Since launching back in the mid-'80s, Lifetime has proven itself as a hotbed of juicy, ripped-from-the-headlines TV movies. In the last few years alone, they've put fictional spins on everything from Lizzie Borden's notorious 1800s murder trial to the unsettling Ariel Castro kidnappings. It's not surprising, then, that their latest effort follows suit, as New York Prison Break: The Seduction Of Joyce Mitchell is based on a true story. The movie premieres on April 23.
This one is inspired by the infamous 2015 jailbreak of Richard Matt and David Sweat. As reported by CNN, the convicted murderers pulled off an elaborate escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York. According to authorities and reported in The New York Times, the pair cut through steel walls, then crawled through a network of underground tunnels for more than a city block before emerging from a nearby manhole. Their getaway incited a three-week statewide search that captivated national attention. Per NBC News, Matt was eventually shot and killed in the woods 30 miles west of the prison, while Sweat was captured two days after that, while heading for the Canadian border.
Lifetime's re-telling focuses on the perspective of Joyce Mitchell, a prison tailor who was arrested for aiding the men in their escape. According to People, she reportedly smuggled tools to the inmates in frozen hamburger meat. Matt and Sweat allegedly told Mitchell that they were going to run away to Mexico and take her with them. Their plan was for Mitchell to pick them up after they escaped, but she later backed out. People reported that she told investigators she knew the pair intended to kill her husband, and she didn’t show up at the pick up point because she loved him too much. Mitchell pled guilty to the charges against her in 2015 as a part of a plea deal to avoid facing additional charges, and is currently serving a sentence of up to seven years. NBC News reported that she was denied parole in February of 2017.
Based on Lifetime's summary, it seems like New York Prison Break will play up the allegedly romantic dynamic of Mitchell's relationships with the men. (Per ABC News, Mitchell told investigators her relationship with Matt, but not Sweat, became sexual.) The trailer paints it as a "love triangle," while Mitchell's character is described as an "easily manipulated" woman who, "flattered by their attention," is "seduced by the two prisoners. She soon becomes "wrapped up in a fantasy that men [are] in love with her" and agrees to help them break out. Mitchell is played by Penelope Ann Miller (American Crime, Mistresses), while Myk Watford (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and Joe Anderson (Across the Universe) portray Matt and Sweat, respectively.
From the looks of it, New York Prison Break falls in line with soapy guilty pleasure flicks Lifetime has made its specialty, but its real life inspiration makes it all the more dramatic.