Peacock Productions Jumps With Brian Banks Into ‘Serial’-esque Real-Time True Crime Series Derby

Add NBC News’ Peacock Productions to the growing list of unscripted-TV producers trying to do their own iteration of the wildly successful Serial podcast. Peacock Prods’ hook?  Its series will be developed with Brian Banks, whose life as a wrongly convicted man is being turned into a movie directed by Lee Daniels.
Last August, Daniels announced he’d signed to The Brian Banks Story for Amy Baer‘s Gidden Media.  Profiled in a 60 Minutes piece, Brian BanksBanks was a high school All-America football player who had committed to USC’s program in 2002 — a plan got got derailed when a classmate accused him of rape. He maintained his innocence, but a plea bargain resulted in a five-year-plus prison sentence. With the help of the California Innocence Project, his conviction was overturned in 2012. Returning to the gridiron after a 10-year hiatus, he played in the UFL and went through six NFL tryouts before making the Atlanta Falcons’ roster in April 2013; he played in four pre-season games. Banks now is a motivational speakers/spokesman for the California Innocence Project.Peacock Prods announced today it had signed “exoneree Brian Banks” to develop the new unscripted series, investigating one potential case of wrongful conviction per season.

“Brian has unique insight into the complex world of the criminal justice system,” said Peacock Productions GM and president Sharon Scott noted Banks has “unique insight” into the criminal justice system; Banks, returne teh compliment, noting,  “Peacock Productions is renowned for its expertise in the true-crime narrative.”

Peacock Productions has stiff competition in the race to land its project among the 100 Best Reality Series Tapping Into The Serial Podcast Success.
Last month, for instance, Undercover Boss producer Studio Lambert/All3Media announced it had teamed with former detective James Trainum, who served as a consultant on the actual Serial podcast, for the real-time crime-investigation series True Conviction. Like Serial, True Conviction would focus on a single homicide during the course of an entire season. Episodes will air in near real-time as the investigation unfolds. Trainum, now a private consultant, is a former detective with 27 years of law enforcement experience with the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan police and a nationally recognized expert on wrongful convictions. The producers had identified several cases for the potential series, which was shopped at Realscreen reality-TV confab in Washington, D.C.  — which this year was a sort of  Serial Knockoff Palooza.

“Previously, everybody thought that you couldn’t sustain an audience’s engagement over an entire season with just one case,” Greg Goldman, President of Studio Lambert told Deadline last month ” The podcast Serial proved that notion wrong; people crave the gritty details that you can only explore with an arced series.”

In case you’ve been living under a flat rock, Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig, that tells one true story – over the course of an entire season.  Serial, like This American Life, from whence it sprang, is a production of WBEZ Chicago. It started with a look into the January 13, 1999 disappearance of Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, who disappeared and, a  month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body.


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