Thursday, July 29, 2004

'Deadline' on Dateline

If you follow the death penalty issue closely, you know that something unusual is going to happen Friday night. NBC's Dateline will show "Deadline," a two-hour documentary about Gov. George Ryan's decision to commute the sentences of 156 people on Illinois' death row to life in prison. (Ryan pardoned another four people on death row, freeing them immediately, because of factual innocence.)

Today the New York Times looks at this unusual development. And I'll be back either later today or tomorrow with another Deadline-related development...

LOS ANGELES, July 28 — Early this year a group of struggling documentary
filmmakers who had just completed a film about capital punishment borrowed
money from family and friends and used frequent flier miles to buy plane
tickets to Park City, Utah, to enter the Sundance Film Festival.

Katy Chevigny, the co-director and co-producer of the film, "Deadline,"
said, "We tried to make the best film we could, but we actually didn't know
if anybody would ever see the film outside of Sundance."

Ms. Chevigny and her colleagues don't have to worry.

In a highly unusual move for a broadcast network, NBC has purchased the
two-hour documentary for an undisclosed price and will present it on Friday
on "Dateline NBC." Although HBO and other cable networks buy documentaries
at film festivals like Sundance, it is rare for a broadcast network like NBC
to buy a documentary and present it in its entirety, because these networks
have news units themselves. The filmmakers said that about 10 minutes of the
documentary had been trimmed, mostly to make room for commercials.

To read the whole story, go here.


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