'Cleveland Abduction' and 6 Lifetime True-Crime Movies You'll Never Forget
By Daniela Capistrano
Sometimes you only need to look to the headlines for salacious true-crime TV movies.
Orange Is the New Black’s Taryn Manning stars in the latest, Lifetime's Cleveland Abduction, playing kidnapping victim Michelle Knight. For more than a decade, three young women (Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus) were held captive and tortured by Ariel Castro in Cleveland until May 6, 2013 when Berry escaped and contacted police. For nearly 11 years, Knight suffered unspeakable abuse and even became pregnant four times by her captor.
Manning told ET that participating in Lifetime’s made-for-TV adaptation, premiering May 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, was life-altering.
"I've been through stuff. We all have, but that movie rocked my world," Manning said. "It changed my life. Michelle Knight changed my life. Hanging out with her, and experiencing her positivity … None of my problems matter."
In anticipation of Cleveland Abduction, here are six more Lifetime movies that will leave you fantasizing about who would play you in your adapted-for-TV life story:
1. Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret (2013)
Arias, a 28-year-old amateur photographer, stalked her ex-lover and murdered him in cold blood. The gory and sensational details surrounding the murder trial that dominated news networks will motivate you to archive all your sexy time photos and possibly think twice before meeting up with that Tinder cutie you swiped right for. Tania Raymonde, who played Jodi Arias in the Lifetime adaptation, said her experience working on the film while the trial was still happening “was such a strange parallel … it was crazy.”
2. Love's Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder (1997)
On Dec. 4, 1995, high school sweethearts and military academy cadets Diane Zamora and David Graham lured 16-year-old Adrianne Jones out of her home and murdered her in an open field. Also known as Swearing Allegiance: A True Story, this small-screen melodrama premiered on NBC in 1997 and is loosely based on the brutal crime (it relies heavily on Graham's confession). The movie aired repeatedly on Lifetime in the 2000s, around the time that the real-life and convicted Zamora wed a fellow inmate in a civil ceremony. Holly Marie Combs, who played Diane Zamora in the 1997 adaptation, received hate mail after the film was released.
No one dies in this true-crime drama, but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing. Based on a true story, All-American Girl follows Mary Kay Letourneau, an elementary school teacher who commits statutory rape with her 13-year-old student Vili Fualaau. Letourneau doesn’t let criminal charges, prison time, public scandal, and even already being a wife and mother stop her from eventually marrying the boy she seduced. Penelope Ann Miller, who played Mary Kay, told the Seattle Times that she prepared for the role by communicating with Letourneau by telephone. "We just spoke about what brought her to certain places emotionally," the actress said, "and some of the decisions she made, like why she went back to see Vili [the young man] again when she knew she could get caught. Also, we talked about why it was him who she felt was her soul mate and the love of her life. She told me that he became ageless to her. I just tried to get into her psyche, and she talked to me very openly.”
4. Beautiful & Twisted (2015)
Set in Miami in a world of privilege, Rob Lowe stars as Ben Novack, Jr., the real-life millionaire heir to the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel fortune who was brutally murdered not long after marrying an exotic dancer (played by Paz Vega). The couples’ volatile relationship — and fetish and kink proclivities — leading up to Novack Jr.’s untimely death are just some of the nuances to this made-for-TV true-crime story that are sure to keep you on your toes as the story unfolds.
Seemingly borrowing from a common horror movie trope, this Lifetime flick is based on a true crime. There’s plenty of guilty fun watching the teen archetype Alex (played by Tess Atkins) have her life ruined by sex — right after she loses her virginity, her mother is murdered and it is revealed that she had discussed her exploits with her mom. Who was the killer? We won’t spoil the ending for you, but here’s a hint from the film: Detective Moran (Boris Kodjoe) explains to Alex, “Nine out of 10 people die at the hands of someone they know.”
6. The Burning Bed (1984)
Here’s all you need to know about this made-for-TV movie that scored high ratings on NBC and then aired repeatedly on Lifetime:
-- An abused wife with no one to turn to sets the bed on fire — with her husband in it — after he rapes her one night. -- The film stars Farrah Fawcett as domestic violence survivor Francine Hughes, which she called “the role of a lifetime.”