Six-year-old pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her family's Colorado home on the morning of December 26, 1996. Despite the extensive police investigation, multiple grand jury hearings, and the hysterical public response, her murder remains unsolved. So, with the 20th anniversary of Ramsey's death rapidly approaching, and interest in true-crime television peaking, a bottleneck of small-screen attention was probably inevitable.
The four projects are shaping up as fairly distinct—one's a scripted Lifetime movie, while the three docs are each promising different exclusive access to footage, interviews and new evidence. As yet, it's unclear whether any will tackle the internet's stranger-than-fiction conspiracy theory that Katy Perry is secretly JonBenét (but maybe that's where Dr. Phil comes in).
If you're a completist, you're probably going to have to binge the whole bunch, but here's a quick rundown of what to know about each show:
1. The Killing Of JonBenét: The Truth Uncovered (A&E)
A&E's two-hour documentary is the first of the four TV projects to air, and features footage from a 1998 interview with JonBenét's brother Burke Ramsey's, which has never been aired publicly before. Recorded by the District Attorney's office, the tape sees Burke give his account of events from the day JonBenét died, and will be accompanied by analysis from a child psychologist. The doc also includes a new sit-down interview with JonBenét's father John.
Distinguishing feature: That Burke Ramsey interview tape is a biggie, especially in light of the fact that Burke will be giving his first public interview to Dr Phil a week later.
Premiere date: Monday, September 5
2. JonBenét: An American Murder Mystery (Investigation Discovery)
A three-night event series executive produced by the Weinstein brothers, An American Murder Mystery will re-examine key evidence and the case timeline. ID president Henry Schleff has promised a "provocative" take on the mystery of what happened to JonBenét: "The fact is, we may never definitively know the answer to that question—but we will re-explore every angle, every shred of evidence, and every 'whodunit' theory to allow our viewers to draw their own conclusions on the case."
Distinguishing feature: Some exclusive interviewees, including investigator Gordon Coombes, who worked for the Boulder City District Attorney's office during the case, investigative journalist Diane Dimond, who covered the case from the start, and former Colorado detectives Bobby Brown and Steve Pease.
Premiere date: Monday, September 12
3. The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey (CBS)
A six-hour, three-part "docu-thriller" event series that sounds close in concept to HBO's nightmare-inducing The Jinx. The Case Of (previously titled Case Closed, just for extra confusion) reunites the original investigators from the murder case—including forensic experts, former police officers and now-retired FBI agents—to conduct new interviews and re-examine key evidence using new technology. The extensive trailer gives a pretty good sense of the Serial-level obsession you may be in for here.
Distinguishing feature: The Case Of… will be an ongoing anthology series at CBS, with future seasons delving into other unsolved or mysterious cases.
Premiere date: Sunday, September 18
4. Who Killed JonBenét? (Lifetime)
This original Lifetime movie has assembled a strong cast of TV 'That Guys', including Mr Robot's Michel Gill as JonBenét's father John Ramsey, and Ray Donovan's Eion Bailey as lead detective Steve Thomas, who was famously convinced that JonBenét's mother, Patsy (Julia Campbell) committed the murder. The movie will take a fresh look at the events of December 26, 1996, and the competing theories about the murder.
Distinguishing feature: The only scripted project of the bunch. JonBenét and her family have seldom been portrayed by actors before—save for a couple of TV movies in the early 2000s—making this a hook in itself. Newcomer Payton Lepinski will play JonBenét.
Premiere date: November, day & date TBC
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