HLN's Nancy Grace on Monday will launch two months' worth of special programs on missing persons, hoping prime time attention can loosen fresh clues in some cases that are as much as 20 or 30 years old.
"Nancy Grace: America's Missing" will air 50 separate cases on 50 weekdays at 9 p.m. EST, following Grace's regular nightly program.
Grace said it's often frustrating on her show when a missing persons case is covered that it often gets quickly shoved aside when something new comes up.
"Anything that can move a case forward to me would be worth it," she said. "If a case gets solved that would be like a blessing from heaven."
Her effort starts Monday with the story of 10-year-old Lindsey Baum, from Washington state, who was last seen leaving a friend's house in June 2009. The majority of the cases involve children or teenagers, but not all: Grace will talk about a 27-year-old television anchorwoman from Iowa who has been missing since 1995, for example.
Grace said she's not naive enough to think that many, or any, of the missing people will be discovered alive through the attention paid on her show. But she said if information can be uncovered that would lead to closure for a suffering family, that would be valuable.
Her focus on missing people has sometimes borne fruit. In December, San Francisco police arrested a man found panhandling with a 12-year-old girl who had been abducted from Virginia. Police said a witness reported she had recognized the two from Grace's show.
Grace's show had proposed "America's Missing" when HLN approached them with a request to do a second hour as part of the network's transition to a new schedule. After the 50 days are over, HLN is premiering a Drew Pinsky talk show in the 9 p.m. EST time slot. Joy Behar's show moves to 10 p.m., starting Monday.
"They always have to make hard choices on what they can fit into their one hour," said Scot Safon, HLN's chief executive. "So they viewed the second hour as a real opportunity to spotlight 50 cases they feel deserve attention."
Grace also noted that "we're very conscious" of criticism that television gives outsized attention to missing white women, and will have several cases involving minorities.