EXCLUSIVE: Linda Fairstein has been dropped by her publisher, and now the ex-Manhattan Deputy District Attorney who spurred the prosecution of the eventually exonerated Central Park Five has been shown the door by her Hollywood literary agency ICM Partners over Netflix’s When They See Us.
This comes as Fairstein lashed out late last night in the Wall Street Journal at Ava DuVernay and Netflix’s acclaimed series as an “outright fabrication” for its depiction of the shameful series of judicial events three decades ago and Fairstein’s pivotal role in them.
ICM has cut ties with Fairstein after several years, I’ve learned. The agency represented the lawyer in her post-prosecution career as the bestselling author of over a dozen mystery novels featuring fictional Manhattan Deputy D.A. Alexandra Cooper. The 1996 offering Final Jeopardy was adopted into a TV movie for ABC in 2001 starring Dana Delany as Cooper.
ICM did not respond to request for comment from Deadline on the matter or Fairstein.
This is the latest in a row of exits for ex-prosecutor, who is portrayed by Felicity Huffman in DuVernay’s limited series, since When They See Us launched on Netflix on May 31.
Publisher Dutton severed ties wit he former longtime head of the Manhattan D.A.’s sex crimes unit last week, and ex-Harvey Weinstein consultant Fairstein has exited her participation in a number of nonprofits and seen calls for previous honors to be rescinded.
Created, co-penned and directed by Selma helmer DuVernay, When They See Us’ harrowing saga of the Exonerated Five stars Huffman, Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga and John Leguizamo among others. The four-parter runs from 1989, when five Harlem teens were incorrectly convicted first in the media and then twice in the courts for the brutal rape of Central Park jogger, to 2014 when Santana, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise saw their names finally cleared.
Serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed to the attack in 2001 while behind bars for another crime; his statements were confirmed by DNA evidence and knowledge of the scene. Reyes was never prosecuted for the crime because New York’s statute of limitations on such sex crimes had expired for the 1989 incident.
Looking at potential prison time for her participation in the college admission scandal, Huffman plays Fairstein as a by-any-means-necessary prosecutor determined to see the five young men punished quickly and harshly.
It is a depiction Fairstein today took extreme umbrage with in a WSJ op-ed late yesterday. Calling When They See Us “full of distortions and falsehoods” and an “outrage” in her first significant response to the series, Fairstein goes on to say “Ms. DuVernay does not define me, and her film does not speak the truth.”
DuVernay responded to WSJ op-ed with a terse “Expected and typical. Onward…” on social media this morning.
Having just come off an Oprah-hosted FYC event on the weekend at Netflix’s campaign HQ, When They See Us is expected to be a major contender in this year’s Emmy race.