12:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
The Next 'Making a Murderer'? TV Series Based on Sunny Von Bulow Trial in the Works
Universal Cable Productions hopes it has the next Making a Murderer.
The NBCUniversal-owned and cable-focused studio has put into development a potential series based on true-crime book The Von Bulow Affair by author-playwright William Wright.
Published in 1983, the book follows the infamous trial of British socialite Claus Von Bulow, who faced murder charges for the slaying of his wife, Sunny. Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce's Ilene Rosenzweig is attached to pen the script for UCP. A network is not yet attached, though UCP is expected to shop the project to broadcast and cable networks.
Set in the early 1980s, The Von Bulow Affair follows the greatest society trial of the 20th century when Claus Von Bulow is arrested for the murder of his wife, millionaire socialite Sunny Von Bulow. After she was found unconscious on her bathroom floor on Dec. 21, 1980, Sunny remained in a coma for 27 years. Claus went on trial for attempted murder in 1982, initiating a legal circus that would last for years.
The drama, which explores what UCP has declared one of the most intriguing family feuds of all time, will offer a comprehensive account of the trial and its aftermath. The potential series will pull from court transcripts and interviews with those involved in a bid to present an unparalleled behind-the-scenes look into the legal proceedings as well as the couple's private lives.
"The story of the Von Bulows will go down in history as one of the most sensational scandals in American high society,” said Dawn Olmstead, UCP executive vp development. “We look forward to delving deeper into this true crime story that still leaves us cold today.”
The Von Bulow Affair comes as true crime dramas have become all the rage at broadcast, cable, premium and streaming outlets following the success of podcast Serial, HBO's The Jinx and Netflix's Making a Murderer. The streaming service's docuseries became the must-watch series over the holidays as America was captivated by the 12-year-long investigation into Steven Avery and his wrongful conviction and subsequent arrest for murder. Netflix is exploring a second season.
FX is currently cashing in on the trend with American Crime Story, an anthology whose first season explores the O.J. Simpson case with a star-studded cast including Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson and Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark. People v. O.J., like Von Bulow, is based on a book (by Jeffrey Toobin).
For its part, Discovery has found success with docuseries Killing Fields, which recently scored an order for six additional episodes.
Serial, meanwhile, is already being adapted for TV, with Last Man on Earth duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller overseeing it for studio Fox 21.
Rosenzweig is repped by Gersh and attorney Michael Schenkman.