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CBS Scales Back JonBenet Ramsey Miniseries Plans

CBS has cut its planned true-crime special about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey from six hours to four. The move comes as a glut of projects investigating the 1996 murder of the six-year-old beauty-pageant contestant make their way to television.

Production on “The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey” wrapped earlier this month. Producers and network executives subsequently came to the decision that, given the material gathered, the project would make more sense as a tighter, two-part, four-hour miniseries than as a more languid six hours spread out over three parts. The move frees up valuable real estate in the fall schedule as CBS looks to launch its new primetime season.

Part one of “The Case Of” will premiere, as originally planned, Sunday, Sept. 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. PT, with part two following Monday, Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. CBS will no longer air a third installment, as previously scheduled, on Sunday, Sept. 25. Filling that schedule space, CBS will expand the season premiere of “NCIS: Los Angeles” — making its debut on a new night — from one hour to two, with back-to-back episodes beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. PT. The network will close out the night with an hour of reruns.

Producers are now in the process of editing the series down from four hours to six.

CBS in April announced that it had given a greenlight to an unscripted true-crime anthology series, with the first installment set to investigate the Ramsey case. Produced by Tom Forman (“48 Hours”) and Critical Content, the series reunites the original investigators along with new experts to study the case.

In the wake of CBS’ announcement, other Ramsey projects at Investigation Discovery, Lifetime and A&E all received greenlights. With a surplus of Ramsey-related content headed to market, retaining audience members across a week for a third installment likely would have been a challenge for CBS.

Ramsey was found dead in her family’s Boulder, Colo., home in 1996. Her parents and older brother were initially linked to her murder, but were later exonerated. The case was reopened, however, in 2009 and remains unsolved. Interest by broadcasters in the Ramsey case followed the success of two projects covering another ’90s true-crime story — FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and ESPN’s “O.J.: Made in America.”

 

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