‘America’s Most Wanted’ Reboot Host Elizabeth Vargas on What’s New & What’s Back
The Emmy-winning journalist has been fascinated with the genre since she began covering malfeasance decades ago on two now-legendary newsmagazines. “I still watch 20/20 and Dateline, which do an amazing job,” she declares.
“There’s a bottomless appetite for true crime,” Vargas adds. Netflix’s new Unsolved Mysteries and “a lot” of documentaries populate her own viewing list, and even her 18-year-old son is asking whether she’s seen another Netflix genre series, Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer. What’s the appeal? “It goes to our deepest fears that these things happen, while engaging our appetite for mysteries — the whodunit. It’s a human need to want justice.”
Justice for a multitude of victims is her goal for this iteration of America’s Most Wanted, which, over its original 25-season run, contributed to the takedown of more than 1,100 perps and brought 43 missing children home. (The original host, anti-crime activist John Walsh, has given his blessing to his successor.) Ten years after the last episode, Vargas expects even more success now that its engaged audience will see 3-D avatars, augmented reality, age-progression technology, and other upgraded tools.
“A pinpoint map can show all the places [a fugitive has] been and been sighted. People can think ‘Oh, I was there!’ or ‘My sister lives there.'” But classic AMW hasn’t disappeared: Vargas says she’ll interview “the real-life people at the heart of the stories, from law enforcement to victims.”
The season opens with a murderous drug kingpin who’s escaped from a maximum security prison — twice! (Expect three cases per episode.) AMW 2.0 is casting a wider net to include nonviolent felons, like a former police officer who stole millions through a bogus charity. Says Vargas: “I can’t wait for our first capture.”
America’s Most Wanted, Series Premiere, Monday, March 15, 9/8c, Fox