UPDATE: Porco movie to air as planned

Lifetime Network fought decision to keep made-for-TV movie from airwaves

Still from the upcoming Lifetime Network movie "Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story."

Still from the upcoming Lifetime Network movie "Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story."

— "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.

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