×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lifetime Seeks to Lift Judge’s Ban on TV Movie

'Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story' was to air on Saturday

Lifetime is challenging a New York judge’s order that prohibits them from showing, or even marketing, a TV movie on Saturday about a man who killed his father and severely maimed his mother.

The movie, “Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story,” is being challenged by Porco, currently in prison, under a New York publicity rights statute that requires permission from a subject for use of his or her image for “advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade.” Robert J. Muller, Judge of the Supreme Court of New York, rejected arguments from Lifetime that his issuance of a temporary restraining order would set a “dangerous precedent,” ruling that he found Lifetime’s argument “unavailing” because the network “appears to concede this movie is fictionalized.”

The cabler filed an emergency motion today calling for Muller’s order to be vacated, on the grounds that it is a “patently unconstitutional, prior restraint.”

Noting that Porco had not even seen the movie, Lifetime’s attorneys said that “with nothing more than this unexplored claim of ‘fictionalization,’ the trial court entered a temporary restraining order, finding that Porco might otherwise be deprived of his ‘statutory remedy’ of injunctive relief is he is able to prevail at a preliminary injunction hearing the court has now scheduled for late April.”

The TV movie business was practically built on torn-from-the-headlines tales of real-life crimes, often with producers not obtaining rights from their subjects, which is why the judge’s order was such a surprise. Lifetime argued that any politician or other public figure could merely claim that a movie project was fictionalized and get a court to halt it.

California also has a publicity rights statute, but its reference to the commercialization of a person’s image is often interpreted as meaning such things as merchandising and advertising, not the content of shows. Muller’s conclusion that “Romeo Killer” is fictionalized is what seems to have placed it in a whole different category from First Amendment protected works.

Porco, who was convicted in 2006, already has been the subject of a “48 Hours Mystery” and an episode of the TruTv series “Forensic Files.”

Lifetime said in its filing that Muller appeared to base his contention that the movie was fictionalized “based solely on Porco’s hearsay observations about how the movie was being advertised” and “without any factual support at all.”

“The Supreme Court’s order is unprecedented and would cause grave and irreparable damage not just to Lifetime but the constitutional protections for speech,” Lifetime said in its briefing.

More TV

  • Shefali Shah in Delhi Crime

    'Delhi Crime’ Wins big at Asian Academy Creative Awards

    Richie Mehta’s harrowing Netflix series “Delhi Crime” was the big winner at the 2nd annual Asian Academy Creative Awards in Singapore on Friday. Representing the show, lead actress Shefali Shah was rushed off her feet as she repeatedly had to return to the stage. “Delhi Crime” earned her best actress in a leading role, best [...]

  • KARNAWAL

    ‘Karnawal,’ ‘Restless,’ ‘Summer White,’ ‘Firsts’ Win Big at Ventana Sur

    BUENOS AIRES  — With Ventana Sur now firing on multiple cylinders, featuring pix-in post or project competitions for not only art films but also genre pics and animation – two sectors embraced by young creators in Latin America – “Karnawal,” “Restless,” “Summer White” and  “Firsts” proved big winners among Ventana Sur’s arthouse and animation competitions, [...]

  • Robert Walker Jr.

    'Star Trek' Actor Robert Walker Jr. Dies at 79

    Robert Walker Jr., son of actors Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones, died Thursday, his family confirmed to the official website for the television show “Star Trek.” He was 79. Walker Jr. is best remembered for playing the titular Charlie Evans in the “Star Trek” episode “Charlie X” from the show’s first season in 1966. His [...]

  • Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, right,

    TV Ratings: Why Is the NBA Shooting Air Balls?

    The NBA’s TV ratings so far this season have been far from all-star level. Viewership across ESPN, TNT and NBA TV is down 15% year-to-year overall, according to Nielsen figures. TNT’s coverage is averaging 1.3 million viewers through 14 telecasts, down 21% versus last year’s comparable coverage, while on ESPN the picture isn’t much prettier. The [...]

  • Claire Danes, Homeland

    TV News Roundup: Showtime Releases 'Homeland' Final Season Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, Showtime drops the trailer for the final season of “Homeland,” and National Geographic reveals the first look at Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin in “Genius: Aretha.” FIRST LOOKS Showtime released the trailer for the final season of “Homeland,“ premiering Feb. 9. The eighth and final season, starring Claire Danes and [...]

  • 700700 + Ted Turner Dedication. December

    Ted Turner Tributes Established With WarnerMedia Gift to University of Georgia

    WarnerMedia has established a scholarship, internship program and exhibition hall at the University of Georgia to be named after maverick media mogul Ted Turner. The company has gifted $550,000 to the university to create the Ted Turner Scholarship Fund, for students attending the school’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, which is also the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content