11:30 a.m. “The Amanda Knox Story” (Lifetime)
Starring Hayden Panettiere in the title role and Marcia Gay Harden as her mother, the telefilm examines, from multiple perspectives, the true story of how a Seattle honor student allegedly killed her college roommate in 2007. News reports painted Knox as a remorseless, oversexed killer during her two-year trial that led to her conviction and sentencing to 26 years in jail.
Panettiere noted that after researching Knox’s story and reading the case notes, she hasn’t formed an opinion on whether Knox actually committed the crime for which she was convicted.
“It’s one of those really riveting stories where you just don’t know,” the former Heroes cheerleader said. “We spent five weeks every day talking about it and reading about it and looking at new evidence trying to form some sort of opinion about it. I can’t say that I have an opinion, and that’s why the story is so interesting.
“I don’t know that we’ll ever really know. I spoke a lot to director Robert Dornhelm with what approach to take. Everyone has their role to play within it and how they come together,” she added.
Panettiere said instead of forming an opinion on Knox, she played Knox as who she appeared to be on the surface.
“My job was to play a girl, regardless of what happened, who was innocent in who she was; she’s not a malicious girl,” she noted. She didn’t have intent to do this; she’s not an angry or dark girl. It was my job to stay true to form with who she is as a person with who she is in court and otherwise.”
Added Harden: “You try to be true to the emotional life of the character. It doesn’t all hinge on this one simple fact, which no one knows. I found an opportunity playing her mom to find reasons as her mother to question that she wasn’t guilty, to believe fiercely in her while I was shooting the film. In the report, I thought there was conjecture … I became my own detective.”
As for the differences between filming a heavy Lifetime telefilm and NBC’s Heroes, Panettiere said it was “exciting to spread my wings and play a different character.”
“You don’t get many opportunities like this,” she noted, adding later that she found out she got the role while filming Scream 4.
Panettiere later told AfterEllen.com that she’s asked regularly if there will be a Heroes movie and that if there is a shot at one, she hasn’t heard about it. “If there is one, I haven’t heard about it yet. But maybe one day. Never say never,” and that she’d be in to reprising her role as Claire.
When asked if she thought her character identified as a lesbian at the end of the series, Panettiere told AfterEllen.com, “You have to chose, do you?”
Amanda Knox premieres Monday, Feb. 21 at 9 p.m.
10:30 a.m. A&E’s Breakout Kings
Prison Break writers Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora take things a step further with A&E’s Breakout Kings, an action-packed drama about an unconventional partnership between the U.S. Marshals Office and a group of convicts as they pursue fugitives on the run.
The basic cable home allows the series to push the envelope and go darker than their short-lived Fox series as each episode will feature a “big bad” type that pairs a marshal with a con.
“You have to have a really bad bad guy or there’s no stakes at the beginning of the episode,” exec producer Santora noted. “But each week you can’t have the Son of Sam breaking out of prison or it gets repetitive.”
The ensemble cast features Serinda Swan (Supernatural, Psych and Reaper) as Erica Reed as an expert at finding people with a dark side. Swan noted that the characters aren’t one-dimensional and that more of their “amazing back stories” will be revealed as the series progresses. “We’re real people in difficult situations and sometimes it’s those difficult situations that put us in jail,” she said, adding that she once spent eight hours in jail for unpaid parking tickets that were sent to her parents’ home without her knowledge. “You really get to see the duality between the real person and their crime.”
Co-star Brooke Nevin noted that the cons and marshals will share in playing the bad guy. “There are two groups on each side of the law but it’s not clearly define which hare the good people and which are the bad people,” she said. “Sometimes a lot of drama comes out of it, sometimes a lot of comedy because you have a lot of different people who have to work together.”
Add this to your roster of shows featuring women who kick ass.
“Breakout Kings” premieres Sunday, March 13 at 10 p.m. on A&E.