I’m celebrating 100 episodes of FBI Retired Case File Review with a special crime fiction show exploring clichés and misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. What most people know about the FBI comes from popular culture. This list features what writers of novels, scripts and screenplays sometimes get wrong about the Bureau and FBI agents. This is my second list. In Episode 50, I also wrote about this topic. Both lists were created for those who read and watch crime fiction about the FBI, write crime fiction and thrillers about the FBI, and who have always wanted to join the FBI.
Why should you care if entertainment media gets things wrong about the FBI in books, TV, and movies? Why does it matter if films and novels occasionally contain false information about the FBI?
Gary and Aaron allowed me to re-post this episode from their show on FBI Retired Case File Review. I was interviewed on the Gangland Wire podcast in October 2017 and it was such a fun and crazy episode I thought I would share it with you here. After you listen to this episode, please give Gary some love and check out his podcast at GanglandWire.com or any of the popular podcasts app.
The main thing you need to know about this case is that before Harvey Weinstein, there was Frank Antico, Sr. and Boobgate. This true crime FBI Philadelphia strip club investigation featured extortion, sex, money, and more and a case review is certainly timely and relevant. Some of Frank Antico’s antics will shock you. One important disclaimer: This was not my case, but I know it well because it inspired me to write my FBI crime thriller, Pay To Play.
I’m excited to be celebrating my 50th episode of FBI Retired Case File Review this week, along with the success of my crime novel Pay To Play. While producing and hosting my true crime – crime fiction podcast over the last year, I’ve conducted interviews with my retired FBI colleagues about the high-profile cases they worked while on the job. And during almost every interview one of us comments about some aspect of the case or an investigative method that had been portrayed in books, TV, and movies as a cliché or inaccurately. I noted at least ten (10) misconceptions about the FBI that were repeatedly discussed. Just as some attorneys don’t read or watch legal dramas, and some doctors avoid medical shows and novels, for this special episode I’m joined by retired agent Bobby Chacon, a technical advisor for the TV show Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders for a lively discussion about why some FBI agents might not be reading that bestselling book series or watching that popular show depicting the FBI (In episode 8, I interviewed Bobby about working Jamaican drug gang cases and leading the FBI dive team).
Most people will never meet an FBI agent. The only connections they have with the FBI are the ones they make through books, TV, and movies, along with, of course, the news.
So, what if fictional portrayals of FBI agents are clichés or inaccurate? Does it really matter?
The FBI “G-Men” antique toy cars and guns, games and books featured in this free “G-Men” FBI collectibles calendar are from the memorabilia collections of retired FBI Special Agents Joe McQuillan and Doug Hess. McQuillan, who served as an agent from 1966 to 1998, is a former supervisor of the Philadelphia Division’s tech squad. Hess, who served in the FBI from 1980 to 2002 and was assigned property crimes and reactive work, jokes that he introduced the hobby to McQuillan and “started Joe’s obsession.” They both were collectors of antiques prior to Hess attending an antique show and purchasing a few FBI memorabilia items on sale. No longer available.
I love the article linked below. The author could have been writing about my novel – Pay to Play – when she wrote, “It seems to me no accident, either, that contemporary female crime writers. . .draw heavily on true crime in their fiction. They use their novels to explore the media-sanctioned ways women are supposed to behave in the face of crime and what happens when they don’t.”
The cold hand on the shoulder: Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian