Louis Theroux returns to BBC Two this spring with Louis Theroux’s LA Stories – three new films putting Los Angeles under the microscope.
Continuing his diverse exploration of life in America, Louis looks at LA’s problem with neglected and feral dogs; the experiences of patients with life-threatening conditions at the city’s most famous hospital; and examines how California deals with sex offenders after they are released from prison.
“I’ve been living in Los Angeles with my family for the past year or so. It seemed a chance to explore different sides of a single place, by spending longer immersed in stories and going deeper with the subjects,” said Louis Theroux. “I have a love hate relationship with the city. It embodies the best and worst of America. It combines wealth and glamour with social breakdown and deep neglect. We’ve concentrated on stories that take us into the extremes of life and the extreme parts of one of the world’s great cities.”
Emma Willis, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries for BBC One, Two and Four, says: “Louis is one of Britain’s most iconic interviewers and we’re delighted that he’s returning to the BBC to explore three diverse subjects in his own idiosyncratic style. In the 16 years that Louis has been making films for the BBC, he has produced some of our most challenging documentaries on a range of topics and we’re fascinated to see where he’ll take us next.”
The three films offer a unique insight into LA:
In City Of Dogs, Louis heads to one of the toughest neighbourhoods in the south of the city to investigate how hundreds of neglected and often dangerous dogs roam the streets or suffer mistreatment in chaotic homes. Louis joins dog catchers from the city’s biggest pound as they enter some of the roughest districts to capture or seize dogs. Thousands are euthanized in LA each year, while others are put up for rescue or adoption. In some of LA’s more affluent neighbourhoods, Louis meets the dog-lovers and trainers trying to rehabilitate troubled dogs, while back in south LA we also meet a former gang member who helps turn dogs into weapons.
Life And Death sees Louis head to Hollywood’s Cedars Sinai Medical Center to experience the American way of death. A huge amount of money is spent on treatment during the last year of life and Louis follows the stories of three patients as they grapple with their seemingly terminal conditions. Should they accept the odds are against them and try and pass away in as dignified way as possible? Or should they go down fighting, trying every last treatment no matter how unlikely it is to succeed or how bad the side effects may be? In America – a country that leads the world in spending on end-of-life care – it is often the latter. With extraordinary access to families and patients in deep crisis, Louis will ask difficult questions about health care for terminal patients in the US.
Finally, in Sex Offenders, Louis looks at how California deals with sex offenders after release from prison. Under strict parole conditions, they are tagged with GPS devices and kept under constant watch. Under Megan’s Law, they are placed on a register for life, and anyone can find out their identity and learn about their past crimes, while under Jessica’s Law, they cannot live near parks or schools and many are separated from their families. Louis enters the twilight world of hostels and homelessness and talks with extraordinary openness to convicted sex offenders and those charged with monitoring them to ask questions about the purpose and effects of these laws.
The films were commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two, and Emma Willis, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries for BBC One, Two and Four. They are Exec Produced by Sam Bagnall for the BBC.