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Crime News Serial Killers

Apple's 'Black Bird' Inspired By Man Tasked With Coaxing Confession From Suspected Serial Killer

"Black Bird" is the upcoming Apple TV+ series based on the memoir a young football hero-turned-drug dealer, James Keene, who must infiltrate a prison for the criminally insane and coax a confession from alleged serial killer Larry Hall.

By Jax Miller
Taron Egerton in “Black Bird"

A new Apple TV+ original series tells the real-life story of a young drug dealer tasked with trying to coax a confession from a suspected serial killer in exchange for his freedom.

Written and produced by critically-acclaimed crime author Dennis Lehane ("Shutter Island," "Mystic River"), “Black Bird” is the upcoming six-part series on Apple TV+ about Jimmy Keene, a well-liked high school football star and policeman's son sentenced to 10 years in prison without the possibility of parole for dealing drugs.

A prosecutor offers Keene, played by Taron Egerton ("Rocketman," "Eddie the Eagle"), a get-out-of-jail-free card: Infiltrate a maximum-security prison for the criminally insane and elicit a confession from suspected serial killer Larry Hall, played by Paul Walter Hauser ("Richard Jewell," "I, Tonya").

Keene is supposed to get the soft-spoken Hall to admit where he allegedly hid the bodies of young girls the FBI suspects he killed before Hall’s (ultimately unsuccessful) appeal is potentially granted. Per the trailer, authorities believed at the time that Hall — who had only been convicted in federal court of one teenager's kidnapping and rape, though they also believe he killed her — was responsible for up to 14 victims, but they had only recovered the one body. (They now believe he may have killed as many as 40 young women.)

Keene also has to sift through Hall’s shifting narratives, prompting him to question whether or not Hall’s claims are valid.

“In my dreams, I kill women,” Hall’s character says, by way of example, in the trailer. “But they’re just dreams.”

Paul Walter Hauser in “Black Bird”.

The series also marks the late Ray Liotta ("Goodfellas," "Field of Dreams") final on-screen TV performance, playing Jimmy Keene’s father, as reported by Deadline. Liotta, 67, died in his sleep on May 26 while in the Dominican Republic on a film shoot.

His passing came just after he finished shooting “Black Bird.”

Dennis Lehane, who also developed the series, gave a heart-warming tribute following Liotta’s death, stating he specifically wrote the part of decorated policeman Big Jim Keene with Liotta in mind.

“I had no other actor in mind and was floored — humbled, honored, fist-pump elated — when he leapt at playing the part less than 24 hours after we sent him the scripts,” said Lehane. “And the performance he gave? It was a master class.”

Ray Liotta in “Black Bird”.

“Black Bird” is based on the 2011 nonfiction memoir “In With The Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, And A Dangerous Bargain For Redemption,” written by James Keene and Hillel Levin.

Keene got some information about where Hall might have buried some bodies, according to CNN, but then blew his cover by excoriating Hall. He was released after 17 months anyway, according to the Kankakee, Illinois Daily Journal

In 2010, Hall confessed to Laurie Depies' murder, according to the Appleton, Wisconsin Post Crescent. Her body has never been recovered and he has not been charged due to a lack of physical evidence. Hall has subsequently repeatedly confessed to various murders, according to the Belleville, Illinois News-Democrat. His participation in those crimes has never been firmly established.

Hall remains incarcerated in the Federal Correction Institute Butner, a medium security facility in North Carolina. He is not eligible for parole.

The first two episodes of “Black Bird” will premiere on July 8 on Apple TV+, with new episodes every Friday through August 5.

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