MSNBC Ramps Up Doc Production

By Chris Ariens 

MSNBC will premiere 25 new documentaries this fall for its “doc block.” The long-form specials include “Lockup: San Quentin – Extended Stay,” “The Mind of Manson,” and “When Forensics Fail.”

The cable network is betting big on the success of the documentaries. Last summer, the network re-branded its 10pm-Midnight hours (9p-Midnight on Fridays) the “Doc Block” after canceling Rita Cosby‘s 10pm show and moving Tucker Carlson up in the line-up. The Doc Block was up 40% in the 25-54 demo last month, when compared to August ’06.

Click continued to read MSNBC’s press release…


MSNBC Goes Inside One of the Country’s Most Notorious Prisons in “Lockup: San Quentin – Extended Stay,” Series Premiering September 7th

SECAUCUS, N.J. – August 30, 2007 – MSNBC unveils more than 25 brand-new documentaries to premiere in the “Doc Block.” The “Doc Block,” weeknights at 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET/PT, includes individual stand-alone documentaries and several MSNBC series. Premiering this September are “Lockup: San Quentin – Extended Stay,” “The Mind of Manson,” a one-hour feature documentary and “Verdict: You Decide.” In October, MSNBC debuts “The Runaways,” “The Five,” “Why They Run,” and “When Forensics Fail.”

“Lockup: San Quentin – Extended Stay” six-part series airs on consecutive Friday evenings at 11 p.m. ET/PT, beginning September 7th:

MSNBC’s new “Lockup” series, “Lockup: San Quentin – Extended Stay” is called ‘Extended Stay’ for good reason – MSNBC spent months taping inside one of the country’s most notorious prisons. This six-part series, which expands on the existing “Lockup” series, airs Fridays at 11 p.m. ET/PT, beginning September 7th.

“Lockup: San Quentin – Extended Stay” takes the “Lockup” franchise to the next level inside this prison where everyday is a battle to survive for both inmates and staff. The ground-breaking series covers stories behind the prison walls from beginning to end, and captures the dramatic personal impact on the correctional officers, staff, and inmates, living each day inside the tension-filled environment of San Quentin State Prison. MSNBC’s cameras were there to witness gang stabbings, the daily happenings in the inmate reception center – which temporarily houses California’s low-level criminals and the worst of the worst, what inmates do to ‘kill time,’ and the overwhelming realities a recently released inmate faces.

“The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has given us and our audience a unique opportunity. It’s rare that a television crew is given months and months of access to a prison with a history and reputation like San Quentin’s. Viewers can expect an extraordinary look inside this prison and the lives of its staff and inmates” says Scott Hooker, senior executive producer, documentary production and development, MSNBC.

“The moment you step inside a maximum-security prison and hear the doors slam behind you, you become overwhelmed by the noise. Inmates yelling. You can hear the anger and despair in their voices. This six-part series is the most comprehensive view of prison life ever recorded,” says Rasha Drachkovitch, executive producer of 44 Blue Productions, the production company that produced “Lockup: San Quentin – Extended Stay” for MSNBC.

“The Mind of Manson” premieres September 5th at 10 p.m. ET/PT:

He was once known as “the most dangerous man alive.” In 1987, NBC News went to San Quentin State Prison to interview the infamous Charles Manson. He was unshackled and unapologetic. At the time, the interview sparked controversy within NBC News – many not wanting to give the convicted murderer any air time – but in the end seven minutes were broadcast. Now, 20 years later, MSNBC airs a much more complete version of the chilling interview and never-before-seen footage in “The Mind of Manson” premiering September 5th at 10 p.m. ET/PT. NBC’s Keith Morrison sits down with former FBI profiler Candice DeLong as she examines Manson’s rantings.

“Verdict: You Decide” two-part series airs on Thursday, September 20th and 27th at 11 pm. ET/PT:

A cop is shot following a high speed chase in Texas. A wife and mother is found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs in her North Carolina home. What if you were on a jury and had to decide what happened in one of theses cases? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to determine the fate of the accused based on facts presented by prosecutors and defense attorneys? In “Verdict: You Decide,” premiering Thursday, September 20th at 11 p.m. ET/PT, MSNBC gives viewers the opportunity to try their hand at weighing the facts in two murder investigations. In each of the one-hour episodes, the facts of the case are presented, followed by both prosecution and defense team arguments based on forensic evidence and experts’ analysis. In the end, viewers will learn what the jury of the defendant’s peers ruled, but did they come to the right verdict? That’s for you to decide.

“The Runaways” three-part series airs on Tuesday evenings at 11 p.m. ET/PT beginning October 2:

There are thousands of runaway kids living on the streets of the United States. Many of these kids have run away from intolerable situations because, they believe, it’s the only way for them to survive. But once on the streets, they all quickly learn that getting by requires plenty of survival skills. MSNBC’s three-part series, “The Runaways,” takes a look at the underground communities of runaways in Chicago, San Francisco, and Jacksonville. In each episode, viewers meet several runaway kids and follow them as they try to make it through the bitter-cold winter nights by sleeping on a train, or in an abandoned house with a knife by their side for protection. They make money the only way they can – “working the streets” or selling drugs, just so they have something to eat. Runaways are often thought of as rebellious kids but, as the cameras reveal, many of them are just starving for affection, safety, and support.

“MSNBC Five” eight-part series airs on consecutive Wednesday evenings at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT beginning October 3:

Five amazing rescues. Five extreme survival stories. Five animal attacks. Five serial killers. Five people who cheated death. MSNBC has searched far and wide for the most amazing footage of people in extreme, desperate situations. “MSNBC Five,” premiering October 3rd at 10 p.m. ET/PT, presents eight half-hour episodes, each containing five of the most shocking and compelling events, all told by the people who experienced them. Among the incredible moments, viewers will see a man shot point blank five times and find out why he lived, a vicious shark attack as it happens and hear from the woman who survived, and see a hijacked plane ripped apart on landing and meet a couple who walked away.

“Why They Run” two-part series airs on October 16 and 23 at 10 p.m. ET/PT:

Police and criminals face off in high-speed car chases everyday, many of which are televised. In “Why They Run” MSNBC brings viewers information they rarely see on TV – the story behind the story – the cause, the outcome, and the answer to “what were they thinking?” A majority of police pursuits begin with a minor traffic violation for which the driver would have only received a ticket had he stopped; “Why They Run” explains, in these cases, why they didn’t just stop.
The two-part series from Los Angeles helicopter pilot and reporter Bob Tur premieres October 9th at 10 pm ET/PT.

“When Forensics Fail” two-part series airs on Thursday, October 18th and 25th at 11 p.m. ET/PT:

Many television crime dramas portray forensic science as the last word in law enforcement, but what happens, in real-life, when forensics fail? There are always two sides to every story and sometimes, there are two sides, or interpretations, to forensic evidence. MSNBC’s “When Forensics Fail,” premiering Thursday, October 18th at 11 p.m. ET/PT, looks at criminal cases in which forensic errors lead to wrongful convictions.

In many cases of wrongful convictions, human error is to blame, but in others it’s unreliable science; recent discoveries are beginning to undermine forensic procedures that were once considered foolproof. Each one-hour episode of “When Forensics Fail” looks at two stories in which the use of forensics helped to convict the wrong person – a man convicted of murdering a bar manager, a mother convicted of killing her five-month-old son, a man sentenced to death-row for murder by arson, and a man convicted of killing his friend. In all of these cases, MSNBC identifies how forensic evidence, such as fingerprinting, impression evidence and toxicology, led to convictions and how some of that same evidence ultimately helped to exonerate those convicted.