Why Central Park 5 prosecutor refused to be involved in ‘When They See Us’

Why Central Park 5 prosecutor refused to be involved in 'When They See Us'
Ava Duvernay (Photo credit: Bang Media)

Central Park 5 prosecutor Linda Fairstein claims she was defamed by the ground-quaking “When They See Us” miniseries, writing in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal that Ava DuVernay’s movie was “so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication.”

But Fairstein, a former New York County prosecutor-turned-best-selling writer, had ample opportunity to have input on how she was portrayed. DuVernay and producer Jane Rosenthal reached out to Fairstein to let her know the film on the Central Park 5 was being created and that she could sit down with the two filmmakers to give her account of that explosive case.

But there were two problems with Fairstein’s request to come on board: One, she wanted to have control and approval over the script as it pertained to her; and two, she would not speak with DuVernay and Rosenthal if they were going to also speak with the Central Park 5 (Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise), which they did.

Speaking on a panel during the Produced By Conference in Burbank, California, Rosenthal said Fairstein did not want the “When They See Us” filmmakers to get the Central Park 5’s input at all, which seems ludicrous considering the film is about them.

“[Fairstein] wanted to talk to us because she had other offers, and she was also concerned that we were talking to the five men. Her point of view was clearly that she didn’t want us talking to the five men if we were talking to her,” Rosenthal said, according to Variety magazine.

Director Ava DuVernay was surprised by Rosenthal’s revelation.

“Are we saying that, Jane? I guess we are. That’s the tea that just got spilled,” DuVernay said during the panel discussion.

DuVernay previously elaborated on the communication exchanges that made it impossible to collaborate, according to The Daily Beast.

“Linda Fairstein actually tried to negotiate. I don’t know if I’ve told anyone this, but she tried to negotiate conditions for her to speak with me, including approvals over the script and some other things. So, you know what my answer was to that, and we didn’t talk,” DuVernay said.

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