Investigation Discovery announced this morningwill bring Vanity Fair magazine’s crime stories to TV in a new series called Vanity Fair Confidential.
ID will partner with Conde Naste Entertainment and True Entertainment to bring some of the magazine’s more compelling stories to viewers in the series, which is set to debut this winter. Each one-hour episode will feature a piece from the magazine and magazine writers will give their insights into each story, interlaced with first-person accounts from those involved in the cases, including law enforcement, family members and friends of the victims.
From ID’s announcement:
Stories in the first season will include
PRISONER OF DENVER by Mark Seal
Twenty-one-year-old Lisl Auman is a self-proclaimed hippie with a knack for mixing with the wrong people at the wrong place and time. In the summer of 1997, Auman is charged with the felony murder of Denver police officer Bruce VanderJagt, despite being locked in the back of a police patroller when the deadly shots were fired. Pleading her innocence, Auman writes to author Hunter S. Thompson and several politicians in a last-ditch effort to make an appeal yet fails to receive any responses or aid. Auman is devastated and hopeless until one day when Hunter S. Thompson responds. Using his vast influence to organize the Free Lisl campaign, Thompson starts working with Vanity Fair contributing editor Mark Seal to uncover what really happened that fatal day. Was Auman as innocent
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The 1980s and ’90s Hollywood hotties cast in Investigation Discovery‘s three-part summer series Heartbreakers got pretty undie-bunched this morning at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 when a TV critic re-named their true-crime series True Crime Sharknado.
But a giant V-shaped depression had formed in the hall long before that. TV critics in the audience had guffawed pretty loudly before the Q&A portion of the festivities when the network showed them clips of the series’ three episodes — all based on real life stories about “dreamboats who turned into nightmares,” as Group President Henry Schleiff described the project, debuting August 13.
When one TV critic began to prattle on happily about how “campy” the project is, former Baywatch babe Nicole Eggert shot back: You call it campy — but it’s a true story…It was very emotionally honest.”
“You have to approach it with a realistic sensibility… you don’t want to approach it as a joke,” chimed in former Growing Pains cutie Tracey Gold. Kevin Sorbo explained to critics they were not seeing the interviews with the stories’ actual victims that will be woven into each episode, which he said, with a straight face, gives them a “20/20 feel.”
“On top of that, they paid us a lot of money,” Sorbo snarked. Read More »
Investigation Discovery‘s Injustice Files will look at the “little known issue of Sundown Towns,” network chief Henry Schleiff said at Winter TV Press Tour 2014. “I had never heard of this before,” he said, explaining the episode would showcase towns in this country in which African-Americans are not allowed to walk about, after dark — and in some cases not allowed to live. “These are mainstream towns, in the heartland — Illinois, Indiana,” he said, calling the episode “really special.” During the ID Q&A session, he also outlined briefly the network’s new Secret Lives Of Stepford Wives. The classic ID-type show will “reveal the dirty laundry of real housewives desperate to cover up their deception, adultery, and greed in order to project a flawless family life,” premiering Tuesday, April 8. From the announcement:
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Investigation Discovery announced its new anti-Valentine’s Day special is the Wendy Williams-hosted 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, a one-hour special on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14 — part of the network’s anti-Valentine’s Day celebration. “Some say ‘breaking up is hard to do,’ but it sure wasn’t for the people who have felt love turn vengeful,” said Henry Schleiff, Group President of Investigation Discovery, Destination America and Military Channel (soon to be renamed American Heroes Channel). “Wendy is the perfect host for this darkly funny special Valentine’s gift from ID that’s better than any box of …poison chocolates!” Three stories of damning dismissal featured in the special: Read More »
Investigation Discovery made it official: it has greenlit a second season of Surviving Evil and Charisma Carpenter has signed to return as host. Surviving Evil presents stories of victims who fought back against their attackers and survived and, ID reminded the media, again, Carpenter is the survivor of an attack by a rogue police officer in 1991 that left her two friends both shot.
“We feel especially lucky to welcome back Charisma, who adds an important layer of depth to the series as a survivor and symbol of female empowerment in Hollywood,” ID’s GM Kevin Bennett said in today’s announcement. ID bills itself as the leading “mystery-and-suspense” network on TV, and America’s favorite “guilty pleasure.”
The 10-episode second season begins filming in early 2014; the program is one of ID’s strongest, ratings-wise. The first season, which premiered on August 28 with Carpenter’s story, ranked as ID’s top series for primetime delivery in the third quarter of ’13 in the 25-54 demo (450,000).
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Kevin Bennett has been promoted to general manager, Investigation Discovery and Military Channel, and EVP programming, ID, Military Channel and Destination America. He will continue to report to Henry Schleiff, Group President ID, Military Channel and Destination America. From the announcement: Read More »
NBC News’ Peacock Productions will produce a weekly crime investigation series for Discovery’s Investigation Discovery network. MSNBC host/NBC News correspondent Tamron Hall will host Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall, debuting September 1. Investigation Discovery noted that Hall’s older sister was a murder victim in a case that is still officially unsolved. In each one-hour episode, Hall will be joined by other correspondents to explore crimes. Among them: journalists Michelle Sigona and Angeline Hartmann and veteran America’s Most Wanted correspondent Tom Morris Jr. The new series also will feature appearances from ID regulars Aphrodite Jones (host of True Crime With Aphrodite Jones) and Keith Beauchamp (host of The Injustice Files). The first episode will explore the brutal murder of a mentally ill wife and mother of two, and update the story of Robert Chambers, the Preppie Killer.
Discovery’s announcement was made the same day ID held a Q&A session at the TCA Summer TV Press Tour for Surviving Evil, about victims of violent crimes who fought back and survived. Similarly, it’s hosted by Charisma Carpenter (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), who was held at gunpoint with friends at San Diego’s Torrey Pines State Beach in 1991 and survived; her attacker was sentenced to 56 years in prison. In addition to Deadline, Peacock Productions was also the production house behind Discovery’s recent Nick Wallenda walk across the Little Colorado River … Read More »
At Discovery Communications’ upfront today, the company’s Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and Investigation Discovery presented their slates of new and returning series. (See Discovery/Harpo-owned OWN’s announcement here). Discovery Channel, which had its highest-rated January ever in total viewers and adults 25-54, is putting an emphasis on live events with specials Fast N’ Live and the Grand Canyon tightrope walk Wallenda Live as well as scripted TV with its first scripted project, miniseries Klondike. The network’s unscripted slate features 10 new series, including The Huntsmen, Rock Raiders, two Naked shows, Hidden Kingdom and Survival.
Related: Discovery Shows Off Star Power At Upfront Presentation
TLC’s slate features 52 new and returning series, including the return of pop culture hit Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Breaking Amish and its spinoff. Animal Planet returns 20 series and new ones like Eel Of Fortune, about hunting prized eels off the New England coast. Its best-performing series ever, River Monsters, returns April 7. Investigation Discovery, meanwhile, is offering up its second original newsmagazine Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall and the Jerry Springer-hosted Tabloid.
Here are details for all the Discovery networks: Read More »
Investigation Discovery has greenlighted a second season of Deadly Affairs for summer 2013. The series hosted by Susan Lucci premiered in September to a 1.22 HH rating and 3.5 million total viewers, the second-best series debut in network history. Deadly Affairs, produced by Sirens Media, tells real-life tales of passionate love affairs-turned-crimes of passion.
UPDATE, 7:05 AM: CEO David Zaslav refused to put any daylight between himself and Oprah Winfrey as analysts in a conference call this morning asked for more insight into the prospects for their struggling OWN joint venture. Now that Winfrey is running the operation, it has “a team she has confidence in, and I have confidence in,” he said. He sidestepped a question about whether Discovery has the right to terminate its agreement with Winfrey, or to re-purpose the channel — for example by moving it to the Web. “We’re up for about a year,” he says. “If we grow a meaningful audience, and we think we will, this will be a significant asset.” Zaslav says that the channel “learned a great deal about its audience” last year and is “off to a nice start in 2012″ with returning shows including Our America With Lisa Ling and Sweetie Pie. Also, “Oprah will be featured in additional formats. … We’re excited to grow this network in 2012.” The company says that, as a matter of policy, it doesn’t break out profits for individual channels. Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
Oscar-nominated feature filmmaker Werner Herzog (whose projects have included the acclaimed documentaries Grizzly Man and Into The Abyss) has a new series of films coming to cable’s Investigation Discovery under the title On Death Row. Premiering later this year, the limited series has Herzog interviewing death row inmates in Florida and Texas to “look into the dark recesses of the human soul,” as Herzog told Deadline in an exclusive interview prior to a TCA session this afternoon. Interestingly, the series evolved from what began as a single film with Into The Abyss. On Death Row is a spare, bleak story literally devoid of bells and whistles — just Herzog’s disembodied narration with unadorned images from Herzog’s one-on-one interviews with four death row killers. And while some will find it odd that a filmmaker of Herzog’s renown could seamlessly move between film and nonfiction TV, he and producer Erik Nelson have been doing so for several years. “It’s sort of a puzzling question that I hear all the time,” he says. “People ask, ‘How can I make both feature films and documentaries? Isn’t that some sort of contradiction?’ But that makes nobody nervous if, say, I’m a writer, if I am Shakespeare writing stage plays and also poetry. That doesn’t make anyone nervous.” Read More »
Discovery CFO Bradley Singer couldn’t have been surprised to be asked at Citigroup’s Global Media, Entertainment and Telecommunications Conference about what’s up with OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Bankers and investors are still waiting to see significant progress at Discovery’s struggling, high-profile joint venture with the talk show host and entrepreneur. But his answer was also familiar: Wait. Now that Oprah’s running the operation “we feel real good about the direction the network is headed in. It’s just building block after building block.” The channel’s financial prospects, he added, depend on how well it can build its viewing audience.
Most of the other questions were a lot easier considering that Discovery has one of the highest profit margins in cable programming. Singer says the ad market continues to improve. “We have not been impacted yet by anything you might read” about weakness in the overall economy. Meanwhile channels that have taken off over the last year, led by ID: Investigation Discovery, have “that much room to grow in terms of advertising.” He’s also optimistic about The Hub, the joint venture with Hasbro. “Long term, that could be Read More »
Investigation Discovery has acquired domestic TV rights to the documentary The Woman Who Wasn’t There from Meredith Vieira Productions. The film, which delves into the mind of “history’s most influential 9/11 survivor,” is set to premiere on the network sometime next year. Director Angelo Guglielmo Jr also wrote with Robin Gaby Fisher the upcoming book The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of An Incredible Deception, to be published in April 2012 by Simon & Schuster’s Touchstone imprint. Gugliemo and Meredith Vieira Prods’ Amy Rapp produced the docu, whcih Vieira and Ross Kauffman executive produced.
Vieira and Rapp executive produced the indie Return, which premiered in Cannes in May, and are producing the national tour of the off-Broadway show Life In A Marital Institution.
Kevin Bennett has been named SVP Programming and Research, ID, Military Channel and Planet Green. It marks Bennett’s return to ID, aka Investigation Discovery, which he helped launch four years ago. His hire is part of a new management structure in which Bennett will lead a newly centralized programming, scheduling and research division across the three brands and will oversee development for ID.
Tom Huffman, formerly of Shed Media, has joined VH1 as VP Original Programming. He will step into to the network executive producer role for VH1′s Basketball Wives, which he developed and originally pitched to VH1 in 2009 when he was at Shed.
With Coast Guard Alaska debuting November 9, the Weather Channel has greenlighted another “guard” reality series, Lifeguard! Premiering in February, the 13-epiosde half-hour docudrama, produced by LMNO Prods, follows the men and women who guard the 150 miles of California coastline. Read More »
The joint-venture channels — OWN with Oprah Winfrey, and The Hub with Hasbro — aren’t included. What’s more, “there is not any specific content that Netflix is entitled to,” Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav told investors this morning at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference. He wouldn’t talk about the economics of the deal but says that they will “become apparent” the next time the company reports its quarterly earnings. He adds that while “we don’t know what’s going to happen with Netflix” — which is grappling with consumer fury after it raised prices 60% for those who want to stream video and rent DVDs –”right now we think that will not create an issue for us.” Here’s the release about Discovery’s new Netflix agreement:
Los Gatos, Calif. and Silver Spring, Md. — Netflix, Inc. and Discovery Communications today announced a two-year non-exclusive licensing agreement that allows Netflix members to instantly watch prior-season series and specials, including an expanded selection of additional seasons of popular series from Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet, as well as Investigation Discovery, Science and Military Channel. Among the highlights are Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild, TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, and Animal Planet’s River Monsters and other titles from Discovery’s rich program library.
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UPDATE, 6:50 AM: Not much from the conference call with analysts about the most interesting story at Discovery: the recent changes at its struggling joint venture with Oprah Winfrey, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Oprah recently named herself CEO and Chief Creative Officer. Zaslav says that “she is in place as CEO already,” and “we now have her creative team in place.” That means Discovery COO Peter Ligouri — named OWN’s interim CEO in May when the partners dumped Christina Norman — can “spend more time with us.” Read More »
Mark Burnett keeps putting his unscripted TV company up for sale, negotiates with the likes of IMG and even Ben Silverman’s Electus, and then loses the buyer because he’s asking too much. And, increasingly, Burnett has lost his programming touch, too. For instance, he took over HGTV’s Design Star contest this season and turned the likeable Vern Yip into the awful Donald Trump. The result is a now unwatchable show. (Burnett doesn’t even allow judges Candace Olson and Genevieve Gorder, both talented articulate designers, to talk. Just Yip. Ugh.) That said, Ray Richmond, who’s contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage, just sent me the news that the crime-themed network Investigation Discovery has hired Burnett to find the talent lurking in America’s prison system. Seriously.
Burnett’s entry Dancing Behind Bars will look to uncover hoofer talent among the incarcerated. The other show, Talent Behind Bars, is designed as a singing competition and has yet to attach a producer. Richmond says media in the room already began dubbing the second show Prison Idol, which Investigation Discovery honcho Henry Schleiff didn’t seem to mind. Schleiff noted that no hardened murderers will be permitted to participate — just those convicted of crimes like selling crack. Who’s gonna be the judges: prison guards? Surely there’s a buyer now for Burnett’s company with classy programming like that.