SundanceTV has ordered four-part true crime documentary series Murder in the Heartland: In Cold Blood Revisited (working title), a reexamination of the crime chronicled in Truman Capote’s landmark book and Oscar-nominated film, for premiere next year. SundanceTV has also obtained the rights to In Cold Blood, the 1967 film starring Robert Blake, which marks its 50th anniversary next year, along with the new series as a true programming event.
Capote’s “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood chronicled 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. The series, produced and directed by Emmy and Peabody-winning documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost Trilogy), will present a 360-degree view and re-examination of the crime and subsequent events.
Berlinger is a pioneer in the true crime documentary genre, beginning with the Sundance-winning Brother’s Keeper in 1992, 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.
The SundanceTV documentary series is an AMC Studios, RadicalMedia and Third Eye Motion Picture Company production.
“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.”