Professor lands miniseries deal

Jennifer Byrd, Editor-in-Chief

 & Matthew Koon, Volunteer Reporter

When it rains, it pours, and right now William Bernhardt could use an umbrella. After winning more than $20,000 on “Jeopardy,” the New York Times best-selling author and RSC adjunct professor received news that a TV miniseries based on his 2009 novel “Nemesis” was being developed by Sony Pictures Television.

Bernhardt’s story follows the life of famed Treasury Department agent Eliot Ness after he brought down Al Capone, an event made famous in the movie “The Untouchables.”

As Cleveland’s director of public safety, Ness was far away from his former high-profile job in the federal government. However, soon after he accepted his new position, a serial killer emerged on the city’s streets.

Nemesis cover

Sony Pictures Television is set to make RSC adjunct professor William Bernhardt’s 2009 murder-mystery into a miniseries. The novel is based on a true story. Graphic courtesy of William Bernhardt

The murderer was named the “Torso Killer” by the local press, and, despite being out of his jurisdiction, Ness found himself on the case of one of America’s first serial killers.

“He did a lot of good work for Cleveland and turned that town around. He was the golden boy of the city, but then he couldn’t nail this one serial killer. Everybody turned on him,” Bernhardt said in an RSC press release. “The term ‘serial killer’ didn’t even exist yet. They were trying to catch him with conventional means. They didn’t have the tools to catch this guy.”

Although the actual case didn’t end in a conviction, Bernhardt’s tale names a suspect and gives a climactic closure to this still-unsolved case.

Bernhardt said casting for the miniseries has not started, but the program is slated to premier after the 2015 Super Bowl, according to

In addition to winning thousands of dollars on an iconic game show, writing historical fiction, and instructing English composition classes, Bernhardt teaches the art of creative writing. He conducts writing workshops, has six books on the subject, and developed “Red Sneaker” exercises to help aspiring writers.

Bernhardt can often be seen wearing red sneakers during his seminars and believes that red sneaker writers seek “useful instruction and guidance rather than obfuscation and attitude.”

“Red sneakers get the job done, and so do red sneaker writers, by paying close attention to their art and craft, committing to hard work, and never quitting,” he said.

The biggest writer’s event for Bernhardt is the annual “Short Course on Writing” every fall at RSC. He is the executive director of the workshop, and this year’s event is Sept. 19-21. Bernhardt, as well as many other authors and agents, will give presentations on topics ranging from how to start your story to getting your manuscript published. Interviews with agents will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

According to his website, Bernhardt has 33 books published to date, and a few more ready to come out within the next year. Eighteen are part of the Ben Kincaid series, which follows the title character’s life as an ardent attorney.

Not only has the RSC professor sold more than 10 million books worldwide, he has won multiple awards for his works, including the Oklahoma Book Award for best fiction and the Southern Writer’s Guild Gold Medal Award.

In addition to all his recent successes, Bernhardt has also been named special guest for 2014’s Poetry at Rose, a literary tradition of the college that is held each spring. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the free event, which will be held at 7 p.m. on March 7 in the Atkinson Theatre.

For more information about Bernhardt, visit

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