SundanceTV Announces Four-Part True Crime Docu-series “MURDER IN THE HEARTLAND: IN COLD BLOOD REVISITED” (WT)

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SundanceTV announced that it has ordered a four-part true crime documentary event series MURDER IN THE HEARTLAND: IN COLD BLOOD REVISITED (WT), focused on the brutal murder of the Clutter family in a small Kansas town in 1959, the resulting investigation, convictions and executions of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, chronicled in Truman Capote’s landmark book, In Cold Blood. The series, produced and directed by Academy Award-nominated and Emmy and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger, will present a 360-degree view and re-examination of the crime and subsequent events.

SundanceTV has also obtained the rights to the 1967 Academy Award-nominated film In Cold Blood, starring Robert Blake, and will feature the film, in its 50th anniversary year, along with the new series as a true programming event.

Berlinger is a pioneer in the true crime documentary genre, beginning with the Sundance-winning landmark Brother’s Keeper in 1992 which has influenced a generation of filmmakers, followed by the Paradise Lost Trilogy that resulted in the release of the wrongfully convicted West Memphis Three and more recently his Whitey: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger, which explored the dark underbelly of the criminal justice system. He has also been a veteran contributor to the Sundance family, with six of his feature documentaries premiering at the prestigious annual festival and executive-producing six seasons and directing 22 episodes of RadicalMedia’s award-winning Iconoclasts series that ran on SundanceTV from 2005 to 2012.

An AMC Studios, RadicalMedia and Third Eye Motion Picture Company production, the documentary series is expected to premiere on SundanceTV in 2017, coinciding with the 50th year anniversary of the film version of Capote’s book, which starred Robert Blake and garnered four Academy Award nominations.

“Joe Berlinger has created a framework to explore this story that has as much to do with the cultural impact of the crime as it does the crime itself. It was not just a family and a community that was ripped apart, it was a seminal moment in post-war America that set the tone for what was to come,” said Joel Stillerman, President of Original Programming and Development for AMC and SundanceTV. “His vision for this SundanceTV event series gets at the idea that crime, in and of itself, is rarely the most interesting piece. The impact comes from exploring the broader story, and what a crime says about the culture, and how it shapes that culture moving forward.”

“I have long been obsessed with Capote’s genre-busting masterwork, but even more fascinated by the underlying crime and its impact on the American psyche,” said Berlinger, who has been developing the project with AMC Studios for more than a year. “The opportunity to explore my obsession, in light of new information we have uncovered, with a network and brand that I have long been associated with and which represents cinematic quality at its most intelligent is a dream situation for a nonfiction filmmaker of my background.”  

The late Philip Seymour Hoffman starred as Truman Capote in the 2005 movie Capote. See this and the other films that made our list, The Master at Work: Top 10 Philip Seymour Hoffman Movies.