One of the most infamous crimes in recent American history is the subject of the new documentary, The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park. Airing on AMC and SundanceTV, the five-part series will reexamine the 1986 killing of Jennifer Levin at the hands of Robert Chambers. “Before O.J. Simpson, the Preppy Killer was the trial of the century,” New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy is heard saying in ET’s exclusive first trailer.
“The Preppy Murder ... shines a startling light on how gender, socioeconomics and the cultural climate of the time profoundly influenced the course of justice,” said Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks’ Entertainment Group, adding that the series directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work) will take a closer look at “the circumstances that made Jennifer’s case play out the way it did -- as a victim-blaming led narrative that fueled a tabloid media war. This story of sexism, elitism and an imperfect justice system both illuminates the past and has relevance to a vital conversation today.”
Ultimately, The Preppy Murder is a tale of America’s untamed ambition in the 1980s bolstered by the unchecked lifestyle of New York’s privileged prep school kids, sexism, elitism, and an all-out media war that played out in the tabloids.
The series includes interviews with the Levin family, friends of Levin and Chambers as well as prosecutor Linda Fairstein, who first rose to prominence by working on the highly publicized case. Three years later, as the head of the sex crimes unit, she would lead the prosecution against the Central Park Five in the Central Park jogger case, which was the focus of Ava DuVerny’s Emmy-winning Netflix series, When They See Us.
In the 33 years since the tragic events on the morning of Aug. 26, 1986, Chambers and Levin’s story has been turned into the 1989 TV movie, The Preppie Murder starring William Baldwin and Lara Flynn Boyle, and has inspired multiple episodes of the Law & Order franchise as well as Mike Doyle’s character in the HBO series Oz and Illeana Douglas’ character in the Martin Scorcese film Cape Fear. The Preppy Murder docuseries is the first of its kind, however, to take an in-depth look at these true-crime events.
The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Parkwill air over three consecutive nights from Wednesday, Nov. 13 to Friday, Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. ET on both AMC and SundanceTV. Over the summer, SundanceTV released the first few minutes of the docuseries, which you can watch below: