not a book, tv

Not a Book: Hollywood Houselift

So this Sunday I have a comfort TV recommendation for you. Because sometimes you just need to watch something with very low stakes. And I like programmes about houses. And this is that.

This is basically a group of famous people getting bits of their houses redecorated by Jeff. I’ve never come across Jeff before, but he had a reality show on Bravo that followed him flipping houses and doing interior design projects and he also presents a radio show on satellite radio station in the US.

In the first series, Jeff renovates a pool house, a couple of gardens, a bathroom and dressing room and a dining room and family room and more for various people you may or may not recognise depending on which pop culture you consume (like Anthony Anderson from Blackish, Ashlee Simpson, Wilmer Valderama). Jeff has a group of people who work for him and an engagingly irreverent way of talking about his clients that reminds you that he knows exactly how ridiculous it is to be spending $5,000 on towel rails and robe hooks but is doing it any way!

It’s basically like Selling Sunset had a baby with Christina on the Coast or the design bits of Flip or Flop, but with no drinks party or brunch bitching. So more design and more houses. I’m sure it is very staged but it’s not staging fights or drama, and the people working together all seem to actually like each other. Which you can’t say about many shows like this…

You can watch Hollywood Houselift on Freevee – which used to be called IMDb TV and which I get for free bundled in with Amazon Prime. It has a few ad breaks but it makes me so chilled that I can cope with it. I’ve watched all six episodes that have been released so far and there are new episodes each Friday…

Happy Sunday!

not a book, tv

Not a Book: Ghislaine Maxwell documentaries

**** Content warning: child sex abuse ****

So with the sentencing of Ghislaine Maxwell due to happen this week, today’s post is a round up of some recent documentaries and related content. Obviously the content around the court case is incredibly grim and distressing, so all the warnings.

I’m going to start with House of Maxwell, which is a three part documentary on the BBC – which you can find on iPlayer. This looks at the Maxwell family – from the rise of newspaper baron Robert, through his mysterious death, the financial scandal that emerged after his death and subsequent legal action through to Ghislaine’s reappearance in New York and everything that followed. If you don’t know about Robert Maxwell and the Mirror group pensions, this is a really good place to start. I was only little when he went missing from his yacht, and didn’t really know much about the detail or the court cases that followed, so it filled in a lot of background for me. This is more a look at the Maxwell family than at Ghislaine specifically.

Epsteins’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell is the opposite. It does cover some of the same ground with the family history, but mostly focused on how that impacted on the young Ghislaine and moves on (relatively) quickly to the New York Years and is much more about Maxwell and Epstein’s relationships and what the allegations are against her. This another three parter or at least it was in the UK where it was shown on Sky Documentaries, but I think in the US on Peacock it may have been shown as one three hour doc. This was first broadcast in 2021, and when I saw it earlier this month it had two sets of closing statements – one explaining all the people who had been asked to comment or be interviewed and their responses and the fact that the trial was happening and a second about the verdicts. No doubt the ending will be getting an update this week. Definitely the grimmer of the two – as you would probably expect.

There have also been several podcasts on or around the subject – I’ve listened to some but not all of Power: The Maxwells from Puck, which has a simialr focus to House of Maxwell – in that it’s looking at the family not just Ghislaine. I also have the Maxwell season of British Scandal from Wondery cues up ready to listen to – just as soon as I have time!

I have started but haven’t finished – yet – the 2020 Netflix Jeffrey Epstein documentary, Jeffrey Epstein: Flithy Rich. It’s the grimmest of the lot – we only made it forty minutes into the first episode before it all got too much, so I’ll have to do it in chunks when I’m in a resilient mood and go in prepared. What I’ve seen of it is (obviously) a harrowing watch very much focussed on his victims and their experiences in their own words.

If you just want to read articles – which feel less harrowing (to me at least) that watching or listening, then there is plenty to chose from – although a lot of the big investigative pieces are behind paywalls or partial paywalls – so in the main I’m linking you to indexes here so you can see what there is and pick your stories yourself rather that use up your free articles on my links. Vanity Fair has done a lot – you can see their topic indexes on Ghislaine Maxwell here and Jeffery Epstein here, but as they also did a big profile piece on Epstein in 2003 which there are various conflicting accounts about as this New Yorker article explains. The New Yorker also has topic indexes for both Maxwell and Epstein. New York Magazine also has topic indexes for Maxwell and Epstein. No paywall for The Guardian – again there’s an index for Maxwell and Epstein.