Author Alice Sebold’s movie project about her 1981 rape is imploding after a producer’s personal investigation of the incident led to exoneration for the man who was convicted for it.
Sebold, best known for her novel The Lovely Bones, was working on adapting her 1999 memoir Lucky, which centered on her rape at age 18 during her freshman year at Syracuse University.
Timothy Mucciante, who was executive producing the Lucky film, left the project this summer entertaining doubts about the story, according to a report by the New York Times.
Mucciante “began to question the story that the movie was based on earlier this year, after he noticed discrepancies between the memoir and the script,” NYT reporters Karen Zraick and Alexandra Alter wrote.
He left the project in June and even hired a private investigator to look into the evidence against Anthony Broadwater, the black man who was convicted of first-degree rape and five other charges in the 1981 investigation. He spent 16 years in prison before being released in 1998.
Mucciante says he does not doubt Sebold was brutally sexually assaulted, but he became convinced of Broadwater’s innocence based on details such as Sebold initially identifying a different man as her attacker in a police lineup.
Broadwater was exonerated on November 24 in New York State Supreme Court.
As a result, Lucky lost its financing months ago, according to a source that spoke to Variety, and it appears the project will not be moving forward.
Additionally, You star Victoria Pedretti — who was set to act in the film — is no longer involved in the project. It remains unclear who Pedretti was supposed to portray in the movie.
A spokesperson for Scribner, Sebold’s publisher, told The Guardian that “Neither Alice Sebold nor Scribner has any comment,” adding that “Scribner has no plans to update the text of Lucky at this time.”
Lucky — which sold over 1 million copies — kicked off Sebold’s career as an author. She went on to write the 2002 novel, The Lovely Bones, which sold 10 million copies and was adapted into Peter Jackson’s Oscar-nominated film of the same name.