'The Laramie Project' Premieres March 16 on HBO

News   'The Laramie Project' Premieres March 16 on HBO HBO will present the world television premiere of "The Laramie Project," based on the regional and Off-Broadway play by Moisés Kaufman, 8 PM March 16, the cable network announced.

HBO will present the world television premiere of "The Laramie Project," based on the regional and Off-Broadway play by Moisés Kaufman, 8 PM March 16, the cable network announced.

Kaufman directed and adapted the film from the play he directed and co-wrote in 2000 with his Tectonic Theater Project. The work, which had its world premiere by Denver Center Theatre Company in February 2000 and moved to Off-Broadway prior to it current explosion of stagings in the regional theatre, focuses on the community response to the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. The play is a unique autobiographical investigation about New York theatre artists who travel to Laramie, WY, to interview residents about the fall day when Shepard was murdered. Denver Center billed it as a "cultural pulse-taking."

On stage in the original production, in both New York and Denver, the cast included the same actors who conducted interviews or visited Laramie and environs, and they played multiple parts in a kind of docudrama-style. In the film, such well-known actors as Peter Fonda, Camryn Manheim and Christina Ricci play characters. Nestor Carbonell ("The Tick," "Suddenly Susan") plays Moisés Kaufman.

The film cast includes Dylan Baker, Tom Bower, Clancy Brown, Steve Buscemi, Kathleen Chalfant, Jeremy Davies, Clea Duvall, Peter Fonda, Ben Foster, Janeane Garofalo, Bill Irwin, Joshua Jackson, Terry Kinney, Laura Linney, Amy Madigan, Camryn Manheim, Christina Ricci, Lois Smith, Frances Sternhagen, and Mark Webber, plus Kelli Simpkins and Andy Paris, members of the Tectonic Theater Company, who will play themselves. The remaining six company members were cast in supporting parts throughout the film. The picture was shot in Laramie and Denver in spring 2001, at actual locations where events took place.

The film is produced by Good Machine Productions and HBO Films. It was the first film screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The screenplay is by Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project. Other play dates for the film on HBO are 1 PM and 9 PM March 19, 2:15 PM and 11 PM March 24, 11:30 AM and 8 PM March 27.

— By Kenneth Jones