Fox has bought Paradise Falls, a crime drama from Emmy-winning Boardwalk Empire writer-producer Margaret Nagle. Joe Berlinger, who directed the HBO documentary series Paradise Lost about the trial, conviction and eventual release of the West Memphis 3, is co-executive producing the project, which will be loosely based on his experiences covering the case for two decades. The series centers on a down-on-his-luck documentary filmmaker who is sent by a crime reality show to cover the trial of a heinous crime that has engulfed the tourist town of Paradise Falls, PA. He uncovers corruption and deceit at every turn, realizing the case is a smokescreen for the townspeople’s twisted ambition for fame and profit. Nagle, who also sold a one-hour drama to CBS this season, is writing and executive producing the Universal Television Studios project. Brillstein Entertainment’s Margaret Riley also is an executive producer.
As part of our Sundance kickoff, Deadline posted a list of the famous and about-to-be-famous whose films are premiering at the festival. Now with the first full day of the event underway, I’m spotlighting a dozen Sundance veterans who have new work screening this year:
Christine Vachon, executive producer Shut Up And Play The Hits — It’s hard to imagine Sundance or even independent film without this producing tour de force. Her credits include I Shot Andy Warhol, Happiness, Velvet Goldmine, Boys Don’t Cry, Far From Heaven and many others. For this year’s edition she’s executive producing along with Keith Wood and The Creators Project on a doc spotlighting LCD Soundsystem’s final show at Madison Square Garden featuring an intimate portrait of James Murphy and his lead-up to the final concert.
Mary Jane Skalski, producer Hello I Must Be Going — Skalski has also made an indelible mark on the Sundance landscape with films stretching back into the ’90s. This century her Sundance portfolio includes The Station Agent, Mysterious Skin, The Hawk Is Dying and last year’s Pariah and Win Win. She returns as producer on Todd Louiso’s competition feature Hello I Must Be Going about a down-and-out 35-year-old woman who finds solace from a 19-year-old boy after returning home to live with her parents.
Eugene Jarecki, director of The House I Live In — Jarecki previously has taken on America’s conflicts abroad, but now turns the lens on the war on drugs which has cost 45 million arrests over four decades — making America the world’s top jailer. Jarecki’s first short, Seasons Of The Lifterbees debuted at Sundance in 1993. He won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and a Peabody Award for 2005′s Why We Fight and premiered his HBO doc Reagan at the festival last year.
Paul Dano, executive producer/actor in For Ellen — Dano may be a name in a good number of households following his stints in Fast Food Nation, There Will Be Blood and Meek’s Cutoff. In 2006, Little Miss Sunshine took Sundance by storm, in which he starred along with then-newcomer Abigail Breslin. He’s back again, starring in and executive producing For Ellen directed by So Yong Kim (also a Sundance vet who took a Special Jury Prize for In Between Days at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival). Dano plays Joby, a struggling musician who takes an overnight long-distance drive to fight his estranged wife for custody of their young daughter.
The West Memphis 3 will get to see in person the recut version of Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s documentary about them — the one that has been recut to reflect the trio’s release from jail after 18 years served for the murders of three Arkansas 8-year-olds in 1993. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is screening for the first time in its newest version Monday at the New York Film Festival, and Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley Jr will be there, the fest’s organizer the Film Society of Lincoln Center said today. The original version of the HBO Documentary Films pic screened as-is during last month’s Toronto International Film Festival as the filmmakers didn’t have time to add the fresh ending, which showed the men’s release. The trio’s original conviction — derived despite the lack of physical evidence tying the then-teenagers to the murders — became a cause celebre, and the West Memphis 3 have received moral and financial support from the likes of The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines. Meanwhile, there already is a feature film in the works with Atom Egoyan directing; Devil’s Knot is set to begin shooting in the spring.
The New York Film Festival announced additional programs for its 49th edition today including that it will host the premiere screening of the new ending to Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s West Memphis 3 documentary Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, which we reported would land there first. The new footage includes the recent shock release of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, who were just sprung from an Arkansas prison after 18 years for the murder of three children due to lack of evidence and a long and high-profile fight to overturn their convictions. The filmmakers earlier said the HBO documentary will air with its original ending for next month’s Toronto International Film Festival. Here’s the NYFF release:
While Paradise Lost documentary directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky told me last night they intended to change the ending of Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory to reflect today’s stunning developments before they premiered the movie at next month’s Toronto International Film Festival, the filmmakers have instead decided to leave the film alone for Toronto and install a new ending for the New York Film Festival in October, or even for its January debut on HBO. The filmmakers rushed to Arkansas last night to film defendants Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr as they tasted freedom after 18 years. Berlinger and Sinofsky were nearly done with their third documentary on the case, which they feel was a tremendous travesty of justice that left Echols on death row and the other two serving life terms for the brutal murder of three 8-year-old boys in 1993. Those convictions were made without any physical evidence.
“We’ve made the decision to let the film play as is in Toronto,” Berlinger just told me. “We worked on it for a long time and it didn’t seem right to rush a new ending. We’ll tack on one more scene that changes the ending from a question mark to a joyous triumphant moment, but we’ll aim for the New York Film Festival or for HBO.”