Fox has bought Paradise Falls, a crime drama from Emmy-winning Boardwalk Empire writer-producer Margaret Nagle. Joe Berlinger, who directed the HBO documentary series Paradise Lost about the trial, conviction and eventual release of the West Memphis 3, is co-executive producing the project, which will be loosely based on his experiences covering the case for two decades. The series centers on a down-on-his-luck documentary filmmaker who is sent by a crime reality show to cover the trial of a heinous crime that has engulfed the tourist town of Paradise Falls, PA. He uncovers corruption and deceit at every turn, realizing the case is a smokescreen for the townspeople’s twisted ambition for fame and profit. Nagle, who also sold a one-hour drama to CBS this season, is writing and executive producing the Universal Television Studios project. Brillstein Entertainment’s Margaret Riley also is an executive producer.
Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost series helped spawn a movement to free the West Memphis 3 from wrongful murder convictions; they were released in August 2011 after spending nearly 20 years in prison despite no physical evidence and much inflammatory innuendo. While many people helped the defendants over the years — Peter and Fran Jackson, who even paid legal bills, produced their own documentary — it was Berlinger and Sinofsky’s documentaries that served as a continuing reminder that the trio was rotting in a cell for crimes the filmmakers didn’t believe they had anything to do with. The third movie in the series, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, was nominated for an Oscar and and Emmy. Berlinger, repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment, saw his latest docu, the Paul Simon-in-Africa pic Under African Skies, premiere at Sundance this year and win the audience award at SXSW.
Nagle also has sold an untitled one-hour drama to CBS, billed as a modern-day reworking of Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility. She also will write and executive produce that project, set in the world of medicine. It follows three different but devoted sisters whose lives are turned upside down when the father who abandoned them during their childhood returns, seeking more than forgiveness. Warner Bros Television is producing. Nagle is repped by UTA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.