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Investigation Discovery Orders ‘The Von Bulow Affair’ Scripted True Crime Series From UCP

Variety logo Variety 3/28/2017 Oriana Schwindt
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Investigation Discovery is headed deep into scripted territory. The Discovery-owned network has ordered six-part true crime drama “The Von Bulow Affair” from Universal Cable Productions for a 2018 run on ID.

“Von Bulow” is among a whopping 660 hours of original programming that ID has on tap for the 2017-18 frame. The channel that has been the biggest success story in the Discovery family of the past seven years will also offer up its first scripted telepics and a range of docu series.

The channel that thrives on a diet of murder and mayhem has partnered with mystery writer James Patterson on an unusual initiative that will see Patterson write non-fiction books about murder cases covered in ID programming. ID will then turn those books into scripted productions. Patterson’s partnership with ID also includes the “Murder is Forever” true-crime series that debuts later this year.

The movies on deck are “Dating Game Killer,” the true tale of serial killer Rodney Alcala, who appeared on the “Dating Game” in the 1970s; and “Final Vision,” featuring Scott Foley in the famed case of Army doctor Jeffrey MacDonald who was convicted of murdering his wife and daughters but has steadfastly maintained his innocence. Dave Annable plays writer Joe McGinniss, who chronicled MacDonald’s story as he went to trial.

Docus on tap for ID include a three-part special marking the 40th anniversary of the “Son of Sam” murder spree in New York City. “Son of Sam: The Hunt for a Killer” tells the stories of David Berkowitz’s victims and the law enforcement effort that led to his capture.

“Von Bulow” will chronicle one of the more scandalous and sensational murder trials of the 1980s, that of Claus von Bulow, the Danish-born aristocrat accused of using insulin to kill his wife Sunny in order to inherit her fortune and marry his mistress. Von Bulow’s first conviction was overturned on appeal, and a second trial found him not guilty, but some still blame him for Sunny’s eventual death in 2008, more than a quarter century after she fell into a persistent vegetative state.

Based on the book “The Von Bulow Affair” by author and playwright William Wright, the series is executive produced by Meryl Poster (“Chicago,” “Cider House Rules,” “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce”) and Ilene Rosenzweig (“Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce”), who is the writer and executive producer on the project. The book and series tell the story from Sunny’s point of view, a counter to the 1990 film “Reversal of Fortune,” starring Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close (and based on book of the same name by von Bulow’s attorney Alan Dershowitz).

“’The Von Bulow Affair’ was as much a true crime whodunit as it was a family drama that opened the ‘mansion door’ on the dark deeds of, arguably, one of society’s most infamous villains,” said Henry Schleiff, group president at Discovery.

“The Von Bulow family story has long fascinated America and the world. There are so many compelling, probing and conflicting facts from what we know that makes it a worthy story to dig into once again,” said Dawn Olmstead, exec VP of development at Universal Cable Productions. “ID is the ideal partner for this story with their commitment to investigating history’s greatest true crime stories.”

“The Von Bulow Affair” is produced for Investigation Discovery by Universal Cable Productions, and is executive produced by Meryl Poster and Ilene Rosenzweig, who is also the writer/EP on the project and a former editor at the New York Times.

(Pictured: Sunny von Bulow in New York, 1968.)

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