TLC’s three-night special Taken at Birth launched Wednesday, October 9, telling the story of over 200 newborns illegally given away by a doctor running a rural Georgia clinic during the 1950s and ’60s. Kathryn Vaughan, President, Good Caper Content (launched last year by ITV America), offers insights on producing a show, as well her take on the true crime genre.
What is the genesis of Taken at Birth?
Like many, I remember being completely shocked and horrified when the news about Dr. Hicks originally broke in the late 90s, so when the opportunity eventually presented itself for our company to dig deeper into the complexities of the case by following Jane Blasio’s (the youngest of the “Hicks Babies”) investigation – spotlighting the raw individual stories associated with it and potentially helping to unearth new findings – we were very passionate about seeing it through.
Through our partnership with TLC, we were able to bring Long Lost Family co-hosts and super sleuths Lisa Joyner and Chris Jacobs into the mix, who added another layer to the investigation, offering fresh eyes and an outside perspective – complementing Jane’s incredible work.
And ultimately, for us, it’s an absolute privilege to share these amazingly brave people’s journeys with a wider audience. It’s been astonishing to witness the reunions with relatives, as well as the familial bond the Hicks Babies have formed amongst each other, and we’re extremely hopeful for what this project may bring in terms of new discoveries.
What differentiates Good Caper from other companies in the space?
As a company conceived with true crime as part of our ethos and with a special focus on investigation, we really see the value in exploring and telling a wide range of stories within the space. So when we say “investigative programming,” we’re thinking of a whole host of projects that ask – and hopefully answer – compelling questions.
We’re not limited to tales of homicide or to a specific format or storytelling approach, but we’re always interested in learning, and shining light on uniquely fascinating people, relationships and events in the process.
What true crime show do you consider the gold standard?
For me, it all begins with The Thin Blue Line. What Erroll Morris did for documentarians in terms of style, substance and actually affecting change was and is the gold standard as far as I am concerned.
Over the years, there have been other groundbreaking docs and shows that have helped us experience and understand the criminal justice system for ourselves: The Staircase showed us what following every step of a trial could look like, and ITV America’s very own The First 48 continues to set the bar for how deep and intimate a law enforcement follow doc can be.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t brag on the incredible team I worked with to create Cold Justice. That show, more than any, proves that our little world of true crime can very tangibly make a difference. What blows me away is how the program showcases real people doing real work: from the amazing law enforcement agencies that allow Kelly Siegler and her team to put a fresh pair of eyes on cases, to the brave families and friends of victims who open their hearts to share their stories, Cold Justice is a testament to the belief in finding justice for all. Dick Wolf and the Cold Justice team will always be the folks I admire most in this space, and I feel very proud to have been a part of that!