Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Oprah Winfrey’s upstart cable network OWN continued its aggressive buying at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival by acquiring North American rights to Crime After Crime, the Yoav Potash-directed documentary. I’m told the deal was six figures, and that OWN will afford the film a qualifying Oscar run before it airs on Oprah’s new network. OWN chief creative officer Lisa Erspamer made the deal with Submarine’s Josh Braun and David Koh. The doc is about Deborah Peagler, an abused woman who struck back at the boyfriend who beat her. She was sentenced to 25 years to life for his murder. Some 20 years into her sentence, California passed a law permitting domestic violence survivors to have their case reopened. A pair of real estate lawyers took on Peagler’s case, and what seemed an easy effort turned into a politically-driven nightmare to free her. The film debuted January 23 at the Temple Theatre, and I’d heard this was an emotionally wrenching tear-jerker. Several distributors including Goldwyn and IFC were interested. The film will have its DVD distribution through Oprah’s Documentary Club, and comes on the heels of OWN’s announcement that Rosie O’Donnell will be a collaborator in the OWN Docu Club. Remake rights were not part of the deal, and I’ve heard there is interest on that front. OWN also acquired the docu Becoming Chaz, which premiered at Sundance.