Claus Von Bulow Scripted Series & Son Of Sam Special Get ID Greenlights; Science Channel Eyes Eclipse & More – Upfronts
Investigation Discovery has given a greenlight to The Von Bulow Affair, the network’s first scripted limited series, and has set premiere dates for its first two scripted movies as part of parent Discovery Communications’ upfront presentation today in New York.
The network also has ordered a three-night event docuseries Son Of Sam: The Hunt For A Killer, its latest effort in that realm after the successful JonBenet: An American Murder Mystery and Is O.J. Innocent?: The Missing Evidence.
The Von Bulow Affair, a six-part series from Universal Cable Productions and based on William Wright’s book of the same name, centers on Danish-born aristocrat Claus von Bulow who was accused of twice attempting to murder his heiress wife Sunny by insulin overdose to inherit her millions and marry his mistress. His first conviction was overturned on appeal, and a second trial found him not guilty, but many still believe he’s to blame for her eventual death in 2008, more than a quarter century after falling into a persistent vegetative state.
Meryl Poster is executive producing with Ilene Rosenzweig who is the writer on the project, which is eyed to air in 2018.
Son Of Sam, from Cream Productions and Absinthe Films, will trace the parallel stories of a serial killer’s unsuspecting victims, while following the dedicated detectives who worked tirelessly to capture the man who left six people dead and seven wounded, and a city on the edge. A summer premiere is planned.
ID’s 2017-2018 programming slate also includes its core original non-fiction crime series anchored by the debut of James Patterson’s Murder Is Forever, True Conviction and new series Horror At The Cecil Hotel, Home Alone, Murder In The Heartland and The Wonderland Murders. Among the 40 renewed shows for the upcoming schedule include staples On The Case With Paula Zahn, Vanity Fair Confidential and Killer Instinct With Chris Hansen.
Also today in New York, Discovery Communications’ Science Channel officially unveiled its new Johnny Galecki prank series Scijkinks as well as a new incarnation of Mythbusters starring the winners of the reality competition series Mythbusters: The Search. It also plans live coverage of the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 99 years after the last time it occurred.
Here are the major titles on ID’s 2017-2018 programming slate, followed by Science Channel’s slate:
THE VON BULOW AFFAIR (wt)
The Von Bulow case was the most scandalous and sensational murder trial of the 1980s. America’s first televised trial had viewers riveted by the charges that Danish-born aristocrat Claus von Bulow tried to murder his heiress wife Sunny von Bulow – twice – to inherit her millions and marry his mistress. And yet, all most people know about the case comes from the movie Reversal of Fortune, based on a book by Claus’s defense attorney. Now, Sunny’s side of the story is told for the first time ever in THE VON BULOW AFFAIR, an exclusive new series that chronicles the tragic demise of one of America’s last dynastic families. Universal Cable Productions
DATING GAME KILLER
DATING GAME KILLER is the story of Rodney Alcala (Guillermo Diaz), a man with a near-genius IQ, whose charm and smooth talking ability landed him an appearance on the television show The Dating Game in 1978 – and, subsequently, a place in history as one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Alcala preyed on young attractive women, luring them by telling them he was a professional photographer who wanted to enter their photos in a contest. While the precise victim count remains unknown, Alcala is suspected to have killed as many as 130 women and children before he was finally captured in 1980. Through parallel storylines, DATING GAME KILLER also profiles the gut-wrenching journey of Carol Jensen (Carrie Preston) as she seeks justice for her murdered daughter; the relentless mission that Det. Jim Hamill (Robert Knepper) and his partner Greg Ryan (Matt Barr) embark upon to put Alcala behind bars; and, the plight of Alcala’s mother Anna (Alma Martinez) as she comes to the realization that her son has done the unthinkable. ThinkFactory Media
A true-crime scripted drama based on the longest-running criminal case in U.S. history, FINAL VISION is the story of Jeffrey MacDonald (Scott Foley), a handsome, Ivy League-educated Green Beret Army Doctor, who was convicted of brutally murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters in the middle of the night. One of the most horrifying murder cases of its time, FINAL VISION is told through the eyes of bestselling author Joe McGinniss (Dave Annable), who was approached by MacDonald and asked to write a book about his personal nightmare as he was about to go to trial. But is this a story about an innocent man being railroaded by a flawed legal system or is there something far more sinister behind the charming and heroic façade MacDonald portrays? Lincoln Square Productions
EVENTS AND SPECIALS
SON OF SAM: THE HUNT FOR A KILLER
Without any indication of who he was targeting, when he was going to strike, or where, New York City was in panic for a year while a serial killer taunted law enforcement with a fatal game of cat and mouse. Now, on the 40th anniversary of the capture of David Berkowitz, ID will air the three-part documentary special SON OF SAM: THE HUNT FOR A KILLER, tracing the parallel stories of a serial killer’s unsuspecting victims, while following the dedicated detectives who worked tirelessly to capture the man who left six young people dead, seven wounded, and countless families bereft. SON OF SAM tracks the investigative beats as a tragic mystery unfolds and finally answers the conspiracy theories that question whether the Son of Sam acted alone.
KEITH MORRISON INVESTIGATES
KEITH MORRISON INVESTIGATES features veteran journalist and Dateline NBC correspondent Keith Morrison as he covers true crime cases dominating headlines around the nation. From the prosecution of Chris Tapp to the wrongful conviction of Patricia Rorrer, each installment features interviews with those closest to the case and expert commentary from criminal profilers, psychologists, investigators and legal analysts anchored by Morrison’s unparalleled reporting.
BLACK AND BLUE
From Emmy award-winning journalist Tony Harris and the producers of Hate in America comes BLACK AND BLUE, a timely and relevant exposé into the current state of police affairs and race relations that is crippling the nation. With the recent escalation of tragic shootings by and against police, Harris will explore how these crimes are impacting communities while providing a first-hand glimpse into the lives of the black and white officers working to protect our not-so-united states. Candid conversations regarding what needs to be done to quell the accelerating fear, bloodshed, and injustice are conducted as emotions rise to the surface in this hard-hitting, one-hour special on Investigation Discovery.
THE TRIAL OF ANTHONY GRAY (wt)
Who killed James and Vivian Gray? Scott County, Ky., prosecutors say the Grays’ only son, Anthony, did – after all, he would inherit their riches. And when presented with a pile of physical evidence – he confessed on camera. The problem? The evidence they presented was forged by police. The confession was thrown out by the state Supreme Court. Now, while Anthony sits in prison, determined prosecutors and dogged public defenders must settle a Kentucky murder mystery – the story of a broken family, a mysterious gun-running ring that went through the very living room where the murders took place; a mysterious daughter who discovered the bodies – and, in real time, a final verdict on Anthony Gray – guilty or not guilty? Watch as it happens.
WORLD PREMIERE SERIES
JAMES PATTERSON’S MURDER IS FOREVER
Welcoming viewers inside the world of a completely immersive true-crime experience, JAMES PATTERSON’S MURDER IS FOREVER harnesses best-selling author James Patterson’s unrivaled storytelling success while proving once and for all that truth truly is stranger than fiction. In his first foray into true-crime television, each self-contained episode of intrigue and deceit will live both on screen and within the pages of James Patterson’s strategically co-branded Book Shots, captivating true-crime viewers and readers worldwide.
After 21 years as a prosecutor with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, where she held a 35-0 success record in the Homicide Bureau before leaving earlier this year, Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi will bring her expertise to ID with TRUE CONVICTION. The series follows Nicolazzi as she visits the scene of the crime, examines the case through the eyes of the prosecutor, and meets with key figures at the center of the case including the loved ones and investigators. Along the way, Nicolazzi shares her personal reflections and insights, connecting elements of the story to her own experiences as a prosecutor, and revealing how the complex layers of each murder investigation came together in the courtroom.
EVIL TALKS: CHILLING CONFESSIONS
A good interrogation is like a chess match, with ploys and strategies from both the investigator and the suspect as detectives must decipher what is the truth… and what is a lie. EVIL TALKS: CHILLING CONFESSIONS transports viewers into the interrogation room for the most intense questionings ever documented. Anchored by real, videotaped interrogations, each episode welcomes viewers to be a fly on the wall for the most chilling conversations in the history of crime.
When a crime occurs, it sends a shockwave across the community, rippling through families and friends of the victims and killers alike. Like a cracked piece of glass, relationships are splintered and loyalties strained in SHATTERED. Each episode takes viewers inside the lives of people whose relationships tied them to a single, devastating event – from an investigator on the trail of a killer, to a friend desperately searching for a missing friend, and a young wife closer to evil than ever imaginable. As relationships and lives shatter to pieces, who will be left standing?
THE WONDERLAND MURDERS (wt)
Hidden amongst the rolling mountains and deep forests of the pacific northwest sits a breeding ground for one of the deadliest terrains in the world. Known as a serial killer’s playground, this land once dubbed “Wonderland” due to its grandeur and summer beauty, washes away into nine dreary months of rain that bring gray skies and a falling mist that drives the demons among us to kill. These are THE WONDERLAND MURDERS.
HORROR AT THE CECIL HOTEL
Since it opened its doors in 1924, the amount of death and tragedy associated with the Cecil Hotel has been nothing short of staggering. A correlation between these sinister incidents has long been suspected, but has never been proven – until now. HORROR AT THE CECIL HOTEL is an investigative docu-series exploring a simple question: Is there an underlying evil that connects the grisly events that seem to continually haunt the Hotel Cecil?
HOME ALONE (wt)
When night falls and everyone heads home, the most welcoming of houses can transform into a sinister, unfamiliar labyrinth. Down dark corridors and behind the veneer of thin glass, a fear of the unknown lurks. In HOME ALONE, a quiet suburban house becomes the setting for unimaginable horror. Victims believe the walls around then are a safe sanctuary, but what lurks in the darkness is far more chilling than anyone could have imagined.
THE MURDER CASTLE
After years of preparation, the city of Chicago opens the Chicago World’s Fair – a 600-acrea modern marvel meant to memorialize the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World. But as America’s best and brightest engineers race to construct the fairgrounds, Dr. H.H. Holmes is constructing his own architectural “masterpiece”… THE MURDER CASTLE. Under the guise of a hotel, the castle is a dark and dangerous death trap filled with staircases to nowhere, sealed “death rooms” and a labyrinth that leads guests to their final resting place.
MURDER IN THE HEARTLAND
MURDER IN THE HEARTLAND is a harrowing narrative that recounts the stories of humble
Middle-American towns – and the provocative crimes that tore through them. Each town’s tale is voiced by the combined perspectives of its residents, but these citizens are more than just storytellers. All interviewees were key witnesses to each of the crimes, having held critical clues to the puzzle that forever changed their lives… and their sense of “home.”
PRIME SUSPECT (wt)
He’s a sweet kid from a nice family. That’s his story. Until one night, something horrible happens and he’s accused of murder. In an all-new true-crime series, PRIME SUSPECT dissects every detail of the investigation. When a reputation appears flawless on the surface, frivolous details later become central clues. Could these seemingly perfect characters really be cold-blooded killers?
EXTREME MEASURES (wt)
These are the incredible stories of real people taking EXTREME MEASURES to solve the murder of a loved one. Those tormented by the past do everything the investigation requires from wearing a wire to turning on a family member to going places the police don’t dare to explore. Though, while desperate for closure, they sometimes discover the facts can be just as damaging as the crime itself.
These murders were no accident. Committed with extreme premeditation – many were months or even years in the making. Riddled with psychological suspense, law enforcement must tap into the minds of chilling killers as they search for clues within the perfect murder.
SCIENCE CHANNEL’S 2017-2018 PROGRAMMING SLATE
SCIJINKS (wt) – Johnny Galecki will host and executive produce SCIJINKS (wt), that will use cutting-edge science as the foundation for outrageous stunts and practical jokes to create the smartest prank show on television. Galecki will orchestrate a team of brilliant and inventive scientists drawing from chemistry, physics, robotics, and more, with colorful pranks designed to introduce audiences to remarkable and unusual scientific discoveries. Galecki’s Alcide Bava Productions and A. Smith & Co. Productions will produce the series for Science Channel.
MYTHBUSTERS – The new team of Brian Louden and Jonathan Louden, who earned the right to be called Mythbusters by displaying killer build skills and science smarts during Mythbusters: The Search, will continue to showcase their awesome talents by building and executing all new experiments. LIFE ON THE LINE – The laws of physics are absolute. They bind us together and tether us to Earth. Adventurer and science enthusiast Todd Sampson puts his faith in science to the ultimate test as he stands tall against a speeding bullet, scales a building with vacuums, and faces off with a wrecking ball.
GREAT AMERICAN ECLIPSE – On August 21, 2017, the Great American Eclipse will cross the continental United States, an event that last happened nearly 99 years ago. Science Channel will go live during the day and feature observations from the International Space Station, a high-altitude observatory aircraft taking readings of the sun’s corona, a multitude of weather balloons streaming live high altitude footage of the eclipse from the edges of space, a fleet of telescopes from 60 locations, and much more!
SILICON VALLEY (wt) – Three-part series from award-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Schwarz that will offer the definitive history of Silicon Valley. Industry leaders including Eric Schmidt and Steve Wozniak are among the industry leaders interviewed in this remarkable look at how Silicon Valley has produced an unrivaled stream of innovations.
SECRETS OF THE PYRAMIDS – The recent discovery of what are thought to be the oldest known papyri in the world and were written by men who were involved in the building of the Pyramids at Giza, may reveal new secrets about the greatest mysteries of these ancient structures. This event mini-series will use cutting-edge science, large-scale engineering experiments and CGI animation to learn more about one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
WHAT ON EARTH? – Science Channel’s most watched series investigates head-scratching anomalies that are constantly being discovered by the vast amounts of satellites that are orbiting the planet. Among the stories looked at in the upcoming season are reports of strange happenings in a swampy area of Argentina known as “The Ghost Zone”; aerial evidence of a giant beast stalking the Blanco River in Texas; and two lagoons in the Amazon jungle could point the way towards a legendary lost city of gold.
OUTRAGEOUS ACTS OF SCIENCE – Hosted by a team of top scientists including astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi and physicist Debbie Berebichez, each episode counts down the 20 best viral science stunt clips from the web and explains the science behind them. Upcoming themes from this season will highlight life hackers, big ideas, and anarchy and destruction.
UNEARTHED – Season two of this popular archaeology series will decode mysteries and combine scientific investigations with CGI animation to reveal the hidden secrets of iconic structures and monuments from around the globe – ancient and present day. Topics include King Tut’s tomb, Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat.
HOW THE UNIVERSE WORKS – Science Channel continues to be the leader in space programming as this blue-chip series returns to show how the inner workings of our planet, the Solar System, the galaxies and the Universe itself. The upcoming season will look at the planet Mercury, binary star systems, black holes and more.
HOW ITS MADE – This Science Channel fan favorite returns for another season, exploring how many of the everyday objects or products we seldom stop to think about are made. Revealing the industrial processes that go into manufacturing everything from skateboard wheels to industrial coffee roasters, to lithographs, and even diving watercraft, season 15 has everything you could imagine on display.