Tom Fontana, Barry Levinson Will Exec Produce ‘Killing Fields’ At Discovery

The two men who helped create a TV program that examined the severe toll the act of solving murders takes on police officers are teaming up  to examine new crimes that involve the taking of human life.

Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson won plaudits for the NBC series “Homicide: Life on the Street” that ran on that network between 1993 and 1999. They will now serve as co-executive producers on “Killing Fields,” a Discovery Channel series that will scrutinize the history attached to various “killing fields” in America — places where crimes have gone undetected due to geography and outside elements. The series will seek to solve the murders using new technologies.

Launching the program will reintroduce the “true crime” genre to Discovery, said Rich Ross, president of the network,in a prepared statement. In recent months, Ross has articulated a strategy of moving away from some of the “stunt” programming for which Discovery has become better known, including televised broadcasts of stunts by daredevil Nik Wallenda, in favor of series that hew closer to the network’s original mission of exploring science and the greater world.

Fontana has written and produced such television series as “St. Elsewhere,” “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Oz” and “The Philanthropist.” He has received three Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards and three Writers’ Guild Awards.  Levinson is best known for directing such critically acclaimed feature films as “Diner,” “Wag the Dog,” “Good Morning, Vietnam,” the crime drama “Bugsy,” which won the Golden Globe for Best Picture, and the Oscar Award-winning film “Rain Man,” for which he won best director and best picture. He has also worked on award-winning television, earning him four Emmys, including crime series such as “Oz” and “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” the latter for which he won an Emmy for best individual director as well as a Peabody Award.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the criminal underworld and the grittier side of society,” Fontana said in a statement.  “I was intrigued by the opportunity to explore non-scripted programming and work with Discovery in telling these real-life stories which use the latest scientific technology and research to shed light on the subject.”

“I’ve spent much of my career working in scripted, but what drew me to this project is the excitement of the unexpected,” Levinson said. “You can never predict what people will say and the direction these stories can take. It’s a different process, so it allows us the freedom to uncover interesting material as it unfolds.”

“Killing Fields” is produced for Discovery Channel by Sirens Media, a Leftfield Entertainment Company. Executive Producers for Sirens are Rebecca Toth Diefenbach, Valerie Haselton and Lucilla D’Agostino. Denise Contis and Joseph Schneier are Executive Producers for Discovery.

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