LIVE AT THE HOLIDAY INN is a film about sociologist Robert Martinson. Late one afternoon in the summer of 1979, Martinson hurled himself to his death through the window of his fifteenth floor Manhattan apartment while his teenaged son Michael slept in his bedroom some twenty feet away. A charismatic socialist and civil rights activist in his youth, at the age of 48 Martinson made a name for himself in academia and corrections policy by boldly claiming that rehabilitation efforts had no effect whatsoever on whether or not the incarcerated would return to crime. That wasn't entirely true—but Martinson thought attacking the current models of rehabilitation or “treatment” would result in a new dialog about crime and what to do about it. 
Instead, his work caused a total abandonment of rehabilitation programs and a forty-year run of rising incarceration rates, to the incalculable detriment of American society. Martinson realized his error and recanted his thesis only four years later, but by then it was too late. This is the story of Robert Martinson, a talented, embattled man, as told by his friends, lovers, and son Michael. It is a story about fatherhood, the allure of fame, and the hazardous intersection between scientific research and public policy.
The documentary explores the question: Why are some people's life's work ignored or kept underground, whereas others achieve great fame? The question is also probed through two lesser figures who had similar experiences but caused far less pain: Jerry Miller, the rogue bureaucrat who proved we don’t need prisons, and Armand Schaubroeck - known as "The Ratfucker" - an ex-con turned successful entrepreneur who made some of the wildest, most entertaining and profane prison music you’ll ever hear—a man whose integrity denied him fame, but not a successful and happy life.