America's Most Wanted

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America's Most Wanted
America's Most Wanted.png
FormatNews
Reality
Reenactment
Criminal Investigation
Presented byJohn Walsh
Narrated byDon LaFontaine (1988–2008)
Wes Johnson (2008–2012)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons25
No. of episodes1,149 (as of January 27, 2012)
Production
Executive producer(s)John Walsh
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)20th Century Fox Television
Distributor20th Television
Broadcast
Original channelFox (1988–2012)
Lifetime (2011–2012)
Original airingFebruary 7, 1988 (1988-02-07) – April 21, 2012 (2012-04-21) (Fox)
Revived series:
December 2, 2011 (2011-12-02) - October 12, 2012 (2012-10-12) (Lifetime)
External links
Website
 
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This article is about the Fox TV show. For other uses, see America's Most Wanted (disambiguation).
America's Most Wanted
America's Most Wanted.png
FormatNews
Reality
Reenactment
Criminal Investigation
Presented byJohn Walsh
Narrated byDon LaFontaine (1988–2008)
Wes Johnson (2008–2012)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons25
No. of episodes1,149 (as of January 27, 2012)
Production
Executive producer(s)John Walsh
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)20th Century Fox Television
Distributor20th Television
Broadcast
Original channelFox (1988–2012)
Lifetime (2011–2012)
Original airingFebruary 7, 1988 (1988-02-07) – April 21, 2012 (2012-04-21) (Fox)
Revived series:
December 2, 2011 (2011-12-02) - October 12, 2012 (2012-10-12) (Lifetime)
External links
Website

America's Most Wanted was an American television program[1][2] produced by 20th Television, and was the longest-running program of any kind in the history of the Fox Television Network until it was announced on May 16, 2011 that the series was canceled after twenty-three years, with the final episode airing on June 18, 2011. The following September, America's Most Wanted's host, John Walsh, announced that the program would resume on the cable network Lifetime later that year.[3]

Presented by Walsh, the show's purpose is to profile and assist law enforcement in the apprehension of fugitives wanted for numerous crimes, including murder, rape, kidnapping, child molestation, white-collar crime, organized crime, armed robbery, gang violence, and terrorism, and also many of whom are currently on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. On May 2, 2008, the program's website announced its 1,000th capture; as of March 30, 2013, 1,202 people have been captured because of AMW. Many of the series' cases have some connection outside the United States or have not taken place in the United States at all. The series' first international capture was in Nova Scotia in 1989.

The show's nature does not allow repeats, except for updates on convicted criminals, and is preempted a maximum of eight times during the year; however, if a fugitive featured on the show is not captured, their profile may be aired again. However, since moving to Lifetime, the show aired several repeats with updates if the fugitive/missing person was captured/recovered.

The first two-hour quarterly special aired on Saturday, October 29, 2011 on FOX.[4] The second two-hour special aired on Saturday, December 17, 2011, the third two-hour special aired on Saturday, February 11, 2012, and the fourth and final two-hour special aired on Saturday, April 21, 2012.

On March 28, 2013, Lifetime canceled America's Most Wanted.[5] It was cancelled because of the high royalties that had to be paid to Fox who holds the trademark and copyright to the show and low ratings. It was replaced with John Walsh Investigates, a one-off special on Lifetime.

History[edit]

Conception and early airing[edit]

The concept for America's Most Wanted originally came from a German show, Aktenzeichen XY ... ungelöst (German for File Reference XY ... Unsolved), that first aired in 1967, and the British show Crimewatch, first aired in 1984, with the US version conceived by Fox executive Stephen Chao and Executive Producer Michael Linder in the summer of 1987. Even earlier, however, CBS aired a three-month half-hour similar series hosted by Walter McGraw in the 1955-1956 season entitled Wanted.

John Walsh presenting another fugitive.

After the program’s pilot aired, a lengthy search was conducted for a host,[citation needed] and John Walsh was selected. Other potential candidates included former Marine Corps Commandant General P. X. Kelly and victims' advocate Theresa Saldana. Walsh had gained publicity after his six-year-old son, Adam Walsh, was kidnapped and murdered in 1981. Walsh and others had successfully advocated Congress for the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The show usually ends with John Walsh saying, "...and remember, you can make a difference", or, on occasion, "...and remember, you do make a difference." The credits were designed by New York City artist Gretchen Bender.[6]

America's Most Wanted premiered on February 7, 1988 on seven Fox-owned stations. Within four days of the first broadcast, FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive David James Roberts was captured as a direct result.[7] He was a convicted killer who had recently escaped from prison by digging his way out with a small axe. This demonstrated the effectiveness of the show's "Watch Television, Catch Criminals" premise to skeptical law enforcement agencies. Ten weeks later, the program premiered nationwide on the Fox network and became the fledgling network's first hit series. Since its debut, it has become the longest-running series on the Fox Network.[citation needed]

America's Most Wanted reinvented the economics of prime time television with its low-budget reenactments of crimes. A typical hour of prime time programming in 1988 cost $1 million to produce. AMW's initial budget was much lower than that. The show's reality-style format and nearly instantaneous captures (some fugitives were captured before the episode's final credits rolled) contributed to its success.[citation needed]

The announcer heard on the show for its first two decades was voice-over artist Don LaFontaine, who died on September 1, 2008. The first new episode aired after his death was dedicated to him. He was replaced by voice actor Wes Johnson.

1996 cancellation and revival[edit]

The program was canceled[8] for a month and a half in the fall of 1996, per a decision made the previous spring in the wake of high production costs. In its place, Fox moved Married... with Children (then entering what soon became its final season) to 9/8c, with the new sitcom Love and Marriage following it at 9:30. Cops remained in its hour-long 8/7c block. However, protests from the public, law enforcement, and government officials, including the governors of 37 states, as well as low ratings for the shows replacing AMW encouraged Fox to bring the show back. Love and Marriage was canceled, and Married… with Children was moved back to Sundays. Producers rechristened AMW with an expanded title, America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back. For the next 15 years afterward, the America's Most Wanted/COPS combination made Saturday evening Fox’s most stable night, along with the longest unchanged primetime schedule on American television as of 2011.

On March 6, 2010, Fox aired the 1000th episode of America's Most Wanted, and Walsh interviewed President Barack Obama at the White House. In the interview, they discussed the Obama Administration's crime-fighting initiatives, as well as the impact the show has had on law enforcement and crime prevention.[9]

Profiling missing persons[edit]

The show began profiling missing persons, especially children, in 1991. Some of the most notorious captures include John List, the Texas Seven, as well as Brian D. Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee, the abductors of Elizabeth Smart. On May 2, 2008, the America's Most Wanted website announced their 1,000th capture; a New York City Realtor named Dwight Smith, who was captured more than a week earlier.

Previous logo of AMW.

Covering criminals in the War on Terrorism[edit]

The show expanded its focus to also cover criminals in the War on Terrorism when, on October 12, 2001 an episode aired featuring 22 most wanted al-Qaeda operatives. The show was put together due to a request by President George W. Bush, who had presented the same list of men to the nation two days earlier.[citation needed] However, the first show that focused mainly on terrorism aired after the September 11 attacks and was two hours long.[10]

2011 Fox cancellation, network change, and eventual Lifetime cancellation[edit]

On May 16, 2011, Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly announced that after 23 years, America's Most Wanted, in its weekly format, would be canceled.[11] The final weekly episode aired on June 18, 2011, though Reilly said four two-hour specials would air on Fox in the fall 2011 television season. However, Walsh said he was looking to other networks to keep the show going, saying he had "many, many offers" from other networks.[11] Fox News Channel confirmed that its chairman Roger Ailes had been in preliminary discussions with Walsh about bringing the show to Fox News, but said "nothing has been decided."[11] On the final Fox episode, Walsh promised to continue the show elsewhere and told the Associated Press: "I want to catch bad guys and find missing children—and we’re not done."[11]

During the 2010–2011 season, the show averaged an audience of five million.[11] Within hours of Fox's announcement of the show's cancellation, campaigns to save the show were started by fans through Facebook and Twitter, among other social networking sites.[12]

In September 2011, it was announced that Lifetime had picked up America's Most Wanted from Fox and it began airing on the former on December 2, 2011.[13] On March 13, 2012, Lifetime ordered an additional 20 episodes.[14] However on March 28, 2013, it was announced that Lifetime had cancelled America's Most Wanted.[15]

Walsh was subject to several threatened lawsuits by attorneys representing individuals profiled on America's Most Wanted, largely because of the show's habit of ensuring that the viewership assumed guilt by portraying suspects using detailed dramatic re-enactments that were said to taint any hope of fair representation. Though never publicly admitted, it was widely known that Fox and later Lifetime network executives were not comfortable with the prospect of future lawsuits resulting from this format, and this is said to have informed the decision(s) to cancel in both cases.

Local versions of America's Most Wanted[edit]

StationChCityNameAirsNotes
KFDX3Wichita Falls, Texas"Crimestoppers"Weekly re-enactment during the 6pm news
KTVI2St. Louis, Missouri"St. Louis' Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 9:00 pm newscast
WJBK2Detroit, Michigan"Michigan's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
KHON-TV2Honolulu, Hawaii"Hawaii's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
WAGA-TV5Atlanta, Georgia"Georgia's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscastGeorgia's Most Wanted segments were hosted by Angeline Hartmann prior to joining America's Most Wanted as a correspondent.
WNYW5New York, New York"New York's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
WTTG5Washington, D.C."D.C.'s Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
WBRC6Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Anniston/Gadsden, Alabama"Alabama's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast.
WITI6Milwaukee, Wisconsin"Wisconsin's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 9:00 pm newscastThis segment is produced similarly to a single story from AMW, and normally lasts 5 to 10 minutes.
WLNS6Lansing, Michigan"Crime Stoppers"Every Wednesday night, during 11:00 pm newscast
WGHP8High Point, North Carolina"Piedmont's Most Wanted"Periodically, during 10:00 pm newscast
KECY-TV9Yuma, Arizona-El Centro, CaliforniaDuring commercial breaks throughout the dayAds feature John Walsh mentioning the region's police, and an announcer mentions someone wanted in the area. Another ad by Walsh directs viewers to the station's website for more wanted criminals. Unlike other Fox stations, who usually air similar spots either after the news or AMW, they air throughout the day, as the station has no newscast.
KTTV11Los Angeles, California"L.A.'s Most Wanted"Periodically, during 10:00 pm newscastPresented by Tony Valdez.
KFFX-TV/
KCYU-LD
11/
41
Pendleton, Oregon
Yakima, Washington
"Washington's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, at 10:00 p.m.Produced by KCPQ
KCPQ13Seattle, Washington"Washington's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, after 10:00 pm newscastHosted by KCPQ news anchor David Rose. The show premiered on November 14, 2008, and also airs on Friday nights at 9:30pm after the newscast on sister MyNetworkTV station KZJO, channel 25 (virtual 22).
KSTU13Salt Lake City, Utah"Utah's Most Wanted"Periodically, during 9:00 pm newscast
KCIT14Amarillo, Texas"Amarillo Crimestoppers Fugitive of the Week"Every Saturday night, during 9:00 pm newscast
KLRT-TV16Little Rock, Arkansas"Arkansas' Most Wanted"[16]Every Saturday night, during 9:00 pm newscast
KDSM-TV17Des Moines, Iowa"Metro's Most Wanted"Periodically, during commercial breaksEach spot lasts about 25–40 seconds, and features one locally wanted fugitive.
WXMI17Grand Rapids, Michigan"West Michigan's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
WXXA-TV23Albany, New York"Capital Region's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
WFXT25Boston, Massachusetts"Massachusetts' Most Wanted"Periodically, during 10:00 pm Saturday night newscast
KOKH-TV25Oklahoma City, Oklahoma"Oklahoma's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 9:00 pm newscast
KMPH-TV26Fresno, California"Central Valley's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
KAYU-TV28Spokane, Washington"Washington's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, after The local News airing at 10:30Produced by KCPQ.
WTGS28Savannah, Georgia"Savannah's Most Wanted"Airs once a month; Full 30 minute show on FOXHosted by Crime Reporter Nikki Gaskins and FOX Anchor Jesse Blanco; John Walsh is featured in the show open & tosses to anchors on set; shows can be viewed on-line at: www.thecoastalsource.com; Keyword: Most Wanted
WTXF-TV29Philadelphia, Pennsylvania"Philadelphia's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
KDVR31Denver, Colorado"Colorado's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 9:00 pm newscast
KRCW-TV32Portland, Oregon-Vancouver, Washington"Washington's Most Wanted"Every Monday morning, at midnight; repeated every Saturday afternoon, at 4:00 p.m.Produced by KCPQ.
WFLD32Chicago, Illinois"Chicago's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 9:00 pm newscast
KMSS-TV33Shreveport, Louisiana"ArkLaTex's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night during commercial breaksEach spot lasts about 25–40 seconds, and features one locally wanted fugitive.
WUPW-TV36Toledo, Ohio"Toledo's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night at 10:00 pm
KTXL-TV40Sacramento, California"Fox 40 Crime Alert"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
WGGB40Springfield, Massachusetts"Crime Files"Every Tuesday night, at 10:00 & 11:00 p.m.Even though WGGB is an ABC affiliate, WGGB does carry Fox on 40.2.
WDRB/
WMYO
41/
58
Louisville, Kentucky"Louisville's Most Wanted"During commercial breaks and newscasts
KCYU-LD41Yakima, Washington"Washington's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, at 10:00 p.m.Produced by KCPQ. (KCYU-LD is a satellite of KFFX-TV in Pendleton, Oregon.)
WRAZ50Durham, North Carolina"NC Wanted"Daily at 10:35 pm
WPGH-TV53Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania"Pittsburgh's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
WXIN59Indianapolis, Indiana"Indiana's Most Wanted"Every Saturday night, during 10:00 pm newscast
WALB10Albany, Georgia"WALB's Most Wanted"Every Tuesday evening, during 5:00 pm newscast
WMBF-TV10Myrtle Beach, SC and surrounding communities"Horry County's Most Wanted"Thursdays at 6pm and Fridays at 6amA joint effort by the Horry County Sheriff's Office and WMBF-TV

Although not a Fox affiliate, Government-access television (GATV) cable TV channel KCSB-TV 3, San Bernardino, California, produces a program called "Inland Empire's Most Wanted". It profiles wanted fugitives from San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. It is produced in co-operation with the San Bernardino Police Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The program was originally called "San Bernardino's Most Wanted" and focused on fugitives wanted by the San Bernardino Police Department and San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, but later expanded its focus to include all of the Inland Empire area (i.e. San Bernardino and Riverside counties). Thus, the name was changed to "Inland Empire's Most Wanted". The program is distributed to other local access channels in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Hotline number facts[edit]

When America's Most Wanted debuted, the show's original toll-free hotline number was 1-800-CRIME-88 (1-800-274-6388). The last 2 digits of the hotline number changed each year (1-800-CRIME-89, 1-800-CRIME-90, and so on) until 1995, when it was permanently changed to its current number, which is 1-800-CRIME-TV (1-800-274-6388), which, coincidentally, was what the number had originally been in 1988. As of 2014, the hotline is shut down.

About half of the phone operators seen during the show are actors.[17]

AMW Dirty Dozen[edit]

The AMW Dirty Dozen is John Walsh's list of notorious fugitives who have been profiled on the show that are currently at large. It is similar in function, though not identical with, the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list; three of the Dirty Dozen are on the FBI's list.

These are the current Dirty Dozen, as of January 8, 2013. Currently, there are only 10 fugitives listed despite the idea of the list being John Walsh's 12 personal most wanted. Resort killer Beacher Ferrel Hackney was removed after his body was discovered in September 2012.[18] Alleged murderer William Greer has also removed from Walsh's Dirty Dozen despite him seemingly still on the run. There are now two open slots, but no word on if they are to soon be filled.

Segments[edit]

"15 Seconds of Shame"[edit]

"15 Seconds of Shame" is a segment (approximately one minute in length) where the show features four fugitives that are currently on the run, each in his or her own 15-second briefing. The segment was introduced in December 2004. The run-up shows the charges against the fugitives, and where they might be. Aliases, tattoos and character quirks are also mentioned in the profiles. It was discontinued in June 2010.

"BOLO"[edit]

"BOLO" stands for "Be On the Look Out". It is a segment similar to the 15 Seconds of Shame, except it profiles one fugitive and has no time limit. There are usually multiple segments in one episode. They profile either known fugitives or unknown fugitives that have a composite sketch. It was introduced in late 2010 and used as a subtle replacement for the 15 Seconds of Shame.

"All Points Bulletin"[edit]

"All Points Bulletin" is a segment that airs multiple fugitives one right after the other. It describes the crime, shows evidence, basic information, and a picture of the fugitive. It can be abbreviated as APB. It has been used occasionally throughout the show.

"Break-Four Tease"[edit]

The "Break Four Tease" is an additional case usually aired during the fourth commercial break on Fox episodes. Lasting eight seconds long, it gives a brief spotlight to a current case. It gives the hotline number, pictures, crime type, and location. Missing persons and known fugitives have been profiled in this segment. It was introduced around 2000, but does not air on the Lifetime episodes. [1]

"In the Line of Duty"[edit]

"In the Line of Duty" showcased a police officer who was killed while on duty, whether during a shootout, a car chase, or anything else related to trying to catch a criminal. The segment was introduced in November 2004, and airs in most episodes. Usually shown near the end of the program.

Presumption of Innocence[edit]

Given that a significant number of the fugitives on America's Most Wanted had yet to face trial in a criminal court, the show was prohibited from directly stating that the individuals had committed a crime under the presumption of innocence as afforded under the law. For this reason, in the cases where fugitives had not yet been convicted, John Walsh would always proceed his narrative of the crime with the term "Police say..." and then state the crime to which the person had allegedly committed.

In a handful of rare cases, America's Most Wanted profiled persons who were involved in controversial cases or who had fled to avoid prosecution on what they believed to be unfair or even framed charges. One female fugitive, who had fled to Canada, later had charges against her dismissed even after being profiled on the show. During its entire run, the show never issued a retraction or updated viewers on any fugitives who were later found innocent.

Community[edit]

The website for America's Most Wanted has a very active community page. Members from all over the continent give the latest updates on cases and it provides a forum to talk with other fans. It takes two days to become a member and some very basic information (username, password, email address). Members must be at least 13 years old to join. A "Community" link to the forums can be found at the bottom of the homepage.

However, as of January 8, 2013, the message board server seems to have crashed. In the meantime, similar message boards created by fans of the show have popped up, including one titled "America's Most Wanted Fans." America's Most Wanted Fans

On radio[edit]

A digest version of America's Most Wanted is distributed to radio stations Monday – Saturday through Cumulus Media Networks at 15 minutes past the hour from 5 am to 2 pm (Eastern Time). It keeps listeners up to date on the latest fugitive and missing persons/children cases nationwide.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mcgrath, Charles. "New York Times". Tv.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  2. ^ New York Times
  3. ^ ‘America’s Most Wanted’ To Live Again… On Lifetime, TVNewser.com, 7 September 2011
  4. ^ FOX Announces 2011 Fall TV Premiere Dates TV By the Numbers
  5. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 28, 2013). "'America's Most Wanted' Cancelled By Lifetime". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  6. ^ Smith, Roberta (Dec 24, 2004). "Gretchen Bender, 53, an Artist Working in Film and Video, Dies". New York Times. 
  7. ^ Prial, Frank J. (1988-09-25). "New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  8. ^ Shen, Maxine (2010-03-05). "Day 'Most Wanted' was canceled". Nypost.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  9. ^ "(press release): "President Barack Obama Joins John Walsh For America’s Most Wanted’s Milestone 1000th Episode, March 6", March 3, 2010". TV By The Numbers. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  10. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Frazier Moore (June 16, 2011). "'AMW' ending run on Fox, but John Walsh isn't done". Associated Press. 
  12. ^ Dena Potter (May 17, 2011). "5 Campaigns start to keep 'America's Most Wanted'". Associated Press. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ Barrett, Annie (2011-09-06). "Lifetime picks up America's Most Wanted | Inside TV | EW.com". Insidetv.ew.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  14. ^ Cynthia Littleton (March 13, 2012). "Lifetime orders more 'America's Most Wanted'". Variety. 
  15. ^ http://www.deadline.com/2013/03/americas-most-wanted-cancelled-by-lifetime/
  16. ^ http://www.fox16.com/content/news/mostwanted/default.aspx
  17. ^ Managing the Hotline at ‘America’s Most Wanted’: A Job Well Done, a Phone Call Away WSJ (August 11, 2009). Retrieved on 2009-08-13
  18. ^ U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted Fugitive’s Remains Found in Virginia U.S. Marshals Service (September 18, 2011).
  19. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  20. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  21. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  22. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  23. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  24. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  25. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  26. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  27. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  28. ^ "AMW.com". AMW.com. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 

External links[edit]