Update: A news release from the Lifetime network says their original movie about the Porco murder case will air as planned this Saturday, after a ruling was issued today in the New York State Appellate Division, Third Department. The movie is now being touted as `the movie Christopher Porco doesn’t want you to see.` The airing of the movie was halted Tuesday after a supreme court judge issued an injunction.
Justice Elizabeth Garry of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court Justice stayed the order, according to court documents. A future hearing has been set for the restraining order.
Lifetime said immediately following the movie, the network will air `Beyond the Headlines: The Real Romeo Killer,` which gives viewers the opportunity to meet the real-life characters involved in the `headline-making, shocking true-crime tale.` The network said the one-hour special will feature `exclusive interviews with Porco, his ex-girlfriend and the Police Department’s former lead investigator on the case.`
The Lifetime Network movie set to air this weekend about the Christopher Porco murder case has been delayed after the 29-year-old killer obtained an emergency court order to halt its premier.
The movie, called “Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story,” was set to air on Saturday, March 23, at 8 p.m. The movie portrays the murder, investigation and subsequent court case, along with `flashbacks.` The credits had stated the tale is `inspired by a true story.`
State Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Muller granted the motion and a temporary restraining order in a Clinton County Court, according to court documents provided by Lifetime Television. The documents show the motion was granted because the network conceded that parts of the movie were fictionalized.
Porco filed a motion on his own to stop the movie from airing. His defense lawyer, Terry Kindlon, said he knew nothing about the court order until this morning and expects it to be overturned.
`I’m really surprised Judge Muller let the motion go forward,` he said. `It’s a form of prior restraint.`
Lifetime is now fighting to reverse the ruling. A hearing date has been set for late April.
A response filed on behalf of Lifetime by the Greenburg Traurig law firm of Albany and Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schultz in Manhattan said the Supreme Court’s order was unprecedented and `would cause grave and irreparable damage, not just to Lifetime, but to the constitutional protections of free speech.`
Attorney David Sternbach, the New York Content and Production Counsel for A&E Television Networks, said in responding court documents that he had reviewed the movie and had access to the same document and records used to create the film.
`Although the movie is dramatized for television, the essential elements of the story are true and accurate,` he said.
He said the movie does contain a disclaimer and that the case has been the subject of crime shows in the past. Lifetime also argued it has been allowed to air other similar movies in the past without any rights granted by those portrayed to use their likenesses, such as `Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony,` or `Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy.`
Attorney Darci Bailey, the Vice President and Associate General Counsel for A&E Television Networks, said the injunction would have a `devastating financial and reputational impact` on Lifetime if the decision is not overturned.
`Lifetime has spent over $2 million acquiring the United States and international rights to the movie. It has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting the premier of the movie on March, 23, 2013,` she said. `The producers stand to lose more than $1 million.`
Baily said the timing of the premier was intended to create the `largest audience possible` and had sold advertising for the premier based on viewer projections. If the movie does not air, the network will need to `make good` with its advertisers.
Porco filed the motion more than six weeks ago, and a ruling was just issued on Tuesday, March 19. Lifetime has since removed all of the movie’s promotional material from its website.
Porco was found guilty in August of 2010 of having murdered his father, Peter, and attempting to murder his mother, Joan, as they slept inside their former Brockley Street home in Delmar. The incident is presumed to have been over forged co-signatures on a student loan and car loan that Christopher Porco took out without his parents’ knowledge.