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True Crime Hit ‘Empire On Blood’ Gets Long Awaited Follow Up In ‘The Burden.’

Orbit Media, the podcast company co-founded by Oscar winning actor and director Fisher Stevens, is returning to the true crime genre, six years after it first released the hit Empire on Blood series. This time Orbit is partnering with iHeartPodcasts to produce the companion series The Burden, which will turn the tables on who the guilty parties really are. 

“At Orbit, I’ve fallen in love with audio storytelling,” said Stevens. “I love the form of podcasts; the way the stories unfold. They're intimate and real — perfect for the larger-than-life characters and heartbreaking stories we’re drawn to, and we’ve got both of those in ‘The Burden.’ The characters and the access to them are unprecedented. Detectives vs. jailhouse lawyers. With only one winner, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. What does justice for all really mean?”

The legendary detective at the center of this podcast, Louis Scarcella, will tell his full story for the first time exclusively in The Burden. During the 1990s, he cracked the toughest cases and put away the worst criminals. But the story changed when a group of convicted murderers-turned-jailhouse lawyers made a startling discovery that linked all their cases: Scarcella was the cop who helped put many of them away. They made a vow to take down Scarcella, and with the help of a relentless New York Times reporter, they did just that. Thirty years later, 20 people who Scarcella helped put behind bars have since walked free. In the media, he’s known as the disgraced, rogue cop who hoodwinked an entire system. The podcast explores whether it was really the work of one mastermind.

"The Burden’ has been five years in the making,” said investigative journalist Steve Fishman, who is hosting the series along with lawyer, author, and journalist Dax-Devlon Ross. “We’ve been into the woods in North Carolina to track down a long-lost witness. We’ve journeyed into the dusty archives where documents go to hide. Everyone talked to us. Everyone had a story to tell. And some were true,” Fishman said. “Nothing was more provocative than what happens in our final episode, when the great detective finally comes face to face with the great jailhouse lawyer – on mic.” 

Orbit Media says as the ten episode-series unfolds, the show’s narrative will interweave past and present and bring listeners face-to-face with the complexities of the criminal justice system. That includes taking listeners deep into a world of forgotten men toiling away in near-obscurity until they enlist the help of an intrepid reporter known as Frenchy, a woman who boasts that she’s ready to die for this story. 

"The stories we explore in The Burden are more than just wrongful convictions; they are a call to action, a reminder of the work still to be done in our criminal justice system," said Ross. "Our approach is thoughtful and respectful as we delve into the rich and complex narratives that each story presents.”

The Burden is a production of Orbit Media in association with Signal Co. No1 and iHeartPodcasts, which will handle its distribution. All episodes will be available one week early and ad-free, along with exclusive bonus content on Orbit’s newly launched “True Crime Club House” subscription channel on Apple Podcasts.

Meantime, the Empire on Blood series, which reached No. 1 on Apple Podcasts when it was released in 2018, is now being developed into a television series. And Orbit Media says it is also preparing to release a director’s cut of the podcast with new episodes this spring.

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