A&E premieres Elizabeth Vargas-led investigative docu-series 'Cults and Extreme Belief,' as well as two other specials
This month saw the premiere of 'Cults and Extreme Belief,' 'Casey Anthony's Parents Speak,' and 'Mary Kay Letourneau: Autobiography' on A+E
Media Network A+E Networks looked to establish its new 'A&E Investigates' banner by hiring reputed television journalist Elizabeth Vargas. She begins her journey in her new network with 'Cults and Extreme Belief,' a series which will examine North Carolina's controversial World of Faith Fellowship Circle, as well as other such organizations across the country.
In the series, she will be accompanied by former members of the controversial organizations and will go on a search to uncover how these sects use their influence to prey upon people's desperation to create their powerful and often destructive belief systems.
The network has announced that 'Cults and Extreme Belief' will take 'an immersive look at one currently active group through the eyes of past devotees and get perspective and get perspective from believers and leaders that are still inside.'
The first episode of the investigative series premiered this past Monday and looked into Keith Raniere's sex-cult 'NXIVM,' while episode 2, which was released a day later on Tuesday, investigated Jehovah's Witnesses and the story of one particular former member who was the victim of child sexual abuse. Further releases will continue to cover similar themes.
Vargas also fronted the network's two-hour special, 'Casey Anthony's Parents Speak.' The special features an extended interview with George and Cindy Anthony, the parents of the Florida woman who was acquitted of murdering her two-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony, in 2008.
The mother, Casey, had been charged with first-degree murder in relation to the disappearance and death of daughter Caylee. However, she pleaded not guilty to the charge and after a trial that lasted six weeks — in which the prosecution even sought out the death penalty — she was found not guilty of all but four misdemeanor charges.
Vargas had previously served as a co-anchor for ABC's newsmagazine '20/20' and ABC News specials for the past 14 years before taking up the job at A&E to get their own investigative docu-series specials up and running. She will also reportedly be developing programs through the new A+E Originals unit 'devoted to high-end unscripted programs.'
'Mary Kay Letourneau: Autobiography' also aired on May 29 and followed the story of Mary, a Seattle grade school teacher who stunned the world in 1997 when she fell in love with her former 13-year-old sixth-grade student Vili Fualaau. Their subsequent relationship saw her sentenced to seven years in prison for statutory rape.
She was released on parole but sent back for the full duration when, upon release, she was caught with Fualauu once again. The teacher has now revealed never-before-heard details and shared 'her deeply emotional story of forbidden love, her legal troubles and the media firestorm that followed.'