Elizabeth Vargas To Anchor New Series ‘iCrime’ in Syndication

Former ABC World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas to host new true-crime series in syndication this fall.
Former ABC 'World News Tonight' anchor Elizabeth Vargas to host new true-crime series in syndication this fall. (Image credit: Scott Sternberg Productions/'iCrime with Elizabeth Vargas')

Former World News Tonight co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas is starring in new syndicated strip, iCrime with Elizabeth Vargas, launching this fall.

The show is sold on stations covering more than 95% of the country – including on the Nexstar, Sinclair, Gray, Scripps, Cox, Tegna, CBS, Fox and Weigel broadcast groups – and will premiere September 12. On Nexstar’s WPIX New  York, iCrime will lead into an afternoon local newscast, while Sinclair has picked up the show on more than 60 stations.

The 30-minute series will look at crime through the smartphones that everyone now carries. The series will feature clips of actual crimes captured on smartphone video; interviews between Vargas and crime victims, bystanders, law-enforcement officials and the amateur videographers themselves; and a panel of true-crime experts. 

“Cell-phone videos have completely changed the social landscape,” said Vargas in a statement. “Anyone, anywhere, with a cell phone can record crimes as they happen, and those videos can have a huge impact. iCrime will cull the most powerful of these videos, while providing important insight on the law and how to keep safe. I could not be more excited to host this new show.”

Bystander cell-phone video has been key evidence in many high-profile cases in recent years, including 17-year-old Darnella Frazier capturing the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on her smartphone. That video was ultimately key in the conviction of police officer Derek Chauvin for Floyd’s murder.

"The emergent widespread use of smartphones to immediately record everything as it happens gave us the idea to produce iCrime," said Co-Creator and Executive Producer Scott Sternberg, a true-crime production veteran who has worked on such series as The Real Story with Maria Elena Salinas, Exposed with Deborah Norville, Killer Siblings and On the Case with Paula Zahn as well as new 24-hour true-crime streaming platform, Crimestream. 

“Video from anywhere and everywhere of real situations shot by all of us is a natural way to give viewers a daily dive into the unbelievable realism of crime videos. And having a host like Elizabeth Vargas brings iCrime to another level."

The show is executive produced by Vargas, Sternberg and Trifecta Entertainment CEO Hank Cohen.

“This new form of Everyman recordings has become an important new social media tool in helping law enforcement gain truth in crimes committed across the country,” said Cohen in a statement. 

True crime seems like a natural fit for daytime, which is largely watched by women 25-54, the key demographic for both syndication and true crime. That said, true crime hasn’t really taken off in syndication, with shows such as Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily, which came from the producers of Warner Bros.’ Extra and aired in syndication from 2015 to 2017, failing to secure a steady audience. 

On the other hand, networks such as Dan Abrams’ Law&Crime streaming and basic cable network are attracting audiences, especially with events like the recent live-streaming of the defamation trial between movie star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. True-crime focused podcasts also tend to dominate the medium’s top-10 lists.

Trifecta Entertainment will handle all domestic distribution of iCrime with Elizabeth Vargas, and its president, Michael Daraio, will oversee all advertising and sponsorship sales. Scott Sternberg Productions will be responsible for international sales. ■

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for more than 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for The Global Entertainment Marketing Academy of Arts & Sciences (G.E.M.A.). She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997 - September 2002.