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Mar 23, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Beyond True Crime: The Making of Empire on Blood

A conversation will follow the program with Steve Fishman, Julia Barton, & Emel McDowell moderated by Sam Dingman

Podcasts have cashed in on true crime again and again. But can character and suspense-driven stories also shed light on the criminal justice system? Join us for a preview, listening party and discussion, to unpack this question, and celebrate the launch of Panoply’s latest true crime series EMPIRE ON BLOOD which takes us back the Bronx in the early 90s to an unsolved story of murder, betrayal, and a life sentence.

Follow along with two young business partners who made their way ruling the drug trade at an intersection known as “The Corner on Blood.” They lived large, wearing mink, drinking Moët, getting rich. Then their fraught relationship fell apart, dead bodies piled up, and one accused the other of a double homicide he didn’t commit. Or did he? We hear from the full cast of characters involved: the cops, the DA, the terrified eyewitnesses, the dealer doing life, and the dealer who put him there. They all tell their stories to award-winning journalist Steve Fishman, who has spent seven years untangling the twisted web of justice in the Bronx, and chronicling one man’s last chance to overturn his life sentence.

We are excited to welcome journalist and host Steve Fishman, story editor Julia Barton, and exoneree Emel McDowell to UnionDocs to discuss the making of EMPIRE ON BLOOD and contextualize it in the trajectory of the latest slew of true crime dramas on the airwaves. They’ll be joined by Sam Dingman who will moderate a conversation following the preview of the show.


Preview of Empire on Blood

60 min., 2018

Murder. Betrayal. A life sentence.

60 min

Steve Fishman is an award-winning journalist, longtime contributing editor for New York magazine, and the host of Ponzi Supernova, a six-episode audio series about Bernie Madoff. Fishman has often covered the criminal justice system, writing about wrongful convictions, corrupt officials, and financial criminals. His stories have led to the departure of top officials.

Julia Barton is the story editor for “Empire on Blood,” as well as Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History” from Panoply. Her stories have appeared on Radiolab, 99% Invisible, PRI’s The World, TheAtlantic.com, and more.

Joelle Dussek, is a freelance Television & Film Talent and Production Manager, Writer and a recognized Social Justice ambassador with Damascus Road Anti-racism Process. Her love for story telling and community service is what drives her career. She has worked on diverse platforms within the entertainment industry and brings that exposure and expertise to each of her projects.

Emel McDowell was arrested as a high school honor student for a murder he didn’t commit. He spent the next two decades in prison where he taught himself law and eventually wrote the appeal that led to his release. In prison, he mentored other inmates in the law, Including Calvin Buari. He is currently a litigation and trial paralegal at the criminal defense firm Blanch Law in Manhattan. His favorite quote is from legendary attorney, Clarence Darrow, “I have lived my life, and I have fought my battles, not against the weak and the poor; anybody can do that, but against power, against injustice, against oppression, and I have asked no odds for them, and I never shall.”

Sam Dingman (Moderator) is the creator and host of Family Ghosts, a storytelling podcast from Panoply that investigates the true stories behinds mysterious figures whose legends have haunted families for generations. He also produces the Panoply podcasts Bad With Money With Gaby Dunn and You Must Remember This, and previously worked as a producer forOn the Media at WNYC. He’s a winner of the Moth Grand Slam, and his stories have been featured on RISK!, Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything, TBTL, and The Moth Radio Hour.

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Mar 23, 2018
7:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Free – $10.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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