Courting new series

Cabler's upfront showcases fall debuts

NEW YORK — As part of its record $120 million investment in original crime and justice programming, Court TV will debut three original series and two documentary miniseries in 2000-01, Henry Schleiff, the court cabler’s chairman and CEO announced Thursday at the net’s upfront presentation for advertisers.

Included in the programming slate for the 2000-01 season is a one-hour primetime crime docudrama series hosted by author Dominick Dunne. The yet-to-be titled series, which will likely air weekly, will focus on how the wealthy and powerful often go free and unpunished.

“Forensic Files,” a half-hour primetime series, which will show how modern day science helps to solve crimes, is slated to premiere in fourth quarter 2000.

“The Wrong Man,” a one-hour investigative series that will cover controversial cases of people who may be wrongfully imprisoned, will join the net’s primetime sked in late third quarter/early fourth quarter. The production team for the series includes award-winning documentarians Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgan (“On the Ropes”) and Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost”).

The net also has plans to introduce two documentary miniseries presented as “docu-soaps.” Directed by Jonathan Stack (“The Farm”), Court TV’s first miniseries, tentatively titled “The Big Easy,” will follow a real-life female New Orleans defense attorney. The second, “Brooklyn North Homicide” from Hybrid Films, will track the exploits of a big-city homicide squad. Schleiff described “Brooklyn North” as “Real World” meets “NYPD Blue.”

Court TV also unveiled a record $20 million marketing campaign to promote its new programming — more than the cabler has spent in its previous nine-year history combined.

With a 0.6 rating in cable homes for February, Court TV’s ratings are up 200% over the previous year during the same time period. Last week, Court TV, which is available in more than 40 million homes, posted a 0.8 rating (equivalent to 303,000 homes), its highest primetime rating since the O.J. Simpson trial.

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