Lifetime has given the green light to Nellie Bly (working title), a psychological thriller inspired by the groundbreaking 19th century journalist, with Christina Ricci (Monster), Judith Light (Transparent) and Josh Bowman (Revenge) attached to star. The film is in production for 2018 premiere on Lifetime.

Ricci plays investigative reporter Nellie Bly, who’s on a mission to expose the deplorable conditions and mistreatment of patients at the notorious Women’s Lunatic Asylum, and feigns mental illness in order to be institutionalized to report from the inside. The movie is an account of actual events surrounding Nellie’s stay beginning after she has undergone treatment, leaving her with no recollection of how she came to the asylum or her real identity.

Courtesy of Lifetime

Nellie’s unwillingness to submit to authority results in unspeakable torture at the hands of the head nurse, Matron Grady (Light). Bowman plays Dr. Josiah, who tries to help Nellie, but the attention prompts Grady’s barbaric tactics to intensify, leading Nellie to question if she actually does belong in the asylum after all.

A real-life hero, Nellie Bly’s expose was the first of its kind in America and inspired the global reformation of mental health care. The story also spawned the 2015 movie 10 Days in a Madhouse based on Bly’s book, which starred Caroline Barry as Bly. An untitled drama project based on the book also is in development by Entertainment One, James Bond film producers Danjaq and The Frederick Zollo Company, with Kate Mara attached to star and executive produce.

Ricci also executive produces via Grey Team Productions along with Howard Braunstein of Howard Braunstein Films.  Michael Tive, David Sigal, Peter Werner and Jonathan Baruch also serve as executive producers with Karen Moncrieff directing (Petals on the Wind) from a screenplay by Helen Childress (Reality Bites).

The Bly role marks Ricci’s return to Lifetime following her praised performance in limited series, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and the prequel movie, Lizzie Borden Took An Axe. Ricci received an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actress for her role as Hannah Davies in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and most recently starred in Amazon’s Z: The Beginning of Everything. 

Ugly Betty alum Light currently plays Shelly Pfefferman on Transparent. She’s been nominated for three Primetime Emmys, two for Transparent and one for Ugly Betty, and she won a Daytime Emmy for her performance in One Life To Live.

Bowman is known for his starring role as Daniel Grayson on Revenge and most recently appeared as John Stevenson on Time After Time.