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When the curtain rose on the murder trial of Pamela Smart murder case 23 years ago, the stage was set for the birth of reality TV. Accused of plotting the 1990 murder of her husband Gregory, the 22-year-old Smart was subsequently convicted in the first fully televised, gavel-to-gavel court case, which has inspired TV shows, books, plays and feature films.

An official selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, "CAPTIVATED: THE TRIALS OF PAMELA SMART" explores how the media coverage of the case may have influenced the trial and sentencing. Featuring an exclusive new interview with Smart herself, as well as interviews with prosecuting and defending attorneys, journalists who covered the case, childhood friends, former inmates who served time with her, and, in the first interview since his release, one of the boys convicted with her.

Pamela Smart worked in the media center of a New Hampshire high school, where she became romantically involved with student Billy Flynn. On May 1, 1990, Flynn and three teenage friends – Patrick Randall, J.R. (Vance) Lattime and Raymond Fowler – went to the couple’s condo and murdered Smart’s husband. The four young men later reached a plea agreement with the state for a lower sentence in exchange for their testimony against Smart.

CAPTIVATED explores how the media may have influenced both the public and the jurors, who were not sequestered. In addition to a trove of archival footage, it features audiotapes recorded after each day’s proceedings by a juror who expresses concerns about the proceedings. The film also revisits other aspects of the trial, including the media profile of key prosecution witness Cecelia Pierce, who had been Smart’s intern. Wired and coached to compel Smart to talk about the murder, Pierce recorded controversial audiotapes that the prosecution used to help convict Smart. Journalist Joyce Maynard’s book “To Die For” was inspired by the case and adapted for the feature film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman. Joyce Chopra, who directed a TV movie starring Helen Hunt as Smart, recalls how the story was such an “easy sell for television.” (Source: HBO)

Genres: Crime | Drama | Action
Station: HBO (US)
Rating: 0/10 from 0 users
Status: Ended
End: Aug/18/2014

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