Lion Television USA Options True-Crime Book for Series Adaptation


Lion Television USA has optioned the true-crime title Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime that Wasn’t by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Edward Humes.

Under the terms of the deal, Lion, the Emmy-winning production company behind such programs as Diabolical and Deadline Crime with Tamron Hall on ID, will adapt a television docuseries based on the book. Burned uncovers the story behind a 1989 house fire that claimed the lives of Jo Ann Parks’ three small children.

Though the fire at first seemed a tragic accident, investigators soon reported finding evidence proving that Parks had set the fire on purpose and even barricaded her 4-year-old son inside a closet to prevent his escape. Though she insisted she did nothing wrong, Parks received a life sentence without parole based on the power of forensic fire science that convincingly proved her guilt.

But more than a quarter-century later, a revolution in the science of fire has exposed many of the incontrovertible truths of 1989 as guesswork in disguise. The California Innocence Project is challenging Parks’ conviction, claiming that false assumptions and outright bias convicted an innocent mother of a crime that never actually happened.

The television adaptation will closely follow the narrative and investigative course of the book, which is based on Humes’ years of research into the case.

“Burned allows both us as filmmakers and the audience the unique opportunity to approach a case as a reverse detective,” said Tony Tackaberry, CEO of Lion. “It’s nonstop suspense and surprising twists as outdated and wrongheaded science are investigated.”

Humes, who is also an executive producer on the project, added: “Exploring the dramatic story of the Parks fire—and the tunnel vision that may have infected the investigation from start to finish—will shine a spotlight on the crisis of flawed forensic science in the courtroom.”