NBC Developing ‘Law & Order: True Crime’ Anthology Series from Dick Wolf

     April 6, 2016


Hmm, does this idea sound familiar? The success of recent true crime series like Netflix’s Making a Murderer, FX’s anthology The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and even the first season of NPR’s Serial podcast has inspired another new series: Law & Order: True Crime. Now to be fair for those who cry “imitator!” Law & Order was one of the first crime series to use the “ripped from the headlines” approach, although it did so in a generalized manner. The Law & Order formula, too, stands as one of TV’s best and longest running (through its spinoffs as well), and it’s worth noting that NBC’s Dateline, which has been focusing on real-life mysteries for over 2 decades, is still a ratings contender.

And thus, Dick Wolf and NBC’s long and prosperous history together shall continue with this new true crime series, the first season of which will run for eight episodes (another very different kind of approach for broadcast, but NBC needs to be inventive these days), and focus on the Menendez Brothers Murders:


Image via NBC

Lyle and Erik Menendez were convicted of murdering their parents and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in 1996. The brothers, who were 21 and 18 years old, respectively, at the time of the murders, were tried separately but eventually convicted in a third trial after no verdicts were rendered in the first two trials because of hung juries.

Defense attorney Leslie Abramson represented the brothers through the three trials and claimed that the brothers had suffered a lifetime of abuse from their parents. Their father, Jose Menendez, was accused of sexual abuse as well as being unusually cruel while mother Kitty Menendez was accused of being mentally unstable, and a violent drug and alcohol abuser.

Jurors ultimately rejected those claims. Following the conviction, jurors said they believed the brothers’ motive was to gain their parents’ immense wealth and fortune.

In a press release for the series, NBC President Jennifer Salke played up the gruesome details and taboo issues explored by the case. Wolf added, “the Menendez trial was more scintillating than most crime fiction.” The brothers are currently service life sentences, and the series is said to explore not only the details of the crime, but the motivations behind it.

While this certainly isn’t anything new to the TV landscape, so far true crime series have proved to be an inexhaustible fascination for viewers, and fans of crime TV should know that for the most part, in Dick Wolf we trust. The series is currently in development, so we’ll bring you any news regarding cast or other tidbits as soon as we know them.