Call it a different kind of reality TV. Erik and Lyle Menendez, brothers who brutally murdered their parents in 1989, will be the subject of the first season of a forthcoming NBC series, Law & Order: True Crime, the network announced Wednesday, April 6.
The brothers, who were 18 and 21 at the time of the crime, gunned down their parents — entertainment executive Jose Menendez and his wife, Kitty Menendez — in their Beverly Hills home back in August 1989.
They were arrested six months later, and their trial made headlines when it was broadcast on Court TV in 1993. Their defense attorney, Leslie Abramson, memorably spun a narrative in which the brothers were acting in self-defense against two allegedly abusive parental figures.
Ultimately, however, the pair’s criminal record discredited Abramson’s claims.
The jury found them guilty of murder, and both men were sentenced in 1996 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the brothers’ tale will be retold in eight episodes of Law & Order: True Crime, and will be produced by Dick Wolf, who has previously helmed such popular franchises as Chicago and Law & Order.
“We’ve been talking with Dick about how to create an event series coming out of the Law & Order ripped-from-the-headlines brand," NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke said in a statement on Wednesday, April 6. "This case captured the public’s attention like nothing before it as it examined taboo issues such as patricide and matricide in gruesome detail, all against a backdrop of privilege and wealth. We will recreate the cultural and societal surroundings of both the murders and trials when people were not only obsessed with the case but examining how and why these brothers committed these heinous crimes.”
The Menendez brothers’ story was previously used as the inspiration for a 1994 TV movie starring Edward James Olmos and Beverly D’Angelo as their ill-fated parents.
Other true crime series, such as FX's American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, have been met with overwhelming success.
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