In a development that has shocked the entertainment industry, a New York Supreme Court judge has taken the bold step of blocking the broadcast of Lifetime Television’s film Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story, which was scheduled to air Saturday.
The film is based on the true story of the murder of Peter Porco and the attempted murder of his wife, Joan Porco; the resulting criminal investigation, prosecution, and conviction of their son, Christopher Porco, for those crimes. The case drew national news attention, and Lifetime’s planned film drew a lawsuit from the convicted killer, who alleges that Romeo Killer violates his rights.
On Tuesday, Judge Robert Muller issued an injunction that not only prevents the airing but also prohibits Lifetime from promoting the film, which stars Matt Barr as Chris Porco, Lolita Davidovich as his mother and Eric McCormack as the case’s lead detective. In reaction, Lifetime is filing an emergency application to vacate or stay the injunction on appeal. According to court documents, the cable network says it stands to lose more than $1 million if it is not given immediate appellate relief.
Christopher Porco is currently serving a minimum sentence of 50 years in prison for his crimes. But Porco can still file lawsuits from prison, and he recently did just that, going after the network with a suit claiming that the film violates New York Civil Rights Section 51.
Porco is claiming the network’s account of his story is “fictionalized” and his name is being used for “purposes of trade.”
New York Supreme Court Judge Robert Mueller agreed, and has issued an injunction for “Romeo Killer” which was set to premiere on Saturday, March 23.
The network has fired back with an appeal, claiming the judge’s unprecedented ruling will have “devastating financial” impacts on Lifetime and cost the network “millions of dollars in investment, lost revenue and untold harm to its brand.”
The appeal states that Lifetime spent more than $2 million to obtain the rights to the film, and an additional $1 million promoting it.
One of the lawyers representing Lifetime told TVFishbowl the network could see an even bigger loss if the program does not air as scheduled.
As of Thursday morning, there was no mention of Romeo Killer on Lifetime’s homepage, and promotional links to the film had been disabled. Emails to a rep at Lifetime were not immediately returned.
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