James Ellroy Is Messed Up, Kinda Cool

Crime novelist James Ellroy will star in a new show on Investigation Discovery called “L.A.: City of Demons” that will draw on the wealth of Los Angeles crime knowledge that helped him write books like L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia. There’s a profile on Ellroy in the Toronto Star that is fascinating on several different levels. There’s so much going on that I don’t know what to highlight first: Ellroy’s penchant for speaking like a 1950s Greenwich Village jazz musician, the “Poochinski“-like dog on “City of Demons,” or the fact that the show’s premiere is about the gruesome murder of Ellroy’s mother. Let’s go with the murder first:

In the series’ first segment, entitled “Dead Women Own Me,” viewers follow the story of the unsolved murder of Jean Hilliker, who was sexually assaulted and strangled with her stockings in 1958.

She was Ellroy’s mother, and he was just 10 when he lost her. A news photo taken the day he got the news shows a stunned, geeky-looking boy.

Now 62, Ellroy insists that there’s no personal pain in telling the story of his mother’s murder — complete with crime scene photos — for millions of small screen viewers. It was also the focal point of his memoir, The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women, released last fall.

“I have been exploiting my mother’s death for years,” he says. “I think she is going to command a lot of the royalties when I get to the other side.”

That, uh… that doesn’t sound healthy. I mean, it’s healthier than becoming a serial rapist, but… wow. Writers are messed up people. Just look at the way he talks:

“Crime is a palpitatingly perennial gas — and L.A. crime is the craaaazy crème-de-la-crime,” enthuses Ellroy, whose energized style has been called “neo-noir” and “hyper-pulp.”

“Viewers are terribly tired of the trailer trash tragedies that caustically contaminate documentary TV. They wantonly want to groove, grok, gravitate and glide toward glamorous crime, and L.A. is where all that shimmering . . . stuff . . . pervertedly percolates.”

Terrence Howard tips his fedora to those sentences.

And finally, here’s all the reason you need to watch “City of Demons”: a 21st century version of Poochinski.

His show embraces technology, even if he doesn’t. As he explores the L.A. underworld in City of Demons, technology-phobe Ellroy is accompanied onscreen by a computer-generated, talking bull terrier K-9 cop named Barko, whose personal quirks include dealing drugs and planting guns on suspects.

Barko’s personal quirks also include licking his balls, but I guess dealing drugs is a little more unusual for a dog.