Primetime Nightline Debuts with Casey Anthony Hour

By Chris Ariens 

Taking advantage of the intense interest — and stellar ratings — of the Casey Anthony trial ABC News is pushing back by a week its supernatural series “Beyond Belief” and tonight will produce an hour on the Florida murder trial instead.

“Crime & Punishment: The Casey Anthony Story” comes during the fifth week of the trial. Gavel-to-gavel coverage has dominated daytime programming on Orlando TV stations as well as on Turner channels HLN and truTV. Since the start of the trial HLN has consistently been the second most-watched cable news channel, behind Fox News, in both daytime and primetime.

The interest — and ratings wins — have extended to the broadcast nets too. Friday night, NBC had the #1 show in younger viewers with a two-hour “Dateline”, the second hour of which was devoted to the Anthony trial.

True crime author Aphrodite Jones writes about the Orlando media circus in today’s NYPost:

HLN’s Jane Velez Mitchell showed up, with women going gaga over her in the ladies’ room. Some of the people waiting on line to get into court each day have as much interest in seeing their favorite TV news stars — touching them, shaking their

hands and taking photos with them — as they do in the actual trial. It’s weird.

Witnesses are already demanding money for interviews. Everyone involved wants to cash in. Some key people have made it clear to Nancy Grace’s producers and others that they will not talk without compensation.

CBS stopped sending a reporter to court shortly after opening arguments last month and gave back its assigned courtroom seat. Apparently, the network didn’t think it’d be needing it anymore.

Tonight’s “Primetime Nightline” is the first of 13 episodes the ABC News show will produce this summer.