Playwright Phyllis Nagy makes her film directing debut with her screenplay inspired by the book "Very Much a Lady" by Shana Alexander. "Mrs. Harris" premieres on the cable network Feb. 25 at 8 PM (ET). Check your local listings.
Inspired by a true story, the drama tells the unlikely murder mystery of "Jean Harris, the prep-school headmistress and longtime paramour of celebrated 'Scarsdale Diet Doctor' Herman 'Hy' Tarnower," according to show notes.
Set after the couple's 14-year romance which ended in the doctor's death at the hands of his the title character, the film proposes "different accounts of Tarnower's fatal shooting with flashback scenes introduced by dramatic testimonials from the various players, including Harris, the doctor's sister, several of his ex-lovers, Harris' best friend, and Harris' two sons" and asks its audience, "Was she guilty of premeditated murder, as the prosecution claimed, or did she accidentally kill Tarnower while trying to commit suicide, as she swore?"
Bening appeared on Broadway in Coastal Disturbances and has graced the Los Angeles boards in runs of Hedda Gabler and Alan Bennett's Talking Heads. She is perhaps best known for her film work which includes "American Beauty," "The American President," "Regarding Henry," "What Planet Are You From?" and the recent "Being Julia."
Kingsley — who appeared on Broadway in Edmund Kean — stars in the film along with Ellen Burstyn (Same Time, Next Year), Michael Gross (Bent), Philip Baker Hall, Cloris Leachman (South Pacific), Mary McDonnell (The Heidi Chronicles), Chloë Sevigny, Bill Smitrovich, Frank Whaley and Frances Fisher (who appears with Bening in The Cherry Orchard at the Mark Taper Forum). Nagy is the New York-born, London-based playwright of such works as Butterfly Kiss, Disappeared, Never Land, Trip's Cinch, Weldon Rising and The Strip as well as adaptations of The Scarlet Letter, The Seagull and The Talented Mr Ripley.
John Wells, Elizabeth Karlsen, Pam Koffler and Christine Vachon executive produce with producer Chrisann Verges. Music is by John Frizzell.
For more information and further airdates, view the HBO Films website at hbo.com/films/mrsharris.