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Court Greenlights Movie Based on Documentary

PASADENA, CALIF. -Further expanding its foray into original programming, Courtroom Television Network has greenlighted its first made-for-TV movie, The Amy Pofahl Story, which grew out of a documentary the channel aired on the subject last year, officials said last week.

At the Television Critics Association press tour here, Court TV chairman Henry Schleiff said the channel aims to do two to three original dramatic movies per year based on true stories, budgeted at $3 million to $5 million each.

"Each of these movies will have an important-a critically important, we hope-social issue involving crime and justice at its core," Schleiff said. "Our goal is, as a result of seeing these movies, our viewers not only will be more informed about the subjects we're depicting, but quite honestly may in fact actually become involved in addressing some of the issues that we depict in these movies."

Amy Pofahl, slated to air in the third quarter, explores the injustice inherent in current mandatory minimum-sentencing statutes, which take away all discretion from a judge and make long prison sentences mandatory. Pofahl was tried and convicted of a drug charge and was sentenced to 24 years in prison, without any chance of parole due to federal mandatory minimums. President Clinton recently granted Pofhal's request for a federal pardon.

Court TV has other original movies in development, including one with writer-producer Tom Fontana of Homicide: Life on the Street
fame. It is about a Ku Klux Klan leader who forsakes his association with that group for the love of a woman.

At the TCA, Court TV also announced that Catherine Crier would host a new talk show, Catherine Crier Live, on the top legal news of the day. It will air Monday through Thursday at 5 p.m. starting Feb. 12. The network also is debuting a new half-hour weekly series, Hollywood at Large, that looks at crime and justice in today's pop culture. It will air Fridays at 5 p.m. starting Feb. 16.

Court TV also has two specials planned. The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll, hosted by Gene Simmons of the rock group Kiss, will chronicle the crimes and misdemeanors that have influenced the creation and direction of the pop music industry during the past 50 years. It will air June 11. Also, ABC News has produced its third program for Court TV, Court TV's Safety Challenge 2001.

Hosted by ABC News anchor and former Court TV anchor Jack Ford, it is designed to show viewers how to avoid becoming victims of crime.