THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
If anyone doubted the extent of Grace's fan base, just consider her recent run on ABC's Dancing With the Stars. The former prosecutor turned HLN star made it to the final five, beating rivals such as Chaz Bono and David Arquette. Not even Grace would claim this was a testament to her dancing.
But it was a testament to her widespread cultural impact, where the pugnacious commentator has the power to turn crime stories like Caylee Anthony's into media firestorms. Not to mention becoming the center of some firestorms herself.
Critics have accused her of racing to judgment, and some have even blamed her for the 2006 suicide of Melinda Duckett, shortly after Grace interviewed her in connection with her son's disappearance. But that hasn't softened Grace's style, unique in the world of HLN, which has struggled to build other brands with the likes of recently not-renewed Joy Behar.
The Atlanta-based mother of 4-year-old twins (husband David Linch is an investment banker) says her hardboiled view of the world was formed after her fiance, Keith Griffin, was murdered three decades ago. That's when the Georgia native gave up plans to become an English professor and received a master of law from New York University.
She subsequently worked as a prosecutor in Atlanta and in 1997 was asked to host a legal commentary show with Johnnie Cochran on Court TV, before joining HLN with the eponymous Nancy Grace in 2005, where she's the top-rated show.
Now Grace, 52, is branching out. In addition to three books she's already published, she has more in the works: "I am in the middle of writing my next murder-mystery, titled Death on the Dance Floor," she says -- adding, in case there were any doubt, "I loved Dancing With the Stars!"
She's also stamping her name on some upcoming TV movies, developing a Lifetime crime drama based on The 11th Victim, her first novel, and developing several unscripted true-crime projects, with the view to forming her own production company.
All this could make her even more of an asset for HLN, where her contract expires at the end of 2013. "I definitely plan to remain in the crime-fighting and justice milieu," she says. "You'll be seeing me in L.A. much more."
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