The Truth Is Crazy—and 3 New TV Specials Prove It

Jim: The James Foley Story
Photo: Nicole Tung/courtesy of HBO

In today's world, fact is often more compelling than fiction—and this month's TV lineup confirms just that. Following in the footsteps of Netflix's wildly successful docu-series, Making a Murderer, February delivers three new programs based on true events, proving that real-life stories can be just as—if not more—captivating than those carefully crafted by Hollywood.

While FX's American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson and ABC's Madoff explore headline-making sagas that played out in the tabloids through dramatized retellings, HBO's documentary Jim: The James Foley Story takes on a more serious note, digging deeper into the tragic story of the American journalist who was kidnapped and killed by ISIS in 2014. Before tuning in, here's what to know about each truth-based program.

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American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson
Courtesy

Although it's been over 20 years since O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, the shocking verdict—and the media circus that surrounded it—still remains a hot topic today. In its retelling of the most sensational trial of the 20th century, FX's new miniseries delves into the most fascinating details of the case that saw a celebrated former football star accused of committing heinous crimes and first introduced the world to the Kardashian family. The show's all-star cast features Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, while John Travolta, David Schwimmer, Sarah Paulson, and Selma Blair take on the roles of key players in the trial. (Feb. 2, 10 p.m. ET on FX)

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Madoff

Madoff
ABC/Patrick Harbron

Bernie Madoff's clients lost billions of dollars when the high-finance scam artist's Ponzi scheme was exposed in December 2008—and the subsequent fallout was worldwide. His face splashed across front page news, Madoff admitted to his crimes of defrauding investors that included charities, banks, universities, and celebrities. Now, ABC's two-night miniseries explores the rise and fall of the man behind the biggest financial fraud in American history, who was sentenced to 150 years behind bars in June 2009. Richard Dreyfuss stars as Madoff and Blythe Danner portrays his wife, Ruth, in the special, which dives into Madoff's state of mind, lavish lifestyle, and family relations. (Feb. 3, 8 p.m. ET on ABC)

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Jim: The James Foley Story

Jim: The James Foley Story
Nicole Tung/courtesy of HBO

In 2014, American journalist James Foley was murdered on-camera by ISIS, which was then a relatively-unknown militia group. When video of the New Hampshire native's execution was released, it was met with an outpouring of shock and outrage around the world. Directed by Foley's childhood friend Brian Oakes, HBO's upcoming documentary chronicles Foley's life through interviews with his friends, family, and peers, as well as fellow hostages who share harrowing details about their time spent in captivity. The film—which just took home the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival—is revealing and moving as it observes the role of frontline journalists in conflict zones. (Feb. 6, 9 p.m. ET on HBO)

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