Elizabeth Smart finally ready for a movie to tell her story
By LYNN ELBER
Jul. 29, 2017
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — A roundup of news from the Television Critics Association summer meeting, at which TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.
Elizabeth Smart said it required years for her to participate in a movie about her kidnapping ordeal.
Smart said Friday that she couldn't have done so immediately after her abduction from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 at age 14. She was rescued nine months later, and said Friday she was eager to "run away" from the experience.
Even as an adult, Smart said it took time and serious discussion with producers for her to agree to work on Lifetime's "I Am Elizabeth Smart."
Smart said she began to realize that such a project could make a difference. She narrates the drama, which stars newcomer Alana Boden as Smart and Skeet Ulrich as her abductor.
"I will say that it is the best worst movie I've ever seen. I mean, I think it's so well done. I think it was accurate," she said. "I'm very proud of it, but at the same time, part of me thinks I'll be happy if I never have to watch it again.
Smart took advantage of her appearance at a TV critics' meeting to promote AMBER Alert, designed to help locate missing children with alerts distributed through media, email and other means. Smart asked that promote the system and activate it on their smart phones.
"I Am Elizabeth Smart" debuts Nov. 18 on Lifetime, preceded by a two-part documentary on Nov. 12 and 13 that Lifetime said will include new information on the case and detail Smart's life today.
A ripped-from-the-headlines TV movie about the crime, "The Elizabeth Smart Story," aired in 2003.
Brian David Mitchell, a Utah street preacher, was convicted of kidnapping and raping Smart and sentenced to life in prison.
Melissa Mays, a resident of Flint, Michigan, came armed to discuss the city's tainted water crisis and a new Lifetime TV movie dramatizing it.
Mays, speaking to a TV critics' meeting Friday, pointed to several bottles she had filled with her tap water and challenged the room to taste or even smell it. There were no immediate takers.
The activist, who said the battle over water safety continues, is among the residents portrayed in Lifetime's movie titled "Flint," debuting Oct. 28. Mays is played by Marin Ireland, who co-stars with Betsy Brandt, Jill Scott and Queen Latifah.
Executive producer Neil Meron said the film is intended to spotlight what happened in Flint, including how a united community and "the voice of the people" can force officials to act.
Mays said there have been successes, including the outcome of a lawsuit to get half of the service lines replaced, although not the main lines or interior plumbing.
"So one of the things we hope come out of this is to let people know it's still not over. It's not even close to over," she said. The movie is intended to honor Flint victims by telling the story "that even in a poor, broken, poisoned town, we banded together, and we fought. We fought, and we win."
In 2014, a switch of Flint's water source and failure to add corrosion-reducing phosphates allowed lead from old pipes to leach into the water. Elevated levels of lead, a neurotoxin, were detected in children, and 12 people died in a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that experts suspect was linked to the improperly treated water.
An ongoing investigation has led to charges against 13 current or former government officials, including two managers who Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appointed to run the city.
Last January, state officials said Flint's water system no longer has lead levels exceeding the federal limit. The announcement was promptly met by skepticism from some residents, Mays among them, maintaining the system still contains lead and continues to cause illness.
Brandt, the former "Breaking Bad" star who's a native of Bay City, Michigan, not far from Flint, said the person she portrays, LeeAnne Walters, was among those driven to act when authorities failed to heed complaints about their children becoming ill.
"As a mom, it just shakes you, because there's some things that we just should be able to count on," Brandt said.
TIME FOR 'OUTLANDER'
The producers of "Outlander" don't expect the drama to outstrip the extensive series of novels it's based on.
Diana Gabaldon has published eight books about time-traveling British nurse Claire Randall, who finds love and adventure with Jamie Fraser in 18th-century Scotland.
Starz's "Outlander," starring Caitriona Balfe, returns for its third season in September. Drawing on events in novel No. 3, "Voyager," the series opens immediately after Claire lands back in her 1948 life. She's left behind Jamie, played by Sam Heughan.
At a TV critics' meeting Friday with Balfe and other cast members, producer Ronald Moore said he can't imagine a scenario where the series catches up with Gabaldon's work.
Fellow producer Maril Davis said they "absolutely" will keep making the show if Starz and studio Sony let them.
Lynn Elber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.