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Bravo is going deep into the true crime space.
The NBCUniversal-owned cable network is near a deal for a two-season, straight-to-series order for a scripted drama anthology based on the Los Angeles Times’ investigative feature and corresponding podcast. Season one will be based on L.A. Times reporter Chris Goffard’s reporting and podcast about “Dirty” John Meehan, his relationship with Debra Newell and his exploits. The series will tell the story of how Newell’s romance with Meehan spiraled into secrets, deception, denial and, ultimately, survival — with shocking ramifications for not just her, but her children.
Season two will be an entirely new and closed-ended story that has yet to be determined.
Additionally, fellow NBCU cable network Oxygen — which recently rebranded with a focus on true crime — has ordered a companion unscripted series exploring Meehan’s “real-life crimes.” Episode counts and premiere dates for both the scripted and unscripted series have yet to be determined.
Bravo’s Dirty John series will be written by Alexandra Cunningham (Chance, Desperate Housewives), who will exec produce the drama alongside Mark Herzog, Chris Cowen, Chris Argentieri, Charles Roven and Richard Suckle. The series hails from NBCU studio Universal Cable Productions in association with Los Angeles Times Studios and Atlas Entertainment.
Oxygen’s unscripted companion series will explore the “real-life experiences” of those manipulated and harassed by Meehan. The series hails from Herzog & Co. and Los Angeles Times Studios with Herzog and Cowen exec producing. The unscripted companion series arrives almost a year after Frances Berwick, president of NBCU Cable Entertainment lifestyle networks, rebranded Oxygen as a home for true crime fare. The executive told THR at the time that she was looking for a Serial-like show for Oxygen, and had found early success with the launch of its own true-crime podcast Martinis and Murder.
Dirty John arrives as true crime has become all the rage on the small screen following the success of fare like Netflix’s Making a Murderer, HBO’s The Jinx and FX’s Emmy-winning American Crime Story anthology franchise. Podcasts continue to remain a prime space for television adaptations, too, with Serial , among others, quickly being put into development following a multiple-outlet bidding war. More than 10 million people are estimated to have downloaded the Dirty John podcast within its first six weeks.
For Bravo, meanwhile, the Dirty John series comes as its first scripted drama — Marti Noxon’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce — is poised to wrap its run this year after five seasons. The cabler’s scripted offerings also include the upcoming second season of drama Imposters.
For producers Universal Cable Productions Dirty John becomes the latest true crime anthology on its roster, joining USA Network’s upcoming Unsolved and The Sinner, with the latter awaiting word on a second season. UCP’s scripted roster also includes USA Network’s Mr. Robot, Suits, Colony, Falling Water, Shooter and Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, Happy, and The Magicians, as well as both of Bravo’s other scripted shows, among others.
Cunningham is repped by WME, who also repped Los Angeles Times Studios and Atlas. ICM Partners reps Goffard.
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