Thesp will play convicted exchange student Knox

Hayden Panettiere (“Heroes”) has signed on to play Amanda Knox in an upcoming Lifetime telepic.

The TV movie will follow the real-life controversial case of Knox, an American exchange student who was accused by Italian authorities of brutally killing her roommate.

“The Amanda Knox Story” marks the first scripted project to come from Pilgrim Films and Television, the shingle run by Craig Piligian (“Dirty Jobs”)

Piligian is exec producing with Trevor Walton, Craig Anderson and Wendy Battles (who wrote the screenplay).

Robert Dornhelm is directing the TV movie, which will air next year.

Knox is currently serving a 26-year jail sentence for murder, sexual assault and obstruction of justice in the death of Meredith Kercher, a British woman who shared an apartment with Knox and two others in Perugia, Italy.

Knox’s boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was also convicted of the same crimes; a third man, Rudy Guede, was convicted as well.

The Knox case remains controversial, as supporters claim that Italian authorities conjured up wild tales of Knox engaging hard-drug use and deviant sexual activities, leading to Kercher’s murder. The case launched a media circus in Italy, which some believe helped lead to an unfair trial.

On the other side, however, the Italian court argued that it believed that Knox and Sollecito stabbed Kercher and then tried to cover the crime up by staging a fake break-in.

“The Amanda Knox Story” will run on Lifetime sometime next year.

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