Acclaimed actress Mercedes Ruehl has signed on to play the lead role in
Guilt by Association, Courtroom Television Network's initial foray into
original films, the network announced Thursday.
Production on the film -- inspired by the network's original documentary,
Prisoners of Love, which premiered last year -- begins this month. The
picture -- produced by J.B. Media for Hearst Entertainment -- is slated to debut
in winter 2002.
An issue-driven story, Guilt will explore the controversial topic of
mandatory minimum-sentencing guidelines. These stringent laws were passed in
response to rampant crime and a drug epidemic.
Through Ruehl's character, the film will depict the severity of these laws
and their impact upon those sentenced, as well as their families.
'We are delighted to be working with Mercedes Ruehl on the network's first
original movie,' Court TV chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff said in a prepared
statement. 'Mercedes' exceptional talent represents the caliber of actors the
network would like to cast in future films. Mercedes' strong background and
enormity of experience bring a depth and passion to this complex role, and we
hope this controversial and timely film will cause lawmakers across the United
States to re-examine their stance and stir the national debate about the future
of America's drug policies.'