From crime dramas to detective comedies and shows depicting serial killers, there’s always at least one law-focused TV series in popular demand at any time.
It makes you wonder how the sensational nature of a show like CSI, with it’s instantaneous test results, gun-wielding forensic scientists, and definitive conclusions, alters our perception of the way law enforcement operates.
If there’s one show looking to fix that perception, it’s True Conviction, Investigation Discovery’s upcoming series featuring the expertise of all-star Brooklyn prosecutor Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, and produced by Yorktown Heights-resident Scott Weinberger. Recently retired with a celebrated 35-0 conviction record over the course of 21 years, Nicolazzi will travel the country examining crime scenes, evidence, and key figures of high-profile cases to provide an inside look at how the complex pieces of murder investigations come together in a courtroom.
Weinberger, Founder and CEO of Weinberger Media, best known for Investigation Discovery’s On the Case with Paula Zahn, has produced an array of crime-based programs that pull from a life-long affair with law enforcement. His background boasts time as a patrol officer (featured on Cops), an investigative reporter working for WNBC-TV and WCBS-TV, and eventually an Emmy-winning executive producer (his exclusive prison interview with the infamous Son of Sam won him his first award).
Now with True Conviction, coming fourth quarter 2017, Weinberger is looking to provide crime audiences a much more realistic perspective on the arduous nature of the judicial system. For your own inside look on what to expect, check out our chat below.
What are you hoping to convey with the working title True Conviction?
The key to this is having somebody who has a great depth of knowledge of the judicial system, as Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi has, and being able to convey insider knowledge at how these cases unfold as they happen to viewers.
These are all adjudicated cases, but each one of them has special moments within the case where prosecutors and investigators had to make major decisions on where to take the prosecution to get to a guilty verdict.
Ultimately, these decisions were made using their skills; [Nicolazzi] knows how to unravel those things and put them back together and give the viewer the behind the scenes view of how those decisions were made and what skewed the investigation in the right directions.
What makes Nicolazzi the perfect fit for this series?
Her breadth of knowledge of the courtroom and how to operate within that environment. It’s not an easy position to be in to walk into a courtroom and face a 6- or- 8-week trial where every move you make relies on getting a just verdict for the families of the victims.
How do you think the portrayal of law enforcement through television affects public perception?
Ultimately there’s the CSI effect, where many people who watch these hour-long dramas on television believe everything is done within the framework of that hour: DNA comes back in 12 minutes, a jury comes to a decision after the break. It doesn’t work that way.
And, although a lot of these procedurals are fantastic, the public perception of how law enforcement handles these cases has been more driven by Hollywood than by reality.
What I’ve always done in my career is try to take all the experiences I have in my past and sort of meld them together in one narrative, one direction. So when I do these shows, like with Paula Zahn as well, we actually show how law enforcement deals with these moments and these twists and turns in cases, which are absolutely real.
It’s an arduous career and I salute anyone that decides to go into that line of work because it’s not easy.
On the Case with Paula Zahn follows a journalist, and True Conviction follows a prosecutor. Do you think the differing perspective will change how audiences perceive these cases?
A journalist may ask a question to someone they’re interviewing, for instance a prosecutor, and say, ‘You know when you received that DNA back, and you got those results, what was your next move?’ That’s a very valid question when you’re trying to follow the investigation.
But, Nicolazzi’s question may be totally different: ‘I noticed when you got the DNA report that you saw this. Now, I’ve run into this in my career myself, I may have done that, but you choose to do this. Tell me why.”
Not saying that the way a journalist will handle it is wrong, it’s just a different direction.
Do you feel that bringing a camera into these intimate investigations alters the way people understand decisions and outcomes?
Prosecutors and cops make decisions all the time that will always be questioned. A majority of the time they get it right. Some of the times they get it wrong.
I think that the public having an opportunity to know as much about the judicial system as possible is only healthy for the narrative.
Anything you can tell us to fuel the anticipation?
Not at this moment, but we’ve got some fantastic cases that we’re in the process of shooting right now.