Michael Finkel, the former New York Times journalist who formed a relationship with family killer Christian Longo will present his story tonight on the latest episode of 48 Hours. The crime show will present the case of Christian Longo, and how his life intertwined with journalist, author, and writer Michael Finkel. Finkel’s fascinating tale is the basis for his book and an upcoming movie. According to Futon Critic, the 48 Hours episode entitled “The Pretender” will air on CBS at 9 p.m. central.
Michael Finkel’s fall from grace made headlines in 2001-2002 when it was revealed that the once-respected New York Times Magazine journalist had faked one of the characters in his story by using a composite. The misstep caused Finkel to lose his dream job and the respect of fellow New York Times journalists.
At almost the exact same time, killer Christian Longo decided to take on the identity of a New York Times reporter while on the run from the law in Mexico, according to Esquire. Longo had just killed his entire family when he decided to take on the identity of one of his most favorite writers — Michael Finkel.
Finkel had no idea who Christian Longo was until another reporter contacted him at his Montana home to tell him that a man named Christian Longo had pretended to be him. As a writer and journalist, Michael Finkel knows a good story when he hears one. He knew instantly that this would be a gripping and fascinating story that might just jump-start a new career for him.
Learning everything he could about Longo’s case, Finkel set out to find out why Christian Longo had chosen him. After contacting Longo, the two men built a very strange and bizarre relationship. Christian Longo told Michael Finkel that he loved his writing, and that he had followed his career for quite some time.
According to Esquire, the two men wrote wrote over 1,000 pages in letters. Mostly the letters were from Christian Longo to Michael Finkel. Longo had hoped that he would get his true story out there to show the world that he was not a killer, and that he was not guilty of the murders of his wife and children.
At first, the two men saw in each other mirrored reflections of themselves. But eventually, Michael Finkel realized that Christian Longo was a liar and a killer — and Longo realized that Michael Finkel knew it.
Many who have read Michael Finkel’s book True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa, have varied opinions about it. Here are a few of the Amazon comments.
“Prepare to be wholly engrossed.”
“I had complete understanding of why the author had gotten in trouble at the NY Times. He can’t see past his own shiny self-image. The same ego that caused a talented young reporter to throw his career away while attempting to make a name for himself is the driver of the hubris that bloats this book.”
“This is not a book to read at the beach between Rum & Cokes. This book is going to translate into a very interesting TV movie or film, and I hope someone takes it on.”
Apparently, someone was right. Michael Finkel will see his story on the big screen. The movie which is listed in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) under the title True Story, is due in theaters in April, 2015.
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