk about the documentary. That’s for sure what you’re going to get.

Patrick: That really is how we pitch it. It’s a party. It’s like hanging out with us at a cocktail party where we get a little drunk and a little crazy and talk about true crime.

Socialite Life: Do you have any other projects in the works?

Patrick: We have a ton going on, some of it we can’t talk about yet because there are big announcements coming. I’m launching the Obsessed network, so we’re bringing on more podcasts under our umbrella that are going to be done in our style of true crime, which I always describe as a little bit funny, a little bit gay, a little bit out there. We’re sort of expanding the brand in a lot of ways. We’re expanding our brand in a lot of really exciting ways, some of which we can talk about and some of which we really can’t yet!

Gillian: But just know, just before we jumped on this call, we were talking about more documentaries that we’re going to cover, getting the schedule together, talking about live shows, so we are here for the long haul, I can promise you that.

Patrick: There’s a lot of stuff to stay tuned for. Our Patreon is ongoing. We have over 90 full bonus episodes, and we’re just going to keep doing it and doing the series that people want and keep making that fun over there.

If you haven’t checked out True Crime Obsessed, there’s no better time than the present to add it to your playlist! New episodes drop each Tuesday wherever you get your podcast fix and bonus episodes are released on TCO’s Patreon every Friday. Follow the show on Twitter and follow Patrick and Gillian too!

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