Andrew Zimmern’s food-centric prodco Intuitive Content is kicking off the new year with its first foray into true crime with How to Survive a Murder, premiering on American digital cable and satellite TV net Reelz tonight (Jan. 10).
How to Survive a Murder is John MacGibbon’s exploration of the murder of his mother-in-law, slashed and stabbed more than 35 times late one night in her apartment in historic Plymouth, Massachusetts. MacGibbon follows leads to “puzzling hostility and evasive behavior” from authorities.
The four-part documentary investigates how this preventable crime could have occurred, and what stood in the way of justice, including allegations of police cover-ups, lenient judges and prosecutors and dark secrets and lies to protect an influential Plymouth family.
How to Survive a Murder marks a departure for Intuitive, which has primarily produced culinary content since its inception in 2015. The Minneapolis-based prodco’s credits include Food Network Kitchen, Big Food Truck Tip, Beats + Bites, The Zimmern List and more.
The series is produced by Intuitive in association with Lura Pictures for Reelz, with Andrew Zimmern (pictured below, left), Patrick Weiland (right) and John MacGibbon serving as executive producers. Patrick McMahill serves as co-executive producer.
How to Survive a Murder premieres tonight (Jan. 10) at 9 p.m. ET/PT with the first two parts airing back to back. The final two parts will air at the same time next Friday, Jan. 17.
Realscreen chatted with Zimmern and Weiland via email to learn more about How to Survive a Murder and Intuitive’s move into the booming true crime space. That interview, lightly edited, appears below.
After five years in the business focusing on food, what made you move into true crime?
Andrew Zimmern: It wasn’t as big a leap as one might think. Patrick Weiland, who runs Intuitive Content, worked for a decade at Dateline NBC, so, for him, it’s familiar ground. When he told me the story behind the project, I knew it was something we had to do. We are a “story first” company.
And what got you on board How to Survive a Murder specifically?
Patrick Weiland: Within hours after the brutal murder of his mother-in-law John MacGibbon, a multiple Emmy Award-winning editor from the venerated broadcast ‘Frontline’ picked up his camera and started making this film. It is a raw and deeply personal search for answers to a random, inexplicable violent crime by a disturbed young man, with some surprising twists. Intuitive partnered with him to help him tell his incredible story.
Are you looking to expand into any other genres outside food and true crime?
AZ: We’re just finishing post-production on a new prime-time news network documentary series that will be announced very soon. We have a team that’s very experienced in home renovation/design and we are developing shows in that space. We are working on scripted and more documentary. Obviously, travel and food remain high on our list — because we’re really good at it. For us, it’s all about great stories.
Do you have plans to produce any more true crime content after How to Survive a Murder?
PW: Absolutely. We have a great team of experienced storytellers from this genre, as well as motion pictures. For me, it’s a return to my roots after more than a decade as an investigative producer at Dateline NBC and CBS News.
AZ: I’ve always felt close to this genre. I’ve spent the last 15 years traveling around the world telling the amazing stories of food and culture. This is just an extension of that.
Any fears that the true crime bubble might burst, or is the genre here to stay?
PW: No. The genre is already evolving from purely shock value or predictability, to more sophisticated, compelling storytelling and that’s what interests us. The audience is very smart, and there is a desire for a deeper understanding into the human condition; true crime is the most primal reveal of that.
Can you tell me how the series landed at Reelz?
PW: We partnered with filmmaker John MacGibbon and LA-based Principal Media, who is representing these films globally. Reelz is our first U.S. broadcast partner.
Do you have any ideas for blending food formats with true crime?
AZ: Shhhh. We have a great one. Stay tuned.
Is there anything else about the show or your first move into true crime that you think is worth mentioning?
PW: This film speaks to the universal truth that we are all seeking answers in a very confusing and sometimes violent world. It also honors the life of a remarkable, beautiful woman, whose life mattered. Most of all, it shows the true cost of not dealing with mental illness.
Watch an exclusive clip below: