Emma Watson leads a relatively unknown cast in The Bling Ring, Sophia Coppola’s new film based on the real life escapades of the “Hollywood Hills Burglars.” In 2008 and 2009 a group of teenagers raided the home of several celebrities making off with as much as $3 million in cash and booty before they were nabbed, most of it from Paris Hilton, whose house was burglarized several times. The best account of the burglaries is by Nancy Jo Sales in Vanity Fair, who called the crime spree “completely unprecedented in the history of Hollywood.” The heists have been fodder for hundreds of lurid cover stories for many months. Here’s the questionable segue Maxim chose.
Time was, the Manson family haunted these hills, striking fear into the hearts of the rich and photogenic. Forty years later, Hollywood was once again being simultaneously terrorized and captivated. But the culprits this time were just a knuckleheaded crew of errant teenagers enraptured by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s cult of celebrity. They would pick out the jewelry and designer clothes from the pages of fashion magazines, target the celebrities who had what they wanted, and then track their locations and movements using online sites like TMZ and celebrityaddressaerial.com (a kind of map to the stars’ homes using helicopter photography). From there it was easy: Hop a fence, open a window, and rummage through enough closets until they found what they were looking for. Call it the Home Invasion Shopping Network.
In one short year of operation, from October 2008 to their arrest in October 2009, the crew’s hit list of brand-name marks—Paris Hilton, Lohan, The Hills’ Audrina Patridge, The O.C.’s Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, Brian Austin Green, and Ashley Tisdale of High School Musical—netted them a reported $3 million in cash and swag. The same magazines and Web sites they fetishized ate it up. TMZ dubbed them the Burglar Bunch. The Los Angeles Times went with the Bling Ring. Media blog Gawker made their pitch for the Beverly Hills Bandits. Whatever you called them, it was apparently a story tailor-made for Hollywood, especially when the culprits—young, wealthy, and attractive—were finally collared. (Maxim)
It was always going to be a mere matter of weeks (days, minutes) before Hollywood adapted its own investigation, so I suppose we’re lucky Sophia Coppola got her hands on the case before the Lifetime Channel trampled the evidence. Oh, too late.