Wednesday night Fox held and early screening/Q+A with the cast of its daring new show, “Proven Innocent.” The new drama, from “Empire” producer Danny Strong, highlights the difficult subject of wrongful imprisonment.
The show stars Rachelle Lefevre as Madeline Scott, a lawyer who spent 10 years in jail wrongly accused for the murder of her best friend, and who has committed her career to helping prisoners in similar situations. Lefevre and her castmates Kelsey Grammer, Russell Hornsby, Nikki M. James, and producer Danny Strong were all hand at the Q+A moderated by Baruch Shemtov and dived right into the subject matter.
“We’re in this interesting sort of time, bipartisan,” said Strong, “and I think everyone can agree innocent people shouldn’t be in jail.”
“There was recently a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that I was so thrilled to see that get passed,” Strong continued. “This discussion of our justice system, it’s happening on both sides of the aisle, and it seemed like the terrific time to do a show about it. It just hits it on the head.”
Kelsey Grammer, who plays the prosecutor who puts Madeline Scott and many others in jail, says that playing the bad guy he worked to understand his perspective. “In 20 years this guy, has convicted several hundred people, they couldn’t have all been innocent” he said. “My guy is a little more than just, a monster. I think that playing him, it was never my mind that he was a monster, he’s just a guy that likes to win.”
Lefevre said she she wants the show to spark inspiration. “My sincerest hope for our show is that people will love it for the 42 and a half minutes plus commercial of actual show that they get, find the cases compelling and enjoy it for what it is, and then when it’s over have opinions about things that potentially then lead to investigation and education. And that can become an official position or a really strong point of view,” says Lefevre.
She adds, “At the risk of sort of self aggrandizing what we do for a living, I think that’s the role art and entertainment always play. And if you’re doing it well you are inviting challenging conversations that extend beyond the experience of being entertained.”
“Our show is about real people,” said Nikki M. James, “This happens to people’s brothers and fathers and sons and sisters. I thought, oh these are people’s stories who nobody wants to tell, and we’re going to tell their stories, and also be entertaining and a little bit sexy along the way.”
Proven Innocent premieres this Friday at 9 p.m. on Fox