Sunny Hostin hopes to bring a new view to a tried-and-true format.
True-crime documentaries have fueled the fortunes of TV institutions ranging from “48 Hours” and “Dateline” to Discovery’s Investigation Discovery cable network. Now Hostin, a co-host of ABC’s “The View” and a senior legal correspondent for ABC News, wants to add a different element to the mix: the viewpoint of the victims of a crime.
Investigation Discovery has greenlit “The Whole Truth With Sunny Hostin,” a six-episode documentary series that will show Hostin traveling to various parts of the United States to explore the stories behind some of the nation’s most notorious homicides. She says she is eager to include the perspective of people who have been affected by the crimes, not just the criminals and the legal system around them. Hostin will also serve as an executive producer on the series, which is scheduled to debut on ID in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“This show is different,” she says in an interview about her new project. “I don’t think there’s anything out there like it.”
In each hour, Hostin will examine evidence with law enforcement and forensic experts who were first assigned to the case. She will also connect with prosecutors and defense attorneys. And then she will show viewers how evidence is gathered and take them through a trial.
“These things affect the community, the cops, the doctors, for a lifetime,” she says. “I think people want closure. They want to know the person is in jail.”
She joins the network as others are devising programs with similar themes. NBCUniversal’s Oxygen and WarnerMedia’s HLN have both placed new emphasis on true-crime documentary series in recent months.
Hostin brings unique experience. She witnessed two crimes against her own family members, experiences that fueled her rise to become a federal prosecutor. “I know how it feels to be a victim and I want others to understand it,” Hostin says.
That understanding of the effects of crime on people who must grapple with it is essential to the series, says Henry Schleiff, a Discovery group president who oversees ID along with Travel Channel, Destination America and American Heroes Channel. “Her empathy is absolutely vital, and it comes across in the early shots and early tapes we are seeing,” he says in an interview.
“The Whole Truth” is executive produced by Hilary Estey McLoughlin and Terence Noonan for Lincoln Square Productions and Mike Sheridan and Joe Venafro for First Watch Productions. For Investigation Discovery, Liz Massie is senior executive producer, Sara Kozak is senior vice president of production, Jane Latman is executive vice president of development, and Kevin Bennett is general manager.