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Toronto: Image Lands West Memphis 3 Pic ‘Devil’s Knot’ With Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon

Mike Fleming

Image Entertainment has acquired the Toronto title Devil’s Knot and will release it in second-quarter 2014. The Atom Egoyan-directed film stars Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Amy Ryan, Mireille Enos, and Stephen Moyer. Image’s Chief Acquisition Officer Bill Bromiley made the deal with CAA and WME on behalf of financier Worldview Entertainment. The film is the story of three teenagers accused of the brutal 1993 murder of three 8-year-old boys in Memphis, Ark. — two of them sentenced to life imprisonment and one to death even though there was not a shred of physical evidence. The film explores the lives of deeply misunderstood outsiders, their families and communities, and the hysterics that drove the trial. The conviction of the West Memphis 3 — Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley Jr, and Jason Baldwin — riled the American justice system, shocked a tightly knit religious town and outraged the nation. Pic is based on the Mara Leveritt book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson wrote the script and Boardman produced with Elizabeth Fowler, Richard Saperstein, Clark Peterson and Christopher Woodrow of Worldview Entertainment.

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Drama Series Based On West Memphis 3 Filmmaker’s Experience Sold To Fox

By | Tuesday October 23, 2012 @ 1:30pm PDT

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. Read More »

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Toronto: ‘West Of Memphis’ Gets Fest Preem; Johnny Depp And Natalie Maines To Join Filmmakers

Mike Fleming

RELATED: 2012 Sundance: Q&A With ‘West Of Memphis’ Producers Peter Jackson And Fran Walsh

BREAKING: West of Memphis, the Amy Berg-directed documentary that was one of the highlights of the last Sundance Film Festival, will join the Mavericks section of the 2012 Toronto Film Festival. The film, which is largely based on private investigators and forensic testing financed by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (they produce with West Memphis 3 member Damien Echols and his wife Lorri Davis), will get a premiere. There to help the filmmakers launch the film and participate in the press conference and Q&A will be Johnny Depp and Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines. Both have been longtime supporters of a retrial for Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr, who were convicted of triple homicide even though there was not a shred of physical evidence. Depp also acquired the upcoming memoir by Echols for a feature. The sham of that original trial was captured in the HBO docu Paradise Lost, which became a trilogy and which sparked Jackson and Walsh’s interest in the case years ago. The defendants were finally let out of prison after nearly two decades in Arkansas after prosecutors granted them an Alford plea (technically pleading “guilty” while vehemently denying they committed the crime). All parties are still pressing for an outright exoneration, but the state has refused … Read More »

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‘Devil’s Knot’ Adds Duo To Cast

By | Monday June 25, 2012 @ 5:50pm PDT

Robert Baker and Brian Howe are the latest additions to the cast of Devil’s Knot. The duo joins Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon and Alessandro Nivola in the Atom Egoyan-directed film about the wrongly accused and imprisoned West Memphis 3. Best known as Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. Charles Percy, Baker will play Detective Bryan Ridge, one of the first on the scene of the triple homicide at the heart of the case. Baker, who also appeared in Leatherheads with George Clooney, will be seen in Disney’s upcoming The Lone Ranger. Howe, who was in Gran Torino, plays Detective McDonough, a California cop who gets partially drawn into the case while chasing down a lead. Matt Letscher, The Ringer regular Kris Polaha, Collette Wolfe, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager’s Kristopher Higgins and The Killing’s Mireille Enos also are in the film. Egoyan is working with Paul Boardman on a rewrite of the script. The film is based on the 2003 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story Of The West Memphis Three by investigative reporter Mara Leveritt. Baker is repped by The Kohner Agency and KLWGN Entertainment. Howe also is repped by Kohner.

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‘Devil’s Knot’ Adds Matt Letscher To Cast

By | Thursday June 21, 2012 @ 3:50pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Matt Letscher has joined Devil’s Knot.  The actor, who appears on ABC’s Scandal, will play defense attorney “Paul Ford” in the Atom Egoyan-directed film about the West Memphis 3. Letscher is scheduled to start filming on Devil’s Knot early next month. The Ford character represents Jason Baldwin, one of the three teenagers accused of a triple homicide. Despite no psychical evidence, the three were convicted in 1993. Baldwin, along with Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley were finally released in 2011. Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, and Alessandro Nivola head the cast. The Ringer regular Kris Polaha, Collette Wolfe, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager’s Kristopher Higgins and The Killing’s Mireille Enos are also on board. Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman, the team behind The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, wrote the film’s original script; Egoyan is now working with Boardman on a rewrite. The film is based on the 2003 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story Of The West Memphis Three by investigative reporter Mara Leveritt. Letscher is repped by IFA Talent & Sanders Armstrong Caserta Management.

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Alessandro Nivola Plays Key Role In West Memphis 3 Film ‘Devil’s Knot’

By | Monday June 11, 2012 @ 8:46am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Alessandro Nivola has been tapped to star opposite Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth in Devil’s Knot, the Atom Egoyan-directed drama about the conviction of the West Memphis 3, a trio falsely accused of a triple homicide in a controversial trial that presented no physical evidence.

Nivola will play Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the young victims. It’s a pivotal role in the film; Hobbs is a controversial figure who has consistently denied any role in the murders but has come under suspicion in the 20 years since the crime was committed. He has never been charged and evidence against him is inconclusive. His relationship with his wife Pam Hobbs (Witherspoon) forms the backbone of the story.

Nivola will next be seen in Sally Potter’s untitled film, which stars Elle Fanning and Annette Bening. He’s repped by CAA and Management 360.

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Kristopher Higgins Joining ‘Devil’s Knot’

By | Friday June 8, 2012 @ 2:08pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Kristopher Higgins is in talks to join the cast of Devil’s Knot. Higgins, who appeared in season 3 of The Secret Life Of The American Teenager, joins the already announced Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon in the drama about the West Memphis 3 that Atom Egoyan is directing. The film tells the true tale of teens Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin, who were convicted in Arkansas of murdering three 8-year-olds in 1993 despite no physical evidence. Higgins will play Misskelley. The trio were finally released last year. Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman, the team behind The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, originally wrote the film’s script; Egoyan is now working with Boardman on a rewrite. The film is based on the 2003 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story Of The West Memphis Three by investigative reporter Mara Leveritt. The book offered an in-depth chronicle of the satanic panic that gripped the town and sensationalized trials that sent the three to prison. Higgins is repped by ICM and Luber Roklin.

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‘The Killing’s Mireille Enos Tied To ‘Devil’s Knot’

By | Wednesday May 30, 2012 @ 1:15pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Mireille Enos Devil's Knot CastingEXCLUSIVE: The Killing star Mireille Enos has joined Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth in Devil’s Knot, the Atom Egoyan-directed drama about the West Memphis 3. Enos will play Vicki Hutcheson, the mother of an 8-year-old boy who lives in a run-down house in West Memphis. She becomes an important witness in the murder trial of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley for the killing of three 8-year-old boys found hog-tied in a drainage ditch. Hutcheson, it becomes apparent to investigators, could be the only link between Echols and Misskelley.

As Deadline revealed just after the West Memphis 3 murder defendants were released from prison last summer, The Sweet Hereafter and Chloe director Egoyan came aboard to direct a script that was originally written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman, the team behind The Exorcism Of Emily Rose. Read More »

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Colin Firth Joins Reese Witherspoon in West Memphis 3 Film ‘Devil’s Knot’

By | Wednesday February 1, 2012 @ 11:34am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Colin Firth has joined Reese Witherspoon in Devil’s Knot, the Atom Egoyan-directed drama about the West Memphis 3. As Deadline revealed just after the West Memphis 3 murder defendants were released from prison August 19, The Sweet Hereafter and Chloe director Egoyan came aboard to direct a script that was originally written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman, the team behind The Exorcism Of Emily Rose.

Firth will play Ron Lax, a private investigator who was the first pro bono supporter of the defendents as they headed to trial in 1993. Lax built one of the most prominent private investigative firms in the Southeast, and offered his services for free to the defendants, who at the time were reviled because of the heinous nature of the crime and the sensationalized reports about devil worship and ritualistic sacrifice. All of that was later proven to be unfounded, after Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were convicted despite not a shred of physical evidence. Lax was an unsung hero and helped find the DNA in the knots that bound one of the victims, that cast suspicion on Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Steven Branch, one of the 8-year old murdered boys. Witherspoon will play Pam Hobbs, the mother of Branch. She initially believed the trio murdered her son, is eventually persuaded that the three suspects are innocent and wrongly accused. Filming begins next summer in Louisiana, and other big names are … Read More »

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BREAKING: ‘West Of Memphis’ Unveils New Witnesses In Murder Case

By | Friday January 20, 2012 @ 9:30am PST
Mike Fleming

West Of Memphis DocumentaryThis morning, I reported rumblings I’d heard that the Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh-financed Sundance documentary West Of Memphis would likely drop some revelations that could provoke the state of Arkansas to take a closer look at the 1993 murder of three youths that was originally pinned on West Memphis 3 defendants Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley. The film’s first press screening is still going on, but a release has just been sent out from Echols’ legal team about the new revelations that are in the Amy Berg-directed film and came from a WM3 tipline arranged by the legal team fighting to get the three defendants exonerated. Here is the release:

(Mountain Home, Arkansas – January 20, 2012) Terry Hobbs’ nephew, Michael Hobbs Jr., allegedly told his friends “my uncle Terry murdered those three little boys,” according to declarations under penalty of perjury recently given to Damien Echols’ defense team. The three new witnesses were polygraphed about what they stated Michael Hobbs, Jr. told them.

“One day Michael picked us up in his truck. He was very quiet and upset. Michael then said to us, ‘you are not going to believe what my dad told me today. My Uncle Terry murdered the three little boys.’ According to Michael, his dad called this ‘The Hobbs Family Secret’ and he asked us to keep it a secret and not tell anyone.”

Read More »

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2012 Sundance: Will New Evidence From ‘West Of Memphis’ Documentary Spark Movement In Murder Case?

Mike Fleming

2012 Sundance: Q&A With ‘West Of Memphis’ Producers Peter Jackson And Fran Walsh

West Of Memphis SundanceEXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing rumblings here in Park City that the Sundance documentary West of Memphis will include some new important evidence obtained within the last month that could have direct bearing on the future of the case. The film, which was directed by Amy Berg and financed by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, re-investigates the infamous 1993 triple child murder in Arkansas that led to the conviction and 18 year incarceration of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, despite the lack of physical evidence. The docu is driven by the results of DNA testing and forensic and other expert investigative work funded by Jackson and Walsh since 2005. On the basis of the evidence and the continued outcry over an unfair prosecution, the defendants were freed last summer after a plea deal in which they were allowed to maintain their innocence while technically pleading guilty to the murders.

Press that screened the film in New York and Los Angeles last Friday were told that a scene was missing from the movie, but weren’t given specifics. I’m hearing the new scene will be included in the print of the film shown for the first time at Sundance this morning at 8:30 AM at a press and industry screening at the Holiday Village. The film has its official premiere today at 4:45 PM at the … Read More »

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VIDEO: West Memphis 3 Talk About Documentary ‘Paradise Lost’

By | Wednesday December 21, 2011 @ 12:41pm PST
Mike Fleming

Here is a teaser for a panel that is part of HBO’s January 12 premiere of Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, the final installment of the documentary that Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky made on the West Memphis 3. The trio was finally released this year after spending nearly 20 years in prison for murder after being convicted with no physical evidence and much inflammatory innuendo. While many people helped the defendants over the years — Peter and Fran Jackson, who’ve disclosed they paid legal bills, produced their own documentary — it was Berlinger and Sinofsky’s HBO documentaries that served as a continuing reminder that the trio was rotting in a cell for crimes the filmmakers didn’t believe they had anything to do with. Here’s a bit of footage from the New York Film Festival screening in what was the only time the three men had been together since they left the courthouse after their release. The entire Q&A can be seen on HBO.com.

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Reese Witherspoon To Star In ‘Devil’s Knot’

By | Thursday December 15, 2011 @ 3:55pm PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Reese Witherspoon will star in Devil’s Knot, the Atom Egoyan-directed drama about the West Memphis 3. As Deadline revealed just after the West Memphis 3 murder defendants were released from prison August 19, The Sweet Hereafter and Chloe director Egoyan came aboard to direct a script that was originally written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman, the team behind The Exorcism Of Emily Rose. Witherspoon will play Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of the murder victims who initially believes the trio murdered her son, but she is eventually persuaded that the three suspects are innocent and wrongly accused. Filming begins next summer. Read More »

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TOLDJA! Recut West Memphis 3 Docu To Bow At NY Film Festival

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: Read More »

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West Memphis 3 Freed After Plea Deal, And Toronto-Bound Docu Directors Need Ending Change

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: The West Memphis 3, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were just freed in an Arkansas hearing after being in prison 18 years for the murder of three children in 1993. The three were freed after pleading guilty and drawing a sentence equal to the time they already served. The original conviction, which was derived despite any physical evidence tying the trio 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. The case has also be the subject of two Paradise Lost HBO documentaries by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. A third installment will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, followed by the New York Film Festival and a January airing on HBO.

Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh To Reveal Financial And Legal Support For ‘West Memphis 3′ Freedom Effort

EARLIER, AUGUST 18, 8:20 PM EXCLUSIVE: It’s just days before the directors lock their third documentary on the “West Memphis 3″  for premieres at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals. But Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory helmers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky raced to Arkansas to prepare to add a new ending. They’ll bring their camera Friday morning to … Read More »

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UPDATE: Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh Financed Legal Support To Free ‘West Memphis 3′ Inmates

By | Thursday August 18, 2011 @ 11:21pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: THURSDAY 11 PM: I’ve learned that on Friday Academy Award-winning film director Peter Jackson and his partner and producer Fran Walsh will reveal their longtime behind-the-scenes support of the ‘West Memphis 3″ after a court hearing that may free the imprisoned trio. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy helmer with Walsh have “played a leading role” financially and legally behind seven years of efforts to get justice for Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. The filmmaking pair have funded key investigative efforts on behalf of the defense’s day-to-day efforts to prove the three men were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned on charges they brutally murdered three 8-year old boys in 1993. This has included financing extensive private investigators over a number of years and the uncovering of crucial new DNA evidence. Jackson and Walsh also have been instrumental in hiring some of the country’s leading forensic experts to reevaluate the case and uncover new witnesses, all of which contributed to the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to reopen the case. The first two HBO documentaries that Berlinger and Sinofsky made on the case stirred international outrage over what many including Johnny Depp, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, and Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines felt was a miscarriage of justice and a conviction on flimsy evidence. The directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky are taking their third documentary Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory on the … Read More »

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