The Jodi Arias murder trial was must-watch TV for five months this year because it had everything: young beautiful people; sex, lies, photos and audiotapes; religious obstacles; and a particularly heinous tragic ending.
A month after a jury could not decide unanimously if the convicted murderer should be sentenced to death, Lifetime taking the story of Travis Alexander’s brutal death to the small screen. “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret,” a title inspired by Arias’ lawyer’s opening argument, premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. The two-hour film starring Tania Raymonde (“Lost”) as Arias and Jesse Lee Soffer (“The Mob Doctor”) as Alexander covers their turbulent and brief relationship more than it does the courtroom drama.
Arias, 32, spent 18 days on the witness stand, where she shared sordid details of every intimate relationship she’s been in as well as her time with Alexander. From her favorite drinks and snacks to her many trips with Alexander to their dirty talk and Tootsie Pops and Pop Rocks trysts, Arias left nothing out—except for a plausible explanation for why she killed a man she said she wanted to marry. Along the way, we heard all the lies Arias told the police, media and anyone who would listen before, during, and after the murder. Then she told some more to the jury.
If there was one story that did not need embellishing, it was this one. But "Dirty Little Secret" co-writers Richard Blaney and Gregory Small do take some creative licenses and fill in a few blanks the trial did not cover. What's real and what's not? Here's your guide to five of the larger departures. Spoiler alert!
1.Las Vegas, 2006
TRIALFACT: Arias and Alexander met in Sin City at the first Prepaid Legal Services convention she attended. She testified that he made a beeline to introduce himself at a mixer and later invited her to a dinner for executives as his guest. Because he was so “attentive,” she said she had to tell him that she lived with her boyfriend and was “monogamous.”
FILMFICTION: As Alexander gives a speech at a conference about “putting a bull's-eye” on what you want and not letting anything get in the way, Arias is in the audience taking in every syllable. When he finishes and retreats to the men’s room, she follows him inside. “I just want you to know that I think you’re amazing,” she says as she barges in and he’s standing at the urinal. Could Arias have been nutty enough to introduce herself to Alexander this way? Perhaps if she had, Alexander would have stayed clear of her.
2.Sexual Encounter No. 1
FACT: After the Las Vegas conference, Arias went home to Palm Desert, Calif., and broke up with her boyfriend. Four days later, she and Alexander met at a friend’s house in Temecula, Calif., where he snuck into her room in the middle of the night and gave her oral sex, she testified. She removed his Mormon temple garments and returned the favor. “There was no conversation,” she testified. “I thought there was going to be, but there wasn’t. We sat down and started passionately kissing…I was apprehensive but I was going with it. I didn’t want to tell him no.”
FICTION: During a very awkward conversation full of cheesy sexual innuendos, Arias comes on to Alexander and invites herself to his hotel room to “drink coffee.” Alexander responds by giving her a little pep talk about why she blows him away and he must refuse. The next night, however, Alexander drinks his coffee. Black.
3.Alexander’s best friends warn him to break up with Arias
FACT: Although Chris Hughes, Alexander’s best friend, was not asked about this incident when he testified, he and his wife appeared regularly on HLN during the trial and told the story of the night Arias scared them to the point they asked her never to return to their house again. While Arias was supposed to be sleeping in the middle of the night, they had a talk with Alexander in their bedroom about their concerns about her bizarre and possessive behavior. Sky Hughes said she felt a bad vibe and told Alexander to open the door. Arias, who had been eavesdropping, was standing there and gave them a “creepy” look that frightened them enough to tell her to stay away.
FICTION: Sitting by Alexander’s pool, the Hughes talk to Alexander about Arias’ obsessive behavior. “We don’t like her for you.” Alexander responds by saying they don’t need to worry because he’s not in it for the long-term. Arias opens the door and startles them. She and Alexander then get into a fight. “You think I’m gonna be your booty call forever? If so, man up and tell me,” she begs. Alexander breaks up with her. But it doesn’t end there.
4.The Day of the Murder
FACT: In April 2008, Arias packed up her things and moved to Yreka, Calif., to live with her grandparents. On June 4, 2008, while supposedly en route to Utah on Prepaid Legal business, Arias drove 1000 miles to Alexander’s home in Mesa, Arizona, arriving around 4 a.m. Thirteen hours later, she slashed his throat, stabbed him 28 other times and shot him once in the head and then drove to Utah where she made out with another man.
FICTION: At one point after their break-up, Arias is shown in Yreka, Calif. at her grandparents’ house, holding her grandfather’s gun. But then Arias shows up at Alexander’s Arizona house around midnight on June 4, 2008 and tells him she is there to say goodbye because she is moving to Yreka. After some weird talk about how easy she is to be with, Alexander asks her if she wants to spend the night.
5.Travis Alexander’s Death
FACT: We will never know exactly why Arias killed Alexander unless she decides to fess up. She said their fight started when she accidentally dropped the camera after they’d spent the afternoon having sex and photographing one another. The prosecution argued it was all a pre-meditated set-up as Arias was in a jealous rage because he was going to Cancun, Mexico, with another woman. If Arias couldn’t have him, nobody could, the prosecution argued.
FICTION: A text from Katie (his new girlfriend) asking Alexander to meet to talk sends Arias into a rage as Alexander begins to shower. Angrily, Arias directs Alexander to pose for pictures in the shower until she gets him into the vulnerable position she is seeking. Within minutes, his life is over as she surprises him with the knife and later shoots him.
Raymonde does an admirable job of channeling Arias' crazy-behind-the-eyes behavior trial followers heard described nightly on HLN as well as her insecurities. But Soffer doesn't do justice to Alexander's charisma and swagger, so it's hard to buy her obsession with him. The movie probably would have benefitted from some distance from the irresistible trial. Too much of this sad saga is engrained in our minds.