EXCLUSIVE: Lifetime is taking on Prison Break: The Joyce Mitchell Story, setting Penelope Ann Miller to star in the network’s latest ripped-from-the-headlines TV movie. This one is inspired by the infamous 2015 jailbreak in upstate New York pulled off by convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat that launched a 21-day manhunt for the pair. The statewide search captivated the cable news networks; Matt was found and killed in the attempt to apprehend him, and Sweat eventually was found and taken into custody.
In the movie written and to be directed by Stephen Tolkin, Miller will play Joyce Mitchell, the married mother of three who met Matt (Myk Watford) and Sweat (Joe Anderson) while running the tailor shop at the Clinton Correctional Facility. In real life, the cons seduced Mitchell, and, thinking the men were in love with her, she agreed to help them break out, supplying tools and agreeing to pick them up on the outside after the escape. Part of the plan was to kill her husband so they could run away together to Mexico, but at the last second she decided she couldn’t go through with the plot and didn’t show up at the pickup point.
She later was convicted of promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Mountainair Films is producing the pic, with Judith Verno and Frank Von Zerneck executive producing. David Manzanares co-produces and Ron Schmidt is the line producer. A 2017 premiere is planned.
Miller most recently starred opposite Nate Parker, Armie Hammer and Gabrielle Union in Sundance hit The Birth of a Nation. Her other TV credits include American Crime, Mistresses and Men of a Certain Age. She’s repped by APA and Untitled.
Lifetime also has in its pipeline Britney, a two-hour TV movie about Britney Spears starring Natasha Bassett (Hail, Caesar!) as the pop icon. It also last week set a January 21 premiere date for its remake of Beaches starring Idina Menzel and Nia Long.