Press release from Discovery Communications, July 30, 2015:
This November, Investigation Discovery (ID) turns to the doyenne of television journalism to shed new light on America’s most infamous political scandals and controversial cases. In BARBARA WALTERS PRESENTS AMERICAN SCANDALS, ID pairs with legendary journalist Barbara Walters and ABC’s Lincoln Square Productions to explore the gripping stories that once dominated the 24-hour news cycle and captivated the nation. Along the way, Walters takes viewers behind the scenes revealing her personal thoughts and insights for the first time, ever, and conducts new and exclusive interviews with key players involved in the original case. The world premiere series, BARBARA WALTERS PRESENTS AMERICAN SCANDALS, debuts Monday, November 2 at 10/9c only on Investigation Discovery.
“Journalist. Author. Television personality. In our lifetime, there is no other name more associated with headlines and stories that mesmerized readers and viewers than Barbara Walters. Indeed, only the incomparable Barbara Walters could deliver these original interviews and get the subjects to speak to her,” said Henry Schleiff, Group President, Discovery Networks. “From an emotional reunion with Kimberly Mays, who was switched at birth, to the first-ever on camera interview with Gloria Chapman, the wife of Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon, Barbara peels back the layers of the nation’s most fascinating scandals to uncover new and never-before-heard details, leaving America hooked once again.”
“There is still enormous interest in these sensational scandals,” said Barbara Walters. “I revisit the participants whose lives are still affected today by the extraordinary events.”
In each hour-long episode, BARBARA WALTERS PRESENTS AMERICAN SCANDALS opens the vault of Walters’ most memorable one-on-one interviews, offering unprecedented access and unveiling new perspectives and information. From the brutal killings conspired by the Menendez Brothers, to Jim Bakker’s sexual affair and imprisonment for fraud, which quickly became known as one of the 80s’ most colorful scandals, to the murder of celebrity diet doctor Herman Tarnower, Barbara answers the lingering questions we all still have, reveals where the key players are now, and uncovers the inside scoop behind the iconic tales through interviews with individuals who have never spoken before-but, who do so now, exclusively with Barbara Walters.
Featured stories include:
After Jean Harris visits her lover, celebrity diet doctor Herman Tarnower, he is discovered shot dead within hours. What really happened that night? Broadcast legend Barbara Walters takes viewers behind the scenes of one of the most lurid murder stories she has ever covered. Walters unveils never-before-seen footage from her infamous interviews with Harris, and reveals surprising new details about the crime, including Harris’ drug use, life behind bars, and struggles to turn her life around. For the first time, Jean Harris’ son, Jim Harris, sits down with Barbara Walters and shares what life was like with “mother.” And later, Barbara shares personal commentary on why Harris was the convicted murderer she grew closest to, and how she risked her own reputation to save her.
Switched at Birth
Two baby girls born at the same Florida hospital are sent home with the wrong families. While one dies tragically, the other is embroiled in a dramatic tug-of-war as both families fight for custody of the girl each believes to be their daughter. Barbara Walters uncovers the truth behind the most famous “switched at birth” story. Who sent the babies home with the wrong families? Was it an accident or foul play? And what happened to Kimberly Mays, the young girl who survived? Barbara talks to both families, and has an emotional reunion with Mays to find the truth behind a mystery that has taken more than twenty years to unravel.
Jim Bakker had it all: fame, fortune, and respect as the world’s most successful televangelist. But a sexual tryst and financial troubles cause him to lose his ministry, his marriage, and ultimately lands him in prison. Barbara Walters takes a closer look at one of the 80s most colorful scandals, involving big money, big hair and the “prosperity” gospel. Her interviews with Bakker and his family reveal what life was really like for the family behind the “PTL Club.” What has Bakker been doing since he left prison? Has he moved on from Tammy Faye’s tragic death? Is he still preaching? Barbara uncovers the unbelievable truth about what happened to Jim Bakker, and speaks exclusively to Bakker’s son, Jay Bakker, who reveals intimate, new details about his parents’ marriage and a surprising “revelation” about what his father is doing today.
Mark David Chapman
Music legend John Lennon crosses paths with a lonely, suicidal fan in front of his New York City apartment. Hours later, Lennon is murdered in cold blood, shot in the back four times. Who would kill a pop culture icon beloved by millions? Barbara Walters shares her disturbing interview with Lennon’s murderer, Mark David Chapman, and traces his steps leading up to the crime. She uncovers chilling new details from the person who knew Chapman best, his wife Gloria, in her first ever on camera interview. Still married to Mark David Chapman, Gloria Chapman shares revealing details about her husband’s plot to kill Lennon, and the couples’ life together after the murder.
Barbara Walters has a very unusual pen pal: a young man who killed his parents. Erik Menendez, and his brother Lyle, brutally shoot their mother and father to death in their Beverly Hills mansion one evening. But was the family hiding a horrible secret? Barbara reveals chilling details about the crime, the trials, and her exclusive interview with the brothers. Walters interviews Erik Menendez’s wife, Tammi and shares never-before-seen letters from Erik, describing his life in prison, his hopes, and regrets. Finally, Walters uncovers a stunning message from Erik’s childhood, a bombshell that could possibly grant the brothers a new trial.
Additional episodes of BARBARA WALTERS PRESENTS AMERICAN SCANDALS will be announced at a later date.
BARBARA WALTERS PRESENTS AMERICAN SCANDALS is produced for Investigation Discovery by Lincoln Square Productions with John R. Green serving as executive producer, and David Perozzi as co-executive producer. For Investigation Discovery, Diana Sperrazza is executive producer, Sara Kozak is senior vice president of production, Kevin Bennett is general manager, and Henry Schleiff is Group President.