Black Bird: The Real Story Behind the Apple TV+ Series

Black Bird: The Real Story Behind the Apple TV+ Series

Black Bird premiered on Apple TV+ last month, and the miniseries has been an intriguing watch so far. The show follows a convict trying to get a confession from an alleged serial killer in exchange for his freedom.

If you’ve watched the series, you know that every episode begins with a slate that reads, ‘This story is based on true events.’ So, what is the real story behind this show, and how close is it to the source material?

Black Bird is based on an autobiography written by James Keene. The story is about how an ex-drug dealer tries to scrub his sentence by getting an alleged serial killer, Larry Hall, to confess to murder, while in a maximum-security prison for the criminally insane.

The show is pretty close to the events depicted in the book. Here’s some context for the uninitiated. James Keene, known as Jimmy, runs a drug cartel and is caught by the police, all thanks to Beaumont, a new attorney in New York.

He is sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to several crimes. This includes supplying narcotics and owning illegal arms.

However, about seven months later, Beaumont and the officer who arrested him reach out to him. They want him to go to another prison and get an alleged serial killer to confess to a crime. This is important because the police don’t have any direct evidence linking him to the murder, but they seem pretty sure he’s their man.

In return, Jimmy’s complete sentence would be scrubbed, and he would be a free man. After a lot of consideration and due to several other circumstances, Jimmy takes the deal. What happens next is the rest of the story.

There are a few significant differences between the book and the show. While the series shows the law enforcement reaching out to Jimmy in seven months, the book says it was after a year.

The show’s timelines aren’t explicitly mentioned, but it can be deduced that Jimmy befriends Larry within his first month. However, in the book, it takes him five long months to gain Hall’s confidence.

Finally, the most crucial difference is the narration style. In the book, James is confident that Larry Hall is the killer. In fact, even the police and the attorney seem to believe the same. However, the show goes back and forth in this aspect.

We see how the Chief Detective handling the case goes about investigating the case and discovering circumstantial evidence. However, people who’ve interrogated Larry Hall for a few other cases of missing girls seem to think that he’s just wasting their time.

To them, he’s merely a serial confessor who tries to gain attention by confessing to crimes he hasn’t committed. At different stages, the people involved question whether Larry Hall is truly their man or not.

Is Black Bird based on a true story?
Jimmy Keene | Source: IMDb

If this wasn’t fascinating enough, here’s the real kicker. In real life, Larry Hall hasn’t been convicted of any murders the police believed he had committed. However, he’s been sentenced to life without parole for abducting Jessica Roach. It’s the same case for which James is trying to get a confession from Hall in the show.

Currently, the realLarry Hall is about 59 years old, serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution Butner Medium II in North Carolina. The show’s final episode will depict if Larry Hall is confirmed as a killer or if he’s portrayed in the same way as he is in real life.

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About Black Bird

Black Bird is an American miniseries developed by Dennis Lehane. The crime drama first premiered on Apple TV+ with weekly episodes in a six-part limited series. The show is based on the 2010 autobiography of James Keene.

As Jimmy Keene begins a 10-year prison sentence, he gets an incredible offer: If he can elicit a confession from the suspected killer, Larry Hall, he will gain his freedom. Completing his mission becomes a challenge of a lifetime. 

The show stars Taron Egerton as Jimmy Keene, Paul Walter Hauser as Larry Hall, Sepideh Moafi as Lauren McCauley, Greg Kinnear as Brian Miller, and Ray Liotta as Big Jim.