‘Ringleader’ turns spotlight back on Bling Ring thefts

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With “The Ringleader: The Case of the Bling Ring,” Sunday night’s documentary on HBO MAX, Erin Lee Carr takes another look at the notorious California “Bling Ring” burglars of celebrity homes.

“I was in college when it was happening, and I just marveled at the insanity it would take for somebody around my age to break into somebody’s home,” Carr, 35, began in a Zoom interview.

“It’s one of those cases that stuck with me and as somebody who is largely in the criminal justice space as a film director” — 2021’s “Britney vs Spears” – “it was like, ‘Oh yeah! I want to get involved and see if I can uncover new things and talk to people who have never spoken.”

Which is exactly what she did with the first-ever testimony of Rachel Lee, the so-called ringleader of seven celebrity-obsessed teenage and young adult Calabasas kids who used social media to track when they could burgle $3 million in jewels, clothes and accessories from Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox and others in 2008-2009.

Carr also has the two prosecutors and the reporter who revealed that a Hollywood precinct cop, instrumental in the case, was being paid as a consultant on Sofia Coppola’s take with her 2013 “The Bling Ring” film. That compromised sentencing of several burglars.

“It was really hard to get Rachel to agree to go on the record,” Carr recalled. “Originally, she wanted to do a semi-anonymized podcast so that she could keep her privacy because it’s been a long time since the Bling Ring. You know, she got out (of maximum security prison after 16 months) in 2013, so there’s been a lot of healing and a lot of life that’s happened that has nothing to do with Bling Ring.”

Getting Lee was never assured – until Carr actually got her.

“There was this one moment where I was about to shoot this huge chunk with her that was going to basically be the basis of the entire documentary. The spine of it. And she almost backed out. All the way it was always really difficult.

“But that big block of interview in the film is somebody who has let their guard down and is talking about their own reality with self-deception. Talking about that she was potentially a sociopath before.

“To me it was about breaking that wall down of being careful and for her to feel like she could truly be herself.

“She knows to say that she is responsible for what she did. But that’s the bare minimum when you’ve committed a crime. I think that she always will feel guilty.”

“The Ringleader: The Case of the Bling Ring” streams on HBO Max Sunday.

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