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Hilary Swank's new movie Conviction opens Fridaybut attorney-to-the-stars Gloria Allred isn't waiting in line for a ticket. The headline-happy lawyer held a press conference on Thursday to criticize Swank for making a film about a real-life murder... without consulting the murder victim's family.
Conviction tells the true story of Betty Anne Waters (played by Swank, also the movie's executive producer). Waters is a single mother who put herself through law school to get her wrongly convicted brother out of jail, after he was sentenced to life in prison for the violent 1980 murder of Massachusetts woman Katharina Brow. Allred is representing Brow's adult daughter, who is upset that she wasn't consulted during the making of the film.
In a letter sent to Swank, Allred writes that Katharina Brow's daughter "is being forced to relive the memory of the heinous crime which took her mother's life." She points out that, although the wrongfully convicted killer was freed, the family is still grieving over the unsolved murder -- and would have appreciated a heads-up that Hollywood was using the murder as the basis for a motion picture.
"Her mother was not just a name, and was not and is not a person who should be used... to make a profit for the entertainment industry," writes Allred on behalf of Brow's daughter. "She was a very special human being and an essential member of their family."
Swank and the other producers of Conviction didn't necessarily break any laws by neglecting to consult Brow's family. The family isn't asking for a pay-out; they're asking for compassion from the filmmakers, and a private screening to know exactly what they're in for. Allred may get a lot of flack for her high-publicity cases (as demonstrated by last week's scathing SNL sketch, "Ask Gloria Allred"), but this one seems more like a matter of common courtesy than a plea for attention. Wonder if Hilary Swank will agree.
Do you think Hilary Swank owes the murder victim's family an apology? Chime in below!