Errol Morris’ First Person Series (13 Episodes)

This is a Documentary series primarily using Errol Morris’ invention the Interrotron for unusual people to tell their outré stories directly into the camera to the viewer. Every documentary episode is focused on one person, especially scientists, criminals, cranks, plus everyday folks in strange circumstances.

EPISODE 1: The Only Truth

Human beings are a violent species. Murder. Torture. Mutilation. Murray Richman specializes in the dark and grisly. Guilty of a heinous crime? “Don’t Worry” Murray, legal counsel to gangsters and gangstas, arsonists and racketeers, will fix you up. And chances are you’ll beat the rap. Murray got a jury to believe that a murder victim had accidentally fallen seven times onto a knife. Oddly cynical for an idealist, oddly idealistic for a cynic, Murray offers up his vision of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Is he Liberty’s last champion or just another wiseguy?

EPISODE 2: Stairway to Heaven

“What would it be like if I actually was a cattle? Because it’s important not to be anthropomorphic.”

Temple Grandin, university professor and diagnosed autistic, has desgined 1/3 of the slaughter houses in the United States. She’s renowned for her design “stairway to heaven”, a curving high-wall ramp system that utilizes optical illusion to lead livestock calmly from the pen to the bolt gun and ultimately to a humane death.

Temple Grandin understands and relates more easily to cattle than people. At home, she spends some of her most peaceful moments in a customized cattle “squeeze chute” – ordinarily used for immobilizing animals for inoculations.

EPISODE 3: The Killer Inside Me

“When you’re dealing with a serial killer day in and day out…”

Sondra London had lost contact with her high school sweetheart, Gerald. The years had passed and she was in an unhappy marriage and a dead end job writing word processing manuals. But Gerald was in the newspaper – as the suspected killer of forty women. There always had been something about Gerald Schaefer. They rekindled their affair.

Sondra and Gerald eventually broke up for good. But there’s a new man in her life. Danny Rollins – The Gainesville Murder. They’re engaged.

EPISODE 4: I Dismember Mama

“Immortality is my short term goal…”

Saul Kent didn’t make the usual funeral arrangements for his mother. He wanted her severed head cryonically preserved frozen for future resuscitation. The San Bernardino County DA wasn’t convinced Mother Kent had died of natural caused and was preparing to autopsy the remains.

But Saul took the head on the lam. Could he elude police while maintaing the head at a proper temperature until he reached the Alcor Life Extension Company?

EPISODE 5: The Stalker

Bill Kinsley was on the fast track at the post office. His dream was to become Postmaster General, that is, until he met Thomas Mcllvane, kick boxer, letter carrier, gun freak, and soon to be mass murderer. At the end of the carnage, Kinsley was alive and Mcllvane dead, but for Kinsley the nightmare did not end. Today he lives in fear, waiting for someone out there in the night that might be coming to kill him.

EPISODE 6: Eyeball to Eyeball

An interview with Clyde Roper Squid Hunter.

Clyde Roper is on a life-long quest to be the first person to see a living giant squid. A lobster fisherman and then an invertebrate zoologist at the Smithsonian Institue, Roper has obsessively hunter the mythic creature for over 30 years. This bizarre animal, which grows to the length of a football field and has eyes the size of volleyballs, has continually eluded him. Rober’s obsession has even landed him in the hospital for quadruple bypass surgery.

Here is a story about a man who started off trapping seafood, who may end his life being trapped by seafood.

EPISODE 7: The Parrot

Jane Gill was found dead, smothered in the master bedroom of her 21-room mansion. Near her lifeless body the police found Max, her 16-year old African gray parrot. A brilliant bird with a vocabulary of over 450 words, Max was reduced to repeating one phrase over and over again following his owners’ demise: “Richard. No, no, no, no, no…”

Gary Rasp, Gill’s business partner and the beneficiary of her 2 million dollar insurance policy, was put on trial for her murder. All that stood between him and the California gas chamber was a one and a half pound bird with orange tail feathers.

Was Max really repeating what he heard the night of the murder? Would the judge let this talkative African parrot testify in a California court of law? And if the bird really knew what happened, who was Richard…?

EPISODE 8: Josh Harris, Harvesting Me

Josh Harris, internet entrepreneur (We Live in Public) and Television addict.

The 3rd millennium has been ushered into existence. No apocalypse, No Four Horsemen. No end of the world. No nothing. Nevertheless, Josh Harris, Internet entrepreneur and aspiring artist has decided that the second coming is at hand. And “the new Messiah” is none other than Gilligan, that’s right, the Gilligan, from Gilligan’s Island. No, not Bob Denver or Jack Black who plays the role of Gilligan. He is but an avatar of the messianic life force, which is Gilligan himself.

For Harris, life is a sad tug-of-war between those who control reality and those controlled by it. The weapon is media. And Harris, in an all-out onslaught on the world, has decided to make his own torpid existence into a new religion.

EPISODE 9: In The Kingdom Of The Unabomber

An interview with Gary Greenberg, Unabomber pen pal.

Gary Greenberg, a psychotherapist fixated on becoming a writer, was unable to get his work noticed. What better scheme than to attach himself to a writer who had not only gotten puplished but was also something of a celebrity? The only drawback, Greenberg’s writer was the notorious, the infamues Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber.

They started a correspondence. Semingly innocuous at first. And then, yes, fraught with problems. A couple of misunderstanding. Unexpected competition for Ted’s affections, and then all hell started to break loose. Greenberg, who had hoped for a little assistance in his writing career, found himself in the middle of a paranoid nightmare. But was it of his own devising? And was the Unabomber just a little annoyed or was he a lot angrier than that…?

EPISODE 10: Leaving the Earth

The plane was out of control. The flight control systems were inoperable, severed by shards of the Number Two engine. There were 296 S.O.B.’s, souls on board. A flying bomb filled with tens of thousands of pounds of explosive aircraft fuel. No one knew what to do. Not the pilot, not the airline maintenance, not the manufacturer, not the aircraft designers, absolutely no one.

Check pilot Denny Fitch, a passenger in first class, went forward to the cockpit, where he managed to control the plane using only the thrusters. The crash landing was a miracle. In subsequent simulations, no pilot could pull it off.

Why was Denny Fitch on that plane? How did he manage to land it at all? 186 people lived, but 111 people died. Of course, everyone would have been dead if not for Fitch. Will the memory of the 111 ever leave Fitch in peace?

Even though he did the impossible, will he always be haunted by the belief that he might have done the impossible better? The dream of a perfect landing…

EPISODE 11: Mr. Debt

An interview with Andrew Capoccia, lawyer/consumer advocate.

Is unending, unyielding, all encompassing debt an unavoidable fact of life…? Perhaps. Perhaps not. If not, then who is responsible? Who got us into this mess? Can someone be blamed?

Andrew Capoccia’s answer is an unequivocal, “Yes.” Credit card companies, collection agencies, in short, banks and their agents are frantically fighting to put Capoccia behind bars. A “credit card revolutionary,” Capoccia wants to take down the credit system. He’s gotten rich by taking hundreds of thousands of people caught in the endless spiral of credit card debt and confronting creditors on their behalf – and winning.

Despite his successes, he’s been fined over a million dollars by the courts, sued by the attorney general for fraud, and condemned by an attorney review board. Capoccia is embroiled in a crusade that threatens the system of credit as we know it. But is he a selfless moral crusader or a shyster opportunist? Is he a genious or a fraud?

EPISODE 12: The Smartest Man in the World

There’s Mensa, there’s the Triple Nines,and there’s the One-in-a-Thousand Society. But the members of these societies are inane compared to those rare individuals with IQs so high that new tests must be devised in order to measure them. Chris Langan, body builder and nightclub bouncer, has the highest recorded IQ in history. By his own account, somewhere in the 190-210 range.

EPISODE 13: One in a Million Trillion

What do you do when things don’t quite go your way? Give up? Move on? Try something new?

Not if you’re Rick Rosner. Obsessed with “getting it right”, Rick went back to high school. Not once, not twice, not three times. Four seperate times. In fact, he kept going back until he was 34 years old using a combination of fradulent IDs, wigs, and prosthetics.

You might consider him an expert, not on make-overs, but on do-overs. Now a bouncer, a nude model, and a cosmologist, Rick has taken that same commitment of repetition to the television program, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. You see, Rick was on the show, and he lost to a bad question. With his record breaking IQ, he didn’t take it too well.

After two years of exhaustive statistical analysis, looking at every question in every version of the game, he has ruined his very own life. Now on the edge of sanity, he is advancing a theory of cosmology in which the universe is seen as trillions of years old. “Why so old?” you might ask. – To give it the opportunity to endlessly copy itself.

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