EXCLUSIVE: Just days after a federal jury in Brooklyn, NY convicted NXIVM leader Keith Raniere of seven counts of racketeering and sex trafficking, Lifetime has announced a new movie about the case for its upcoming ripped-from-the-headlines slate from Sony Pictures TV. The NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Nightmare (working title) centers on the true story of Catherine Oxenberg and her fight to save her daughter India from the dangerous sex cult. It’s set to debut this fall.
Oxenberg, whose daughter India was one of Raniere’s victims, is portrayed in the movie by Andrea Roth (Rescue Me) and executive produces. Peter Facinelli (Twilight) stars as Raniere, the charming and charismatic secret organization leader with devious motives. Jasper Polish (Devil’s Whisper) portrays India and Sara Fletcher (Secret Girlfriend) is actress Allison Mack, Keith’s associate in the cult.
Oxenberg spoke outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, NY June 19, moments after Raniere was found guilty in the case. “Today was the end of a hellish nightmare,” she said following the end of the seven-week trial. Raniere faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on September 25.
In the movie, Catherine (Roth) learns about a leadership seminar from a new organization called NXIVM, she decides to take her twenty-year-old daughter India to the professional development meeting. Led by the extremely enigmatic Keith Raniere (Facinelli), Catherine can’t help but shake the feeling there’s more than meets the eye with the self-help organization. Despite Catherine’s best efforts, India (Polish) is drawn deeper into the cult, eventually joining a secret sorority of female members who are branded with the cult leader’s initials, ordered to maintain a restricted diet and forced to recruit other women as sex slaves.
The NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Nightmare tells the story of a mother who will stop at nothing to get her daughter back and exposes the intricate seductive power of Allison (Fletcher) and Keith and the mental and physical abuse India fell victim to.
“I commend Lifetime for undertaking the expose of some difficult subject matter. The victims of this cult were not unsophisticated or gullible,” Facinelli said in a statement. “No one wants to believe something like this could happen to them, or to people they know, however this film shows how anyone can be vulnerable to skilled predators. As difficult as it is to portray someone capable of such horrific acts, I felt compelled to be a part of bringing this story to light with hope that it educates others from falling prey to such atrocities.”
The movie is produced by Sony Pictures Television. Judith Verno of Peace Out Productions. Oxenberg, Yfat Reiss Gendell and Richie Kern serve as executive producers. Lisa Robinson directs from a script written by Adam Mazer.
Best known for his role as Dr. Carlisle Cullen in the Twilight franchise, Facinelli was most recently seen on CBS’ S.W.A.T. and the CW’s Supergirl. He received Screen Actors Guild nominations for his work on Nurse Jackie and Six Feet Under, and had key roles on Damages and Fastlane. On the big screen, Facinelli will next be seen in STXfilms’ horror thriller Countdown. He’s repped by Abrams Artists Agency and Mainstay Entertainment.
Roth, known for her role as Janet Gavin on FX’s Rescue Me, recently recurred on 13 Reasons Why and Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger. Roth is repped by Lauren Levitt & Associates, TalentWorks and Industry Entertainment.
Polish appeared in Devil’s Whisper and recently wrapped filming Axis Sally, starring Al Pacino and Meadow Williams and directed by her father, Michael Polish. She’s repped by Buchwald and Management 360.
The NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Nightmare joins previously announced Lifetime movies Abducted: The Mary Stauffer Story starring Alyson Hannigan and Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story (previously Saving Alex) the inspiring true story of a teen subjected to gay conversion therapy, starring Addison Holley, Ian Lake and Sarah Booth.