Heiress and socialite Martha “Sunny” von Bulow died at the age of 76 in 2008 after spending nearly 28 years in a coma. Her husband, Claus Von Bulow was tried, convicted and ultimately acquitted, of putting causing it in one of the most sensational criminal cases of the 1980s. Investigation Discovery ordered The Von Bulow Affair, a scripted true crime series from Universal Cable Productions, to put the trial on trial.
The six-part original series is based on the book The Von Bulow Affair by author and playwright William Wright. The series tells the whole story “unfiltered, chronicling the death of America’s aristocracy through the tragic demise of one of its last dynastic families.”
The series will be written by Ilene Rosenzweig (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce), who is executive producing with and Meryl Poster (Chicago, Cider House Rules, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce).
“’The Von Bulow Affair’ was the most scandalous and sensational murder trial of the 1980s, borne from the bowels of high society that existed between white-linen parties of Newport and white-powder mischief at New York’s poshest nightclub,” reads a press statement.
“America was riveted by the charges that Danish-born aristocrat Claus von Bulow twice attempted to murder his heiress wife Sunny by insulin overdose to inherit her millions and marry his mistress. Claus’s first conviction was overturned on appeal, and a second trial found him not guilty, but many still believe he’s to blame for her eventual death in 2008, more than a quarter century after falling into a persistent vegetative state.”
“The Von Bulow family story has long fascinated America and the world. There are so many compelling, probing and conflicting facts from what we know that makes it a worthy story to dig into once again,” Dawn Olmstead, Executive Vice President, Development, Universal Cable Productions, said in a statement. “ID is the ideal partner for this story with their commitment to investigating history’s greatest true crime stories.”
“The two mysteries that drive the series are whether Claus killed Sunny and how her fairytale life came to such a dark end,” reads the official synopsis.
“Hollywood remembers the case through its movie dramatization, Reversal of Fortune, based on a book of the same name authored by Claus’s defense attorney.
The Von Bulow Affair tells Sunny’s side of the story for the first time, revealing the fresh-faced all-American society princess who was nicknamed ‘Sunny’ for her happy disposition. The police wrote her death off as a Valley of the Dolls-esque overdose but it was her son Alex and daughter Ala who spearheaded a private investigation that ultimately convinced the Rhode Island D.A. to pursue their stepfather Claus for murder.”
“The ‘Von Bulow Affair’ was as much a true crime whodunit as it was a family drama that opened the ‘mansion door’ on the dark deeds of, arguably, one of society’s most infamous villains,” said Henry Schleiff, Group President at Discovery. “We are thrilled to partner with the talented team at Universal Cable Productions and acclaimed producer Meryl Poster to tell this nearly unbelievable story to an entirely new generation of viewers.”
Glenn Close played Sunny to Jeremy Irons’ Claus von Bulow in the 1990 film Reversal of Fortune from Warner Bros.
The Von Bulow Affair is slated to premiere exclusively on ID in 2018.