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Stiller directing Showtime's star-studded cast in Dannemora prison break series

PASADENA, Calif. – Get ready for a second prison escape upstate.

Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro and Emmy Award winners Patricia Arquette and Michael Imperioli are starring in a second television version of the prison escape at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora in June of 2015.

Showtime announced here that it is filming an eight-hour series, "Escape at Dannemora," on the actual locations. Ben Stiller is directing all eight hours.

Gary Levine, Showtime's president of programming, said the pay-cable channel hopes it will be ready for an air date near the end of the year.

Don't waste your time on prison break movie 'Seduction of Joyce Mitchell'

Levine isn't concerned about the movie that premiered in April on Lifetime, "New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell," beating Showtime to the story.

"It was a fascinating story and it grabbed everyone at the time and in this rendering we have great scripts, an incredible director, incredible actors and it becomes only more compelling as far as I'm concerned," said Levine.

Del Toro, who won an Academy Award for his role in the movie "Traffic," plays escaped murderer Richard Matt. Paul Dano ("There Will Be Blood") plays escaped murderer David Sweat. Arquette, who won an Emmy for her role in the TV series "Medium," is playing Mitchell, the married mother of three who ran the tailor shop at the prison and helped the inmates escape. Imperioli, who won an Emmy for his work in "The Sopranos," is playing Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Levine said Arquette, who is unrecognizable in the role, gives a "fearless portrayal" of Mitchell.

He added that Del Toro agreed to be in the series because "the role spoke to him and because of Ben Stiller. I'd say those two together."

Asked how the production was able to shoot the film on actual locations, Levine credited Stiller.

"He was persistent," said Levine. "He knows the governor and a few officials and that didn't hurt."

In the two-hour Lifetime film, Penelope Ann Miller starred as Mitchell. Matt was played by Myk Watford ("Law & Order SVU") and Sweat was played by Joe Anderson ("Across the Universe").

The acting was fine in that movie, but the script fell flat.

In September of 2015, Mitchell was given the maximum sentence of two and a third to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree promoting prison contraband, a felony, for her admitted role in the dramatic escape of Matt and Sweat.

At the time of the escape, Matt was serving 25 years to life for the 1997 torture murder of North Tonawanda businessman William Rickerson. While on the lam, he killed a man in a barroom brawl in Mexico. In the early 1990s, he was involved in a murder-for-hire plot and escaped from the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden.

The escapees evaded thousands of searchers for 20 days before Matt was shot and killed. Sweat was wounded two days later and captured near the Canadian border.

email: apergament@buffnews.com

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