8:00am PT by Kate Stanhope
Oxygen Teams With Dick Wolf, Nancy Grace, Ice-T for Crime-Centered Slate
Oxygen is moving full speed ahead with its crime-focused rebranding.
The NBCUniversal cable channel on Thursday unveiled its first upfront slate for its upcoming programming shift, which includes new projects from Law & Order creator Dick Wolf, longtime cable news star Nancy Grace and Law & Order: SVU star Ice-T, among others.
Overall, the network unveiled eight series, including Wolf's Criminal Confessions, which goes inside actual police interrogation rooms and dissects what happens to yield a confession. The docuseries joins the revival of Cold Justice, which also hails from Wolf Reality and was ordered to series in February when Oxygen made their rebranding official.
Oxygen is also teaming with one of Wolf's longtime stars, Law and Order: SVU's Ice-T, for the series Ice Cold Murders (working title), which he will host and executive produce.
Oxygen's other notable collaborators include Buzzfeed Motion Pictures. The network has landed the site's first TV series, What Happened to…Jessica Chambers? (working title), based on a BuzzFeed News investigation into the mysterious death of a Mississippi teen. The docuseries, which hails from NBCUniversal cable's unscripted arm Wilshire Studios, is part of NBC's nearly $450 million investment in the company.
The cabler also has two projects in development, one of which hails from prosecutor turned cable news star Grace, in what is her first project since leaving HLN after a 12-year-run. Retried follows a group of legal experts led by Grace as they reassess an adjudicated murder case to see if they can uncover new information that could potentially lead to a retrial.
"This new slate has a great mix of high-stakes, real-time crime investigation and innovative formats that allows viewers to stay engaged from beginning to end with immersive storytelling,” said Oxygen Media exec vp original programming and development Rod Aissa. “It’s a real differentiator in our programming, and we’re thrilled to be working with some of the sharpest talent and producers in the genre.”
Additionally, Oxygen has acquired Dateline: Secrets Uncovered (working title), which hails from NBC's long-running newsmagazine. Produced by Peacock Productions and hosted by NBC News’ Craig Melvin, the series recounts chilling tales directly from those most affected and involved, including investigators tasked with cracking the case and the families confronting tragedy.
The announcements come ahead of NBCUniversal's upfront presentation on Monday.
When speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in February about Oxygen's increased focus on true crime, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Lifestyle Networks president Frances Berwick pointed not only to the success of the true-crime genre across television (see: Making a Murderer, The Jinx), but also the success of the network's long-running crime series Snapped, which has been on Oxygen for 14 years and 20 seasons.
"Looking across the landscape and how much interest there is, even way beyond conventional television and video content, it really is exploding online with people following crimes and being involved on social platforms in trying to solve crimes, in podcasts, everywhere," she said. "It really felt like there was something we could tap into here and do something different than anyone else in the genre."
What Happened to…Jessica Chambers? (working title)
This active crime investigation docuseries takes a deep dive into the mysterious death of Jessica Chambers, the Mississippi teen who was doused with gasoline and set on fire in December 2014. The series is inspired by the investigative journalism of BuzzFeed News’ senior national reporter Katie J.M. Baker, who reported Chambers’ story, uncovering developments and helping raise awareness about the case. Executive produced by two-time Emmy and Peabody Award winner Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper), the series looks at the mystery and unanswered questions surrounding Chambers’ death, which has made it one of the most-talked-about cases on the internet. In 2016, a grand jury indicted Quinton Tellis, 27, charging him with capital murder. Tellis has pled not guilty to the charge. A trial date has been set for October, which Wilshire Studios plans to cover as part of production. Produced by Wilshire Studios and BuzzFeed Motion Pictures with Joe Berlinger and Matthew Henick exec producing.
Mysteries and Scandals
Hosted and executive produced by Emmy and Peabody Award winner Soledad O’Brien, this new true-crime series investigates Hollywood’s most intriguing criminals, murders and cases of corruption, exploring infamous headlines that captured the nation’s attention using archival footage, new interviews and stylized depictions of past events. Produced by Wilshire Studios with Jason Sklaver and Soledad O’Brien exec producing.
Brian Banks was a star football player with NFL aspirations before he was wrongfully convicted. He spent five years behind bars until he was fully exonerated a decade later. The series will follow Banks along with former prosecutor Loni Coombs as they attempt to unravel details of criminal cases where the defendants claim to have been wrongfully convicted. The series will expose viewers to a thrilling whodunit mystery as the puzzling cases unfold and potentially reveal new information that could change the fates of the suspected criminals. Produced by Peacock Productions with Sharon Scott, Elizabeth Waller, Melody Shafir and Siobhan Walshe serving as executive producers.
Ice Cold Murder (working title)
Hosted by Ice-T, this series exposes outrageous tales and shocking true stories involving sex, money, murder and sometimes a fatal cocktail of all three. Captivating reenactments will spotlight the very dark side of playing with fire and the tangled webs of lust, greed and death. Exec produced by Steven Michaels and Jonathan Koch for Asylum Entertainment and Ice-T and Jorge Hinojosa for Final Level Entertainment.
This series delves into the psychological showdown that takes place inside actual police interrogation rooms and dissects what happens to yield a confession. Each hourlong episode takes viewers through the twists and turns of a real homicide case from the crime scene to the suspects’ questioning to the ultimate confession. The police officers and detectives assigned to each case will reveal their methodology while interviews with the suspects’ and victims’ friends and family will shed light on the crime. In every case, the interrogating officer will “break” the suspect and get a shocking reveal of what really happened. Produced by Wolf Reality and Shed Media with Dick Wolf, Tom Thayer, Pam Healey, John Hesling and Adam Kassen serving as exec producers.
The Disappearance of
A series of multi-part documentaries that dive headfirst into a rabbit hole of unexplored leads, missing evidence and unnerving suspicion surrounding the most puzzling cases of young women who have gone missing. The first two cases in the franchise center on missing student Natalee Holloway, and missing nursing student Maura Murray. The six-part The Disappearance of: Natalee Holloway series will be produced by Brian Graden Media with Brian Graden, Dave Mace, LB Horschler and Alex Weresow serving as exec producers. The Disappearance of: Maura Murray, also a six-part series, hails from Texas Crew Productions with David Karabinas, Eric Begley and Sonia Slutsky exec producing.
Patricia Cornwell’s True Conviction (working title)
Patricia Cornwell — a world-renowned author who has sold more than 100 million books worldwide and has built an entire career on extensive scientific research and unprecedented forensic detail — has assembled an all-star team of world-class experts in the fields of psychology, forensics, and clinical pathology. Together, they will apply their collective knowledge toward a real life case where the stakes are life and death. Produced by All3 Media with Greg Goldman and Patricia Cornwell attached as exec producers.
The Price of Duty (working title)
A look at the most haunting cases of homicide detectives’ careers. Each episode takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster ride to the front lines of the investigation, retracing their first steps on the crime scene to the final bust and the emotional aftermath that they still carry today. Produced by Intellectual Property Corporation and Turn Left Productions with Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Todd Crites and Jackson Nguyen onboard as exec producers.
Dateline: Secrets Uncovered (working title)
Hosted by NBC News’ Craig Melvin, each episode incorporates the classic elements of drama and great storytelling: good guys, bad guys, conflict with the highest stakes, suspense and resolution. Hear the chilling tales directly from those most affected and involved, including investigators tasked with cracking the case and the families confronting tragedy. In every story we tell, we help the real people who lived the events share their journeys with you. Produced by Peacock Productions with Sharon Scott and Andy Cashman serving as exec producers.
This true-crime series follows a group of legal experts led by Nancy Grace as they reassess an adjudicated murder case to see if they can uncover new information that could potentially lead to a retrial. Each week, the team will tackle one new case, studying key moments from the trial, inadmissible evidence and crucial facts that were never made public. Could the reexamination ultimately produce a different theory, or did our justice system get it right the first time? Produced by Leepson Bounds Entertainment with David Leepson, Stephanie Lydecker, Grace and John Terenzio exec producing.
This investigatory series explores the true stories of missing person cases where the attacker convinced the world their victim was still alive by impersonating them. Through text messages, social media posts and more, the murderer or murderers were able to divert suspicion of foul play. On each case, family, friends, key witnesses and the detectives assigned will unravel the tangled mystery and expose the mistakes that finally brought a killer to justice. Produced by All3 Media and Maverick with Adam Greener, Simon Knight, Greg Lipstone and Emily Mayer attached as executive producers.