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Donnie Wahlberg Will Help HLN Thwart ‘Very Scary People’

Many TV viewers know Donnie Wahlberg for the way he helps solve crimes on the CBS drama “Blue Bloods.” Starting this weekend, they may come to know him for the way he does the same on HLN.

Wahlberg, known for his CBS role and his time in the band “New Kids on the Block,” will debut the documentary series “Very Scary People” on Sunday, March 17, at 9 p.m. eastern on HLN. Over six epsiodes that last two hours each, Wahlberg and producers will tell the stories of diabolical characters like John Wayne Gacy, the Reverend Jim Jones and Charles Manson.

The CNN sister cable outlet will make good use of that relationship, Wahlberg says. “The access to archival footage is just amazing. What we are able to do is really take you back to these places. You get fully immersed, and that really helps tell the story of these people and helps you to understand how they could be doing what they were doing.”

Prouducers have already made a list of 25 people who would live up to the series’ title, says Nancy Duffy, the vice president of program development for HLN and executive producer of this series.

“Very Scary People” launches after HLN unveiled a significant programming pivot, scrapping many of its daytime and early-evening news shows so that it can double down on series about justice and crime. The decision is in many ways a call out to a past era when HLN brought viewers coverage of tabloid-y court cases and true-crime programming.

In this era, executives are eager to lend the network more of the imprimatur of its corporate sibling. “The CNN archives are so vast, and so is HLN’s,” says Duffy. “We are going back and utilizing all of this great material.” New interviews with people who were involved in the original news stories will help “bring them back to life,” she adds.

Access to the historical clips “gives it a quality and credibility and truth that most of these shows just aren’t able to do,” says Wahlberg.

And while there’s little that’s edifying or inspirational about the crimes of people like Charles Manson, Wahlberg believes viewers will be be interested in the series because it helps them understand why these people were able to strike out as they did. “So many people are fascinated by these shows, and they are always gogin to ask the question ‘Why?’” he says. “I don’t think an audience can really rationalize why someone would do the things that these people do. The only way to understand it is to get clseor to it. You get closer by watching a show like this.” He adds: “We are not trying to glorify what these people did. We are trying to help the viewer understand it.”

“Very Scary People” is an original series developed for HLN internally.

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