The Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen-penned show, directed by Bob Balaban (the actor seen in "A Mighty Wind"), played 608 performances in its Off-Broadway run which opened Oct. 10, 2002. The three collaborators are also onboard for the Court TV project.
Drawn from interviews of forty former death row inmates by playwrights Blank and Jensen, The Exonerated explores the variety of experiences and feelings of those who spent from 2 to 22 years imprisoned only to later be found innocent and released.
The 95-minute feature currently filming in New York is budgeted at $500,000 — with many actors taking a cut in their regular salary. The studio-shot movie — which will include 43 actors playing family members, prosecutors, judges, detectives and defense attorneys involved with the six focal characters — will film completely in six days, according to Variety.
Executive producer-director Balaban told the trade mag that actress Lorraine Bracco (The Graduate, "The Sopranos") prompted the project by leading him and Court TV chairman-CEO Henry Schleiff "into a room and refused to let us out until we agreed to make the movie."
The debut of the work is expected to air on the cable network early next year with possible film festivals appearances or Academy Award-qualifying releases later this year. The stage production and its national tour raised over $710,000 in donations since its opening for the six exonerees, portrayed in the play, who received no remuneration after being released from prison. The work has garnered a number of awards including a Lucille Lortel Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama Desk Award. The play, which played originally in Los Angeles' Actors' Gang Theatre, is also set to play in London's West End.
Past cast members of the Off-Broadway run included Mary J. Blige, Eric Bogosian, Peter Boyle, Josh Brolin, Avery Brooks, Gabriel Byrne, Robert Carradine, Judy Collins, Tim Daly, Kristin Davis, Fran Drescher, Richard Dreyfuss, Cary Elwes, Mia Farrow, Peter Gallagher, Sara Gilbert, Jeff Goldblum, Tony Goldwyn, Mariska Hargitay, Anthony Michael Hall, Marcia Gay Harden, Anne Jackson, Sarah Jones, Carol Kane, Christine Lahti, Chad Lowe, Andrea Martin, Andrew McCarthy, Esai Morales, Alanis Morisette, Rob Morrow, Joe Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Rhea Perlman, Amanda Plummer, Aidan Quinn, Lynn Redgrave, Eric Roberts, Richard Schiff, Kyra Sedgwick, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, John Spencer, Mary Steenburgen, Fisher Stevens, Susan St. James, Marlo Thomas, Kathleen Turner, Ben Vereen, Montel Williams and Debra Winger.
Stephen Tabakin and Karen Wolfe serve as co-producers of the co-production between Court TV and @Radical.Media. Jack Lechner and Greg Schultz also produce.