Judge bars Lifetime movie 'Romeo Killer' from airing
In a ruling issued Tuesday (March 19), state Judge Robert Muller ruled Lifetime can't show the movie and can't promote it. "Romeo Killer" was scheduled to air Saturday; Lifetime has filed an emergency appeal in an attempt to get the film on the air.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Muller issued his injunction without summoning Lifetime to appear in court. Christopher Porco, the subject of the movie, sued under a section of New York law that protects people when their name or likeness is used without their consent.
Porco was convicted in 2006 of murdering his father and attempting to kill his mother. He's currently serving a sentence of 25 years to life in prison on each charge. Matt Barr ("Hellcats," "Hatfields & McCoys") plays him in the movie, which also stars Eric McCormack and Lolita Davidovich.
In his suit, Porco alleges the movie is a "substantially fictionalized account ... about plaintiff and the events that led to his incarceration." Lifetime argues in its appeal that the "essential elements" of "Romeo Killer" are true and based on police and court records.
The network also claims the movie is covered under the "newsworthy" exception to the publicity rights law in New York and also cites free-speech concerns if the injunction stands.
"While plaintiff may not want the story of his crime repeated in a television movie, the constitutional protection of speech and press on matters of public concern flatly prevent the issuance of an order enjoining the broadcast of the movie," Lifetime argues, according to THR.