Press release from SundanceTV, Jan. 22, 2018:
SundanceTV today announced the continuation of its exploration of true crime with the greenlight of three new docuseries: “The Road to Jonestown” (w/t) from Appian Way and Emmy Award(R)-winning Stephen David Entertainment; “Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo” from Emmy Award(R)-winners Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, and Peacock Productions; and “The Preppie Murder” (w/t) with Emmy(R) Award- winner Robert Friedman’s Bungalow Media + Entertainment and the original prosecutor in the case, Linda Fairstein. The first of these docuseries, “The Road to Jonestown” (w/t), will air timed to the 40th Anniversary of the massacre this November.
With top tier talent behind the camera, each multi-part series will examine an infamous crime, delving into the crime itself and the lasting effect of these stories on the victims, American society and popular culture.
“Our smart and thoughtful explorations of true crime have been enormously popular with viewers of both the SundanceTV linear network and our Sundance Now streaming service, starting with the Peabody Award-winning documentary series ‘The Staircase,’ and, most recently, Joe Berlinger’s critically acclaimed, ‘Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders,'” said Jan Diedrichsen, General Manager, SundanceTV and Sundance Now. “Continuing to leverage our success with this kind of content makes sense and is organic to the brand. We are excited to expand our partnerships with top tier talent to provide an in-depth exploration of the motives and cultural consequences of some of the most notorious crimes in recent American history.”
The first docuseries, “The Road to Jonestown” (w/t) from executive producers Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson of Appian Way, as well as author Jeff Guinn, and Stephen David of Stephen David Entertainment (“The Men Who Built America,” “Making of the Mob”), “Road to Jonestown” is based on the best-selling book by investigative journalist Jeff Guinn. Phillip Watson, Michael Hampton and Stephen David helped to shepherd the project.
The story will air this year on SundanceTV in conjunction with the 40th Anniversary of the Jonestown massacre that claimed the lives of more than 900 people. The series will paint a picture of Jim Jones’ transformation from charismatic preacher and champion of civil rights into egomaniacal demagogue who led the biggest mass suicide in American history. Never-before-seen archival footage – including secret FBI and CIA recordings, unreleased photographs, personal letters and previously classified documents – as well as new interviews with survivors and Jones family members who have not previously spoken on the record, will attempt to answer the questions how? and why?
“Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo” executive produced by Emmy Award(R)-winners and World of Wonder co-founders Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, Inside Deep Throat), and Elizabeth Fischer and Leslie Mattingly of Peacock Productions, chronicles the life and crimes of Tony Alamo, who, with his wife, Susan Alamo, became a born-again, fire-and-brimstone televangelist. The two launched The Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation in 1969, which soon evolved into a cult that is said to still operate today. Together, by skirting the law and enforcing a code of silence among their followers, the Alamos came to wield unimaginable power, becoming millionaires on the backs of their believers. When Susan Alamo died in 1982, Tony continued getting away with heinous cruelty that included child abuse, polygamy and pedophilia. The series, which is currently in production, will explore the cultural consequences of the Alamo empire and feature rarely-seen archival footage, including an exclusive videotaped deposition with Alamo himself. It will also weave together interviews with the FBI agent who took Alamo down as well as cult survivors who have never previously shared their stories.
SundanceTV is also in pre-production on “The Preppie Murder” (w/t), a multi-part docuseries that reexamines one of the most infamous crimes in recent American history: the brutal murder of Jennifer Levin in Central Park in 1986. Working closely with the case’s prosecutor, Linda Fairstein, the series will expose evidence that was inadmissible in the trial and will also examine the circumstances that made the story unfold the way it did: America’s untamed ambition in the mid-1980s, the rarified lifestyle of New York’s Upper East Side, sexism, elitism, an all-out tabloid media war that blamed the victim and an imperfect justice system. The series is produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment with executive producer Robert Friedman.