Rob Lowe's commitment to accepting starring roles in Lifetime movies hasn't always made sense to me, but after taking on the villain role in Drew Peterson: Untouchable, taking the role of the would-be hero as Jeff Ashton, the prosecutor in the Casey Anthony trial in Prosecuting Casey Anthony, which aired Saturday night, seemed understandable. The trial ended just over a year ago, in July 2011, so the made-for-TV flick is tinged with the only mildly dulled pain of watching the mystery unfold on a nationwide stage. The tagline of the flick is "When I get done with her, she'll be the most hated woman in America," and after watching the movie, it's clear the wound is still fresh. Watching Prosecuting Casey Anthony brings up every painful feeling of injustice most Americans felt when Anthony went free after standing trial for the murder of her daughter, Caylee Anthony.
But why are we doing this to ourselves? Why do we want to relive this horrific chapter of history all over again? Somehow, it's not hard to sit through the two-hour program, hoping upon all hopes that you remembered that fateful summer day incorrectly, and that Ashton actually managed to convict Anthony, who was basically deemed guilty in the eyes of the public. But it's all for nought. The case is built against Anthony, and just as it happened in reality, Anthony goes free. There's an overwhelming feeling that justice has failed. Again. And our hearts break. Again. Seeking these stories in entertainment is a sick cycle, and Prosecuting Casey Anthony is feeding it.
The movie pays closest attention to Ashton's journey, giving Lowe a chance to flex his knight in shining armor muscles, and succeeding because, well, he's Rob Lowe and his charm is infinite. We'd follow him into a dark cave with a growling beast inside and pointed sticks and warning sides at the entrance. We see little of Anthony (relatively unknown actress Virgina Welch, whose main lot in the flick is mastering Anthony's courtroom meltdowns), which is fortunate because the depiction of the formerly-accused is a grisly one.
Ashton goes through all the steps of the investigation, from Day One, when his colleague Linda (Elizabeth Mitchell, who will be familiar to Lost fans) convinces him to take the case because of his expertise in prosecuting based on shreds of forensic evidence. He takes the task and we go through the gruesome journey once more, with endless news updates as reminders of the fact that we lived with this case in our faces for years only to endure it again in this movie. Only by looking at the case through this lens we're closer, and uncomfortably so.
The toughest scene comes when little Caylee's remains are discovered. The dialog spares no one, with brutal commentary about the "little halo" of hair still remaining on Caylee's skull when the medical examiner inspects the retrieved remains. Ashton later adds the heartbreaking detail about Caylee's t-shirt, which had washed away in the swamp so that only the decal letters remained: they spelled out "Big trouble comes in small packages." But that's just a small sample of the movie's constant gut-punches. Sure, it's compelling, but it can't be healthy. Prosecuting Casey Anthony is feeding an American addiction to real-life drama and scandal, and in a big way. But that doesn't seem to be stopping us.
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[Photo Credit: Lifetime]
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Lifetime's highly publicized Liz & Dick, starring Lindsay Lohan as Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor, wasn't quite a white diamond for the network. According to Nielsen Research, it drew 3.5 million viewers and a 2.8 household rating during its first broadcast last night. That's respectable by any cable standard, but not extraordinary, especially given the intense amount of media interest in the project. In fact, it fell about three million viewers short of October's Steel Magnolias remake starring Queen Latifah, which became Lifetime's third most-watched program in history. Liz & Dick also fell short of two other 2012 Lifetime movies, Drew Peterson: Untouchable and Abducted: The Carlina White Story.
In the key 18-49 demo, Liz & Dick scored 1.3 million viewers. Again, it's solid, but not spectacular. This may be a time where the old axiom "any publicity is good publicity" may not hold true. Sure, there was a lot of attention on Liz & Dick in the months before its broadcast, but much of that buzz was tabloid-friendly criticism of Lohan, for whom the biopic represented a kind of comeback vehicle. The reviews of the film, and her performance in particular, were unforgiving.
Were you among the 3.5 million who tuned in to Liz & Dick?
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Lifetime]
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The West Wing star will play real-life prosecutor Jeff Ashton in an upcoming Lifetime TV film based on the attorney's best-selling book Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony, which was released shortly after Anthony was acquitted last July (11).
Anthony was accused of drugging her two-year-old daughter Caylee and suffocating her with duct tape in 2008, but her lawyers claimed the youngster accidentally drowned.
Anthony was found not guilty of charges including first degree murder in her explosive trial, which hit headlines across the world, and she walked free due to time already served after being sentenced to four years in prison for lying to police.
Lowe previously starred in another Lifetime crime drama this year (12), taking on the role of a real-life accused killer in Drew Peterson: Untouchable.
Lifetime boss Rob Sharenow says, "We're thrilled to have Rob returning to our network, after his amazing star turn as Drew Peterson. He's one of those rare stars who can do it all, comedy, drama, heroes and villains. There are very few actors in the history of our business who have been able to have such success on such a broad range."
The former police sergeant is currently awaiting trial after pleading not guilty to the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, whose death had initially been ruled an accidental drowning. His fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007.
Lowe tackles the title role in Drew Peterson: Untouchable, which is set to air in America later this month (Jan12), and he threw himself into the part.
The actor tells U.S. talk show host Piers Morgan, "He's controversial and people know what he looks like. He's outrageous, he's over the top, he was all over the media until he was finally put in jail, awaiting trial.
"So I had to look like him. And so... the challenge was how do I transform myself... and not have it be a caricature.
"I think he has a sort of malignant charm. And the question was how do you find that? I watched hours and hours and hours and hours of footage on him. He's got a very particular speech pattern, the way he holds himself, all the stuff that all actors do when they're playing somebody who's a real character.
"And I just loved it, because it was so far astray from what I do on Parks and Recreation every week, where I play Chris Traeger, who's a sort of comedy character."
If you're the type of person who used to swoon over Rob Lowe (see: most women), be prepared to have all your past memories ruined. Of course, that doesn't excuse you from watching this mini-trailer for Lifetime's Drew Peterson: Untouchable before the internet can run rampant with jokes and Tumblr fodder with this solid gold material.
Lowe is miles from his Parks and Recreation character, health nut and Pawnee city manager Chris Traeger, as he dons a classic cop mustache, salt and pepper gray hair and serial killer grimace to deliver to Lifetimiest of movie lines: "I'm untouchable, b**ch." Of course, this all a little premature on Lifetime's part because the real Peterson is still awaiting trial, but he's tried to block the movie from being made multiple times to no avail. That's likely because as his own lawyer told The Chicago Tribune,"I can't tell you that the legal precedents are strongly in our favor. They're certainly not." Peterson can't seem to block it from hitting the small screen, but he's determined to laugh about it. His lawyer also told the Chicago paper that Peterson finds the new trailer "hilarious."
Something tells me Lowe's Peterson is not amused by this. Drew Peterson: Untouchable premieres Jan. 21 on Lifetime.
Source: Chicago Tribune
Rob Lowe's transformation into a greying, 57-year-old police sergeant for his new TV thriller Untouchable is a lengthy process - it takes make-up artists nine hours every day to age the actor by 10 years for the role. In the small screen film, currently shooting in Los Angeles, Lowe portrays Drew Peterson, the former Illinois cop accused of drowning his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
When police Sgt. Drew Peterson meets Stacy Cales, he has it all: charm, money...and a wife, Kathleen. His old marriage falls by the wayside as Drew woos and weds Stacy, 30 years his junior. After his ex turns up dead in an apparent accident, Stacy is shocked as she sees a new side of Drew in his obsessive, controlling jealousy. Stacy vanishes, and her disappearance sets off a national media frenzy focused on Drew, who remains eerily certain that he's utterly untouchable.