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15 Epic Facts About Heat

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Twenty years ago today, Heat—an almost three-hour-long epic heist film starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino—was released into theaters. Written and directed by Michael Mann, it featured no special effects, was filmed in 65 real locations around L.A. (no soundstages), and approached its material with a kind of realism rarely seen in films before or since, which is one reason why many critics and fans consider it to be one of the greatest crime dramas of all time. Here are 15 burning facts about this seminal movie.

1. IT’S BASED ON A MEETING BETWEEN A REAL-LIFE DETECTIVE AND A BANK ROBBER.

In 1963 a Chicago detective named Chuck Adamson dined in a Chicago coffee shop with convicted bank robber Neil McCauley—the same name as De Niro’s character. As Den of Geek tells it, a year after the fated meeting, Adamson tracked McCauley and his crew to an in-progress supermarket heist. A chase ensued and McCauley was shot on a front lawn. Adamson befriended Michael Mann when they worked together on Thief and Crime Story, but the genesis for Heat came from the idea of two men who are on opposing sides of the law coming together and understanding each other.

2. AMY BRENNEMAN WAS AGAINST TAKING A ROLE IN HEAT—BECAUSE OF THE GUNS.

The actress, who played De Niro’s love interest Eady in the film, almost wasn’t in it. Mann had seen her on NYPD Blue and gave her the script, “which was a lot of boys and guns.” Coming from a liberal background, Brenneman didn’t think the role was right for her. “I said, ‘I don’t want to do men and guns,’” she recalled to the Huffington Post—but Mann still wanted to meet with her. “I said okay, I don’t think of myself doing this movie. At that point I was reading for Ashley Judd’s part. So I came in and Michael Mann said, ‘I hear you don’t like my script.’ He said, ‘Why?,’ and I said, ‘I’m sick of men and guns. I don’t understand why they don’t sit down and talk.’ And Michael said later I’m the one person in that movie, going like, ‘Who are you people?’ He realized at that point I had to play the part."

3. ONCE MANN FIGURED OUT THE ENDING, THE STORY FELL INTO PLACE.

Though he’d written the script for Heat more than a decade before it reached the screen, the original ending troubled Mann. In particular, he couldn’t figure out the best way to resolve the relationship between Hanna and McCauley. “What I came to later was to the perfect equivalence of the connection,” Mann told an audience during a 20th anniversary screening at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. “It occurred to me that Neil was fortunate enough to die in contact with the only other guy on the planet who was really similar, almost like him, and understood him totally. That became the end of a dialectic, which I then reverse-engineered into a lot of previous scenes which preceded it. I could build off that final moment.”

4. THE IDEA TO PAIR DE NIRO AND PACINO CAME DURING A BREAKFAST MEETING.

Producer Art Linson and Mann had breakfast at the now-closed Broadway Deli in Santa Monica, where McCauley and Eady meet in the film. Mann asked Linson if he wanted to co-produce the film with him. “And he said, ‘You’re out of your mind. You’ve got to direct it.’ Then we came up with the idea of Bob and Al. Who were the best people we could imagine for these parts? It was Bob and Al.”

5. THE RESTAURANT WHERE DE NIRO AND PACINO FINALLY MEET CLOSED LAST YEAR.

For nearly 30 years, Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills was a well-known gathering place for Oscar voters and star-studded movie premiere after-parties. But because of rising rents, the owners decided to close the restaurant last year. The now-iconic scene between McCauley and Hanna was filmed there, and was commemorated when the restaurant hung a blown-up still from the scene on the wall.

6. MANN DOESN’T CONSIDER HEAT TO BE A GENRE FILM.    

Sure, it’s about bank robbers and has two protagonists in opposition to one another and some chase scenes, but as Mann told Deadline, “The most important parts to me were these choruses where you take everybody home.” Mann talks about how the viewer sees Neil McCauley’s home life, and both Hanna’s and Val Kilmer’s conflicted marriages at their respective homes. “Then you go back to the plot drive of the crime story, the police story. And then you’re back again. So the real engine is the people, the characters. It’s not really a genre film.” 

7. XANDER BERKELEY IS THE ONLY ACTOR FROM HEAT WHO ALSO STARRED IN L.A. TAKEDOWN.

Before there was Heat there was L.A. Takedown, a television movie (originally intended as a two-hour series pilot) from which Heat evolved. Xander Berkeley is the only actor to appear in both projects: in L.A. Takedown he played Waingro, and he took the role seriously. In fact, he got so into the psychotic character that he got hives and had to go to the ER. “I just thought, ‘Wow, that’s dark stuff. I think I’ll steer completely clear of that in the future,’” Berkeley told The A.V. Club.

Berkeley knew he’d have to play a similar role when the opportunity to appear in Heat came around, but he’d been offered a part in the Pamela Anderson film Barb Wire and wasn’t available. Kevin Gage played Waingro in Heat, but Mann was able to convince Berkeley to play the smaller role of Ralph, against Pacino. “I felt greatly honored to have been the only one to be a part of both projects,” Berkeley said. 

8. THE HOME WHERE DANNY TREJO DIES IN THE MOVIE HAS A LARGE BLOOD STAIN UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS.

The East L.A. house on stilts where McCauley kills Trejo (Danny Trejo) was featured in Heat: Return to the Scene of the Crime, a DVD featurette. A camera crew visited the family that lives there now, who said they knew it was “The Heat House” when they bought it. In the movie, McCauley shoots Trejo and a pool of blood forms around his dead body. Sure enough, the owners pulled up the carpet and were surprised to find the fake blood stain, which is a rather bright red, not brown like real blood. “A little piece of [the] history of Heat right there under the floorboards,” homeowner Jayme Mazzochi proudly stated.

9. MANN PICKED THE AIRPORT FOR THE CLIMAX BECAUSE IT LOOKED "SURREAL."

The ending takes places in an abandoned field near an airport, outside of the city. “I wanted to find a landscape that was so transient that it started to achieve a surreal effect on you but still maintained the gritty reality of the movie,” Mann told Deadline. “For me, it’s always the couple hundred yards before the runway starts at airports. Most people don’t go there; it’s a place where transients populate. There are towers, those orange and white buildings. I’m just attracted to places like that. The edge of runways, with those blue lights in them for example, they’re quite beautiful at dusk or at night. They’re part of our urban landscape but they have an unusual quality.”

10. DESPITE BEING IN THE SAME FILM, PACINO AND JON VOIGHT HAVE NEVER WORKED TOGETHER.

The actors didn’t share any scenes together in Heat, and somehow throughout their veteran careers they haven’t gotten around to appearing on-screen together. When Maxim asked Voight which actor he most wanted to work with, living or dead, he said Pacino. “I really love Al’s work, and himself, and we’re friends … so that would be something that would be fun for me to do. I like the audacity of his work, and the greatness of his work. I’m very aware of it.”

11. DE NIRO HELPED TOM SIZEMORE GET SOBER.

Tom Sizemore’s personal struggles with drug abuse and domestic violence have been well documented. But after working together on Heat, Sizemore and De Niro became pals, and one night De Niro tried to intervene. De Niro told Sizemore he needed to stop using heroin, and drove him to his private plane in order to get him the help he needed. “It was magical,” Sizemore told The Independent. “I watched this guy in the dark when I was 14 and wondered who he was. And here he is. I’m in his car and he’s driving me to the airport, he’s telling me that the gig is up, he’s telling me I’m a wonderful actor, that he’s not gonna let me die. ‘I love you,’ he told me, 'like you’re my son.' I didn’t wanna go, but I couldn’t say no to him.”

12. VAL KILMER’S GUN-HANDLING SKILLS WERE IMPRESSIVE.

One of Heat’s most iconic moments is the climactic 10-minute shootout scene, which was filmed every Saturday and Sunday in downtown L.A. for six weeks. The actors trained with men from the British Special Air Service (SAS) and at the L.A. County Sheriff’s combat shooting ranges. “We did everything for real,” Mann told Deadline. “[The actors] got so good that the footage of Val Kilmer, firing in two directions and doing a reload without a cut, they used that at Fort Bragg for Special Forces training.”

13. AFTER HEAT CAME OUT, COPYCAT CRIMES OCCURRED ALL OVER THE WORLD.

It’s unclear whether criminals had seen the film and were trying to mimic it, but in Cali, Colombia in 2003, 18 masked robbers drove a bus into an armored van and stole $350,000 in cash, which mirrors a scene in Heat. In 1997, a 44-minute shootout occurred in North Hollywood in which the gunmen, Emil Matasareanu and Larry Eugene Phillips, Jr., robbed a Bank of America wearing heavy body armor and carrying assault rifles. The shootout ended with both gunmen dead— Matasareanu was shot 29 times and wasn’t given any medical attention. It was later revealed that the gunmen had cited Heat as an influence for the robbery.

14. VAL KILMER’S IDEA FOR HEAT 2 ENTAILS ROMANCING NATALIE PORTMAN.

During a 2013 appearance on Larry King’s Hulu show, Kilmer—who played Chris Shiherlis in Heatshared his idea for a potential Heat sequel. “You remember Natalie Portman in it? She’s Pacino’s adopted daughter, so she comes home and says, ‘Daddy, daddy, I want you to meet my fiancé.’ And it’s me. He’s retired and I come to Chicago where he’s retired back to and I’m going to torture him, and then I’m going to kill him.” It's worth noting that Portman was only 14 years old when Heat came out, and Kilmer was 35.

15. HEAT IS ONE OF BEN AFFLECK’S FAVORITE HEIST FILMS.

For The Town, the 2010 bank robbery heist movie that he co-wrote, directed, and starred in, Ben Affleck found inspiration in Heat. “A movie hasn’t been made since that has a deeper feel of authenticity,” Affleck told The Daily Beast of Heat. “It feels so real that bank robbers then copied Heat. And when I was interviewing people in prison they referenced Heat. And when I was interviewing the FBI, they referenced Heat. So, aside from feeling bummed out that I’d always be in the shadow of Heat, I can certainly tell you, for sure, with great authority, that Heat is the one movie that’s cited as the real thing by people who really do that stuff."

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15 Surprising Facts About Hill Street Blues
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Until the impressive record was surpassed by The West Wing in 2000, Hill Street Blues held the title of most Emmy-awarded freshman series, with eight trophies for its debut season alone (despite its basement-level ratings). The drama that chronicled the lives of the men and women working the Hill Street police station beat has been credited with changing television ever since its debut in 1981.

Among Hill Street Blues's innovations are the use of handheld cameras, a large ensemble cast, multi-episode story arcs, and a mix of high drama and comedy—elements which still permeate the small screen today. Here are 15 facts about the groundbreaking series.

1. STEVEN BOCHCO AND MICHAEL KOZOLL CREATED IT, DESPITE NOT WANTING TO DO ANOTHER COP SHOW.

MTM Enterprises was specifically hired by NBC to create a cop show, so Steven Bochco (who later co-created L.A. Law and NYPD Blue) and Michael Kozoll (co-writer of First Blood) agreed to do it—as long as the network left them “completely alone to do whatever we want,” according to Bochco. NBC agreed, and the two wrote the pilot script in 10 days.

2. IT WAS INFLUENCED BY A 1977 DOCUMENTARY.

The show's creators looked to The Police Tapes, a 1977 documentary that chronicled a South Bronx police precinct during a particularly hostile time in New York City's history, for inspiration. NBC's then-president Fred Silverman was inspired to create a cop show in the first place after seeing Fort Apache, the Bronx (1981), which stars Paul Newman as a veteran cop in a South Bronx police district.

3. BRUCE WEITZ HAD AN AGGRESSIVE AUDITION.

Bruce Weitz landed the role of undercover officer Mick Belker by playing the part. "I went to the audition dressed as how I thought the character should dress—and loud and pushy," Weitz recalled. "When I got into the room, I jumped up on [MTM co-founder] Grant Tinker's desk and went after his nose. I heard he said afterwards, 'There's no way I can't offer him the job.'"

4. JOE SPANO THOUGHT HE WAS MISCAST.

Joe Spano in 'Hill Street Blues'
NBC

Joe Spano auditioned for the role of Officer Andrew Renko, but ended up playing Lieutenant Henry Goldblume. “I was always disappointed that I didn’t end up playing Renko,” Spano told Playboy in 1983. Spano also wasn't a fan of his character's penchant for bow ties, which he claimed was Michael Kozoll's idea. "I fought it all the way," he said. "I thought it was a stereotypical thing to do. But it actually turned out to be right. You don’t play into the bow tie—you fight against it."

5. BARBARA BOSSON WAS BOCHCO’S WIFE, BUT WASN’T PLANNING ON BEING A SERIES REGULAR.

Barbara Bosson played Fay, Captain Frank Furillo’s ex-wife, who was only supposed to appear in the first episode in order to “contextualize” the captain, according to Bochco. But when Silverman watched the episode, he asked, “She’s going to be a regular, right?”

6. IT TOOK MIKE POST TWO HOURS TO WRITE THE ICONIC THEME SONG.

The composer—who also wrote the themes for The Greatest American Hero, Magnum, P.I., The A-Team, NYPD Blue, and Law & Order—was instructed by Bochco to write something “antithetical” to the visuals. Post wanted to add more orchestration to the piano piece; Bochco disagreed.

Post also spent four to five hours writing five minutes of new music for each episode of Hill Street Blues.

7. THE PILOT TESTED POORLY.

According to a network memo, among the many problems test audiences noted were that "the main characters were perceived as being not capable and having flawed personalities ... Audiences found the ending unsatisfying. There are too many loose ends ... 'Hill Street' did not come off as a real police station ... There was too much chaos in the station house, again reflecting that the police were incapable of maintaining control even on their home ground." NBC picked it up anyway.

8. RENKO WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE IN THE FIRST EPISODE, AND COFFEY WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE AT THE END OF THE FIRST SEASON.

Charles Haid had other projects lined up, so he agreed to take the part of Renko, a man destined to die almost immediately. But another series Haid was relying on didn’t get picked up, and NBC claimed Renko tested too well for him to meet an early end. Ed Marinaro's Coffey was meant to be shot and killed in “Jungle Madness,” the final episode of the first season. The ending was changed to make it a cliffhanger, and Marinaro’s character survived.

9. THEY HAD HISTORICALLY BAD SEASON ONE RATINGS.

A 'Hill Street Blues' cast photo
NBC Television/Getty Images

In its first season, Hill Street Blues show finished 87th out of 96 shows, making it the lowest-rated drama in television history to get a second season. Bochco credited the show’s renewal to two things: NBC being a last place network at the time, and the NBC sales department noticing that high-end advertisers were buying commercial time during the show.

10. THEY NEVER SPECIFIED WHERE THE SHOW WAS LOCATED, BUT IT’S PROBABLY CHICAGO.

The exterior of the Maxwell Street police station in Chicago filled in for the fictitious Hill Street precinct for the opening credits and background footage. It was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1996 and is currently the University of Illinois at Chicago police department headquarters.

11. PLENTY OF FUTURE STARS MADE EARLY APPEARANCES.

Don Cheadle, James Cromwell, Laurence Fishburne, Tim Robbins, Andy Garcia, Cuba Gooding Jr., Danny Glover, Frances McDormand, and Michael Richards all found early work on the series.

12. SAMMY DAVIS JR. WANTED ON THE SHOW.

Sammy Davis Jr.
Michael Fresco, Evening Standard, Getty Images

Unfortunately, it never happened. Sometime after Bochco wrote in a reference to the singer, Davis and Bochco ran into each other. Davis said he loved it and started jumping up and down.

13. BOCHCO HAD A WAR WITH THE CENSORS.

Loving to use puns for titles, Bochco wanted to title an episode “Moon Over Uranus,” after Cape Canaveral was just in the news. Standards and Practices said no. Bochco eventually got his way, and proceeded to name the next two season three episodes “Moon Over Uranus: The Sequel” and “Moon Over Uranus: The Final Legacy.”

14. DAVID MILCH AND DICK WOLF’S CAREERS WERE LAUNCHED FROM IT.

David Milch (co-creator of NYPD Blue and creator of Deadwood) went from Yale writing teacher to a TV script writer through his former Yale roommate, Jeff Lewis. His first script for the show was season three's “Trial by Fury” episode, which won an Emmy, a WGA Award, and a Humanitas Prize. He later became an executive producer on the show. The first TV script credited to Dick Wolf (creator of the Law & Order franchise) was the season six episode, "Somewhere Over the Rambow." His first sole credit, for “What Are Friends For?,” earned Wolf an Emmy nomination in 1986.

It’s also worth noting that journalist and author Bob Woodward received a writing credit for season seven's “Der Roachenkavalier” and David Mamet penned the same season's “A Wasted Weekend” for his first television credit.

15. DENNIS FRANZ’S CHARACTER HAD A BRIEF, COMEDIC SPIN-OFF.

Dennis Franz (later Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue) first played corrupt cop Sal Benedetto in five episodes, before reappearing for the final two seasons as Lt. Norman Buntz. After Hill Street Blues ended its seven-season run, Franz reprised the latter character in Beverly Hills Buntz, which ran for one season beginning in 1987. In the 30-minute dramedy, Buntz was a private investigator after quitting the police force. Only nine episodes were broadcast by NBC.

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20 Fascinating Facts About Investigation Discovery
Kim Cook/Investigation Discovery
Kim Cook/Investigation Discovery

Pop quiz: In which Colorado city did Joe Kenda spend more than 20 years as a homicide detective? If you knew the answer was Colorado Springs, you must be an ID Addict. In 2008, Discovery Communications launched Investigation Discovery, the 24/7 true crime network that has had fans (Lady Gaga among them) glued to their television sets ever since.

In honor of the channel’s 10th anniversary, we did a little investigating of our own and uncovered 20 things you might not have known about Investigation Discovery.

1. IT BEGAN AS AN ANCIENT HISTORY NETWORK.

Investigation Discovery began its life in 1996 as Discovery Civilization, a network dedicated to showcasing content related to ancient history. In 2002, The New York Times purchased a 50 percent stake in the network with an eye toward shifting its focus to current events; in 2003, it relaunched as Times Discovery. But that idea didn’t last long. In 2006, The New York Times sold its stake in the network, which is when Discovery Communications saw an opportunity to turn it into a 24/7 true crime network—and Investigation Discovery, as we know it today, was born.

On January 26, 2008, Newsday reported that, “Tomorrow, the Discovery Times digital channel morphs into Investigation Discovery. (ID, get it?) Premiere night features Deadly Women (tomorrow at 8 p.m.), about female killers, and a related episode of 48 Hours: Hard Evidence (tomorrow at 9 p.m., all on ID).” (Both programs are still staples of the channel’s lineup.)

2. IT WAS INSPIRED BY THE SUCCESS OF LAW & ORDER AND CSI.

In a 2015 interview with The New York Times, ID group president Henry S. Schleiff said that part of the inspiration for creating a crime-all-the-time network was the long-running popularity of crime television franchises like Law & Order, CSI, and NCIS. Schleiff believed the network would be successful if they could brand it as “a place where viewers can consistently know that regardless of the hours, regardless of the day, that they will always be able to flip to this network and know that they are going to get a story of the mystery, crime, suspense genre.”

3. THERE WAS AN ECONOMIC BENEFIT TO CREATING A CRIME CHANNEL, TOO.

While there was data that told Schleiff and his fellow executives that there was a thirst for an all-crime network, the fact that it would be cost-effective didn’t hurt in swaying the powers that be. According to The New York Times, by filling a network with “ripped from the headlines” stories featuring reenactment actors (read: no stars), the cost to produce one hour of content for Investigation Discovery would be about $300,000—“roughly a tenth of the cost of an average scripted network drama.”

4. IT WAS WILDLY SUCCESSFUL FROM THE GET-GO.

While ID’s first two aforementioned iterations didn’t quite grab viewer interest, Investigation Discovery was a hit from the very beginning. “When Court TV became truTV in 2008, Discovery filled cable’s crime-story void with the renamed Investigation Discovery,” wrote The Washington Post in 2013. “In place of current affairs, suddenly, was Deadly Affairs.”

5. WOMEN LOVE IT.

A still from 'Deadly Women' on Investigation Discovery
Investigation Discovery

Investigation Discovery continually ranks among the top five cable networks for female viewers, and is particularly popular among the coveted 24- to 54-year-old audience.

When asked “Why are women obsessed with true crime television?” by Crains New York in 2016, Schleiff responded that, “Women love exercising their great puzzle-solving skills and intuition, which is really what most of our true crime stories are about. It’s an investigation, it’s a mystery, and women love that. The other thing that we hear in focus groups is that women say, ‘I want to use my free time in a useful way.’ Women feel that 
they can learn from watching ID. I don’t know if they are learning how to kill their husbands or not.”

6. MANY OF THE PERPETRATORS ARE FEMALE, TOO.

In addition to being the primary audience, the network produces several series that focus on female perpetrators with titles like Deadly Women, Wives With Knives, and How (Not) To Kill Your Husband. “I think when we think of women, we think of mothers, nurturers,” Detroit-based ID fan Kim Cumms told Jezebel. “So to see a woman who’s out there doing the killing simply because she wants to or because she had to, it’s like, ‘Wow, what pushes a woman to that point?’”

7. SERIES TITLES ARE THE RESULT OF GROUP BRAINSTORMS.

Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? Wives With Knives. Young, Hot & Crooked. I Married a Mobster. Investigation Discovery executives know that a great title can make or break a series, so they take the task of naming their shows seriously … well, sort of.

“We do have title brainstorms,” senior executive producer Pamela Deutsch told The Washington Post. “They are sort of fun to sit through.” When coming up with the title for what would eventually become Prison Wives, some people in the room were pushing for Penal Attraction. But according to Deutsch, “You know when you’ve crossed the line.”

“We have a completely dysfunctional group over here,” Schleiff told Crains New York. “I’m very proud of that. Our process is sitting at a table at a staff meeting; everyone yells out what might work. There’s no organization to it.”

8. THERE ARE SOME CRIMES THAT ARE OFF-LIMITS.

Though the network deals in death and crime, there are some topics that ID executives do their best to stay away from—number one being crimes that involve children. “It’s just too sad, and the audience will just push back,” Schleiff told the Washingtonian. Revenge crimes are also not ideal. “[Schleiff] calls it sad upon sad,” vice president of development Winona Meringolo said.

9. ONE REENACTMENT SCENE WAS A LITTLE TOO REAL.

Peter Muggleworth, who has done some reenactment acting for the network, was filming a scene for Nightmare Next Door, in which he played a kidnapper/murderer, when things got a little too real.

“When we were shooting the scene where I march the neighbor out by the highway and execute him, we had to shoot along a real highway, as the guardrail was essential to the accuracy of the scene,” Muggleworth told The Washington Post. The scene was also being filmed during rush hour, which led several motorists to believe that what they were seeing was real.

“A fleet of police cars come flying down the road and peeled into the field where we were shooting,” Muggleworth explained. “Apparently, they had received many phone calls from motorists who thought they had just witnessed a murder. Meanwhile, I’m standing in the field over the ‘dead’ body holding a prop .357 Magnum. I immediately threw the gun away and put my hands up.”

When the situation eventually got sorted out, a few of the officers agreed to become a part of the scene. “We got some good shots of them from their knees down walking around the corpse,” Muggleworth said.

10. LOOKING LIKE THE REAL PERSON IS THE MAIN CRITERIA FOR BEING A REENACTMENT ACTOR.

A still from 'Deadly Sins'
Investigation Discovery

While some ID series require a bit of acting experience on the part of its participants, the most important requirement for reenactment actors (many of whom do not have to deliver any lines) is to look like the real person involved in the case.

“The way they cast these things is by posting a photograph of a real-life criminal or historical figure and putting out a call for actors that resemble him or her,” an anonymous (and veteran) reenactment actor told Hopes & Fears. “That’s literally the only parameter. A lot of times you have people applying to these things because they see it as a stepping stone to more serious gigs or greater visibility. I can't count the number of times I’ve been sitting around a table in the holding area of casting with a bunch of people who have MFAs from Yale or Tisch worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and are still doing this crap.”

11. THE PRODUCTIONS AREN’T USUALLY VERY LAVISH.

If you think that being a reenactment actor comes with craft services and lots of pampering, think again. The Washington Post reported that, “Cast members usually do their own makeup, bring their own wardrobe, and even compile their own research on the real-life people they portray.”

12. MURDERERS AND VICTIMS MAKE THE MOST MONEY.

If you’re considering a career in reenactment acting, you’ll want to aim for playing either a murderer or a victim. Mike Hoover, a sixty-something retiree from Virginia Beach, has appeared on a few different series and told the New York Post that he has been paid from $75 to $450 a day for the work.

“Depending on who you are playing, you may be there just for an hour,” Hoover said. “I worked my way up from being a family member to a witness to the victim. My next accomplishment will be the murderer—the murderer and the victim get paid the most.”

13. FOR SOME VIEWERS, IT’S CATHARTIC.

While the idea of watching violent acts play out on television may not be the preferred genre of entertainment for all audiences, some ID fans believe that the network can be a cathartic experience.

“I think most women in their lives have been in a bad relationship that either felt off or went really bad, and watching these stories sort of lets you play that out,” Rebecca Lavoie, a true crime writer who has appeared as an expert on several ID shows, told the Washingtonian in 2015.

In the same article, ID fan and sexual abuse survivor Jennifer Norris said that, “These shows help me see that I am not the only one that was crushed by the crimes of these people. They validate the way that I feel.”

14. IT’S THERAPEUTIC FOR SOME OF THE NETWORK’S STARS AS WELL.

That catharsis that viewers get goes the other way, too. “[Making this ID show is] therapeutic to me,” Homicide Hunter star, and retired detective, Joe Kenda told Jezebel. “There are many moments that you would like to forget, but you cannot forget … You can’t unsee certain things. I’ve said more to that camera than I’ve ever said to a person. There have been occasions when my wife will be watching the show. I’ll see her looking at me in front of the TV, I’ll say ‘What are you looking at?’ She’ll say, ‘I never knew you did that.’ What do you talk about when you come home, How was your day? Not in my business.”

15. JOE KENDA IS THE NETWORK’S UNDISPUTED STAR.

Joe Kenda stars in 'Homicide Hunter'
Kim Cook/Investigation Discovery

Though the network features dozens of original series, its highest-rated show is Homicide Hunter: Joe Kenda. The series, which showcases the celebrated career of the former lieutenant who spent more than 20 years working with the Colorado Springs Police Department, attracts an average of 1.6 million viewers.

16. WHEN VIEWERS TUNE IN, THEY STAY TUNED IN.

Based on Nielsen data, the Los Angeles Times reported that when the average ID viewer tunes in, he or she stays tuned in for an average of 54 continuous minutes—“the most of any broadcast or cable network in the women 25-to-54 age group.”

17. THERE ARE SOME VERY FAMOUS ID ADDICTS.

There are several A-list names among ID’s most devoted viewers. Lady Gaga, Serena Williams, and Nicki Minaj are just a few of the network’s famous fans.

18. FANS CAN GATHER AT IDCON.

In 2016, Investigation Discovery hosted its first-ever true crime fan convention, known as IDCON, in New York City. “This is the kind of thing our fans would quote-unquote almost kill to attend,” Schleiff told USA Today. He was right: Tickets to the inaugural event (which Mental Floss attended) sold out in less than 24 hours, and more than 7000 ID Addicts put their names on the event’s waiting list.

The event brings audiences together with some of their favorite ID personalities and hosts a range of panels and conversations on crime-related topics. In 2017, they hosted a second IDCON. While no dates have yet been announced for 2018, stay tuned!

19. KENDA BELIEVES ID'S POPULARITY IS BASED IN STRONG STORYTELLING.

While Kenda admits that, “The twists and turns, the unknown factor, gives people an opportunity to be an armchair detective in some way,” he believes that the network’s popularity can be attributed to something much more basic. “[T]here’s another fascination as well, and it’s been true for 6000 years. People have gathered around the fire and looked at someone and said, ‘Tell me a story.’ If you can tell a story in an interesting way, you have people’s attention. If it’s a subject that fascinates, you have their undivided attention.”

20. THE NETWORK HAS GONE GLOBAL.

A still from 'On the Case With Paula Zahn'
Miller Mobley/Investigation Discovery

Based on ID’s popularity in America, the network began expanding into global markets just a year after its launch. “Crime is universal,” Discovery Communications president/CEO David M. Zaslav told The New York Times. “The stories are set in an American town, but it could be anywhere.” As a result, ID programming has rolled out into hundreds of international markets, including England, Ireland, France, Denmark, Mexico, Croatia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Greece, India, and South Africa.

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