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N.Y. court lifts ban allowing Lifetime to air Chris Porco movie

March 21, 2013|By Meg James
  • Lifetime Television won an appeals court ruling Thursday that allows it to broadcast "Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story" on March 23. In this Dec. 12, 2006, file photo, Christopher Porco is sentenced for the murder of his father, Peter Porco, and attempted murder of his mother, Joan Porco, in the Albany County Courthouse in Albany, N.Y. In the background is his lawyer Terence L. Kindlon. Earlier in the week, a New York judge temporarily barred the television network from showing its made-for-TV movie on Porco. (AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, Pool, File)
Lifetime Television won an appeals court ruling Thursday that allows it… (Philip Kamrass / AP )

Lifetime won a major victory in a New York appeals court Thursday, which allows the network to televise its ripped-from-the-headlines movie "Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story" on Saturday night, as originally planned.

Earlier this week, a New York state judge had issued an injunction that would have blocked the network from broadcasting its original production about a grisly killing in November 2004 in upstate New York.

The convicted killer, Christopher Porco, filed suit to protest the network's project, claiming the story was a "fictionalized" account and that use of his name and likeness for such a commercial venture had not been authorized. 

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On Thursday afternoon, an appeals court in New York lifted the injunction. The decision allows Lifetime to go forward with its telecast. The court also set an April 10 hearing for Porco to present his case.

The two-hour film was inspired by the true story that involved Porco, who was convicted for the ax-murder of his father, Peter Porco, in Delmar, N.Y. Porco's mother, Joan, was badly disfigured in the early-morning attack. 

The TV movie explores how Joan Porco refused to testify against her son, and a local police detective's tenacious pursuit of the facts.

The movie stars Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace") as the lead police detective.  Matt Barr ("Hatfields & McCoys") plays Chris Porco.

In court papers, Lifetime said it had spent more than $2 million to obtain the rights to the story and nearly $1 million to promote the film and its premiere. The television industry has been watching Lifetime's legal case because the injunction represented a rare attempt of prior restraint of the television network's 1st Amendment rights.

Lifetime, which is owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., said Thursday that it would air the movie. The network added that immediately after the movie's premiere it also would broadcast a TV special titled  "Beyond the Headlines: The Real Romeo Killer," with interviews with Porco, his ex-girlfriend and the former lead investigator on the case.


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