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Two-time Oscar winner Renée Zellweger is poised to grace the small screen, and it's a story of "escalating absurdities" that has drawn her to television in the upcoming NBC limited series "The Thing About Pam."
The show, based on the NBC Dateline podcast of the same name, tells the real-life story of the 2011 slaying of Elizabeth "Betsy" Faria, for which her husband, Russell Faria, was convicted before ultimately being exonerated. Her close friend, Pamela Hupp — already in prison after being convicted of a separate killing related to the case — was officially charged with her murder in July.
During a panel for the Television Critics Association Friday, Zellweger, portraying the title character, discussed what attracted her to the role, saying Hupp was “the kind of person who seems familiar to most people.”
“This is one of those stories you couldn’t make up,” Zellweger said, joining fellow cast members and producers. “I was listening to it, I binged the podcast, actually… and I couldn’t believe it. It was like this experience of escalating absurdities. It just felt like something that would be interesting to explore further.”
Produced by NBC News studios, Blumhouse Television, and Big Picture Co., the six-part series is a drama that that also veers into black comedy.
“It’s a real push and pull with the levity and the drama,” said writer and producer Jenny Klein. “It’s like a hybrid.”
The show touts an all-star cast, featuring Zellweger, Josh Duhamel, Judy Greer, Katy Mixon, Glenn Fleshler and Gideon Adlon.
Producers took the opportunity to talk about what separates “The Thing About Pam” from many of the other true-crime series currently available.
“I don’t think there’s been a drama like this,” said Klein. “It really lends this sense of familiarity when it comes to the Dateline aspects infused in the show. And then there’s this palpable strangeness. It’s a true-crime story that, in some ways, won’t leave you feeling depressed but will keep you on the edge of your seat because there’s so many twists and turns.”
Staying true to the series’ Dateline roots, Duhamel reflected on his love for the longtime true-crime staple.
“I’ve been a Dateline fan for as far back as this started and I remember [saying], ‘God, that’d make a great TV show,’” he said. “And so when I heard they were actually doing the dramatization of this one, in particular, I was like, ‘Of course, we should do that!’”
Duhamel also joked about how he’d appreciate yearly Christmas cards from Dateline’s host, Keith Morrison.
“Merry Christmas,” Duhamel intoned in Morrison’s signature voice. “To you and your family.”
“The Thing About Pam” premieres on March 8 at 10/9 c on NBC.
Additional reporting by Christopher Rosa and McKenzie Jean-Philippe.
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