Marcia Clark Gets Back to Investigating

marcia-clark-first-48-crime-docuseriesUntil she became a heroine of the inaugural “American Crime Story”, the former Los Angeles prosecutor Marcia Clark had been keeping a basement-deep low profile.

But the sympathetic portrayal of her thankless work in the unsuccessful case against O.J. Simpson in an Emmy-winning performance by Sarah Paulson, brought her back into the limelight. She met with the actress, and during awards season even accompanied her to events, receiving her own measure of applause.

And now she’s parlayed her newfound acceptance into a new series, in which she uses those skills as a prosecutor to revive and get more answers about cases that are almost as notorious as that of Simpson.

“Marcia Clark Investigates the First 48” (A&E, 9 p.m.) gets its premiere tonight, parlaying the investigative skills of the network’s The First 48 into older cases Clark investigates firsthand.

“The show is a perfect fit for me,” she told reporters at the TV Critics Association winter press tour earlier this year.

For his part, producer Russell Muth says, “I think Marcia’s one of the most amazing talent that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. She’s extremely well prepared with every person that we talk to.”

As for “American Crime Story,” Clark says “the FX series was just the most bizarre, unexpected experience.”

After so many years of her harsh time in the spotlight, she said, “could I have possibly imagined that 20 years later Ryan Murphy would say, ‘I’m going to shine a light on sexism in the courtroom. I’m going to shine a light on what it was like to be in the crosshairs that way’ and that I would be played by an actress as brilliant as Sarah Paulson, who was somehow, without ever meeting me, able to deliver to you how it felt to be me — amazing.”

Clark says she couldn’t have imagined it happening, “but it certainly did seem to give people a truer picture of what it was like to be there.”

Being asked to be part of an A&E crime investigation, though, was something she would have done any time, Clark said.

“I’ve been a true crime addict since I was four years old,” she said. “I was a weird kid.”

“It’s part of the reason that I so love this show,” she says. “This is my passion. This is not just, ‘Oh, I’ll do a TV show.’ No. This is me. This is all of me. I love this. I would be doing this by myself.”

Odd as it may seem, she throws herself into cases as well known as Casey Anthony and re-examines some of the key witnesses, managing to eke out new information despite the cases being examined previously.

I asked whether it was her skills that will bring new information to these stories.

“Well,” she said, “they do seem to open up more because I’m a real lawyer. I don’t just play one on TV, and I think it matters. I think they know that. They know that I really care about the case. They know that I know how to investigate a case.

“They have a certain degree of trust, I’ve found, and are willing to talk and open up in ways that they tell me I’m not guessing. They tell me they have not said things before, have not been willing to talk about before.

“The ambition of the show is to really reinvestigate, and [see] if we can advance these cases,” says producer David Eilenberg. “I think the viewers who are especially familiar with these cases will be rewarded by that because it is legitimately getting at something new.”

But he added that they’re willing to do lesser known cases as well.

“Within this first season, there are some lesser known cases,” Eilenberg says. “Certainly some of the ones that are big headline cases, we had great work on too. But, no. We have aspirations for scores and scores of cases ahead, and not all of them are boldface name type cases.”

“I think we were actively seeking to do cases you haven’t heard of because it will be all new for you, and I think that people who are interested in true crime are going to be really happy about that, because they don’t need necessarily notorious cases,” Clark said.

“They just need interesting cases where they feel like they learned something. And I think always the best entertainment is entertainment where you come away feeling like you’ve learned something. It’s not just salacious or interesting on a superficial level, but you come away feeling like, ‘I know more of the truth. I understand something better.’ Hopefully that’s what we’re going to be delivering in every episode.”

The new series is accompanied by a second new title that brings together familiar faces, “Grace vs. Abrams” (A&E, 11:05 p.m. EDT), a kind of “Crossfire” about criminal cases and the legal system, starring Dan Abrams of “Live PD squaring off against longtime analyst Nancy Grace.



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