You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret

Cashing in on the trial, Lifetime movie is unabashed exploitation

Tania Raymonde, Jesse Lee Soffer, Leah Pipes, Tony Plana, David Zayas, Debra Mooney

With a sordid “true story” of sex, violence and Mormonism tailor-made for TV-movie treatment, “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret” makes no apologies for its obligatory exploitation. Twenty years ago, the major networks would’ve been fighting for the rights to Arias’ tawdry tale, and conflicting points of view could have inspired multiple pics à la Amy Fisher. In 2013, Lifetime has the market all to itself and the cabler should reap the ratings rewards with a timely — and undeniably trashy — take.

Not a moment was wasted bringing this quickie cash-in to the screen. “Secret” was already deep into production when a jury found Arias (played by Tania Raymonde) guilty on May 8 of first-degree murder in the brutal stabbing death of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander (Jesse Lee Soffer).

But the 32-year-old mystery woman was convicted as a cold-hearted villain in the court of public opinion long before a formal verdict arrived, and “Secret” has no qualms about portraying Arias the way most armchair jurors already see her: as a “Fatal Attraction”-level bonkers femme fatale.

Intimate details of Arias and Alexander’s sexual relationship powered the sensationalist news coverage surrounding Arias’ trial and provide the backbone here, from the moment Arias follows Alexander into a men’s bathroom to introduce herself, through the sex marathon and naked photo shoots that preceded Alexander’s murder.

Motivational speaker Alexander is dutifully presented as a good Mormon boy conflicted by his frequent sexual encounters with Arias. At worst, he’s leading her on in a situation that will go nowhere, but the script by Richard Blaney and Gregory Small provides plenty of chances for Alexander to make it clear to Arias they don’t have a future together. There’s no hint or suggestion of the physical abuse or other accusations Arias made against Alexander in her case for self-defense during the trial.

Arias, meanwhile, mistakes their natural rapport and chemistry between the sheets for mutual affection and, as depicted, clearly becomes a woman obsessed.

After their breakup, Arias hacks into Alexander’s email to send compromising photos to his boss, slashes his tires and even breaks into his house to photograph him with chaste Mormon g.f. Katie (Leah Pipes) while they sleep.

There’s an unambiguous moralistic streak to this rendering of the story: Arias is the aggressive vixen who instinctively resorts to murder when her carnal hold over Alexander starts to fade, and Alexander tragically pays the ultimate price for his “sins.”

Outside of one relatively witty moment when Arias announces she’s decided to convert to Mormonism and then goes down on Alexander in a hot tub before reemerging in a baptismal pool, the film finds no spark in its clumsy mix of religion, sex and death. Any guilty-pleasure potential is spoiled by the unsettling aftertaste of a real person losing his life to make the movie possible.

The plentiful erotic content is tame by basic cable standards — Raymonde basically spends a lot of time prancing around in skimpy underwear. Instead, veteran “Law & Order” director Jace Alexander pulls out all the stops for a graphic murder scene in which Arias attacks Alexander in the shower, stabbing him 27 times. Too bad the eerie hints of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” only serve as a reminder there are alternate ways to adapt true-crime material.

Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret

(Movie; Lifetime, Sat. June 22, 8 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by SilverScreen Pictures in association with City Entertainment and Peace Out Productions.

Crew: Executive producers, Joshua D. Maurer, Judith Verno, Alixandre Witlin; producers, Kyle Clark, Lina Wong; co-producer, Laurence Ducceschi; director, Jace Alexander; writers, Richard Blaney, Gregory Small; camera, Sharone Meir; editor, Christopher Nelson, Yvette M. Amirian; music, Erran Baron Cohen; casting, Fern Champion. 120 MIN.

Cast: Tania Raymonde, Jesse Lee Soffer, Leah Pipes, Tony Plana, David Zayas, Debra Mooney

More TV

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    WarnerMedia Pulls Out of Audience-Targeting Alliance Open A.P.

    WarnerMedia is going its own way when it comes to helping advertisers find specific groups of TV-watchers. The company, a founding member of the audience-targeting media alliance known as Open A.P., said Friday it would withdraw from the group, citing its desire to pursue its own strategy under owner AT&T. AT&T purchased Time Warner in [...]

  • BLESS THIS MESS - "The Chicken

    Listen: Lake Bell, Dax Shepard on Returning to Broadcast TV With 'Bless This Mess'

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s installment, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, chats with Lake Bell and Dax Shepard, stars of ABC’s “Bless This Mess,” which debuted on Monday. The show centers around a newly married couple, played by Bell and Shepard, who decide to ditch their shoebox New York City [...]

  • superstore renewed season 3

    'Superstore' Showrunner Justin Spitzer Steps Down as He, Gabe Miller, Jonathan Green Renew Overall Deals at UTV

    “Superstore” executive producers Justin Spitzer, Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green have all renewed their overall deals with Universal Television. In addition, Miller and Green will take over showrunner duties on “Superstore” while Spitzer — who also created the series — will shift to develop new projects for the studio beginning with the 2019-2020 season. “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content