Investigation Discovery is getting into the movie business.
The Discovery-owned cable channel has greenlighted its first telepic, Dating Game Killer, centered on serial killer Rodney Alcala, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The true crime project will star Guillermo Diaz (Scandal) as Alcala, a man with a near-genius IQ, whose charm and smooth-talking ability landed him an appearance on The Dating Game in 1978 - and subsequently, a place in history as one of America's most prolific serial killers. Alcala preyed on young attractive women and lured them by telling them he was a professional photographer and wanted to enter their photos in a contest. While the exact victim count remains unknown, Alcala is suspected to have killed as many as 130 women and children before he was finally captured in 1980.
Through parallel storylines, the movie also follows Carrie Preston (The Good Wife) as Carol Jensen, as she seeks justice for her murdered daughter. Chronicling the depths of lives impacted by a murder, the movie also depicts Det. Jim Hamell's (Prison Break's Robert Knepper) restless mission to put Alcala behind bars, and the plight of Rodney's mother, Alma (The Bridge's Alma Martinez) as she begins to wrap her head around her son's violent actions.
Peter Medak (Romeo Is Bleeding) will direct a script written by Leslie Greif and Darrell Fetty. The three will executive produce with ID's Angela Bromstad. Greif's ThinkFactory Media will produce for Investigation Discovery. The movie is set to premiere in early 2017.
"ID has become the premier destination for consistent, high-quality true crime content, and we're excited to extend our storytelling with Dating Game Killer, our first scripted movie," said Henry Schleiff, Group President, Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. "ThinkFactory's creative vision and our stellar cast will bring to life the cat and mouse story of how Alcala evaded the justice system for years and, as such, this is a frightening but true cautionary tale of how we must increasingly be ever vigilant of the evil that lurks, today, in our society."
Added Greif: "It's a real privilege to be working with the team at ID on their first scripted project. They have collaborated with us to gather a top-tier director and cast; allowing us to bring a real depth and sophistication to these characters and this story. Alcala is a harrowing figure and we are confident the ID audience will be fully engaged with Alcala's story and those of the investigators and mother of one of the victims who helped finally bring Alcala to justice."
Known for Scandal and Weeds, Diaz is repped by Innovative Artists, Meghan Schumacher Management and Door 24 Entertainment.
Emmy winner and True Blood alum Preston, repped by Innovative Artists, Sanders/Armstrong/Caserta Management and Jackoway Tyerman, recently signed on for the TNT dramedy pilot Claws and will next appear in ABC's We Will Rise mini.
Knepper will next reprise his role as Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell in Fox's upcoming Prison Break revival. He is repped by Innovative Artists and LINK Entertainment.
For ID, the move into the TV movie realm is the latest expansion under Discovery Networks. Sister network TLC ventured into scripted series for the first time this past year with Tyler Perry's Too Close to Home. The film is a natural extension for ID given its focus on the true crime genre with projects like September's JonBenet: An American Murder Mystery and ongoing series Vanity Fair Confidential.