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Move over O.J.: NBC's 'Law & Order' to tackle true crime stories in new series

First up: The Menendez Brothers

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Mike Nelson/AFP/Getty Images

NBC wants its own American crime story.

The broadcaster is teaming with veteran producer Dick Wolf to develop Law & Order: True Crime — The Menendez Brothers Murders. The project is an eight-episode anthology series that aims to dramatize a true crime story each season. First up is the sensational case of Lyle and Erik Menendez, two brothers who were convicted of murdering their parents in Beverly Hills in 1989. The drama marks the L&O franchise tackling true cases for the first time. 

NBC announced the drama the day after FX aired the season finale of Ryan Murphy’s similar drama anthology, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which received widespread critical acclaim. 

“We’ve been talking with Dick about how to create an event series coming out of the Law & Order ripped-from-the-headlines brand,” said Jennifer Salke, president, NBC Entertainment. “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 were convicted of murdering their parents and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in 1996.

Added Wolf: “… Jen and I have been focused the natural evolution of the Law & Order brand for the last several years and are excited to extend the franchise with a scripted limited anthology series that focuses on a high-profile trial. There is no shortage of compelling real-life criminal cases, and the Menendez trial was more scintillating than most crime fiction.”

The new series is the latest of several network efforts to ride the wave of crime anthology storytelling popularized by the Serial podcast and Netflix’s Making a Murderer along with American Crime Story. Most of the network efforts are still fictionalized, however. There’s ABC’s Conviction pilot, about the daughter (Hayley Atwell) of a former president who is blackmailed into taking a job examining cases where there’s credible suspicion that the wrong person may have been convicted of a crime. ABC also has a pilot for Archie Panjabi vehicle The Jury, which is described as “12 Angry Men meets Serial“ and follows a single murder trial as seen through the eyes of the individual jurors through the course of a season.