Cable personality Nancy Grace will leave the network in October to focus on a new project. Wochit
Nancy Grace, a ubiquitous presence on legal news shows for over a decade, is leaving her longtime home at Headline News when her contract expires in October.
The prosecutor-turned-TV host told The Hollywood Reporter that she’d informed her bosses at CNN early this month before announcing the news to her staff Thursday morning.
Her final, eponymously titled show will be in October after which time HLN spokesperson Karen Reynolds tells USA TODAY the network will announce a new show in her old, 8:00 timeslot utilizing Grace’s current team.
CNN executive vice president Ken Jautz told THR, “Nancy has worked tirelessly on behalf of the missing and exploited for more than a decade on HLN. She gave a voice to the voiceless, and we are extremely grateful for her contributions to the network. During her remarkable career at HLN, she led the coverage of two of this century’s most talked about and infamous trials, Casey Anthony and Jodi Arias. We will always be champions of Nancy’s mission and are excited to see what’s next for her.”
Grace was somewhat cryptic about her next move but told the media trade publication that she’d thought “a lot” about it over the last three years and that it will “include a very large digital component.”
She added, “I will always be wedded to a traditional platform — which is TV, God help me. My plan is to merge those two in an effective way, in my voice, the ‘anti-crime’ voice. Our show has never really been about me. It has been about the stories that we tell and the people we talk about and the mysteries we try to solve and the children we try to bring home. There’s an entire section of our population that I want to reach.”
She also has a new novel, Murder in the Courthouse, hitting bookshelves Oct. 11, as well as a series of Hallmark Channel TV movies premiering that month.
After getting her start on Court TV (rebranded as Tru TV in 2008) in the mid-1990s, Grace joined the CNN sibling network in 2005, where she built a reputation as a crusader for victims and HLN’s most-recognized face.
Nancy Grace arguably reached its apex in July 2011, when it scored 4.6 million viewers following the exoneration of Anthony, who’d been accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter. The show also followed such high-profile trials as those of Scott Peterson, Amanda Knox and the three Duke lacrosse players accused — and later cleared — of rape. With fewer juicy cases to cover, the show’s ratings have since fallen to an average of 291,000 as of May.
Her aggressive, “judge-and-jury” approach made her a lightning rod in the media, who’ve accused her of trading in hype and speculation and pointed out the many times she’s been wrong, including the Duke case and her theory about who kidnapped Salt Lake City teen Elizabeth Smart, whom she was later accused of treating roughly in a 2006 interview.
“Ms. Grace races toward judgment, heedlessly ignoring nuance and evidence on her way to finding guilt,” David Carr wrote in a 2011 New York Times column.
“She has managed to demean both professions with her hype, rabid persona, and sensational analysis,” fellow lawyer/TV analyst Jonathan Turley told Carr in the same piece. “Some part of the public takes her seriously, and her show erodes the respect for basic rights.”
While promoting his 2013 book Mistrial, defense attorney-to-the-stars Mark Geragos backed up Turley’s analysis, telling the Huffington Post, “I don’t think she believes half of the stuff she says,” he remarked. “But the problem with that is people get sucked into that and you get this phenomenon called ‘stealth jurors,’ where people lie their way onto a high-profile case because they want a chance to convict somebody.”
Grace’s tactics have also made her a target for satire on The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live. Missi Pyle played a thinly-veiled version of her in the 2014 film Gone Girl. Still, she made the most of it, riding all the publicity — good and bad — to a berth on Season 13 of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, as well as cameos on TV shows like Law & Order: SVU, The Wire and Raising Hope.
And it’s made her a target for lawsuits.
The family of Melinda Duckett sued the controversial host and CNN for wrongful death, alleging the mother of a missing toddler was so traumatized by her 2006 on-air interrogation by Grace that she committed suicide the day it was scheduled to air. Grace maintained that the show was not at blame. “If anything, I would suggest that guilt made her commit suicide,” she told Good Morning America in 2006. “To suggest that a 15 or 20-minute interview can cause someone to commit suicide is focusing on the wrong thing.” The case was settled in 2010.
Grace has no regrets, it seems.
“I did not go into this to win a popularity contest,” she told NPR last year. “I do not expect to be crowned Miss Congeniality, OK?”